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The following program was originally released in 1067 as men engage in the many toils of their lives and livelihoods. They often accompany their labors with music to set the pace or rhythm of the work to describe the task or to take their minds off the drudgery of the holiday. That and the variety of ways and for many different reasons all the peoples of the world have been in a. Michigan State University Radio invites you now to a program of music around the world produced and hosted by Martin Lakos. Many of the folk songs of the United States are related to work of some sort or another. Some grew out of the rhythm patterns of certain jobs such as rock crushing or cane cutting. Others are complaints about the hardships of mining railroad work chain gang labor cattle driving agricultural work and more recently industrial jobs. In fact the
industrialization of the United States has given rise to a special tradition of work songs in this country. The polemical labor songs but in most countries people are still very dependent upon straightforward physical labor for their day to day existence. Work that is usually extremely repetitious and tedious and often very strenuous. Many things done here by machines are still done in most places by hand and where people have to function as a machine of course coordinating the rhythm of their movements becomes rather important. Music frequently plays a part in establishing the rhythm of group work and pacing the job. This chant in response for them is coordinating the effort of men heaving crowbars to lift huge blocks of marble onto the transportation part in the famous marble quarries of Italy.
The leader is saying such things as they look lively boy who. Then comes a warning that another blast is about to be set off. Stone cutters on the Japanese island of Kentucky. Let the regular pounding so there's ledges become the accompaniment to a song with verses about nature about love and about their work. One of the verses is even a sort of singing commercial for their product. It goes if you're buying building stones by the stones of Kentucky for quality and value. Oh. Yeah.
And. One of the best known Russian songs grew out of a work song before the age of steam barges were hauled upstream against the current of the Volga River by men hitched into leather harnesses with ropes attached to the main holes or the barge. And there was always the overseer mercilessly driving them on of the many songs that grew out of the rhythm of the shouts punctuating the heaves of the rope out of the pain in the toil of this job. This one the Volga boatman is probably the most famous. The
feet. Will Out The Way. Up the Chinese river the young zoo carries an enormous traffic despite the precipitous walls of its gorges and its terrible Rapids. Here also many boats are dragged up stream by men harnessed like beasts of burden against a current
even stronger than that of the mighty Volga. In some places on the river the boats can be propelled by skilful oarsmen. Both the hauling and the rowing are usually paced by Leader chorused chance the leader having great responsibility for guiding the boats. We'll hear a bit of a boatman chant followed by the chant of some men laying track on the Sichuan railroad. Most of the railway workers were formerly boatman and they adapted the choral traditions of their past to the rhythms of their new work like. I am I am I am. I am.
I am. I am. I am. I am. I am. I am. Women's work is usually not quite so strenuous though it is often very difficult and almost always extremely tedious. Women are responsible for the daily preparation of food. Often a full time job in itself. In many societies the main foodstuffs have to be grown before they can be prepared as edible dishes. Both the pounding and the grinding tend to provide certain steady rhythm patterns. So why not take advantage of the continuous accompaniment. Well here are three kinds of pounding songs. You can hear a bracelet as well as the pestles landing in the mortars as some
women of Zambia Millet into meal evidently no easy job. The Words To The Song are to the effect of If you don't love me send me back to my mother. You don't want. Those who are fed up with the never ending as these women of Malawi are saying they are. There are possible variations on the theme. The two of them are using a single mortar for pounding the horn alternating strokes of their castles and lines of their complaint. And for those who feel up to tossing around the £20 pencils used by that in book a women of
Malawi for fun because of a rut syncopation is even possible six or seven girls are at one more or less three classes taking turns pounding. At each repeated the tune one of the girls passes the pencil she's been using to the girl on her left who catches it in mid air and taps it on the edge of the mortar. This technique definitely requires much strength and skill. I have. You may have noticed what seemed to be a high pitched controlled wave or scream in the background. This is a vocal technique common to several cultures including many in Africa. You'll also hear it in this grinding song sung by a group of one a women in Botswana.
On the other. However. Traditional food preparation of the American Indians also include ground grain principally corn. Here's a Navajo corn growing song which is actually extinct among the Navajos but which is used by the American Indians tend to barter trade and borrow songs from
tried to tried in the in the in the know. I love. You then. And that alone among the Sunis however though the women do the actual grinding men sing the accompanying songs there are usually 10 or 15 men singing with the drum. This recording of a single unaccompanied man must have been made during the non corn growing season. Women grind in time to the music and sometimes a few women may dance holding yours of course. The singers are given some of the meal when the writing's finished their own blow.
Though all of the work that women do and much of the work that men do tends to be wearisome and repetitious in those societies which depend in part on the hunt for their subsistence. A man's work is often much more exciting. For example here's a song sung by the subtle men of Basutoland as they fearlessly stalk the wild marsh mouse. They say that capturing the mice is tricky because the little creatures run and vanish but they've been asked to catch them from on a lady who eats them.
Meanwhile the pygmies of the forest in the Congo go after bigger game engaging elephants and hand to foot combat. They've called to each other with special hunting whistles and then gathered to sing at their success in killing the elephant. They broke his window on my hands but they're also known to run underneath the animal to spear him in the belly. Hunting is very important to the Eskimos.
Two of the men from Chesterfield sing of their experiences hunting seals and some rather difficult operation. The hunter must paddle up quickly and silently to within her range of the animal shoot it with a rifle and immediately throw the harpoon so that the attached float will let him locate his prey and also keep it from sinking. They're camping themselves drunk which is the only music I have. It's a simple Willow a yard in diameter with skin stretched across it. There's a short wooden drumstick. The skins are all scraped and chewed soft by the women. But so
far I haven't been able to locate any skin chewing. Animals play an important part in many economies. We'll hear the next song in two versions. It's a milking song of the people of Kenya and it's supposed to charm the goat into a peaceful frame of mind. First we'll hear an old man singing it in the way in which he's sung it to a succession of goats through its lifetime. The one currently being addressed seems to be named Mimi. Then we'll hear the old man's nephew sing his version accompanying himself on a five string lyre. No no
no no. There's a great deal of very hard work involved in all phases of the agricultural cycle in the Philippines however the back breaking process of transplanting the rice has become associated with the pleasant tune and become a favorite with children who imitate the planting action as they sing. We hear it here in an instrumental version. Planting rice is never fun. From morning till set of sun.
Cannot stand cannot sit cannot read a little bit. Come friends let's stretch. And let's we knew our strength. For tomorrow. And for the future. Wow. Those words were given me by some Philippine students on the MSU campus who say that since their childhood other more cheerful words have been substituted. But they don't happen to know them.
There is a popular Philippine then it's called an inkling in which the dancers usually boy girl couples have to leap in and out of two sets of parallel bamboo poles which are being clack together in time to the music. This dance is probably connected with the exuberance of the harvest. The monument people of South East Borneo diag group do an even trickier dance with sticks. Planting is a cooperative people from Andhra horses to work together and they do this dance in their rest breaks from the field labor. Oh I get it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Two pairs of long sticks being used to make the house through the stands. They're practical names little sticks are crossed over another two pairs
and all pairs are Clacton time music creating a lattice work in motion the Dancers usually only males are supposed to leap in and out of the ever changing squares in increasingly complicated patterns. The laughter probably arose from someone's getting caught or narrowly escaping the plaques from the sticks. Thank you. The. Songs accompanying and describing the works of plowing planting hoeing and weeding are numerous and there are a great number of songs connected to the work of the harvest and the subsequent operations of laying in the crops threshing and taking things to market as well as the joyful song celebrating good harvest and the sad or even bitter songs about the times when the harvest is not so good. We hope to be able to devote a whole program to music related to the agricultural cycle later on in the series. Now let's hear a song from Israel in praise of work of all kinds. It's called me you've never bite. And the words say who will build a
house who will plant an orchard who will grow a vineyard and who will build this land. We the pioneers will do it. With. With. In modern China there are also many songs encouraging the development of the countryside.
Here's a children's song proudly telling of the family's contributions to the effort. It says Papa is a tractor driver mother works a farm machine. Elder brother runs an electrical generator and elder sister works a seeding machine. Thank.
You. For. A 14th century Chinese song describes work of a much quieter sort an old Buddhist monk sweeping the courtyard of his temple the Sheung which is a kind of Martha or mouth organ made with bamboo pipes and a gourd bass describes the work step by step. There are many other work songs which we couldn't play for you on this program because of lack of time. Songs
of miners sedan chair carriers fisherman paddle herders paddlers orange pickers lamp cleaners wood gathers and so on. Some of these might be included in later programs under other categories. For instance the Japanese song sung by Lucy which is originally a minor song but which has become a popular song in the children's game will probably include in a program devoted to children's music. I'd be interested in knowing what sort of music you'd like to hear. And finally before we had our last election a spinning song with proven Indians. I'd like to invite you to join us next program when we'll be playing examples of the many
traditions of music around the world. And now the spinning song played on the ancient or pan pipes accompanied by a triangle in Indian horn and a small one sided drum. We have presented music around the world with Martin Nicolas producer and
commentator and we invite you to be with us again next week at the same time for music all around the world. This program was produced for Michigan State University Radio originally released in 1967. The program you've just heard is from the program library of National Public Radio.
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Music around the world
Work songs
Producing Organization
Michigan State University
WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on work songs from around the world.
Series Description
This series, hosted by Marta Nicholas, presents music from all parts of the globe.
Media type
Host: Nicholas, Marta
Producer: Parrish, Thomas (Thomas D.)
Producing Organization: Michigan State University
Producing Organization: WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-37-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:47
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Chicago: “Music around the world; Work songs,” 1967-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 20, 2024,
MLA: “Music around the world; Work songs.” 1967-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 20, 2024. <>.
APA: Music around the world; Work songs. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from