(Description: simple music for Twinkle Twinkle, in C major, with words written underneath the music)
When my girls were little babies, I sang lots of action songs to them, including this old favourite. It’s such a simple thing to do, and they enjoyed it so much. I recall taking my younger daughters outside and laying them on a rug under a tree, and singing Twinkle twinkle, complete with actions. They were enthralled. I had a repertoire of action songs, including The Wheels on the Bus, and Three Little Speckled Frogs, and my favourite, Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree, which in my version is mostly recited, rather than sung.
Five little monkeys sitting in a tree
Show left hand with five “monkeys” (fingers)
Teasing Mr Crocodile, “You can’t catch me, can’t catch me.”
Wave left hand about in teasing fashion
Along comes Mr Crocodile, hungry as can be
Right hand comes along, using fingers and thumb to make a snapping action
Right hand snaps one of the “monkeys”
Four little monkeys sitting in a tree
Show left hand with four “monkeys”…
I usually sing “You can’t catch me, can’t catch me” on three notes: D, E, C, or A, B, G, or F#, G#, E, or whatever. The rhythm and intonation is reminiscent of a teasing, “Na na na na na.” I think I liked this song so much because its macabre humour is such a pleasant change from the usual sap of nursery rhymes.
And having said that my babies were enthralled by my singing, they were also enthralled by watching me do housework. I used to tote them around the house, settle them in their bouncinettes, and chatter away to them as I swept the floor, or cleaned the bath, or folded the washing. They were a very uncritical audience.
The music for “Twinkle Twinkle” comes from a French folk song, “Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman”.
Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman,
Ce qui cause mon tourment.
Papa veut que je raisonne,
Comme une grande personne.
Moi, je dis que les bonbons
Valent mieux que la raison.
…which I translate roughly as:
Oh! I will tell you, Mama
What is causing my torment.
Papa wants me to give reasons
Like a big person (grown-up)
As for me, I say that sweets
Are valued more (are better) than reason.
Famously, Mozart used the tune as the basis of his Twelve Variations on “Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman”. I like variations 5, 8 and 11 best.
I have the music floating around somewhere. I must learn to play some of them… the easy ones!