Jamaican Folk Songs

Jamaican folk songs fall into three groups: the digging-song, top­i­cal tunes and the games.

The digging-songs have a dis­tinc­tive tempo espe­cially suited to aid labor, mak­ing the time seem short and the work seem light. Usu­ally a chief singer starts the tune, and the oth­ers join in with the cho­rus. There is also a short refrain of a cou­ple of words called “bob­bin”. The chief singer is expected to impro­vise or pro­vide vari­a­tion for verses.

The top­i­cal tunes seem to have gained a large share of local atten­tion. Exam­ple of a top­i­cal tunes are “Lin­stead Mar­ket” and “Mango Walk”.

The folk-games have orig­i­nated mostly from Eng­lish and Scot­tish sources, rather than African. Nev­er­the­less, they bear the imprint of the race of African natives. There has been three chief group of games: the stone-passing games, the steady rhythm –like, “there’s a brown girl in the ring” , and the romp­ing games –like, “bull in de pen”. The folk-games have played a major part in the social devel­op­ment of the Jamaican people.

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