Sunday, July 3, 2011

Never sing to strangers in a language you don't know well?

As  German living in Australia I have been a member of an Australian multicultural a capella choir for many years. It was very difficult for us to learn the first Japanese song. Our choir leader chose the well know Japanese children song: Genkotsu Yama No Tanuki San which she was taught by a Japanese friend. This was hard work, not only because the words were so different, but as well because the harmonies were unused to our ears as we learnt it set in three part harmonies. It took us about a year to master the song.
Around that time I attended an international women's conference in Perth and at the opening cocktail party spotted a lady wearing what I thought was a traditional Japanese dress. I went straight for her and without much introduction proudly sang her my newly acquired Japanese children song. She smiled broadly when she responded: "Thank you very much, but I am from Korea." I blushed and shook her hand warmly in a very German fashion, vowing never to sing to a stranger ever again.

The singing in other languages is good for the brain, it gives you a challenge not easy to master, as the words need to be remembered and the music often has a differet tune that is not used to our ears.

The choir now sings in about 15 community languages and we understand that all learning takes time. However, we cherish the rewards and meanwhile sing another Japanese songs easily. 

And my promise to never sing a foreign language song to strangers went out of te window a few weeks ago as well, as I met a friendly Ukrainian speaker at a 50th birthday party. I sang him a Ukrainian song Oj U Hurodi  and he could even understand that it was about a woman plucking rose petals in a garden. Never say never! I am proud to be able to sing songs in many languages.

Listen to a few of our multicultural songs on youtube. From this Greek song we only know the first verse. It's a happy new year song Tria Caravaggia about three boats arriving with golden sails to bring three girls and the luck for the new year. We are keen on singing the rest of the song. It must have a lot more verses. But both my attempts to find the song through my Greek speaking dentist and a Greek friend from the soccer club failed. Who can help?

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