Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chi Chi Bud Oh - Jamaican Folk Song (Mento) Examples

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases two text examples (lyrics) and three YouTube sound file examples of the Jamaican folk song (Mento) "Chi Chi Bud Oh" (also known as "Chi Chi Bud". This post also includes excerpts of a 2001 article from the Jamaican Gleaner that provides information about the changing meaning of the jamaican term "chi chi".

Click for the pancocojams post "One Ska & One Reggae Example Of "Chi Chi Bud" (with 2 Chi Chi Bud Riddim songs)"

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to these featured vocalists for their musical legacy. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these examples on the Internet.

(These examples are given in no particular order.)

Example #1
A chi-chi bud oh!
Some a dem a holla some a bawl
Chi-chi bud oh!
Some a dem a holla some a bawl

Some a black bud...
Some a grass bud...
Some a white bud...
Somee a beeny bud...
Chi-chi bud oh...

Some a lagga-head...
An a chickman chick...
Some a John crow...
An a docta bud...

Hi! Docta bid a cunning bud,
Him build him nest a low limb,
Ah never shoot him ah only adore him.
A bud oh!
Chi–chi bud oh...

Some a peer dove...
Some a grung dove...
Some a white dove...
Some a bubble dove...
Chi-chi bud oh...

Chi-chi bud oh...

"The success of this lively call and response song depends on the ability of the leader to think of as many bird names as possible. It originates as a light-hearted accompaniment to tiring work in the fields and often ended in hilarity when the leader ran out of real names and had to start inventing them.

Most of the names given are local nicknames, for instance, docta bud is th Jamaican namd for theee swallow-tailed humming bird.

chi chi bud [means] a flock, or gathering of birds

Some a dem a holla, some a bawl[means]some of them holler, some of them bawl"
Source: Mango Spice: 44 Caribbean songs
Editors Yvonne Canolly, Gloria Cameron, and Sonia Singham

A&C Black Publishers, London, 1981 [Song #14]
"bud" = bird
"bawl" = cry

The line given in italics is sung by the group after each line with the "...".

There are no set names of birds for this Mento song, although most of the examples that I have heard (online) and read include John Crow (jancro) - the Jamaican vulture.

Example #2: CHI CHI BUD
Chi chi bud, oh!

Some of them holler some a bawl

Some a band neck...

Some a woodpecker...

some are brown dove

some are white wing...

Chi chi bud, oh!...

Why Chi chi bud, oh!...

Some are brown dove...

some are John Crow...

some are handsticker...

some are band neck...
-traditional Jamaican mento; traditional, arrangement by Lord Messam
Reformatted for this post. The line given in italics is sung by the group after each line with the "...".

Click for information about Lord Messam.

These examples are given according to their publishing date on YouTube with the oldest dates given first.

Example #1: Miss Lou (Part 9) ~ Oman A Breadwinner ~ Chi Chi Bud ~ Gay Paree ~ Walk Good

Bajanbloom Bloom, Uploaded on Jan 15, 2011

Dr. Louise Bennett Coverley, through many years of research, has provided Jamaica with a vast reference collection of "valid documents reflecting the way Jamaicans think and feel and live". The proud recipient of two Honorary Degrees of Doctor of Letters, one from the University of the West Indies in 1983 and the other from York University of Toronto Canada in 1998 -- is testimony in itself and an achievement which speaks volumes of the high recognition of one of our true Caribbean Gems.
.025-2:05 [Chi Chi Bud Oh]
Here's my partial transcription of Miss Lou's introduction to this song (Sorry. I'm unable to provide even an adequate transcription of the song itself.)

"I’m going to sing my favorite song. It was the first song I knew. When I was a little girl, it was the first song I knew, a digging song. Chi chi bud oh...Chi chi birds, a flock of birds."
I think that "Oman A Breadwinner" means "Woman A Breadwinner" (woman works outside the home for money to buy food, pay bills etc.)
Click for information about Miss Lou. Here's an excerpt of that page:
"Louise Simone Bennett-Coverley or Miss Lou, OM, OJ, MBE (7 September 1919 – 26 July 2006), was a Jamaican poet, folklorist, writer, and educator. Writing and performing her poems in Jamaican Patois or Creole, she was instrumental in having this "dialect" of the people given literary recognition in its own right ("nation language"). She is located at the heart of the Jamaican poetic tradition, and has influenced other popular Caribbean poets, including Mutabaruka, Linton Kwesi Johnson, and Paul Keens-Douglas."

Example #2: Chi Chi Bud Oh - Ainsworth Rose

Ainsworth Rose, Published on Aug 1, 2013

Jamaican Folk Songs

Songs From The British West Indies [Smithsonian Records]
sung and played by "The Caribbean Chorus"

Editor's comment.
One year ago I copied the code for another YouTube sound file of "Chi Chi Bud". That example was recorded by Jamaican university students in 1956. Unfortunately, that sound file appears to be no longer available on YouTube. However, I still can share that sound file's summary statement:
"In 1956, a group of ambitious students from McGill University and Sir George William's College (now Concordia University) performed West Indies--style folk music for a university function. The group was so successful that they created the Caribbean Chorus, which catered to off--campus audiences and was the counterpart to the university--sponsored West Indies Society. In B.W.I. (British West Indies) Songs, the chorus sings folk tunes and labor songs influenced by Caribbean, South American, and calypso styles.

Liner notes include a first--person account by the manager of the group's formation and the historical background of each piece.
Here's an excerpt from that album's liner notes
"It [the song "Chi Chi Bud"] is done by labourers in the field as they try to keep their minds of their arduous work...

The singer can go on for hours and hours, as long as the chorus can hold out."

ADDENDUM: Article excerpt "From cha-cha to chi-chi"
-Garth A. Rattray, May 29, 2001
"I GREW up in a kinder, gentler more civil society. The popular music was happier and more serene. It was very entertaining and often soothing and relaxing.

Nothing less than talented voices were accepted. Lyrics espousing violence were unheard of. I tend to interpret the popular music as a sign of the times. The artistic and social transition from cha-cha to chi-chi has been a culture shock for many of us.
"Everybody loves to cha-cha-cha" was the title of the famous Sam Cooke hit song. The cha-cha has its roots in Haiti where there is a plant with seedpods that make a "cha-cha" sound when shaken. This was used as a metronome for music rhythms. In 1953 the Cuban orchestra 'America' started playing the mambo with a different beat, it was slower and allowed dancers to use a slight hip undulation with the slow count. It was a cute, rhythmic, Latin dance that was soft, entreating and yet innocent. It was a clean, light-hearted dance that everyone could perform with little effort. The cha-cha remains the most popular Latin dance in the USA.

The song itself goes on to state that, "Little children love to cha-cha-cha". Cha-cha songs held no hidden meanings. They spawned the Jamaican term cha-cha man (or cha-cha boy). It was a descriptive term used to refer to a 'face man', a 'sweet boy', a 'ladies man', a Casanova of sorts. It was not a demeaning term nor did it berate anybody's sexuality. The phrase was often used as a friendly tease and very rarely denoted disrespect, as in the expression, "He's a cha-cha boy", meaning shallow, superficial, good-looking, well dressed but only a player. That was as bad as it got in those days...

That same era saw the beginning of the transition of the Jamaican mento to ska. Our own ska started off with artistes like Cecil Bustamante Campbell (Prince Buster) and Desmond Dekker. Sound system operators like Duke Reid (The Trojan) and Clement Seymore Dodd (Sir Coxsone) made invaluable contributions to the music of that day. Our music eventually went on to 'evolve' into rocksteady, reggae, roots reggae, dub and finally the current dance-hall music.

Now we have popular songs (like the one by TOK) loudly referring to chi-chi men with the concomitant tumult as to the true intended meaning of the term. Originally 'chi-chi' was used to describe termites. These destructive little creatures seemed to deserve such a term as it captured the very essence of their ruinous activities. The next time that I recall hearing the term chi-chi was in the popular Louise Bennett-Coverley song Chi-chi bud. We all knew that the bird and termite had nothing in common; we just enjoyed the song for it's cultural value and never ascribed any negative meanings to it.

The last innocent use of the word was in reference to a type of bus called the chi-chi 'white' bus. This was a large, white bus (made by the White Motor Company) that was introduced into Jamaica in the mid to late 1960s. It produced short, sharp, explosive, sneezing sounds whenever the air brakes were applied. The sounds were mimicked by the word chi-chi.

Then came the term 'chi-chi man'. I am not certain about how this once innocent word came to be corrupted into its new meaning but the current consensus is that it now refers to homosexuality. Why a song gibing homosexuals and promulgating conflagration should become so popular is perplexing to me. Some claim that the song may also be alluding to nefarious underworld figures. Either way, the popularity of this song depicts our society's current preoccupation with sex and violence...

Our entire society has moved from popular hits consisting of mostly sweet melodies to turbulent, troubled tunes. We need to encourage our performers to produce softer, gentler, friendlier, sex-free, violence-free, feel-good, family-type music."...

-Dr. Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice.

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  1. The usage of 'chi-chi' as a derogatory reference to gay men, which Dr Rattray complains of, may have been influenced by the adjective 'chi-chi', which in British English means affectedly fussy, over-refined - something similar to 'kitsch' or 'camp'. (1908 onwards, according to OED: their article hasn't been updated since 1972, so the Jamaican usage is not listed.)

    1. Thanks, slam2011

      That's interesting. Is "chi chi" still used with that meaning in Britain?

      I thought that derogatory meaning of "chi chi" in Jamaican Patois came from the English word "she she".

      In any event, the description of gay men being affectedly fussy, over-refined" is indeed stereotypical.