Leah Cotterell voice Barbara Fordham voice Anje West voice, djembe and claves
These are three of Queensland’s finest professional singers. Their repertoire features songs from cultures all over the world, spanning from Tanzanian lullabies and Cajun songs, to songs sung by children in their playground games. This all-female group, singing a cappella, showcases the voice as an instrument.
Instruments: claves, djembe
This traditional Cajun song is full of life and energy. It was recorded first by a New Orleans singer in the early 1950s then again later in the 60s. It was originally called Jockamo and it contains a lot of Creole patois which is the jargon of native born people of French, mixed European or African American ancestry. The word ‘Jockamo’ means ‘jester’. The song seems to have some meaning in the forerunner of Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday, last day of Lent), as we know it today. The lyrics of the chorus are fragments of Cajun idiom, basically phonetic. The irresistible beat is Mardi Gras music at its best.
The Swahili words of this traditional lullaby from Tanzania mean “Hush baby, go to sleep”. Through music, singing and clapping, African children learn about family, community, tribe and country. Written in 4/4 time, this lullaby very simply repeats the same melody over and over using the notes of the C pentatonic scale. It is sung twice in unison, with vocal harmonies added every second time the song is repeated. Gentle vocal calls appear after some phrases and a short coda is added. The additional accompaniment on the djembe, an African drum, provides a gentle ostinato rhythm.
This is an arrangement by H. Russell of a traditional British folk song. Like all folk songs, learnt by ear and handed down through family and community over hundreds of years, many variations have appeared. The song is also known as The Water is Wide. This version of Waly Waly tells the story of the end of a marriage and has been arranged for three unaccompanied voices. The song is strophic, meaning verses are sung to the same melody. Verse 1 is unaccompanied solo voice while Verse 2 adds a gentle descant harmony. Verses 3 and 4 add more harmonies before the repeat of Verse 1, which is sung in unison by the trio.
Australian women, Toni Allayialis and Toni Mott, wrote this song. Its use of repeated patterns and improvisations shows the influence of African music. Through most of the song there is a simple bass ostinato over which a melody is heard. A harmony is later added. The bass ostinato is not heard in the bridge passage but it forms the accompaniment to a series of improvisations sung in turn by each member of the group. The song is in 3/4 time and uses the Mixolydian mode with C as tonic. Instead of text, patterns are sung to combinations of syllables in the style of ‘scat’ singing. Each singer invents her own syllables to suit the contour, rhythm and expressive qualities of the improvisation.