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Slave's Lament/Cant des Ocells

Jack Campin 14 Jun 17 - 08:25 PM
Stewart 15 Jun 17 - 01:23 PM
Joe Offer 16 Jun 17 - 03:35 AM
Stewart 17 Jun 17 - 05:38 PM
Jack Campin 17 Jun 17 - 07:18 PM
Stewart 17 Jun 17 - 10:48 PM
Monique 18 Jun 17 - 02:40 AM
Jack Campin 18 Jun 17 - 03:45 AM
Andy M 18 Jun 17 - 04:02 AM
Monique 18 Jun 17 - 09:53 AM
Jack Campin 18 Jun 17 - 10:15 AM
Jack Campin 11 Dec 17 - 06:39 AM
Gallus Moll 11 Dec 17 - 06:03 PM
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Subject: Slave's Lament/Cant des Ocells
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Jun 17 - 08:25 PM

It just occurred to be that the usual minor-key tune for Burns's "Slave's Lament" ("The land of Virginia, -ginia, O") is indistinguishable from the Catalan Christmas carol "El cant des ocells", made into a hit by Pablo Casals.

How did that happen?


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Subject: RE: Slave's Lament/Cant des Ocells
From: Stewart
Date: 15 Jun 17 - 01:23 PM

El Cant dels Ocells
Slave's Lament

Except for the first phrase - ascending minor scale notes 1-5 - I see little resemblance. They both use a harmonic minor in parts (the 7th note of the scale raised a half tone) to give it a sort of gypsy flavor. But other than that, not similar in my opinion.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Slave's Lament/Cant des Ocells
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Jun 17 - 03:35 AM

refresh


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Subject: Origins: Slave's Lament (Burns)
From: Stewart
Date: 17 Jun 17 - 05:38 PM

Ever since I first heard Burn's "Slave's Lament" I was taken by the melody - was it original by Burns, from an earlier tune, or added much later? This thread "Slave's Lament/Cant des Ocells" got me to thinking again and doing more research.

Burns' copy of the song with melody was first printed in Scots Musical Museum, Vol. IV (1792) p. 398.

"No one has spread Scottish music around the world as successfully as Robert Burns (1759- 1796). In collecting and extending fragments of traditional verse for his five volumes of The Scots Musical Museum, and in preserving old melodies by using them for his songs, his bequest has had immeasurable impact. This is one of his less well-known songs. Visiting Dundee, he was troubled by the sight of a slave ship in the harbor, en route from Senegal to Virginia. Moved to write these words reflecting his abhorrence of slavery, Burns set them to a Sephardic tune ("Rachel's Lamentation for Her Children") found in another Scottish collector's tome. He no doubt believed that the melody was also known in Moorish North Africa. Singer, songwriter, and teacher Christine Kydd is renowned for her sensitive and imaginative arrangements of traditional songs. She sings here as part of the jazz-influenced vocal trio Chantan, with Corrina Hewat on clarsach (Scottish small harp)." from "Scotland the Real Music From Contemporary Caledonia" by Fiona Ritche

The lyrics seem to come from an English Broadside, "The Trappan'd Maiden" (The Distressed Damsel) - Pepys Ballads, Volume 4(mid 1600s).
Give ear unto a maid,
That lately was betrayed
And sent into Viginny O
In brief I shall declare,
What I have suffered there
When that I was weary, weary, weary O
This verse would fit nicely the tune used by Burns for Slave's Lament.

According to Sheena Wellington: "The American Music scholar Serge Hovey traced the tune back to a 15th century Eastern European Jewish song called "Rachel's Lamentation for her Children" but it was apparently also known in the 12th Century Spanish Sephardic tradition. The same tune is also know in North and West Africa with a different time signature." see here

Burns' melody is written in the harmonic minor or Ahava Rabboh Mode (Freygish)(Sephardic cantors call it the Tefillah ('prayer') mode) - this is a minor scale with the 7th note raised a half tone.

So I think it most likely that the song was adapted by Burns from a English broadside, with an ancient Eastern European or Sephardic melody.

What do you think?

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Slave's Lament/Cant des Ocells
From: Jack Campin
Date: 17 Jun 17 - 07:18 PM

Here are both tunes in ABC, laid out to show the parallels.

X:1
T:El Cant dels Ocells (Dm)
Z:Jack Campin, http://www.campin.me.uk/
F:Jack Campin's Nine-Note Tunebook
% last edit 03-02-2013
G:Christmas carol
M:2/4
L:1/8
Q:1/4=66
K:DMin
   E   | DE  FG | A3\
   d   |^cA  B=c| A3\
   B   | cB  dd |^c>B A2-|A2 z||        
|:HA   |^FG  AB | G3\
   G   | cB  AG | A3\
   G/F/|(EF) GF | A4     |D2 z:|

X:2
T:Slave's Lament
S:Scots Musical Museum no. 384
M:C
L:1/8
Q:1/2=66
K:DMin
   FE |EDFG     A2\
   AA |Afed {d}^c2\
   AB |G>FGA    BdcB|{B}A6||
|:(cB)|AFDD     D2\
   GA |BAGF     E2\
   A^c|d2^cd    AFEF|   D6:|


The relationship seems pretty obvious to me. "Rachel's Lament" would be an obvious ancestor but I can't find it - it is very hard to track down Sephardic songs on the web for free. The Spanish title is probably going to be "Raquel que llora a sus hijos" or "Voz en Rama".

BTW it's in magein avot mode, not freygish. Freygish has a flat second and a major third.


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Subject: RE: Slave's Lament/Cant des Ocells
From: Stewart
Date: 17 Jun 17 - 10:48 PM

"BTW it's in magein avot mode, not freygish. Freygish has a flat second and a major third. "

Slave's Lament uses the harmonic minor scale, which differs from the Western minor scale in that the 7th note is raised a half step.

The Freygish mode (same as the Ahavah Rabbah) and the harmonic minor scale have the same sequence of intervals (half-tones, whole-tones, and augmented-whole-tone), the only difference is where you designate the tonic. They both have that distinctive augmented-whole-tone interval (one-and-a-half-tone interval).

The Magein Avot mode (same as the Western minor) has only whole- and half-tone intervals.
See Jewish prayer modes

S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Slave's Lament/Cant des Ocells
From: Monique
Date: 18 Jun 17 - 02:40 AM

The song is called "El llanto de Raquel". I found that (in Sp.) 12)
El llanto de Raquel, una copla de la cual sólo nos han llegado versiones orales muy fragmentarias de Oriente. Para las fuentes a1jamiadas de las quinot1-8 véase el catálogo de Elena ROMERO, con la colaboración de Iacob M. HASSÁN y Leonor CARRACEDO, Bibliografía analítica de ediciones de coplas sefardíes [= BAECS] (Madrid 1992) núms. 14, 32, 70, 83, 96, 116, 150, 179 y 211i Para las versiones orales de 10 y 12, Samuel G. ARMISTEAD, El Romancero judeo-español en el Archivo Menéndez Pidal (Catálogo-índice de romances y canciones) (Madrid 1978) núms. BB1.1 y E6. Sobre los mismos temas que las quinot 2 y 6, y 3 y 7, tratan dos fragmentos poéticos manuscritos, al parecer del siglo XVI, de la guenizá de El Cairo: véase Eleazar GUTWIRTH, «A Judeo—Spanish planctus from the Cairo Guenizah», Romance Philology 49 (1996) págs. 420-428, y «A Judeo—Spanish endecha from the Cairo Genizah», Mediterranean Language Review 6—7 (1993) págs. 113—120


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Subject: RE: Slave's Lament/Cant des Ocells
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Jun 17 - 03:45 AM

Not that I'm complaining or anything, and I don't think Burns would have objected, but a google image search for "llanto raquel" gets you rather a lot of pictures of young women in hotpants.


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Subject: RE: Slave's Lament/Cant des Ocells
From: Andy M
Date: 18 Jun 17 - 04:02 AM

Interesting post about a lesser known Burns song. Can I point you at a wonderful version on Michael Marra with Mr McFall's Chamber, on Delphian Records.


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Subject: RE: Slave's Lament/Cant des Ocells
From: Monique
Date: 18 Jun 17 - 09:53 AM

Ah Jack, I looked for "El llanto de Raquel canción sefardí" or the like, it's why I didn't come across any of your ladies!
I had no time to search any further this morning but here you have some links. Some documents at the links are in English, many are not. I'm not sure anything is to be found online.


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Subject: RE: Slave's Lament/Cant des Ocells
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Jun 17 - 10:15 AM

I still haven't got anywhere.

It's astonishing that this song could have been in print for Burns to look at and we can't get it off the web now. And the books on Sephardic song I do have are entirely liturgical; there are a few very small collections of folk songs put together by singers to document their own repertoire, but they don't bother indexing them for the public to see. I also have 10 CDs of Sephardic songs, their contents don't overlap all that much, and this song isn't on any of them.


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Subject: RE: Slave's Lament/Cant des Ocells
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Dec 17 - 06:39 AM

Casals used to play the "Cant des Ocells" as a tribute to political prisoners under Franco and in hope that Catalonia and Spain would be free of fascism one day. Here it is being played, every evening by a saxophonist in Tarragona to show solidarity with Catalan political prisoners of the neo-Francoist regime today:

https://twitter.com/Apporelly/status/939556451298705408


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Subject: RE: Slave's Lament/Cant des Ocells
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 11 Dec 17 - 06:03 PM

Singer/songwriter Terry Clarke, now residing in South Wales, was involved in The Dalriada Fencibles theatre group in Argyll a number of years ago. We mainly did productions about aspects of Burns' life, and Terry composed several songs for them (we used Burns' songs too).
I knew Terry toured at that time in the Southern States, New Orleans etc and I introduced him to The Slaves Lament, the words of which blew him away; he couldn't wait for me to find a cd of the tune to lend him and composed his own!
Tho it is the Burns tune I sing, I like what Terry produced too. Suits his style!


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