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Venda Children’s Songs

A Study in Ethnomusicological Analysis

John Blacking is widely recognized for his theoretical works How Musical Is Man? and The Anthropology of the Body. This series of essays and articles on the music of the Venda people of the northern Transvaal in South Africa constitutes his major scholarly legacy.

Venda Children’s Songs presents a detailed analysis of both the music and the cultural significance of children’s songs among the Venda. Among its many original contributions is the identifying of the role of melody in generating rhythm, something that distinguishes this form of music from that of Venda adults as well as from other genres of African music in general.

210 pages | 15 halftones, 14 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 1967

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Music: Ethnomusicology

Table of Contents

List of Plates
List of Figures
Chapter 1 - The Background to the Analysis of the Songs
The Venda of the Northern Transvaal
Some Basic Definitions and Concepts of Venda Music
Musical Instruments
The Variety and Meaning of Venda Communal Music
Music for Young People in Venda Society
1. Children’s songs
2. Play-dances for boys and girls
3. "Amusements" for boys and girls
4. The Venda national dance (tshikona)
The Collection of Material for Analysis
The Place of Children’s Songs in the Venda Musical Repertoire
The Social Function of the Children’s Songs
The Importance of the Words of the Children’s Songs
Methods of Research
The Texts and Musical Transcriptions
Chapter 2 - Transcriptions and Texts of Fifty-Six Children’s Songs Classed by the Venda as Nyimbo dza vhana
Section 1—Songs and Jingles to be Sung During the Day (Nyimbo)
Action Songs for Boys (Nyimbo dza vhatukana)
1. A and B Mafhala-tombo (Scraper-of-stones)
2. Tamba-na-gambana (Play with a big snuff-box)
3. Tshihwilili tshanga (My bull-roarer)
Action Songs for Girls
4. Tshidula tsha Musingadi! (The little frogs of Musingadi!)
5. Mpheni ndaiyane yanga! (Give me my bangle back!)
Songs for Nursing Babies (Nyimbo dza u lela vhana)
6. Thumbu ya tshixele (My nursemaid’s stomach)
7. Thoho i a ndemela (My head is too heavy)
Action Songs for Girls and Boys (Nyimbo dza vhatukana na vhasidzana)
8. Ndo ima nga thoho (I am standing on my head)
9. Dadamale! A ri kandi fhasi (Walk carefully! We are not falling off)
10. Tsinga ndedede (The line of little children)
11. Khoikhoi (Hop-hop)
12. Nyamulemalema (Madam Bat)
Transcriptions of Songs 1-12
Counting Songs for Boys and Girls (Nyimbo dza u vhala)
13. Potilo
14. Uyu ndi nnyi uyu? (This one, who is this one?)
15. La vha gambe-kambe (This one is a child who is beginning to stagger about)
16. Ha matshutshuru-banga
17. Lembe timbiri
Transcriptions of Songs, 13-17
Songs of Mockery (Nyimbo dza u goda) for Boys
18. Tsha-mavhende (Mr. Gaps)
19. Mankhaye (Stay-at-home)
20. Dzi a kumba thole (They go off with the weaklings)
21. Dzi tahula tshene (They are removing the weeds)
22. Nnyammeau, Mathora! (To hell with you Mathora!)
Songs of Mockery (Nyimbo dza u goda) for Girls
23. Tshitamba na vhasidzana (Little play-with-girls)
24. Tshivhunu tsha mutukana! (The little boy’s bottom!)
Song of Mockery (Nyimbo dza u goda) for Boys and Girls
25. Vho-Nyadenga vho swa thoho (Vho-Nyadenga has burnt her head)
Transcriptions of Songs 18-25
Songs for Boys (Nyimbo dza vhatukana)
26. Kuku gombanani (Fight, you cocks)
27. Uwee Mukukulume! (Cock-a-doodle-doo!)
28. Tambani zwanu (Play with your things)
29. U songo rwa musadzi (Don’t beat a woman)
30. Kula ndi nnyi, kula Nkawe? (Who is that little one, Nkawe?)
Transcriptions of Songs 26-30
Songs for Girls (Nyimbo dza vhasidzana)
31. Dwana wa Vho-Mavhungu (The child of Vho-Mavhungu)
32. Nzho-nzho govholane (Grasp them firmly)
33. Nandi Munzhedzi haee! (Come here, Munzhedzi!)
34. Inwi haee Nyamudzunga! (Hullo there, Nyamudzunga!)
35. Ndi nnyo ya nwana (It is the penis of the child)
36. Thoho yanga i a rema (My head aches)
37. Inwi Matodzi haee! (Hi there, Matodzi!)
38. Mapengo thi mu funi zwone (I love Mapengo very dearly)
Transcriptions of Songs 31-38
Songs for Boys and Girls (Nyimbo dza vhatukana na vhasidzana)
39. Maovhelwa (Storks)
40. Hotsia! (Atishoo!)
41. Funguvhu, tanzwa mulomo! (Crow, wash your mouth!)
42. Kula ndi nnyi ku no nga Rambuda? (Who is that little one who looks like Rambuda?)
43. Mvula (Rain)
Transcriptions of Songs 39-43
Section II - Songs for the Evening (Ngano)
44. Nda dadada (I walked along)
45. Kula kwe’ Ndi vho-nnyi vhala? (That little one said, Who is that?)
46. Fhano ho da nnyi-vho? (Who came here?)
47. Nde’ ndi ngei thavhani (When I was there on the mountainside)
48. Thathatha! Thanga dzi a swa (The pumpkin pips are burning)
49. Dwana wa Dwananga! (Child of my child!)
50. Ndo bva na tshidongo (I walked out with a small dish)
51. Ndo afhula lutemba (I broke the calabash flour-scoop)
Transcriptions of Songs 44-51
Songs that are passed on (Ngano dza bune)
52. Dendezane musenene
53. Tshitutu tsha lutingo (A wire girdle)
54. Tshinoni tsha Mulungwane (The bird of Mulungwane)
55. Dodo musholo!
56. Thathatha! Tsindi i na nnda (The loin-cloth is full of lice)
Transcriptions of Songs 52-56
Chapter 3 - The Structure of the Children’s Songs
Patterns of Rhythm
The Metrical Distinction between Speech and Song
Poetic Licence
1. Economy of Expression
2. Syllabic Adjustment
Metrical Patterns of the Songs: The Results of a Controlled Test
Correspondence between the Rhythm of Words Spoken and Sung
Chapter 4 - The Structure of Children’s Songs
Patterns of Melody and Tonality
Speech-Tone and Melody
Some Principles which Affect the Setting of Words to Music
Pitch and Melodic Range
Melodic Intervals
Tone-Rows and Modes of the Children’s Songs, and their Affinity with Other Scales and Styles of Venda Music
Melodies Derived from the Tshikona Pattern
Melodies Derived from Patterns of Pentatonic Music
Melodies Derived from Scales and Modes
Chapter 5 - The Cultural Analysis of Music
Summary of the Argument
Problems of Method in Ethnomusicological Analysis
Appendix I: Speech-Tone and Melody
Appendix II: Telling the Parts of the Body: An Old Venda

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