Friday, July 21, 2017

Bahamian Children's Game Song/Hand Clap Rhyme "I Went Up On The Hill" ("Rock The Cherry")

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcases the Bahamian (Caribbean) children's singing game/hand clap rhyme "I Went Up The Hill" (This singing game/rhyme may also be known as "Rock The Cherry".)

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to all those who are featured in the videos that are embedded in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.
WARNING: The video given as Example #2 in this post features children performing seductive dances that some people may consider to be unsuitable for children.

Rhyme Example #1
I went up on the hill
With a bucket on my head
The road so rocky
Till my bucket fall down

Rock-a-my-cherry, one two
Rock-a-my-cherry, three four.

"Many thanks to Josephine Justilien for contributing this song. Thanks so much!"

Rhyme Example #2
I went up on the hill
With a bucket on my head
The road so rocky
Till my bucket fall down
(Rock my cherry)
one and two
(Rock my cherry)
One and two
(Rock my cherry)
three and four
(Rock my cherry)
five and six
(Rock my cherry)
seven and eight
(rock my cherry)
nine and ten
(Rock my cherry)
That’s the end!

Source: This is my transcription of the rhyme that is shown in the video given below as Video Example #1. I couldn't fully decipher the first portion of the rhyme (before the first iteration of the words "Rock my cherry"). Because of that, I used the first part of the lyrics given as Example #1 above. I'm confident that the girls chanted those words (or very similar words) because of the words that I understood and because the girls imitative actions fit all of the words to the first part of that rhyme.

[Added July 21, 2017 11:31 AM]

Rhyme Example #3
I went up on the hill
With my bucket on my head
My road fall down
with my bucket on my head
Rocka a my cherry
One two
Rocka a my cherry
three four
Rocka a my cherry
five six
Rocka a my cherry
seven eight
Rocka a my cherry
nine ten
Rocka my cherry.
That's the end.

Source: Show Me Your Motion: The Ringplay Games of The Bahamas (52:53- 52:59)

The words to this example are given as sub-titles in this documentary.

This ring play is performed as a girls' circle game with one person in the middle. A boy on the outskirts of the circle accompanies the girls singing on a drum that is strapped over on of his shoulders,

The girls hold both hands near their head, as a representation of holding a bucket on their head [?] . On the words "rock my cherry", the girl in the middle dances in front of someone forming the circle, but in this portion of the video the girl barely moves her hips. The other girls forming the circle sing and clap while watching the middle girl, but don't imitate her dancing.

I don't believe this ring play is known in the United States. Click for two other examples of "I Went Up On The Hill" ("Rock The Cherry").

Video Example #1: Bahamian Ringplay ("Rock My Cherry"*)

Kimberley Minors Published on Apr 18, 2013

I'm not familiar with the "I Went Up The Hill" (Rock My Cherry" rhyme being performed in the United States. I think it originated either in the Bahamas or in another Caribbean nation.

*This is my name for this rhyme from a repeated phrase in that rhyme. I've named this video to distinguish it from two other videos published by Kimberley Minor that have the same "Bahamian Ringplay" title: That video features three girls performing a version of the African American originated rhyme "Bang Bang Choo Choo Train" and

The video whose link is given last features four girls performing a version of a singing game that is known as "This a Way Valerie" in the United States, but is called "This a Way A Bellabee" in a documentary on Bahamian game songs (at 18:37 of "This A Way Valerie" ("This A Way Ballabee") may have originated either in the Caribbean or in the United States (African Americans who may or may not have been of Caribbean descent).

The only "Ringplay" video that Kimberley Minor published on YouTube that includes the title of a ring play is "Bahamian Hand Games/Ringplay: Twe Lee Lee" "Twee Lee Lee" (or similarly spelled words) is an African American originated hand clap rhyme that is based on the Pop/R&B song "Rockin Robin". In that video that rhyme is combined with another rhyme whose words I can't fully decipher.

According to ring play is a "US, Caribbean, African" [term] that refers to "Any of various types of games played in a circle with dance movements and singing."

In the "Bahamian RingPlay" video that is featured in this post, the term "ring play" is used as a general term for children's recreational singing games and rhymes and not just circle games that are performed by people forming a ring (circle).

Performance Description For Video Example #1:
Pancocojams Editor's Disclaimer:
This description doesn't mean that this is the way that this ring play is always performed.

I'm not very good at describing children's recreational play. Please improve this description. Thanks!

Bahamian Ring Play "Rock The Cherry" ("I Went Up The Hill")
General description:
Two girls stand in one horizontal line facing two other girls with a little bit of space in between the two lines. The girls stand in place and perform imitative movements while chanting this rhyme.

Actions for Specific Words & Phrases:
In the beginning of the rhyme, they hold both of their hands to the side of their head and hold their head down in sadness while slightly bouncing up and down to the beat.

When the girls start saying the counting lines, they raise their heads and begin holding up fingers to correspond with the numbers that they say. They continue to stand in place and slightly bounce up and down to the beat without rocking their hips.

After the number five, they hold up both hands and move them back and forth regardless of the numbers that they are saying. They continue to stand in place and slightly bounce back up and down to the beat.

On the line, "and that's the end", they throw both hands up in the air, smiling.

Video Example #2: Show Me Your Motion Trailer

Ward Minnis Published on Nov 30, 2006

A Trailer for a documentary on Ring play games from the Bahamas. Directed by Ian Strachan.
Click for a link to this complete documentary. Unfortunately, that video has no comments to date.

WARNING: This documentary features children performing seductive dances that some people may consider to be unsuitable for children.

A pancocojams post that transcribes the words to the few hand games/singing games that are featured in this documentary will be posted ASAP and that link will be added to this post.

Here is my Video description for the "Rock the cherry" portion of this pancocojams featured video (beginning around .017):
Girls and boys form a large circle with one child in the middle. The middle child moves around the inside of the ring while the other children sing. On the words “rock my cherry”, the middle child moves directly in front someone she or he chooses and does a very seductive wining dance [hip rotating dance while moving up and down]. At the end of that rhyme, the girl she stood in front of becomes the new middle child and the singing game begins from the beginning.

Compare this game song with the African American [?] originated children's singing game "Ride The Pony" that is showcased in this post on my cocojams2 blog:
Here are three comments from that video's discussion thread:
Ms. Missi, 2010
"WoooooW! Some o'dese lil girls on here too SLACK! We wasn't slack like dat wit our ring play nah! Dey's run rite oat dread! Muddoes! Need dey hip cuttt! LoL! But, some of the clips are "clean" and show the traditional style of Ring Play. Love it. Thanx for posting!
"Slack" = acting or being "nasty" ("dirty"), in this case, dancing sexually seductively. (noun: "slackness"). The opposite of "slack" is "clean".

cstar88, 2011
"Ring Play the rite of passage. That was a good documentary. I recorded it a few days ago. If I had the opportunity to play Ring Play and Pawkin again, I would be there. Good job :)

I don't know what the word "pawkin" means, but a brief clip of a competitive ball throwing game for boys by that name is shown around 26:21 in the "Show Me Your Motion: The Ringplay Games of The Bahamas" documentary whose link is given above.

Shan Russell, 2013
"Wow... No wonder we was so wamanish man! Singing dese kinda songs! SMH!!"
"Womanish" is a term that is (also) used among African Americans (who may or may not be of Caribbean descent). "Womanish" is usually an at least mildly negative adjective that refers to girls acting like they are grown woman. "Manish" is a comparable term for boys who act like they are grown men.

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