Thursday, January 10, 2008
Song of the Week: Tumbalalaika
In high school, I auditioned for the school musical (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) with a song I learned in my introductory chorus class called "Tumbalalaika." I had a weak, untrained voice, and so I didn't get any of the singing roles.* If I were to return to high school, I'm sure I'd fare much better-- but then I'd have to return to high school. I cannot remember the name of my chorus teacher, but I do know that she was good. It's because of her that I can bluff sight-reading. Years later, I can belt out "Tumbalalaika" and play it on the guitar too:
Based on a traditional Yiddish riddle song
Video of a more proficient guitarist than I
[Am] Tumbala, tumbala, tumbala- [E] laika
Tumbala, tumbala, tumbala-[Am] laika
Tum balalaika, [Dm] spiel bala- [Am]laika,
[Dm] Tumbalalaika, [E] frelach sol [Am]sehn.
Maiden, maiden, tell me true
What can grow without the dew?
What can burn for years and years?
What can cry but shed no tears?
Silly boy, the answers true:
A stone can grow without the dew
Love can burn for years and years
A heart can cry but shed no tears.
Frelach sol sehn=let it be lively
These are phonetic spellings of Yiddish words.
*In a break from my usual gender-neutral bit parts of yore, I was cast in the oh-so-progressive roles as (1) an Ishmaelite slave girl, (2) one of Potiphar's slave girls, and (3) one of Pharoah's slave girls. The musical had one designated female singing role, and that was Potiphar's wife with one line.