Edited by Azizi Powell
This is Part I of a two part series on "Punchinello"/"Punchinella". This post provides information about the development of the character who became "Punchinella"/"Punchinello". Particular attention is given "Punchinella"/"Punchinella" as a clown or jester character, that character's physical appearance and how he was portrayed.
This post also features song excerpts that aren't children's singing games which mention Punchinello. Two YouTube examples of these songs are also provided in this post.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/09/examples-of-singing-game-punchinella.html for Part II of this series.
Part II of this series focuses on the development of children's singing game "Punchinella"/"Punchinello". Special emphasis is given to versions pf this singing game from the United States.
Note: Because pancocojams focuses on music, dance, and customs from African Americans & other Black people throughout the world, let me be very clear that by no means am I stating that "Punchinella"/"Punchinello" games originated with Black people. However, that singing game has been and still is played by Black people-in the United States, in Jamaica, and presumably elsewhere. For that reason, and because I find this subject interesting, I'm including it in this blog.
The content of this post is presented for historical, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Part I: THE HISTORY OF PUNCHINELLA/PUNCHINELLO
"Pulcinella, Italian pronunciation: [pultʃiˈnɛlla]; often called Punch or Punchinello in English, Polichinelle in French, is a classical character that originated in the commedia dell'arte of the 17th century and became a stock character in Neapolitan puppetry.
His name, from Italian pulcino ('chick'), refers to his distinguishing feature: a long beaklike nose. According to another version, Pulcinella derived from the name of Puccio d'Aniello, a peasant of Acerra, who was portrayed in a famous picture attributed to Annibale Carracci, and indeed characterized by a long nose...
Always dressed in white with a black mask (hence conciliating the opposites of life and death), he stands out thanks to his peculiar voice, whose sharp and vibrant qualities produced with a tool called a swazzle contribute to the intense tempo of the show. Pulcinella often carries around macaroni and a wooden spoon. According to Pierre-Louis Duchartre, his traditional temperament is to be mean, vicious, and crafty and his main mode of defense is to pretend to be too stupid to know what's going on...
Many regional variants of Pulcinella were developed as the character diffused across Europe. In Germany, Pulcinella came to be known as Kasper. In the Netherlands he is known as Jan Klaassen. In Denmark he is Mester Jakel. Russian composer Igor Stravinsky composed two different ballets entitled Pulcinella and Petrushka, inspired by him. In Romania, he is Vasilache; in Hungary he is Vitéz László, and in France Polichinelle, while in the United Kingdom he inspired the character of Mister Punch of Punch and Judy."...
" "Punchinello" is one of those intriguing and enigmatic figures in folklore that wander all over through several cultures and periods. He absolutely orginated in Italy, where he traditionally appeared in a baggy white suit with a black half mask with a nose resembling a bird beak. He is a short clownish figure often having a large pot belly or paunch".
"Punch and Judy is a traditional, popular puppet show featuring Mr. Punch and his wife, Judy. The performance consists of a sequence of short scenes, each depicting an interaction between two characters, most typically the violent Punch and one other character...
The Punch and Judy show has roots in the 16th-century Italian commedia dell'arte. The figure of Punch derives from the Neapolitan stock character of Pulcinella, which was anglicized to Punchinello. He is a manifestation of the Lord of Misrule and Trickster figures of deep-rooted mythologies. Punch's wife was originally called "Joan."
The figure who later became Mr. Punch made his first recorded appearance in England on 9 May 1662, which is traditionally reckoned as Punch's UK birthday. The diarist Samuel Pepys observed a marionette show featuring an early version of the Punch character in Covent Garden in London. It was performed by an Italian puppet showman, Pietro Gimonde, a.k.a. "Signor Bologna." Pepys described the event in his diary as "an Italian puppet play, that is within the rails there, which is very pretty."
In the British Punch and Judy show, Punch wears a brightly coloured jester's motley and sugarloaf hat with a tassel. He is a hunchback whose hooked nose almost meets his curved, jutting chin. He carries a stick (called a slapstick) as large as himself, which he freely uses upon most of the other characters in the show. He speaks in a distinctive squawking voice, produced by a contrivance known as a swazzle or swatchel which the professor holds in his mouth, transmitting his gleeful cackle".
EXCERPTS OF AMERICAN SONGS ABOUT PUNCHINELLO
These examples are given in chronological order with an excerpt of the oldest song posted first.
The complete lyrics for each of these songs can be found at http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=68881
Hat tip to MMario, Amos, and Jim Dixon for posting lyrics & information about those songs.
Notice that in each of these songs the name of the character is "Punchinello" and not "Punchinella". Also, notice that in each of these songs, the character is a clown.
Example #1: LAUGH CLOWN LAUGH
...Even though you're only make believing
Laugh, Clown, laugh!
Even though something inside is grieving
Laugh, Clown, laugh!
Don't let your heart grow too mellow
Just be a real Punchinello, fellow...
Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians (vocal: Ted Waring) - 1928
Ted Lewis & His Band (vocal: Ted Lewis) - 1928"
Example #2: PUNCHINELLO DON'T BE A DOWNHEARTED FELLOW
Words and music by Chet Forrest and Bob Wright (1939)
Featured in the Tony Martin/Rita Hayworth film "Music In My Heart" (1940)
As sung by Monte Rey.
Don't be a downhearted fellow.
Though your heart is breaking in two,
Smile through those teardrops.
Maybe someday she will listen,
And kiss you,
"I miss you; I need you; I do."
Your funny old dream may come true."...
"IMDb.com gives the following soundtrack information for No Other Love (1940):
Music and Lyrics by Bob Wright and Chet Forrest
Sung a cappella by George Humbert
Performed by Tony Martin and The Brian Sisters (uncredited)
Reprised Tony Martin, Edith Fellows and danced by Rita Hayworth (uncredited)"
Example #3: HEY, PUNCHINELLO (1954)
with Jerry Lewis
in the movie "Three Ring Circus"
"There's a famous man who's the idol of every clown
He started the profession and his tricks he handed down
So everyone who has a yen to be a happy man
Calls on Punchinello to help him if he can...
The clown in the circus will get a special pride
When people laugh the kind of laugh that warms them up inside
Punchinello, hey Punchinello
Oh the face of every clown's a work of art
Punchinello molto bello
You ring a bell a bell a bell a bell a bell a bell a bell a bell a bell a bell a bell a bell here in my heart
VIDEO EXAMPLES OF PUNCHINELLO SONGS [NON-CHILDREN'S SINGING GAMES]
Example #1:Looping the Loop - Poor Punchinello - Die Todesschleife (D1928)
peter hackenbusch, Uploaded on Nov 4, 2010
Some scenes from "Looping the loop", a German Silent from 1928 with great actor Werner Krauss, directed by Artur Robison, theme song (Lyrics by Lewis & Young, Music by Lew Pollack) sung by Tenor Frederick Vettel.
Example #2: Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis - Hey Punchinello
DeanMartinForever, Uploaded on Jun 28, 2007
from "3 Ring Circus" 1954
COMMENT ABOUT PUNCHINELLO/PUNCHINELLA SINGING GAMES
A big change in the face of Punchinello/Punchinella is the fact that few children playing the singing games of that name asssociate "Punchinello"/"Punchinella" with a clown. Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/09/examples-of-singing-game-punchinella.html to read about & find some examples of Punchinello/Punchinella singing games.
Thanks to all those who composed and performed these songs. Thanks also to those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these YouTube examples.
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Visitor comments are welcome.