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Lady Lullaby Blog

Lullabies for babies, grown-ups and everyone in between!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ding Dang Dong

Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques, dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?
Sonnez les matines, sonnez les matines! Ding dang dong, ding dang dong!
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping, Brother John, Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing! Ding dong ding ding dong ding!

One of my questions about this song is why the French “Ding Dang Dong” turned into “Ding Dong Ding” in English. Who made that decision? Or why the Dutch sing it “Bim Bam Bom”? Or the Finns sing “Pium paum poum”?

And who was Brother John, anyway?

Like most folk songs, there are different theories. I think the most plausible one is that this was a song to taunt the Dominican monks, known in France as the Jacobians, because they had a laid-back lifestyle. OK, some sources say lazy and even slothful but I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.

The Cherokee Indians agreed with this in their version of the song:
Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping? Joseph, Joseph
We have to start hunting, so get up!

In any case, Frere Jacques gets my vote as one of the world’s great children’s songs. It’s an easy but interesting tune to sing; it’s repetitious enough that it can be learned quickly; and it’s a perfect round—often the first round children learn, and learning rounds is one of the best tools possible for learning musical skills.

The other great benefit of teaching this song to your English-speaking baby is that it is French. Babies may not understand the words, but just hearing another language with its different sound frequencies is invaluable to development, according to the late audio and development expert Dr. Alfred Tomatis. In the first few months of life, the brain organizes itself to recognize the sounds it hears, and during early childhood it is very flexible because it’s growing so fast. By hearing other languages early, future learning is easier.

This doesn’t mean you have to start your baby on a Berlitz language course—just play Frere Jacques and other lullabies from all over the world, and the music plus the new sounds will automatically create the experience.

Here is a two-year-old who has this song nailed:


And for a more sophisticated version, check out this Star Trek clip:


Sweet dreams,
Jane

1 comment:

Jade Graham said...

, but just hearing another language with its different sound frequencies is invaluable to development, according to the late audio and development expert Dr. Lullaby Babies

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