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children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah

In Mudcat MIDIs:
Neener Neener Nyah Nyah (the traditional children's taunt)


GUEST,adavis@truman.edu 29 Mar 02 - 01:31 AM
Liz the Squeak 29 Mar 02 - 02:13 AM
CapriUni 29 Mar 02 - 02:26 PM
Joe_F 29 Mar 02 - 04:53 PM
Lucius 29 Mar 02 - 08:53 PM
weepiper 30 Mar 02 - 08:52 PM
CapriUni 30 Mar 02 - 08:58 PM
Little Hawk 30 Mar 02 - 09:30 PM
Liz the Squeak 31 Mar 02 - 09:25 AM
Liz the Squeak 31 Mar 02 - 09:27 AM
CapriUni 31 Mar 02 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,Lucius from another ISP 31 Mar 02 - 10:27 AM
catspaw49 31 Mar 02 - 10:34 AM
weepiper 31 Mar 02 - 11:03 AM
Dave Swan 31 Mar 02 - 12:36 PM
Little Hawk 31 Mar 02 - 01:19 PM
Liz the Squeak 31 Mar 02 - 02:29 PM
Lucius 31 Mar 02 - 09:46 PM
CapriUni 31 Mar 02 - 10:02 PM
Mark Cohen 01 Apr 02 - 12:22 AM
Joe Offer 01 Apr 02 - 03:31 AM
Mrrzy 01 Apr 02 - 11:48 AM
The Walrus 01 Apr 02 - 12:53 PM
CapriUni 01 Apr 02 - 05:53 PM
Dani 01 Apr 02 - 06:51 PM
GUEST,petr 01 Apr 02 - 09:18 PM
CapriUni 01 Apr 02 - 10:03 PM
GUEST,adavis@truman.edu 01 Apr 02 - 11:58 PM
Marion 02 Apr 02 - 12:33 AM
CapriUni 02 Apr 02 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,greg stephens 02 Apr 02 - 11:12 AM
Joe Offer 03 Apr 04 - 09:48 PM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 03 Apr 04 - 10:10 PM
The Fooles Troupe 04 Apr 04 - 12:11 AM
BK Lick 04 Apr 04 - 12:28 AM
Kaleea 04 Apr 04 - 01:21 AM
jack halyard 04 Apr 04 - 06:59 AM
The O'Meara 04 Apr 04 - 10:35 AM
Bill D 04 Apr 04 - 10:58 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 04 Apr 04 - 12:27 PM
Uncle_DaveO 04 Apr 04 - 01:18 PM
John MacKenzie 05 Apr 04 - 04:01 AM
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Subject: children's taunt tune
From: GUEST,adavis@truman.edu
Date: 29 Mar 02 - 01:31 AM

A question that evolved from the "Miss Lucy had a steamboat" thread -- the tune for the playground taunt "Na-na na-na boo-boo" -- which shows unbelievably wide distribution, and is claimed by one authority to go back to Roman times -- is said to be "so-so-mi-la-so, mi". And it's said to be an example of how descending minor thirds are the intonation patterns for all kinds of shouted communications, especially commands, taunts and threats, at least in English: "Biii-lleee, din-ner!" "Ho-ney I'm ho-ome!" "Yooou're gonna geeeet it!" Can anybody explain to a musical neanderthal what a descending minor third is? And is it the case that relationships among musical tones have emotional meanings that go beyond languages and cultures? Are minor chords experienced as mournful beyond our little corner?


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 29 Mar 02 - 02:13 AM

It's also the first line of 'Cry Baby Bunting'... could there be a link?

LTS


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: CapriUni
Date: 29 Mar 02 - 02:26 PM

Good questions, Adam... Maybe someone can flag down the musical theorists that lurk around here...

Does anyone else besides me remember a bit from Mel Brooks' Oldest Man in the World bit, where he explains that music came about from calling for help -- because musical notes carry further than spoken language?

I think that is pretty close to the truth: not only can a sung tune carry further that speech, but you can identify a tone and pitch from a distance with much more accuracy than individual vowel and consonant sounds. So it makes sense that certain important information be encoded in music as well as words, especially when than information had to carry over long distances, such as: this is my hunting territory, you stay away (remember that Cromagnon humans were semi-nomadic hunters, much like wolves--perhaps that is where "nanny, nanny, boooo, boo!" started: you are not a member of this group, go away!), or "Come home for dinner!"

It wouldn't do much good if someone decided to change such a tune, because those in ear range wouldn't know what it meant (and a rival wouldn't stay away, and help wouldn't arrive.) So these tunes and their meaning get imbedded in our brains and passed on from generation to generation.

Just a thought.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: Joe_F
Date: 29 Mar 02 - 04:53 PM

Well, finessing the technicalities in which one becomes embroiled if one abandons the tempered scale, a descending minor third is the musical experience one has on descending (say) from sol to mi, from G to E, from E-flat to C, or, in general, 3 semitones.

During W.W. II, the taunt tune was used for the title line in the song "Johnny Got a Zero" -- a pun on the Japanese fighter plane.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: Lucius
Date: 29 Mar 02 - 08:53 PM

I'm no theorist, but two things come to mind. The concept of "major/minor" is a fairly western one. It really doesn't exist in most world music--which happens to be monophonic (one melody, little or no harmony). The descending minor third and the major second in the sequence that you speak of is described by Kodaly as the "universal baby chant" and used as his basis for elementary classroom music education.

And I for one would love to abandon the tempered scale, The technicalities become so much more interesting.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: weepiper
Date: 30 Mar 02 - 08:52 PM

I think it's the same tune as "ring-a-ring of roses", not "bye baby bunting". "Bye baby bunting" goes 'so so-so mi do' not 'so-so-mi-la-so, mi'. And round these parts the kids sing 'nyah nyah, na nyah nyah!' for what it's worth.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: CapriUni
Date: 30 Mar 02 - 08:58 PM

And round these parts the kids sing 'nyah nyah, na nyah nyah!' for what it's worth.

Same here, Weepiper -- what parts are you around? (I grew up in New Jersey & New York, USA when I was learning this)

So, if we play the tune backwards, will it become a children's friendship tune? ;-)


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: Little Hawk
Date: 30 Mar 02 - 09:30 PM

Around here it's mostly Na-na-na-na-na-na, I think, although I have heard the one ending in boo-boo too. "Here" being southern Ontario, Canada. It's got to be the most annoying tune of all time.

Remember the old Batman TV theme?...Na-na..na-na..na-na..na-na..na-na...na-na...na-na..na-na...Batman!...Batman!...Batman...Na-na-na...etc. It's a different tune, but equally relentless, and it just goes on and on endlessly. I used to hear kids doing that one a lot.

- LH


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 31 Mar 02 - 09:25 AM

Weepiper, it IS the same tune, you just notated it wrongly... Bye baby Bunting goes so fa te fa mi. Ring a ring just has an extra so = so so fa te fa mi.

Manitas said so.

LTS


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 31 Mar 02 - 09:27 AM

G E A G E if you want to be musical.

LTS


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: CapriUni
Date: 31 Mar 02 - 10:21 AM

LTS --

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I thought "G,G, E, A G, E" translated to "sol, sol, mi, la, sol, mi" in solmization -- the notes fa and ti are the ones that are left out of the pentatonic scale... I think.

And, um, who is this Manitas of which you speak? And why should I take his (her?) word for it? ;-)


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: GUEST,Lucius from another ISP
Date: 31 Mar 02 - 10:27 AM

Im'm not so sure Liz, but I think that you have an extra note there. I've known bye baby bunting with three pitches. And the "Fa - Te" tri-tone is considered "diablo en musica", typically not found in childrens taunts.

This here thread address has a similar discussion of the question asked.:

http://www.regiments.org/wombats/classics/tonic.txt

Lucius


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: catspaw49
Date: 31 Mar 02 - 10:34 AM

Descending Minor Third? What you have left hanging after sex...........

Spaw


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: weepiper
Date: 31 Mar 02 - 11:03 AM

Um. I don't wish to be argumentative but I didn't note bye-baby-bunting wrong...that's the way I've always heard it. Perhaps we could agree to disagree? The nyah nyah tune is also the one for 'I'm the king of the castle, and you're a dirty rascal'
Hello CapriUni, I'm in Edinburgh so I guess it's transatlantic!


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: Dave Swan
Date: 31 Mar 02 - 12:36 PM

Still pretty cold in Ohio this time of year, Spaw?


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: Little Hawk
Date: 31 Mar 02 - 01:19 PM

And when you're aroused, it's an ascending minor ninth, right, Spaw? :-)

- LH


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 31 Mar 02 - 02:29 PM

More like the lost chord....

And it looks very much as if we have different tunes for Bye Baby Bunting, but that goes for a lot of nursery rhymes that made it across the pond.

Manitas is a him (well, last time I looked, which was some time ago....) and he's my husband & Bratling's father.

LTS


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: Lucius
Date: 31 Mar 02 - 09:46 PM

For what it's worth, I've heard Bye baby bunting with both tunes.

So do the guests that start these posts ever come back and check on them??


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: CapriUni
Date: 31 Mar 02 - 10:02 PM

LTS --

Okay, so I don't have to feel deficient in my musical learning because I didn't recognize the name Manitas, then.

I mean, it's not like not knowing who Child was, or Herodotus...

Whew! That's a relief!


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 12:22 AM

I think 'Spaw might take exception to the word "minor" in that context, LH...but, to paraphrase Johnny Mathis, "It's not for him to say..."

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 03:31 AM

Well, as this page (click) shows, prosecutor Marcia Clark pronounced it "nanny nanny nanny, neener neener" in the OJ Simpson trial, but she didn't use the tune.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 11:48 AM

Why O why hasn't anybody mentioned this being in that Star Trek with the ageless ancient children? Also, this tune is used to taunt in parts of West Africa that don't have whites (or didn't in the 60's), and in Yugoslavia, and in the Far East - it seems to be culturally universal. Maybe there is something obnoxious to adult humans in that tune?


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: The Walrus
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 12:53 PM

CapriUni wrote:- "...Does anyone else besides me remember a bit from Mel Brooks' Oldest Man in the World bit, where he explains that music came about from calling for help -- because musical notes carry further than spoken language?..."

I remember being on an NCO cadre course (as a member of the ACF) and being taught (in effect) to "sing" orders on the parade square as the squad may not hear the command but *would* be able to know which order was being given from the "tune" of the order (I've tried it with nonsense phrases and, if they can't hear the words, it works).

Walrus


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: CapriUni
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 05:53 PM

Neat, Walrus!

And my father has noticed something similiar with baseball announcers on the radio: the call for "home run" always has the same intonation, as does the call for "foul", "fly ball", etc. And each call is very distinct.

He gets really annoyed at TV announcers, who just chat conversationally about the game (or about a game from last year) without bothering to call the plays -- they just assume you're watching the game, glued to the set.

So... back from thread drift. Did you ever try to score your commands, and if so, were they in pentatonic scale?


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: Dani
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 06:51 PM

Here's a link to an article about a related phenomenon: the unison shouting of "Air-Ball" and how it relates to earliest childhood tune imprinting(e.g., "yoo-hoo"):

http://www.s-t.com/daily/09-95/09-13-95/0913airball.HTML

This is fascinating stuff! We need a linguist to help us understand how our brains replace tunes with verbal meanings (a la Walrus' experience above.

Dani


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 09:18 PM

you beat me to it Dani. I remember a CBC radio interview about the 'airball' phenomenon that the interval comes up in childrens taunting songs, and in fact all over the place (even the second phrase of Beethovens 5th) thanks for the link Petr


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: CapriUni
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 10:03 PM

So what about the chant "De-Fence!" at Basketball games?

;-)


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: GUEST,adavis@truman.edu
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 11:58 PM

On the linguistics front, I remember reading in Peter Farb's little book "Word Play" about a whistled language used in the Canary Islands (no, I'm not making this up). It's intelligible at a range of several miles, over rough terrain. As I recall, the discussion was pretty complex, but it had to do with the more favorable noise-to-signal ratio for messages encoded as intervals between tones, as opposed to phonated language, which depends on taking in a substantial soundstring, then replaying it in your head, in effect, to test which binary contrasts (say, between /b/ and /p/) make most sense with respect to the communication event taking place, and the sense that you've been inferring by means of these feedback loops up till now. Of course, you could be working on and confirming a false hypothesis (resulting in a mondegreen, like the time I was in church, and was sure I heard them singing "By the love with which you live/and the toilet overflows").

I'm guessing this whistled language is capable of a pretty limited range of expression, like drums or smoke signals (both of which, however, are grammatized, not like the discrete catalog of signals used by apes).

Why are there mondegreens in lyrics, but not in tunes?


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: Marion
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 12:33 AM

I remember this standard taunt to that same "Na na na na boo, boo" tune:

Kindergarten baby Wash your face in gravy.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: CapriUni
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 11:01 AM

A. Davis --

There is also yodelling. As I understand it, yodelling as a means of communications evolved in all, or nearly all, places where people are routinely separated by each other by rough terraign and/or long distances -- not just in the Alps, but also the Apalachian mountains (where it is called Hollaring, I think) and among the Mbuti (Pygmy)peoples of the Congo (where vision is not blocked by mountains, but by trees).

Anyway, as to your question of why tunes are not misheard the way lyrics are, I'm not sure.

But a couple of weeks ago, I was surfing the Web, trying to find info on what the wavelengths of various notes are. I know A above middle C (The penultimate note in "Nonny, Nonny, Boo, Boo") is 440 wavelengths per second, but I don't remember the others. I terrible at math, so most of what I found was incomprehensible to me (but it was a great cure for my insomnia ;-)). One thing that did stick out, though, was that the spaces between notes are based on ratios, and not linear differences, and that the brain recognises a note based on its relationship to other notes.

I'm thinking now that maybe this is related to an area of our brains that orient ourselves in space, and that our brains map out a melody the same way we scan a landscape to find our way around -- or maybe not. But if so, than that function of the brain has been around for a lot longer, and is a lot more "stable" than the function of phonetic decoding (If we interpreted our environment with the same decree of accuracy that we do our language, we'd be bumping into walls all the time!).

There was a thread around here somewhere this winter about tone deafness inspired by an NPR report (but for some reason I can't find it through a Forum search --??), but now I'm wondering if tone deafness is either learned (or rather musical recognition is not learned) or if tone deafness is a sort of musical dyslexia...

Just a thought...


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 11:12 AM

dont know how air-ball is sung, but Millhill school rugger supporters years ago used to sing Mill for quite a long time and then gradually drop one at a time to Hillon the note a minor third below. Is this the same chant? very eerie effect.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Apr 04 - 09:48 PM

I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed that we haven't got to the bottom of the mystery of the origins of this tune. I also think it's disgraceful that we didn't have a MIDI of the tune, and none was to be found on the Internet. I guess part of the problem is that nobody really knows the name of this universally-known tune. For lack of a better name, I've called it nyahnyah.mid.
I'm reading Jan Harold Brunvand's The Study of American Folklore. Brunvand calls it "Johnny is a sissy," but gives no background information - and I'm getting damn frustrated with our failure to find any information on this.
So, any more insight on the origins?
-Joe Offer-


Click to play


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 03 Apr 04 - 10:10 PM

the nyaa nyaa 'tune' is also used for

Ginger you're barmy
you want to join the army.

it is almost the same tune I have for Bye baby Bunting but I think the interval between the first and second notes is not the same.

There is also 'coo eeee' which varies either as 'oo ooee' soft call and the 'OOU-hEEE' cry which seem to have the universal meaning of 'attention over here'

There are a couple of classic misheard in church phrases - all my eye and Betty Martin - pray for me blessed Martin, butin Latin, and Gladly, my crosseyed bear.

Anne


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 12:11 AM

Ah! I thought I'd heard it afores somewhere....


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: BK Lick
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 12:28 AM

Hmm -- it's also the second line of "A Tisket A Tasket."

          —BK


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Kaleea
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 01:21 AM

OK, some hoity-toity Musicology answers to some of the above Q's.
    The aforementioned "descending minor third" is normally the first interval (the musical space between one note moving to the next) which children learn to sing. Then they learn other intervals until they are able to sing various songs accurately. It has been my experience that the ability to "hear" and reproduce pitches correctly is learned. If one who is considered "tone deaf" truly wants to learn to sing accurately, they can be taught. I have done this with my Voice students over the years. As far as the A above middle C being exactly 440, it is a matter of opinion. That has been the norm for the USA, and in Europe 438 has been common. So much for the theory of being born with "perfect pitch." Master Suzuki taught us that the teaching of Musical ability can begin when the baby is in the womb. There are some orchestras in major cities in the USA which have gone to 438. Many Musicologists belive that pitch used to be lower yet, and over time it has been raised.       ---Things that make you go, "hmm. . ."
    Now, the descending minor third has been used for eons of time when it is necessary for one's voice to carry, for example in the early church. When speaking before a large group of people in a large building or out of doors, one's singing voice carries much farther than one's speaking voice. Therefore, speakers, & later priests would use a "sing-song" manner of vocalization to be heard. This "sing-song" stuff was fleshed out into a few extra notes for the priest to lead the people in a kind of call & response thing which is still done in some churches, for example the Catholic Church. It helped the people to hear the priest, and also, the musical "chanting" was used to teach the people what the church leaders wanted them to learn. We remember text better when it is presented in song.
    OK, you can wake up now, lecture's over! Who cares about the technical crud, just have some fun & chant na-nee na-nee boo boo at somebody you love.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: jack halyard
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 06:59 AM

On the subject of musical pitches carrying, sea shanties are an example of where pitch is definitely more important than content.
The grunt, shriek or hitch on the heave is a powerfully carrying sound. Some shanty tunes such as Sally Racket are very close to the children's chant. In fact Sally Racket, a song describing the antics of various ladies of doubtful repute, is as close to the childrens chant in both music and content as adult males could get.

Oh my little Suzy Skinner,(Chorus "haul him away!")
She's only a beginner,(chorus)
But she prefers it to her dinner,(chorus)
To me hauley hi yo
Haul him away!

Any number of ratty four year olds would probably make up similar verses about the kid in the out group to the basic tune.

                         Your good health, all,

                         Jack Halyard


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: The O'Meara
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 10:35 AM

Ok, this is probably major thread drift, and maybe a little far out for many, but a few years ago I read an article suggesting there may be a universal language among humans that is instictive from childhood and need not be taught. If so it would be similar to the "language" used by animals - intonation. volume, (and maybe sometimes body language) with no words. Like wolf howls and whale song. Example was nonny-nonny boo-boo and na-na na-na naaa=na. And a couple more, like the negative Hunh-unh. Proposition was that this language was used by all humans until some drastic event occured and caused a language split of some kind, ala tower of babel. This would make singing more valuable than words.

Kind of interesting to think about.

O'Meara


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Bill D
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 10:58 AM

a number of years ago in 'Psychology Today', there was an article on "na-na na na NA na"... it said that the notes were a natural spacing which arose in most cultures and seemed not to require being 'passed on'...it seems that kids will find them no matter what....(I may still have the magazine in some old archives...I 'tend' to not throw away anything)


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 12:27 PM

Kaleea, I love the "hoity-toity" stuff when it comes to music and singing! I love thinking about the universality of it all- beyond cultural scales and musical styles, there's this primal universality that still can be found in the playground and on the school bus- and the basketball court and the sports arena- that's just cool!!

I teach elementary music and the Kodaly method, (which I touch on but am not certified in) always begins in the earliest grades with the sol-mi interval- adding "la", working up to a pentatonic scale, and only introducing the "western" diatonic tones in the middle grades. The theory being that this is the natural progression of the developing child's ability to hear, learn, and sing.

Allison


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 01:18 PM

A degree of thread creep here:

The separate bass line in music, where the bass actually carries a sort of "tune", is native only to western European music, and developed relatively late   

Other cultures, if they use it, got it from western European music. The native musics just don't do that. Low voices typically either track the higher voices (human or instrumental) in the same tune, or merely in effect go boom, boom, boom, for rhythm.

(End of thread creep initiation.)


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 04:01 AM

Nyaaah is the title of Noel Murphy's first LP.
John


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 04:05 AM

Hate to be picky, but "...claimed by one authority to go back to Roman times -- is said to be "so-so-mi-la-so, mi" can't be right. The sol-fa system didn't evolve until the Middle Ages, say about 1000AD .


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 10:38 AM

GUEST< I don't believe the intent was to say that it went back to Roman times as sol-fa, but that the tune went back, and that, considering it under sol-fa, it fell on certain notes. Two subjects.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Janie
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 11:58 AM

I think O'Meara may be onto something. I remember the first time I heard my son sing that taunt. I wondered at the time if was innate (not mention inane), or part of the collective unconscious, because I was pretty sure he had not been exposed to it otherwise. It was before he started pre-school, he had little exposure to other children, and we do not have a TV from which he might have heard it.

I also wonder if the na/nayh part comes in because that is the easiest sound to enunciate with a sneer on one's face. Try it on your spouse and you will see just what I mean! (and so will your spouse)

Janie


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 11:58 AM

Dig The Watersons' singing of dateless English "A soul, a soul, a soulcake - pease good missus a soulcake" on "Frost & Fire." It's the nyaah nayaah tune, that part anyway.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 01:00 PM

Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah, skithery idle doodle didle do di da
Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah, skithery idle doodle didle da.

Goodbye Mushin Durkin sure I'm sick and tired of workin'
No more I'll dig the praties, and no longer I'll be fooled
As sure as me name is Barney I'll be off to Californy
Where instead of diggin' praties, I'll be diggin' lumps of gold.

Nyah nyah etc.

Authentic chorus collected from an LP

John


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: BK Lick
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 06:25 PM

Some folks sing "na, na na, na na na, na..." in "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."

          —BK


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: alison
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 03:54 AM

Queen used it for the chorus of "We are the champions" - nyah nyah nyah nyah na

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: JennyO
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 10:45 AM

I remember hearing something like this in a children's song:

It's raining, it's pouring;
The old man is snoring.
Bumped his head
And he went to bed
And he couldn't get up in the morning.


If you follow this link and click on the highlighted text, you will hear the audio:

It's raining it's pouring

Jenny


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Lady Hillary
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 10:52 AM

There was an ethnomusicologist [I forget the name] about 100 years ago who asserted that the Nyah, Nyah melody is the only one common to all human societies, implying that it may be genetically built in. EBarnacle on Lady Hillary's Machine


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Cool Beans
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 01:48 PM

The little riff also shows up as "Pay me, oh pay me'' in "Pay Me My Money Down" and its pop knock-off "Cindy, Oh Cindy."


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 02:36 PM

I see England, I see France,
I see ______'s underpants!

Hundreds of them- anything you want to say, really. And in the OLD version of "A Tisket, A Tasket," (before it became a pop song) the first line used the tune also, as well as the second.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Marje
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 03:37 PM

I remember reading or hearing something about this tune once. It was along the lines that the descending third (in music that uses the Western scale)is evocative because it points you in the direction of the "home" keynote (do) but doesn';t actually take you there. Somehow this catches the attention more than, say, a major third would, as this would take you right home and be less interesting.

Recently there was a radio programme about the composition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and it related how they were stuck for a middle section for the tune, and then they thought of that falling minor third that you'd use for calling a dog, repeated, and they'd got it.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,Jack Horvath
Date: 04 Nov 05 - 12:21 PM

Wow. Very interesting.

Sly and the Family Stone use this taunt in Everyday People.
"There is a yellow one that won't accept the black one that won't accept the red one that won't accept the white one."

Pat Metheny also uses it as the recurring motif in "Last Train Home."


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,john canale
Date: 04 Nov 05 - 01:09 PM

Queen's "We are the champions" has it,
Waitresses "I know what boys like" has it too.

But just when and where did the nyah-nyah taunt originate??


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Cluin
Date: 04 Nov 05 - 02:21 PM

How about that fairly universal Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo often chanted on a rising scale by the cued studio audience of stupid TV sit coms.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Azizi
Date: 04 Nov 05 - 02:42 PM

What I know very little about music theory and structure, and wondering if someone here can weigh in on this question:

Is any connection between this children's taunt tune and African American field hollers {USA Southern slavery}.

I've found the Internet offerings on field hollers to be very disappointing. I've found one or two line statements that say that these field hollers pre-date the blues, but little else.

Were these hollers tonal utterings and [usually] not words? Maybe that's why there are so few examples cited.

However, I don't get the sense that the children's taunt is call & response, and I seem to remember reading that one field holler would evoke a responding field holler from another person so maybe they were a form of call & response.

Also, is there a connection between this children's taunt and tonal language? And if so, what is the taunt saying {"That's what you get?" or "It serves you right?" or something else, but what else?

BTW, the taunt that I remember doing and still hear African American children say is more like "Nah nah nahnahnah."

I've never added or heard anyone else {African American} add a "boo" at the end of this taunt. Of course, this doesn't mean that there are no African Americans who add "boo" to Nah nah nahnahnah {or however it is said}. What it means is that no Black kids I know or heard have done it. I'm referring here to African American children living in all or predominately Black neighborhoods.

I'd be interested in knowing if anyone else posting here has noted any racial differences in the way this taunt is spoken.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 12:20 PM

Can anyone point me to actual writings by Kodaly on this universal chant?


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: EBarnacle
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 06:29 PM

I believe the reference I made about 2 years ago on Lady Hillary's machine refers to a statement in Frazier's Golden Bough.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST
Date: 26 May 09 - 01:54 AM

"BTW, the taunt that I remember doing and still hear African American children say is more like "Nah nah nahnahnah."

I've never added or heard anyone else {African American} add a "boo" at the end of this taunt. Of course, this doesn't mean that there are no African Americans who add "boo" to Nah nah nahnahnah {or however it is said}. What it means is that no Black kids I know or heard have done it. I'm referring here to African American children living in all or predominately Black neighborhoods."

Late to the party here, but the first time I heard anybody in real life (not in a book or on TV, I mean to say) add a boo-boo (actually a poo-poo) was my (biracial) niece.

I'm white, in NYC. Growing up I said "nyah nyah na nyah nyah". Starting in my teens (so about a decade ago) I started hearing teens affecting kid speech going "na na na na na" instead.

And then we all grew up, and the next thing I know my little five - no, make that six now - year old niece is teasing the kids on the block with "nanny nanny poo poo" and correcting ME! But I don't know where she got her version from. Her parents are unlikely to indulge in children's taunts, and her school is a bit of a rarity and genuinely mixed - in her class of 24 you can divide it fairly evenly between black kids, white kids, and Hispanic kids. There's even a sizeable amount of other biracial (black and white, that is) children there, as well as a few Arab and Asian children (though not as many as I'd expect, given our neighborhood). (It's a very small school though, just opened this year, so we'll see if this keeps up in future years.) So she could have gotten it from *anybody*, you know? It might still not be a commonly done thing with most African American children except in her school.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jun 11 - 02:28 AM

What does this nonsense even mean? Like, what's the origin?


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Aug 11 - 08:38 PM

So very, very many times when I'm looking for information about a folk song (or any other kind of song) google sends me here, and here I am again! I remember the Psychology Today article, too. The author theorized the taunt song as a kind of universal song, the first song, hard wired into our brains. He called it "The Ur-Song" (a google search lead me to two websites, one of which seemed to understand the concept: http://criticalnoise.blogspot.com/2002/02/ur-song.html and one did not: www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,953778,00.html. I started thinking about this because I was chatting with a Russian friend, and she mentioned she had picniced on the Volga. I said something about The Volga Boatmen (the opening melody is a very simple version of this tune - G - E - B - E) she was unfamiliar with the song - she's young and listens to Beyonce and Shakira! As we chatted, I started realizing I had the opportunity to test the idea of the unversality of the tune, and I sent her links to some examples. She was unfamiliar with it.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Feb 12 - 11:28 AM

Six and a half years later for one reason or another I thought of this taunt, and consequently found myself back at this thread although I forgot I had posted to it.

For the folkloric record, I should have included this demographical information in my 2005 post:

I remember (using and hearing) the taunt as I described it from my childhood [African Americans in Atlantic City, New Jersey - 1950s to 1965]. I also recall it from African Americans in Northern New Jersey (1965-1969) and African Americans in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1969 to date.

As I mentioned in 2005, I don't recall ever hearing any African Americans say "boo boo" (or "poo poo" as Guest 26 May 09 mentioned)at the end of that taunt.

Also for the record, I definitely remember the taunt "Kindergarten baby / Stick your head" when I was growing up in Atlantic City, New Jersey in the early 1950s to 1965 [I was born in 1947]. And I've also heard Black children chant the same "Kindergarten baby" taunt in Pittsburgh over the years. If my counting of the syllables in that kindergarten taunt is correct, that line and its rhyming line each have six syllables instead of the five syllables in the "nah nah nahnahnah" taunt that I remember.

I'm sorry that I don't know how to write or read music. If I did it that would not only help me better understand some of what is written in this thread, but would help me convey how I remember this taunt sounding like.

It's likely that non-Black children in those cities also said this taunt one way or another, and maybe the same way I recall Black American children saying it. And it's not that I've only interacted with African Americans but it would be accurate to say that I've mostly interacted with African American children, teens, and adults. That's why I don't have any clear recollections of people from other races saying this taunt.

That said, I'm still interested in learning whether there are any racial/ethnic differences between how this particular taunt is said (in the same cities at the same time or in different cities).

* By the way, how is "nyah" in "nyah nyah na nyah nyah" pronounced? Is the "n" pronounced? Is it like "nah-yah" with neither syllable emphasized?


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 23 Feb 12 - 12:28 PM

West London, late forties, we sang something more like "Nuh nuh, nuh NUH nuh" It was guaranteed to absolutely infuriate. I used to sing it at my little sister, and she always became enraged. Once, she got so furious, she kicked in a glass door to the kitchen. Our Dad walloped us both!


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Rain Dog
Date: 23 Feb 12 - 12:37 PM

I do believe that the various lyrics and arrangements have been copyrighted by a number of agencies. I think you might well need permission before you quote any more of the lyrics


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 24 Feb 12 - 07:24 AM

Have just asked my husband, and am amazed that in Ivory Coast as a Senoufo child, even he used to sing the same tune, "La la, la LAH la!" while pulling a rude face. If someone was on the receiving end of this, they immediately thumped the insulter and a rare old bundle ensued! These Senoufos didn't have any contact with the West, as they were strict Muslims living in the bush in Tengrila, in the remote North. Isn't it amazing that the same taunting tune is so universal?


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: EBarnacle
Date: 24 Feb 12 - 09:31 AM

The Kindergarten Baby song was known among white kids in that period also. In Hoboken, it was interchangeable with "Baby, baby, Stick your head in gravy."


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Feb 12 - 10:16 AM

The nyaa-nyaa tune from NYC in the '50s was the same as the first two lines of "Ring around the Rosie."


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,Mike Mandaville
Date: 24 Feb 12 - 11:18 AM

The Steevie Wonder song "Living For The City" makes use of this very popular melody.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,Azizi
Date: 24 Feb 12 - 09:58 PM

Having read the entries on this post that remember the taunt being five syllables with the fourth one emphasized, I've sounded it out to myself and I agree that that is how i remember saying that taunt and how I have heard it said. So as a correction, instead of "nah nah nahnahnah", I should have written that taunt as "nah nah nah NAH nah." (also with the fourth syllable elongated like "NAAH".

Btw, special thanks to Guest Eliza, thanks for sharing the memories her husband told her about growing up in Ivory Coast as a Senoufo child, and singing "the same tune, "La la, la LAH la!" while pulling a rude face."

I love learning information like that. It shows in some ways that the whole world is kin.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,Marduk
Date: 03 Jul 12 - 03:06 PM

Same here. I said this taunt when I started in my teens. In fact, I am a teen. I was thinking about saying "I am a P-head" or "This is P-B-S" in the same melody. But I haven't sang it yet. I don't like to taunt in public. One time, I made a video on my phone, and I sang in a PBS P-head's voice, "You just got owned, you just got owned" in the same tune. P.S. Tum tum tum tum tums!


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,Marduk
Date: 03 Jul 12 - 03:18 PM

I sang this taunt before. In Mario Kart Wii, Baby Mario would sing this taunt if someone got hit with one of his items. It's cute! Not really much video game characters sing it. I also heard this taunt from Coco Bandicoot in Crash Nitro Kart for PS2. I still sing it nowadays. P.S. Tum tum tum tum tums!


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,Marduk
Date: 03 Jul 12 - 03:26 PM

I was thinking about saying "This is P-B-S" in the same tune. I don't know if you heard of this, but I have a Furby Baby that would sing this twice, except she went "Da da da da da da" or something like that. Her name is Boo.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,Marduk
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 02:17 PM

I know this off topic, but Marduk from Bakugan Battle Brawlers is so adorable!


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,Neji Hyuga
Date: 28 Jul 12 - 01:32 AM

*Sigh* I sure miss singing this song, gamn it! Sheesh! I never sung this when I was little. P.S. What happend to the old comments when my name was Marduk?


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,Neji Hyuga
Date: 28 Jul 12 - 01:40 AM

I was watching PBS 1984 Split ID Yellow Text Letters Super Effects, and some guy had his own version. It goes: It's raining, it's pouring, there's a P-Head outside! It was cute!


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,Marduk
Date: 28 Jul 12 - 01:47 AM

I found them! I found them! I found my old comments! I made that one up just now. NO MORE NEJI HYUGA!


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,LogosRule (This is a new name)
Date: 30 Oct 12 - 07:08 PM

OK, so I just found out that 2 characters say this. Grim from Billy and Mandy, and Toadette from Mario. Here's what they say: Grim: AHA! You said you deserve pie! That means you don`t deserve pie! (Sing-Song) No pie for you! Toadette: (Sing-Song) Red team's the best. (Or blue team's the best! P.S. Sorry for spamming all that Marduk crap.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Oct 13 - 02:28 AM

ne-ner ne-ner ne-nerrrrrr


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,Journey Rocks!
Date: 13 Apr 14 - 04:26 PM

Journey's Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin' has it, too. Now it's your turn to cry. Na na na na na na na na (It repeats for a while, then stops, then starts again.)


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Apr 14 - 10:26 PM

I suspect that it's older than the human race. The earliest surviving example of language.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Apr 14 - 01:04 AM

It was used by the boys of the Royal High School in Edinburgh to catcall the Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia on his visit in 1812. Nathaniel Gow extended it into a slow strathspey. I have Gow's stuff here (scroll down, the page is chronological):

http://www.campin.me.uk/Embro/Webrelease/Embro/03welcm/03welcm.htm


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 14 Apr 14 - 05:23 AM

Wow, brilliant Jack, thanks! Your whole site's great -


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Thompson
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 04:18 AM

It's part of the French children's song Malbrough s'en va t'en guerre, mocking the death of the first of the Churchills.
And there's an echo of it in Lileberlero, the loyalist song mocking the Irish.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Thompson
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 05:10 AM

Come to think of it, Il etait un bergère has the same nyah nyah tune.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: GUEST,Ilya
Date: 28 Feb 17 - 12:11 PM

Btw, the taunting tune is very similar (if not identical) in Russia.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Joe_F
Date: 28 Feb 17 - 02:45 PM

Thompson: Are we thinking of the same tune? I do not see any resemblance. The taunt tune in my book is sol-mi-la-sol-me; neither Malbrouck... (= For He's a Jolly Good Fellow, The Bear Went Over the Mountain, etc.) nor Liliburlero has a la in it.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: meself
Date: 28 Feb 17 - 05:08 PM

Just remembered that this was the 'tune' that was used in one of the many taunts of my childhood: "Bobby[or whoever]'s got a girlfriend!" - having a girlfriend being a cause of considerable embarrassment before the age of thirteen or so. And, with slight variation, the tune of 'Liar, liar, pants on fire!"


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Mrrzy
Date: 28 Feb 17 - 10:30 PM

I beg to differ - et ron ron ron petit patapon has the same rhythm, but not tune, as na na na na nerre.


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: EBarnacle
Date: 01 Mar 17 - 12:23 AM

So, thec question now becomes: Is the ur-music rhythm or melody?


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 19 Mar 17 - 08:39 AM

I've just been listening to Private Passions on BBC Radio 3. The theme tune, a piece called The Wakeful Poet, composed by the programme's presenter Michael Berkeley, is strongly reminiscent of the children's taunt tune. Give it a listen!


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Subject: RE: children's taunt tune: nyah nyah, na nyah nyah
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 19 Mar 17 - 10:07 AM


Steve Shaw - PM 
Date: 19 Mar 17 - 08:39 AM 
I've just been listening to Private Passions on BBC Radio 3. The theme tune, a piece called The Wakeful Poet, ...



http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006tnv3/episodes/player

~~~~~~~
"... In the music for the final movement, The Wakeful Poet, Chaucer himself chatters in a jaunty, innocent style."
http://www.michaelberkeley.co.uk/works/brass_quintet#music_from_chaucer

http://open.spotify.com/track/0FlfQAneIE6riP4iA2EjKi 

https://youtu.be/FIVHR_GSRUg  n.a. to me, UK


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