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Punasa Bee Sihsohon

Mr. Abel Candias
English 10 / 10:04
June 20, 2016

The Similarities and Differences of Duerme Negrito and Kawao Aoey

Thailand and Venezuela have different historical background, but the theme of
Duerme Negrito and Kawao Aoey both focus on the selfishness of human. The
purpose of this research report was to compare and contrast two folk lullabies of
Venezuela and Thailand. The importance of this research report is to show the
similarities and differences of Duerme Negrito and Kawao Aoey. There were five
major sources used in this research report. First, The Art of the Musical Zz: Cultural
Implications of Lullabies around the World by Hines, which talked about the
definitions of lullaby by different organizations. The next source was AfroVenezuelans - History and Cultural Relations where the site revealed how
Venezuelan slave life was like during the time of slavery which Duerme Negrito
(Sleep, Little Black One) theme was based on. List wrote a book which discussed the
evolution of Thai song in the field of history and theory, called Speech Melody and
Song Melody in Central Thailand. The relationship of music and brain was analyzed
in the book, Music, Language, and the Brain by Patel. The development of worlds
music through times was shown in the book The Raised of Music in the Ancient
World, East and West written by Sachs. The last one was The Raised of Music in
the Ancient World, East and West written by Sachs, which showed the development
of worlds music through times.


The definitions of lullaby from many organizations share a similar view of
meaning as a song that puts a young child to sleep, but from the research of
Kathleen Hines, she argued that lullaby is something more. The researcher revealed
that lullaby is not only a sound that helps a child to rest, but a connection between
parents and their children, which also reflects the society at that time when it was
written. There were also many supports from other researchers such as Ellen
Dissanayake, Elizabeth Mackinlay, and Erik Masuyama, who claimed that there is the
same trait of cultural reflection in lullabies from the different parts of the world.

Duerme Negrito (Sleep, little black one)

This Venezuelan folk lullaby was a very popular Latin - American song during
1900s around the border of Venezuela and Colombia. It was a folklore which was
recomposed by a famous composer, Atahualpa Yupanqui. Women sung this song
during his trip to the region. After that, the song had been written in many other
versions, but the themes were all the same. The lyrics and the translation as provided
by Maria Guinand were shown,

Duerme, duerme, negrito,

Sleep, sleep little black one,

Quer tu mama eta en el compo negrito.

Your mamas in the fields, little one.

Duerme, duerme, mobila.

Sleep, sleep little one.

Te va a trae codonise para ti,

Shes going to bring quail for you,

Te va a trae fruta freca pasa ti,

Shes going to bring fresh fruit for you,

Te va a trae cane de cedo para ti,

Shes going to bring pork for you,

Te va a mucha cosa para ti.

Shes going to bring many things for


Y si negro no se duerme,

And if the black one doesnt go to sleep,

Viene e diablo blanco y zas,

The white devil will come and zap!

La come la patica chica bu,

Hell eat your little foot, chica bu;

Apura chica bu.

hurry , chica bu.

Duerme, duerme, negrito,

Sleep, sleep little black one,

Que tu mama eta en el campo negrito.

Your mamas in the fields, little one.

Trabajando duramente, trabajando si,

Shes working hard, working, yes,

Trabajando y no la pagan, trabajando si,

Working and they dont pay her,

working, yes,
Trabajando y va tosiendo, trabajando si,

Working and shes coughing, working,

Pal negrito chiquitito,

For her sweet little black one,

Pal negrito si.

For her little one, yes.

The song is written in 4/4 time signature, using lively melody, but the lyrics
reveals its dark meaning which is hidden in the beauty of the song. Stated by
Guinand, the lack of education among slave is shown through the missing of r and
s sounds. The lyrics also affirms the scary fact of slaves lives being dehumanized at

that time. The masters of those slaves didnt pay them for work. They forced them to
work even when they were sick. To prevent runaways, the slave owners even cut off
their feet, and those slaves could not say anything about it but accepted the cruel
reality silently. These feelings of being tortured bursted out one day, in a form of a

Kawao Aoey(The Koel)

This was one of the most popular Thai traditional lullabies which was written
long time ago. There is still an argument about the actual writer of the song, but there
is no accurate revelation of the composer nor the time of composing. The song was
created in Prachin Buri province the middle region of Thailand, and then spread out to
other part of the country. In the old days, there was no actual record, so Thai lullabies
passed from generation to generations. This makes the lyrics changed in different time
and different area. Later, it is used in Thai curriculum for Primary students to study.
Mr. Nitipol Pilawasana said that Thai lullaby can be divided into three major types,
lullaby that gave consolation, threatening lullaby, and calming or soothing lullaby,
which is the type of Kawao Aoey. Down below is the lyrics by Miss Ching Poodpong
and the translation,

Kawao aoey,


Kai wai hai mae ka fuk.

Laid an egg for a crow to hatch.

Mae ka kor long ruk,

The crow loves a baby koel,

Nuek wa loog nai u-torn.

She thought it is her child.

Karb aow kao ma puea,

She finds rice to feed it,

Pai karb aow yuea ma porn.

She finds prey to feed it.

Ta-norm wai nai rang non.

She takes care of it in the nest.

Sorn yuea ma hai kin.

She hides prey for it to eat.

Peak hang jao young on,

Your wings and tail are still weak,

Hud ron sorn bin.

Ill teach to fly and glide.

Mae ka pa aow look pai ha kin,

Mother crow takes her child out to eat,

Tam fung num mae kong-ka.

By the river.

Teen jao yearb sa-rai,

Your feet steps on seaweed,

Park kor sai ha kin pla.

Your beak is finding fish.

Kin koong lae kin kang.

You eat shrimps and crayfish.

Kin hoi kra-pang maeng-da.

You eat mussels and pimp.

Iem laew kor poh ma jub ton wa,

When you full, you glide to Jumble tree,

Laew poh pai ton poh-tong.

Then to Sacred fig.

Mee ta pran kon nueng tiaw yearm yearm

There is a hunter, looking around.

mong mong,
Yok aow puen kuen shu,

Grab a gun,target,

Ta-nu kuen song,

And a bow, target.

Jong mae ka dum.

At the black mother craw.

Seek nueng wa ja tom,

One half of her will be boiled.

Seek nueng wa ja yum.

One half of her will be yumed

(Thai cooking method.)

Sand song sarn mae ka dum,

Pitiful, black mother crow,

Look mee gum tae noi noi aoey.

Her child has bad karma since its so


The song is using 4/4 beat system like almost all of traditional Thai songs. The
mother usually sings this lullaby slowly to create relaxing and sleepy atmosphere. The
lyrics reflects Buddhism believe of karma, and reincarnation, which can be seen in the
last line of the song. It referred to baby crow that died because its mother spent time
raising baby koel. The baby crow had bad karma since it was born from its last life.
The theme also shows selfishness of human through the action of mother koel who
left her child for mother crow to raise.

The Theme
The themes of the two lullabies have similarity of selfishness of people, make
others worked hard for them. In the case of Duerme Negrito, coloured people were
sold and bought as slaves to work for white master. Both male and female had to go
out to work. For Kawao Aoey, it is a different situation, the lullaby was known in
majority of citizen, no matter what social class. It is true that in the past Siam or
Thailand also had slaves, but they were owned by Thai master, and were not violated
as much. Also, the dehumanization is not shown in the lyrics. Usually, in Siam, it was
males job to work, and females were at home doing chores and raise their children.

Many creations such as art, music, culture and tradition in Siam had the same base of
Buddhism, which is also shown in the lyric of Kawao Aoey too.

The Beat, Melody, Feeling and Expression

The beat of Duerme Negrito and Kawao Aoey is written in the same 4/4 beat
system, Duerme Negrito uses upbeat to create soft lively atmosphere no matter how
dark its lyric is. The melody of Venezuelan song follows Chromatic scale system or
twelve-tone scale system(C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B.) Kawao Aoey is
using Heptatonic scale system or seven-tone scale system(C, D, E, F, G, A, B.) To put
a child to sleep, Thai mother sings it slowly, using downbeat. Unlike Venezuelan
song, Thai lullabies usually has very dark melody.

This research report aimed to find similarities and differences of Thai and
Venezuelan lullaby in the field of theme, melody and beat. The two lullabies share the
same heart torturing theme of using other people to do something for them. There are
some lines that talk about the dehumanization in Duerme Negrito, but not in Kawao
Aoey. The songs have the same beat system, but their stressing are different, so does
the melody. The researcher recommends to have further research on how music, like
lullaby, reflects the society and helps people reduce mental problems.

Botelho, A. J. (2015). A histria da cano Duerme Negrito. Retrieved May 24, 2016,
Hines, K. (2013). The Art of the Musical Zz: Cultural Implications of Lullabies
around the World. Ninth Annual SC Upstate Research Symposium, 74-76.
Retrieved May 25, 2016, from
List, G. (1961). Speech Melody and Song Melody in Central Thailand.
Ethnomusicology Vol. 5 , No. 1, 16-32. Retrieved May 21, 2016, from
Patel, D. A. (2007). Music, Language, and the Brain, 154-175. Retrieved May 23,
2016, from
Pilawasana N. (2015). (Lullabies). Retrieved May 26, 2016, from
Sachs, C. (1943). The Raise of Music in the Ancient World, East and West, 121-316.
Retrieved May 20, 2016, from htttp://
Afro-Venezuelans - History and Cultural Relations.(2011) Retrieved May 20, 2016,