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Lesson 1: Learning “Thula Mntwana” / “Nampaya Omame”

Aim: How can you create a piece by putting two songs together?
Summary: Students learn to sing a piece created by joining together two traditional songs and are introduced to the concept of musical form by exploring the form of the piece. They also explore the percussive sounds of the Zulu language.
Standards: National 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11
Vocabulary: form, lullaby

Bongi has created a two-part song by joining together two complementary songs: “Thula Mntwana,” a lullaby, and “Nampaya Omame,” a well-known folk song sung by generations of South African children. Together the two songs tell a story: A child goes to sleep, awaiting the mother’s return. In the morning, the mother brings gifts in her goody basket; the child’s joy is expressed in the music.

Bongi and Tshidi Teach “Thula Mntwana” / “Nampaya Omame”

“Thula Mntwana” / “Nampaya Omame” Demonstration

South African Zulu singers Bongi and Tshidi teach the medley of two traditional songs, “Thula Mntwana” / “Nampaya Omame.”

Sing “Thula Mntwana” / “Nampaya Omame”

  • Listen to “Thula Mntwana” / “Nampaya Omame,” Track 42.
  • Explain that the songs are sung in call and response style, with a leader calling and the group responding, echoing back the phrase.
  • Learn the lyrics using “Thula Mntwana” pronunciation, Track 43.
  • Sing the response to “Thula Mntwana” using “Thula Mntwana” / “Nampaya Omame,” Track 42.
  • Learn the lyrics using “Nampaya Omame” pronunciation, Track 44.
  • Sing the melody to “Nampaya Omame” using “Thula Mntwana” / “Nampaya Omame,” Track 42.
  • Put the two songs together with “Thula Mntwana” / “Nampaya Omame,” Track 42. Students can take turns as the leader singing the call.

“Thula Mntwana”

Text

LEADER:
Thula, thula mntwana thula,
Thula mntwana thula,
Thula mntwana thula

GROUP:
Thula, thula mntwana thula,
Thula mntwana thula,
Thula mntwana thula
(x2)

Samthatha, sambeka ethala
Wasuke wakhala wathi Maybabo!
(x2)

 

Translation

LEADER:
Hush, hush, my child, hush
Hush, my child, hush
Hush, my child, hush

GROUP:
Hush, hush, my child, hush
Hush, my child, hush
Hush, my child, hush
(x2)

We take her, put her on the shoulder,
But she cried and said Maybabo!
(x2)

“Nampaya Omame”

Text

LEADER:
Nampaya omame
bethwelimithwalo

GROUP:
Nampaya omame
bethwelimithwalo

Ncinci bo! Ncinci bo! Nampaya omame
(x2)

Nampaya omame
bethwelimithwalo
(x2)

Ncinci bo! Ncinci bo! Nampaya omame
(x2)

LEADER:
Sabona ngoswidi, Sabona ngokhekhe
Sabona ngoraysi, Sabona ngonyama

GROUP:
Ncinci bo! Ncinci bo! Nampaya omame
(x2)

LEADER:
Sabona ngoswidi, Sabona ngokhekhe
Sabona ngoraysi, Sabona ngonyama

GROUP:
Ncinci bo! Ncinci bo! Nampaya omame
(x2)

 

Translation

LEADER:
There are our mothers carrying the goody
baskets.

GROUP:
There are our mothers carrying the goody
baskets.

Ncinci bo! Ncinci bo!* There are our mothers.
(x2)

There are our mothers carrying the goody
baskets.
(x2)

Ncinci bo! Ncinci bo! There are our mothers.
(x2)

LEADER:
We saw sweets; we saw cookies.
We saw rice; we saw meat.

GROUP:
Ncinci bo! Ncinci bo! There are our mothers.
(x2)

LEADER:
We saw sweets; we saw cookies.
We saw rice; we saw meat.

GROUP:
Ncinci bo! Ncinci bo! There are our mothers.
(x2)

*An expression of excitement

  • Discuss the lyrics of both songs.
  • As a child goes to sleep, someone is singing a lullaby.
    • How does the lullaby make you feel?
    • How is the mood expressed in the music?
    • Does anyone sing you a lullaby before you go to sleep? What is the lullaby? How does it help you sleep?
  • In the morning, a mother returns with gifts for her child in her goody basket. In Zulu culture, it is customary for parents to bring a treat to their children when they return home. Rice and meat are eaten on special occasions, so they are considered treats just like sweets.
    • How does this part of the song make you feel?
    • How is the mood expressed in the music?
    • How do you feel when your mom or dad comes home? What’s a special treat that you hope they will bring you?

Move to “Thula Mntwana” / “Nampaya Omame”

Tshidi and Bongi have created movements to illustrate the lyrics in this song. As you play “Thula Mntwana” / “Nampaya Omame,” Track 42, practice the movements. Review the teaching video for a demonstration.

Explore Form in “Thula Mntwana” / “Nampaya Omame”

This activity may be more appropriate for more experienced students. Bongi and Tshidi created a two-part song (AB form) by joining together two different songs. Within the second song (B), there are also two separate parts (ab). This activity explores the overall shape of the piece that Bongi and Tshidi created, as an introduction to the concept of musical form.
  • Listen to the full piece using “Thula Mntwana” / “Nampaya Omame,” Track 42. Ask your students to raise their hands when they hear the second (B) part begin.
    • How do you know that this is a new part? What is different about it?
  • Now listen to just the second part (“Nampaya Omame”). Within this song, there are two parts. These may be harder to hear. Hint: One line of music is sung twice (a), and then a second line of music is sung twice (b).
    • Raise your hand when you hear Part 2 (when the melody changes).
  • Explain that this structure—like a map or a plan for the piece—is called musical form.
  • Explore the idea of how you might represent the form graphically.
Creative Extension

Zulu Language

The Zulu people are the largest ethnic group in South Africa, numbering between 10 and 11 million people. Zulu is one of the country’s official languages and has three distinctive percussive sounds.

Explore Percussive Sounds in the Zulu Language
  • Zulu was an entirely oral language until Europeans came and started writing it down using their alphabet. Most of the letters used in the language make the same sounds as in English.
  • What they could not notate were three unique clicking sounds, found on the letters “C,” “Q,” and “X,” that are a form of mouth percussion.
    • “C” is like the sound you make when you’re disappointed (“tsk, tsk”). You place your tongue loosely against the roof of your mouth near your front teeth and pull it away. Try it out with this word:
    • “Iculo” means song.
    • “Q” is a hard clucking sound, like a knock on the door. You place your tongue tightly against the roof of your mouth near your front teeth and pull it away. Try it out with this word:
    • “Inqola” means a moving vehicle—wagon, cart, car, or really anything that moves.
    • “X” is like the sound you make when you tell a horse to “giddy up.” You place your tongue tightly against your side teeth and pull it away. Try it out with this word:
    • “Ixoxo” means frog.
  • Sound out the following words that have the three clicking sounds.
    • “C”
      • “Uchingo” means wire.
      • “Icala” means case.
    • “Q”
      • “Iqhude” means rooster.
      • “Uphaqa” means flip-flop shoe.
    • “X”
      • “Uxolo” means peace.
      • “Ingxoxo” means conversation.

Musical Word Wall

Add the words form and lullaby to the Musical Word Wall.

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