The fifth of six cross-curricular lesson plans on Songs of the Skies & Holidays for Primary or Elementary School children using songs and animations, poetry analysis and writing, music analysis, instrument making, art projects and play ideas.
Où est Lyon?
Animation by Paula Downes, music by Andrew Downes, poetry by primary school children coached by Julie Boden.
Où est Lyon?
Où est Lyon?
We are going there
Um pah pah, um pah pah,
Let's give a cheer
for Munich and Frankfurt
and Dad's favourite beer.
You take the low road
and we'll take the high road
and we'll fly to Scotland
- Show the children where Lyon, Munich, Frankfurt and Scotland are on googlemaps.
- Check they understand the French:
Où est Lyon? Where is Lyon?
par avion. by aeroplane.
- Check they understand the Scottish:
Afore ye - before you
The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond
The last two lines of the poem come from 'The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond', a well-known traditional Scottish song.
O ye'll tak' the high road, and I'll tak' the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye,
Scots tradition and belief is that when a Scot dies his/her soul/spirit shall travel to Scotland before passing onto the next world, which is called the low road in the song. It is thought that the high road belongs to the living and the low road to the dead. The song goes "you take the high road and I'll take the low road and I'll be in Scotland before ye", "but me and my true love will never meet again". This part of the song emphasizes the death of the one who travels the low road.
What do you think these lines mean in 'Où est Lyon?'?
Now listen to 'The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond' and see if you notice a similarity between this melody and the one in 'Où est Lyon?'. You may notice that the first two notes are the same and the melodies are based around the same notes.
Watch the following travel guides to learn more about Lyon, Munich, Frankfurt and Scotland:
Search for rhyming words, nouns, adjectives, verbs.
Brainstorm all the words, nouns, adjectives, verbs to do with Lyon, Munich, Frankfurt, Scotland.
Ask the children to select words that rhyme from the brainstorm.
Ask them them to write a poem about one or more of the places above, with the same rhyming structure as the poem in the song.
We have already talked about the relationship between the melody in 'Où est Lyon?' and that of 'The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond'. Another musical element of this song refers to the words 'Um pah pah' in the second verse. 'Um pah pah' or 'Oom-pah-pah' is a term that describes a large body of traditional German, Austrian, Swiss and Eastern European music. We most frequently see it performed at celebrations of Octoberfest, a traditional Bavarian festival held around Halloween. This is not a single style of music, but a wide variety of styles including Polkas, Mazurkas, Schottishes, Waltzes and Landler.
The term 'Oom-Pah' is in imitation of the downbeats (Oom) played by the bass or tuba and the off-beats (pah) played by other instruments (e.g. accordion, clarinet) to provide rhythmic accompaniment for the melody. Watch the 'Oom-Pah-Pah' song from the musical Oliver! and listen out for the Oom-Pah-Pah introduction and accompaniment:
An accordion will often play the 'pah-pah' chords as you see in the animation. Here is an introduction to the accordion (up to 2:17):
Bagpipe Music and Scotch Snaps:
Just before the last verse, you hear music similar to that of the Scottish Bagpipe music. Listen to this bagpipe music and then listen out for the imitation in the song just before verse 3. You may notice the very short notes, followed by longer drone notes. these are called 'Scotch snaps'.
Now listen to 'Où est Lyon?' again, listening out for 'Oom-pah-pah' elements mixed in with elements of the 'The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond' as well as with Bagpipe-style music.
Pretend you are a tour guide and show us the sights of one of the places in the poem.