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Lyr Add: Van La

GUEST,Phil d'Conch 12 Nov 16 - 04:12 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Van La
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 12 Nov 16 - 04:12 PM

Original request here...

Van La (The Wind)

Sung by a group of children in Massacre, Dominica; also by a group of adults in La Plaine, Dominica.

In one of their favorite song games, the children of Dominica sing about the winds of Layou and St. Joseph, two villages along the western shore of the islands. They fancy themselves attacking the wind, sticking it full of holes, breaking it up with sharp, thrusting movements. This song game, especially fancied by little boys, goes faster and faster and the children's voices grow more and more shrill as they battle the wind.

Van-la vanté,
        O van,
Van Layou-la,
        O van,
Van-la Sin Jo,
        O van.
Nou kay pitché-i, noue kay pitché-i,
        O van,
Nou kay pitché-i, noue kay pitché-i,
        O van, etc. [repeated indefinitely ad lib., faster and faster]

The original Creole words of the last section simply say, 'We're going to stick, we're going to stick, O wind." A free English translation might be sung as follows:

Wind is blowing,
        O wind,
Out of Layou,
        O wind,
Out of Saint Joe,
        O wind.

We're gonna stick, we're gonna kick,
        O wind.
We're gonna rock, we're gonna sock,
        O wind.
We're gonna fight, we're gonna bite,
        O wind.
We're gonna pound it all around,
        O wind.
We're gonna whack it on the back,
        O wind, etc. [as long as one's imagination holds out]

To Play Dominican children dance this game inside the usual ring, getting faster and faster as the play goes on. Like most African-American dancers, they make strong use of the pelvic area in this dance, thrusting their hips out sharply as they do battle with the buffeting winds.

About The Song Island fishermen, who supply much of the protein in the Caribbean diet, fish offshore in homemade dugout canoes, often powered only by sail or oars, vulnerable to winds and seas. Moreover, the inhabitants of these little islands are all familiar with the devastation of tropical gales, living as they do from hurricane to hurricane with perhaps a volcanic eruption thrown in for good measure. In the late summer and early autumn storm season, the blue Caribbean can turn black and destructive while cyclonic winds devastate the green plantations of the islands. The wind is an ever-present topic of conversation among both children and adults.

[Lomax, Alan; Elder, J.D.; Hawes, Bess; Brown Girl in the Ring, (New York: Pantheon, 1997, pp. 122-123]

Joe/Mods: I know we don't want lyrics posted to multiple threads but this just felt like too much specific information to post in the songbook index thread. Perhaps OP's request and Monique's previous reply could be moved here?

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