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Help: Whack-fol-the-diddle et al.

GUEST,Mrr 01 May 00 - 02:34 PM
SINSULL 01 May 00 - 02:35 PM
GUEST,JZG 01 May 00 - 03:01 PM
Malcolm Douglas 01 May 00 - 03:28 PM
Bert 01 May 00 - 03:37 PM
SeanM 01 May 00 - 04:47 PM
Sandy Paton 01 May 00 - 07:21 PM
Grab 02 May 00 - 08:10 AM
GUEST,Philippa 02 May 00 - 06:28 PM
Irish sergeant 02 May 00 - 07:52 PM
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Subject: Whack-fol-the-diddle et al.
From: GUEST,Mrr
Date: 01 May 00 - 02:34 PM

In many Irish songs, but not that many that I know from other cultures (besides kids' songs specifically, for instance Kimo kymo) there is often a Right-toora-laddie or Moses-ri-too-ra-lie-ay or some such. Any ideas why? Could this stem from the days when Irish was outlawed so it didn't matter what you sung, if it was incomprehensible it was thought to be Gaelic (viz. Moses-ri-too-ra etc)? Or was it that if you made it through one OK, you hadn't had enough Powers and should have another punch (whisky you're the divil has one of the best of these)? A kind of singing sobriety test, the object of which was to flunk? Just curious...
And, while we're at it, is there a term for that kind of refrain?


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Subject: RE: Help: Whack-fol-the-diddle et al.
From: SINSULL
Date: 01 May 00 - 02:35 PM

Nonsense syllable?


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Subject: RE: Help: Whack-fol-the-diddle et al.
From: GUEST,JZG
Date: 01 May 00 - 03:01 PM

In (I think) both Irish and Scottish singing there's something called "mouth music" which is basically singing to rhythmic syllables -- I think sometimes it's real lyrics and sometimes nonsense. I've also heard of some songs where it turned out the song was once translated from Gaelic into English, and nonsense syllables in the English version were real words in Gaelic. It probably depends on the song.

JZG


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Subject: RE: Help: Whack-fol-the-diddle et al.
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 May 00 - 03:28 PM

Nonsense syllables, or vocables, of this sort are extremely common in Irish, English and Scottish traditional song, and probably have nothing at all to do with languages being disapproved of!  Of course it's perfectly possible that -in Ireland, at any rate- they may sometimes be fragments of garbled Gaelic, but Gaelic-speakers also use them a lot (the "hi ri hu o" type of refrain so much used in the Western Isles of Scotland for example) and it's also worth mentioning that French traditional song has plenty of equivalents: "ma tan dé: ri-tou-dé-ra-la-la-la" comes to mind.  I strongly suspect that almost all singing traditions use this sort of thing.  The practice of singing dance music - often to meaningless vocables- when instruments are not available is very old; perhaps it is a carry-over from that.  There are people around here who know a lot more about that subject than I do.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Help: Whack-fol-the-diddle et al.
From: Bert
Date: 01 May 00 - 03:37 PM

I suspect that there are a many reasons that songs collect nonsense syllables.
1. The original words are forgotten.
2. As you said Mrr, the language was forbidden.
3. As JZG says - Mouth music.
4. The author is trying to make the song sound traditional.
5. The original words were in a foreign language.


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Subject: RE: Help: Whack-fol-the-diddle et al.
From: SeanM
Date: 01 May 00 - 04:47 PM

Most of what I've heard has leant towards it being either "mouth music" or the result of translated/reworded songs having nonsense sections added in to make the meter work.

I also rather like the version that a friend of mine espouses: Drunks in a pub, forgetting and mishearing and slurring the words, and then later (after sobering up) realizing that "arrruheamuuuuuur" just doesn't have the same 'zing' as "whack-fol-a-tooral-aye-ay"

M


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Subject: RE: Help: Whack-fol-the-diddle et al.
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 01 May 00 - 07:21 PM

Heck! D'ya mean they're not miraculously retained fragments of ancient Pictish fertility chants after all? Then where did our term "diddle" come from? (insert one of Kat's *BG*s here)

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Help: Whack-fol-the-diddle et al.
From: Grab
Date: 02 May 00 - 08:10 AM

Voice as an instrument - as my opera-loving wife says, the words don't matter, it's the music that counts, hence operas in Italian/German that most folks can't understand. I'm not an opera fan myself (can't stand that forced-sounding voice), but I know what she means. And you can listen to Ladysmith Black Mambazo without speaking Zulu or Xhosa. Scat-singing (Ella et al) is the same kind of thing, only for scat they're improvising the same way you would on a normal instrument.

Interesting how there seems to be a fairly 'standard' range of syllables/words used for it in folk tunes written in English, though. Although there's no guarantee that 'Irish' music was actually written in Ireland, any more than modern rap music has to originate in the American black ghettos, so I spose it's possible that English folk writing in that style may use their own set of mouth music.

Grab.


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Subject: RE: Help: Whack-fol-the-diddle et al.
From: GUEST,Philippa
Date: 02 May 00 - 06:28 PM

We've had other threads along this line; for example: the meaning of musha ring...


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Subject: RE: Help: Whack-fol-the-diddle et al.
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 02 May 00 - 07:52 PM

I believe more that it is the generation of mouth music among people who struggled to put food on the table and thus rarely had musical instruments. I have heard versions of mouth music but about all I can say has already been adequately covered. Neil PS Ask Aine or McGrath of Harlow


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