The Right to Play – Day 3 of the Baucau project
We are all finishing up the day feeling exhausted. It’s been a long one. We started at 8.30 with the children, and everyone there seemed tired too. We kicked off with some warm-up games and then revised the ‘education’ song of the previous day, with instruments and singing. Everyone was in good form, just a little less responsive and reactive than the day before.
Our focus for the morning was to develop music in response to the Child’s Right to Play, have Leisure-time and Culture. As on previous days we started with a discussion, then tried out an idea I had had following discussions with friends the previous week, that was focused on the musical material present in many of the children’s games in Timor Leste. The idea was to brainstorm different games they could think of that had musical content in them – chants, songs, rhythms – that we could recreate and include in a music composition here. They responded well to the idea of games, but not so clearly to the idea of isolating the musical content in the games and working on preparing that for a concert presentation. Therefore the small group work I had planned didn’t yield much in the way of solid content and we switched back into whole-group work, exploring the ideas one by one.
Here is what we came up with:
- A way of calling out numbers for group games of BINGO (I’d heard a great version of this the previous week, being played by a group of children in a village we stopped in between Dili and Baucau), so that they are bluesy and have a very laid-back, attitude-filled performance style.
- A clapping game that is uncannily like one that some Somali children taught me last year; this local version in Indonesian, it turns out. It can be played by a large group, as it is clapped in a circle;
- A ‘choosing’ song that has a similar role to the English/Australian ‘Eeny meeny miny mo’. It’s in 5/4 so is particularly interesting for that.
- A song that accompanies a game that is a bit like ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’, or ‘Here comes the candle to light you to bed, here comes the chopper to chop off your head, chip, chop, chip, chop, the last man’s DEAD!’. We have isolated the song from the actions, and it sounds great when we accompany it with the ‘choosing’ chant in 5/4.
What we didn’t get to do today was work out how to put all these different elements into a coherent, musical structure. Will we layer them? Present them individually? The Bingo element invites the possibility of audience participation (which is something we want to include in the concert anyway) but the blues harmony is a little imposing on the other elements we want to include. We also have some home-made instruments, such as bells made from empty plastic bottles, that we haven’t used yet. Perhaps we can create a short, punchy chant on the theme of the Right to Play, accompany it with drums and bells, and use it as a way to transition from one section of ‘play’ music to the next.
We already have two great songs, each of which include lots of instrumental playing. This last creation is a bit different – it had much more open, unpredictable content from the start, and was harder for the group to make sense of at first, which isn’t surprising when you think that I also had no idea what the final outcome would be, I just figured it wold be interesting!
So that is tonight’s homework task. I think I shall take my gin and tonic, go and sit on my bed under the mosquito net, and ponder it awhile. I’m very happy to think we are starting an hour later tomorrow morning, as it is Sunday. A chance for a bit more sleep once I solve this musical challenge.