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
Cheesy MIDI
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.


blogapotamus said...

I was cast as one of the brothers, as were many girls in my theatre department!

SevenImpossible said...

I'm sorry, I'm still laughing at the "but then I'd have to return to high school" line and didn't really register anything after that.

What a nightmare that'd be. I didn't even have it particularly hard; it's just a hard place when you're a raging nonconformist.

Jules, 7-Imp

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Just to reassure you that I continue to read your blog even though I may not leave comments all the time - partly because your blog seems to be becoming a more specialist organ for storytelling and other artistic interests.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

YP: Thanks! I understand. I read your blog too, and when it comes to Hull City football, I think, "Okay! I have nothing insightful to contribute."

Jules: I still have literal nightmares about returning to high school. In these dreams, my college and grad school degrees are null unless I complete 2 high school courses that are a combination of English, Science, and Swimming. The Swimming class, taught by my English teacher, is always on the top floor of the school and somehow I can never find it. What gives?!

Blogapotamus: We'd hoped the same thing would happen in our school, but what ended up happening was that my drama teacher really hussled the guys to try out. I don't know why he kept picking plays that had way more male than female characters when the drama lub was predominantly female. Good thing there was "The Sound of Music!"

Lone Star Ma said...

At 14, I once promised a whole bunch of eighth grade boys a whole lot if they would be in our production of Meet Me In St. Louis...