Singing a Patois Song

Grade Level

Selection: Aunty-o, Coro, Coro
Performer: Jemina Joseph

Activity #1: Deciphering the Language
1. Listen to "Aunty-O, Coro Coro."

Q: Who is singing the song?

A: There is a solo adult woman singer, who is followed by a group of women singers.

Q: What musical form is featured in the singing of this song?

A: Solo-and-chorus, or call-and-response

Q: What instruments are performed to accompany the singers?

A: A shaker and a big boula drum

2. Play the recording again, and challenge students to hear the words and phonemes that sung, indicating a mixture of languages on Carriacou island in the nation of Grenada. This mix of English Creole and French Creole is known as "patois," which is originally translated from the French as "incomprehensible language." Non-Parisian French, including the French spoken in the regions of Bretagne and Provence, were also referred to as "patois." In particular, the English phrases "Thunder roll" and "Lightning flash" can be identified. "You no yeri-o" is a creolized manner of saying "you no hear" and "coro" may translate as "run."

3. Students can learn to sing the solo and chorus sections with and without the recording.

Solo: *Anti-o coro you no yeri-o (Run, You no hear)

Group Response: Coro, coro (Run, run)

Solo: *Anti-o coro you no yeri-o (Run,You no hear)

Group Response: Coro, coro.

Solo: Thunder roll, you no yeri-o

Group Response: Coro, coro

Solo: Lightning flash, you no yeri-o

Group Response: Coro, coro

* Note that sometimes this phrase is sung "Anti-o you no yeri-o", omitting "coro."

4. Singers may wish to switch parts, as happens on the recording, so that at times the group sings the solo and the solo sings the group parts.

Suggested Activity #2: Adding a Percussion Accompaniment

1. Listen to "Anti-O Coro" and identify the fast pulse of the shaker. Tap or pat the shaker, and notice how the instrument begins slowly, then picks up speed, and then drops out altogether.

2. Play the recording again, and listen for the entrance of the boula drum (in the second round through the song). Notice that by the third round of the song, the shaker drops out and the boula drum takes over as principal accompaniments to the song. Thus, have students follow this structure in the first four rounds (the song is continued for multiple repetitions, with the boula drum and singers "playing" off one another.

Song, round 1: Solo and group singers; shaker enters at "Thunder rolls"

Song, round 2: Solo and group singers and shaker; boula drum enters and increases volume at "Thunder rolls"

Song, round 3: Solo and group singers; shaker drops out; boula drum is prominent

Song, round 4: Solo singer sings at high pitch, group singers and boula drum continue

3. Experiment with the possibilities of playing a shaker on every pulse of the song, and playing a drum in a simple rhythm, while singing the song.

Shaker: / / / / / /

Drum: / / // / // //

Cultural Link: Carriacou, Grenada, France, West Africa

Designed by Patricia Shehan Campbell