Want to expose yourself and your children to music from other countries? Check out “Songs in the Shade of the Olive Tree” – Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes from Maghreb. This compilation of music from Algeria, France, Tunisia, and Morocco is sung in the original language using indigenous instruments and including a mix of ancient and modern styles. The accompanying hardcover book provides explanations about what they are singing by way of illustrations, translations and explanations of context, use and meaning. In the beautifully illustrated hardcover book, “Lyrics are reproduced in Arabic and translated into English, transcribed in the original script and in Roman characters, and followed by notes on the origin and cultural context of each song.” It is a treasure-trove of information and opportunities for learning.
In listening to each of these songs and reading about the translation and cultural context and use of each, I found it interesting how similar these songs and their uses are to those I am familiar with from my childhood. We sing about what is around us, about tickling and bouncing, rain, animals and fun, too. We may use different words and melodies, but the songs are very similar in use and subject. More evidence that music is a universal language.
One song I could immediately appreciate because of its similarities to one of ours, Track 6, was translated as saying: “This one stole a hen. This one hid it. This one roasted it. This one ate it and this one said, ‘Give me a little or I’ll tell the owner!'” How similar is that to our “This Little Piggy” toes counting game? I also found Track 22, a story about a clever cat, to be similar to our “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” in that it is a story of consequences, both real and imaginative.
If you are a teacher or a parent and wish to add music to your study of this culture, this specific geographic area or its people, “Songs in the Shade of the Olive Tree“ would be a perfect addition to your studies. Whether you listen to it with discerning ear to discuss the differences in their music and what we are familiar with, the differences in what their lyrics discuss and what ours do or the difference in melodies, instrumentation or language, this CD and book can open the doors to a different, but very similar world, without leaving the classroom.
I think you will appreciate this 30-song CD with accompanying book, filled with information about the songs. Want to sneak a listen in advance? Click here. Enjoy!
BUY! “Songs in the Shade of the Olive Tree“ is available as a digital download or you can order a copy of the 70-page hardcover book with CD on their website.
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