A Rainbow of Songs: An Appreciation of the Texts of Selected South African Folk and Art Songs
One can think of songs as containers, somewhat like calabashes [a shell of a gourd from a tree]. In songs we store and share ideas, experiences and identities. Songs help to create cultures and they enable individuals to become part of those cultures. I love to work with folk songs and to think of ways of enhancing some of their qualities.
The three lullabies in Hannes Taljaard’s Zwikumbu Zwiraru have various origins; Ihi (tshiVenda) has an ambiguous text but a simple melody consisting mostly of the tonic triad; Siembamba (Afrikaans) is a well-known song which is thought to refer to events during the Anglo-Boer War; and Thula Thu’ (isiZulu) is often sung as a favourite in the classroom. The texts of Niel van der Watt’s five short Afrikaans art songs, Vier Elemente en ‘n Epiloog (Four Elements and an Epilogue), refer to the four basic elements and alchemy. The first four songs are each based on an element – water, air, fire and earth. Hugo’s metaphors give each element a contemporary and universal meaning. In the last song, the fleeting nature of human existence is pondered. The two contrasting parts in the music consist of a sombre meditation followed by a peaceful movement towards redemption.
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