Saturday, August 4, 2012

Example Of "In A Fine Castle" - From Brown Girl In The Ring Album & Book

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents the lyrics, performance information, and comments about the Caribbean game song "In A Fine Castle" as given in the Brown Girl In The Ring album & book. This post also includes a link to a sound file of that game song from that album. Unfortunately, to date, I've not been able to locate an online video of "In A Fine Castle".

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

All rights to this material remain with their owners.

From Caribbean Voyage: Brown Girl In The Ring Album collected & documented by Alan Lomax, J.D. Elder, and Bess Lomax Hawes, recorded in 1962

A brief clip of "In A Fine Castle" is given as #7 on that list of songs.

A text version of this song that was collected by those editors is given below.

From Brown Girl In The Ring: An Anthology Of Songs Games from the Eastern Caribbean collected & documented by Alan Lomax, J.D. Elder, and Bess Lomax Hawes (New York, Pantheon Books, 1998, pps 18-21)

Sung by a group of adults and children in La Plaine, Dominica, also by two women in Lopinot, Trinidad, and by a group of girls aged ten to fourteen at the San Juan Girl's Government School, San Juan, Trinidad....

All children:
In a fine castle
Do you hear my sisi-o?
In a fine castle
Do you hear my sisi-o?

Group I:
Mine (Ours) is the prettiest,
Do you hear my sisi-o?
Mine (Ours) is the prettiest,
Do you hear my sisi-o?

Group II:
I (We) want one of them, etc.
Group I:
Which of them do you want? etc.
Group II:
I (We) want Antoni, etc.
Group I:
What will you give her?

At this point a series of inappropriate gifts may be offered - rotten figs, soursops, stuffed rats - all of which are refused, as this example shows

Group II: We'll give her a rotten fig, etc.
Group I: That won't suit her, etc.

The players then think up the finest gifts imaginable - motorcars, wedding rings, golden chains - all or one may be accepted.

Group II: We'll give her a radiogram, etc.
Group I: Well, Antoni,
Go and take your radiogram [Repeat the two

Several different formations are used.

1. In two facing lines Groups I and II march in turn towards the other during the first two lines of each verse and retreat during the last two. Or:
2. From a single circle, one child outside the ring chooses one player to join him during each repetition of the game until the whole circle has shifted over.
3. (As practiced in a Trinidad schoolyard.) In two circles side by side, each ring holds hands and swings them in time as the sing alternate verses to each other. During verse 2 (which is sung by Circle I) Circle II whispers ear-to-ear the name of the selected child. Similarly, while Circle I sings "What will you give her," Circle II decides the item to be offered (always something unpleasant for the first offer and something pleasant for the second.) During the verse "That won't suit her," the players in Circle I stamp their feet in rhythm. In the final verse the child selected leaves his own circle and goes to join the other. Circle II then starts the song again for a second repetition, and it becomes their turn to select a child from Circle I.

This drama of courship resembls the ancient British song game "Three Knights From Spain" (see "One Spaniard Came", p. 24) but demonstrates a Caribbean content and flavor. The British scholars of children's lore, Iona and Peter Opie, trace a marvelously complex route for the historical distribution of the parent game from the medieval courts of France and Italy to Great Britain during the nineteenth century to the United States, to the Caribbean, and back to Great Britain during World War II via American Air Force and immigrant West Indian familes. They quote a ten-year-old West Indian girl speaking in London in 1975 "We used to play that game a long time ago, about two years ago just among ourselves... Nobody ever did see Sisi and I don't know who she is, unless she is somebody's sister. And I don't know where the game came from, it just arrived."

The game did indeed just arrive in many places around the world, ordinarily played to some variation of the generic, far flung melody known in the United States as "Skip To My Lou". The wide international distribution of the game may account for the number of formations in which it is played. The Opies feel that the oldest is the double ring formation in which the two circles represented rival castles.

-End of quote-
These lyric are posted without the underlined syllables or words that were written that to indicate musical accents. One sentence about the Caribbean music style was given before the lyrics.

I posted the editor's comments in italics to clarify that those were not the song's lyrics.

A musical transcription of "In A Fine Castle" is also given in that book.

Click for two additional versions of "In A Fine Castle" and my comments about that game song.

Thanks to Alan Lomax, J.D. Elder, and Bess Lomax Hawes for their documentation of this game song. Thanks also to all those who performed this song for those folklorists.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment