Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Videos Of "Four White Horses" Caribbean Hand Clap Rhyme (Part II)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part Ii of a two part pancocojams series on the Caribbean folk song "Four White Horses" that is often used as a children's hand clapping rhyme.

This post showcases five videos of "Four White Horses" hand clap games. The Addendum to this post provides several suggested performance instructions for this hand clapping game.

Click for Part I of this series. Part I presents selected comments from Mudcat folk music discussion thread and from other online sources about the origin of the song/rhyme "Four White Horses". Text (word only) examples of this song's lyrics are also included in this post.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the unknown composers of "Four White Horses" and thanks to all those who have collected this song. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post, thanks to all those who are featured in these videos, and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

Judging from its presence on the internet-including lyrics pages, questions about its origin and meaning, and YouTube videos, the song "Four White Horses" appears to be relatively familiar in the United States, at least compared to many other Caribbean songs. Although there is general agreement that "Four White Horses" is a Caribbean song, some websites give its origin as the United States Virgin Islands while others indicate that this song comes from Jamaica. Given the number and quality of the sources that say that this song is from the United States Virgin Island, I believe that origin is the correct one.

These videos are given in chronological order based on their publishing date on YouTube, with the oldest dated video given first. All of these videos are from the United States.

Example #1: Four White Horses

Vincent Bates Published on Mar 23, 2011

Four white horses on a river. Ay, ay, ay, up tomorrow. Up tomorrow is a rainy day. Come on, join in our shadow play. Shadow play is a ripe banana. Ay, ay, ay, up tomorrow. Up tomorrow is a rainy day

Example #2: Four White Horses Clapping Games

Julie Jacobsma Published on Nov 3, 2011

6th Graders create 4 or 8-beat clapping patterns to go with the Jamaican song, "Four White Horses" and perform them for the class.

Example #3: Four White Horses clapping game

Clover Ridge Music, Published on May 19, 2014

Learn the clapping game to the Caribbean folk song, then make up your own pattern!

Example #4: Four White Horses Clapping Game

Josh Manfroni, Published on Jun 22, 2016

Some of our 2nd grade students demonstrating the clapping game for "Four White Horses." Great job ladies!

Example #5: 12-9-16 Fabulous Friday Winner

Ms. Flatebo Published on Dec 9, 2016

This is Mrs. Groen's fourth grade class performing "Four White Horses", which is a folk song from the Virgin Islands. This class did a great job learning this tough hand-clapping game. Some of the groups even alternated going over and under with their "high tens".

These performance instructions are given in no particular order.
Quote #1:
"Four White Horses"....

Kodály Center. The American Folk Song Collection ... Four White Horses. Analysis Share .... Collected by Floice Lindgren Lund, Virgin Islands, 1960. Informant

Directions: Two sets of partners form a square ("ones" and "twos"),
each person standing across from his or her partner.
On first 8 beats all clap hands out to the side, clapping each neighbors' palm.
For the remaining 8-beat phrases, the pattern is as follows. (One number = one beat)
1. The "ones" clap partners palms above shoulder level, the "twos" below.
2. All clap own hands together.
3. The "ones" clap partners palms below, and the "twos" above.
4. All clap own hands together.
5. The "ones" clap palms of neighbor on the right, the "twos" to the left.
6. All clap own hands together.
7. Reverse 5. (the "ones" turning to the left, etc.)
8. All clap own hands together"

Quote #2
"Four White Horses

Game Instructions

A Four Player Game

Four kids stand in a cross. Two kids face each other on one line of the cross, while the others face each other on the other line of the cross. One pair claps high in the air and the other pair claps low down. Then they switch.

Clapping Instructions:

On the First 4 Lines: Clap partner's hands, clap your hands, clap partner's hands, clap your hands.

On the 5th line: Go to the side partner - clap side partner's hands, clap your hands.

On the 6th Line: Go to the other side partner - clap side partner's hands, clap your hands."

This concludes Part II of this series on "Four White Horses"

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1 comment:

  1. I'm re-posting this comment that I wrote in the discussion thread for Part I here.

    It seems to me that the "right" way to teach the Caribbean folk song "Four White Horses" is to admit that no one knows what the original words were.

    I'm leaning toward the theory that "Four White Horses" was originally a "Sally Brown" shanty (seamen's work song) and that the words "Sally Brown" became "Shallow Brown" and then "shallow bay" by folk processing.

    As to the theory that the line "shallow bay is a ripe banana" means that there is a location in the Caribbean (or anywhere else) called "shallow bay" that is shaped like a ripe banana, I don't know whether there is an actual bay in the United States Virgin Island or in any other Caribbean nation that is named "Shallow Bay". And I don't know if that particular bay is shaped like a banana. There is a Shallow Bay Beach in Canada

    And there are a number of touristy type homes in the Caribbean named "Shallow Bay". But that's probably because those tourist residences/locations were named "Shallow Bay" because of the popularity of that folk song.

    Also, given that I think that it's likely that this song was a shanty, I also think that "four white horses on the river" might have been a reference to four high white waves on the river. That said, it's still possible that the words "on the rainbow" might have been an earlier than "on the river".

    There appears to be a lot of evidence that the word "up" in the "Four White Horses" song was the way people in the Caribbean (who have difficulty pronouncing the letter "h") pronounced the word "hope". Therefore, it doesn't seem to me to be any reason why people who have no difficulty pronouncing the letter "h" would sing "up tomorrow" instead of the "hope tomorrow"...

    Personally, singing "up" for me feels like insisting on singing "gwine" and “heben” instead of "gonna" and “heaven” in African American Spirituals, although I admit that it's not really the same thing because African Americans don't say "gwine" and “heben” anymore, but lots of people in the Caribbean may still pronounce the word "hope" like "up".

    Everyone can do as they choose, but I've decided to sing "Four White Horses" to children this way:

    Four white horses, on the river,
    Hey, hey, hey, hope tomorrow,
    Hope tomorrow's not a rainy day.
    Come on up to the Shallow Bay,
    Shallow Bay is a ripe banana,
    Hope tomorrow's not a rainy day.