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A Haitian Berceuse

Grade Level: K–3

Volume 5, #1: Dodo, Dodo, Krab nan kalalou
Dodo, Dodo, Krab nan kalalou

Dodo, Dodo, Krab nan kalalou


Activity #1: Learning to Lullaby a Melody
1. Prepare students for the berceuse, or lullaby, they will listen to by inviting them to name the lullabies they may know. Some may know "Hush, Little Baby," "All the Pretty Little Horses," "Bye, Baby Bunting," "Rockabye Baby," "All Through the Night," and various other family treasures for lulling babies to sleep.

2. Listen to "Dodo, Dodo, Krab nan kalalou" (Volume 5: #1), and help students to focus their attention by through the following questions:

Q:Describe the singing you hear. How many voices do you hear?
A: One.
Q: Is the singer a child or an adult?
A: A child.
Q: Is the singer male or female?
A: Male.
Q: Are there any instruments sounding?
A:There are no instruments, as this is an unaccompanied lullaby (which is typical for lullabies, that they are 'a capella'). However, due to the audio quality of the recording, there is an underlying hissing quality— a kind of 'white noise.' As well, there is the faint sound of voices in the distance, since this is a field recording (as opposed to a studio recording).

3. Listen again to the selection, and find phonemes, syllables, and words that occur more than once. Students are likely to point out 'Dodo' (sleep), and may also hear 'Manman' (mother) and possibly the phrase at the end of the stanza, 'Krab nan kalalou' (Crab in okra).

4. In another listening, challenge students to listen for these melodic patterns:

(1) s-d'-s-m
(2) s-d'-l-l-s-s-m
(3) s-s-d'-d'-s-s-m
(4) f-m-r-s.
(5) d-d-m-r-s-f-m-r-d

5. Sing these five phrases, using solfege hand signs or gestures in the air to indicate the high and low pitches and their relationships in the melody. Note the similarities between the second and third phrases. Sing slowly at first, and then pick up the tempo. Modulate the dynamic level from moderate to pianissimo—as soft as a lullaby should sound.

6. Hum or sing 'loo' to the recorded melody, now that the voice is exercised and the phrases are familiar to the ear. Discuss the number of times that the melodic phrases occur in each stanza: once each for the first, second, and fifth phrases, and twice each for the third and fourth phrases. Note that the singer may switch the ending-note of the last two phrases, from sol to do and from do to sol.

7. Sing with and without the recording on a soft and lulling 'loo', until the melody flows easily, with one phrase smoothly connecting to the next one. Discuss whether a lullaby can stand by its melody alone, without words.

Suggested Activity #2: Lullaby Words and Meanings
1. Share the lullaby's Kreyol lyrics. Post the lyrics, and invite students to follow along while listening to the recording. Note that the "bravo phrases" at the end are spoken rather than sung.

Dodo dodo Manman ou pa la
Manman ou ale nan mache
Papa ou ale peche krab
Dodo dodo, Dodo dodo
Krab nan kalalou, Dodo mafi

Manman ou pa la
Papa ou ale peche krab
Manman ou ale nan mache
Dodo dodo Dodo mafi
Krab nan kalalou
Dodo bebe, Krab nan kalalou
Dodo tifi, Krab nan kalalou

Bravo pou ti bebe ya!
Bravo pou bebe!

2. English-speaking children will be well served to know meaning of the lyrics. As well, French-speaking children may find themselves intrigued with an English translation, learning vocabulary as they decipher the words and find their correspondences, such as dodo and sleep, manman and mother, papa and father, krab and crab, peche and fish, mache and market, bebe and baby. Share the translation.

Sleep sleep, Your mother is not home
Your mother went to the market
Your father went to fish for crab
Sleep sleep, Sleep sleep
Crab in okra, Sleep my daughter.

Your mother is not home
Your father went to fish for crab
Your mother went to the market
Sleep sleep, Sleep my daughter
Crab in okra, Sleep sleep
Crab in okra, Sleep little girl, Crab in okra.

Bravo for the little baby!
Bravo for baby!


3. Sing the song with the recording, now attending to the lyrics. It may be useful to play the recording, stopping it at the end of every phrase, and cueing students to imitate what they have heard. Following phrase-by-phrase imitation, students can then sing the lyrics of the lullaby with the recording.

4. Share with students the following information about "Dodo, dodo, krab nan kalalou".

(1) It is probably the most familiar lullaby among Haitian mothers and fathers who sing their babies to sleep.
(2) The French, and French-speaking Haitians, refer to a lullaby as a beceuse, or'cradle song',
(3) Due to the monopoly by the Catholic Church over the Haitian educational system, children were prohibited from speaking Kreyol in school, but were expected to speak French. French children's songs were valued in school and in Haitian society at large, especially by the middle class.



Designed by Patricia Shehan Campbell

 

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