The Universal Language
by Teresa Jennings
This exciting and upbeat tune combines a number of elements to tie the whole revue together and bring it to a rousing finish. The underlying pulse of the verse is a world beat, which alternates with a syncopated rock current under the choruses.
There are two vocal parts indicated, one spoken and one sung. The spoken part begins at measure 9 with the simple pronunciation of many different countries. It is suggested that each country is named by a different student. There are approximately two countries named per measure (remember that it is in cut-time). You could have lots of different students yell out the country names from where they stand or have them walk across the front of the performance area as they speak. You could also select a few students who simply alternate naming the countries for simplicity. Again, the children on the recording provide an excellent resource for learning and practicing this song. As far as the countries are concerned, you can use any country names you like, not just the ones we have listed in the song. In fact, it might be fun to ask your students for their own ancestral countries of origin. This will enable them to include their families in the project, because they will need to ask questions to find out as much as they can. It will also give them a sense of pride to be able to include their own families' countries.
The sung part of the song is part one and begins at measure 17. Except for the spoken countries, the song is sung in unison and should be easily learned.
On the recording of this song, you will hear instruments from all around the world, including bagpipes, congas, udu, didjeridu, Irish drum, kalimba, rainstick, sordu, cuica, and a variety of ethnic percussion instruments, as well as our usual outstanding complement of brass, woodwinds, strings, rhythm section and synthesizers. Let your students listen to the instrumental version to see how many different instruments (and their countries of origin) they can identify.
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.