Evolution of the "SONG OF THE COLORS"
Ronald Glossop, Director, Children Around the World
In the beginning the title of this song for children which uses the familiar French melody "Frère Jacques" (Brother John) was "RUĜA POMO" (A Red Apple).
The words of the first verse provide a template for the later verses. Those words are:
Ruĝa pomo, ruĝa pomo, Estas ĝi, estas ĝi.
Pomo estas frukto. Pomo estas frukto. Frukto, jes. Frukto, jes.
(A red apple, a red apple, It is, it is.
An apple is a fruit. An apple is a fruit. A fruit, yes. A fruit, yes.)
For example the original second verse is:
Nigra kato, nigra kato, Estas ĝi, estas ĝi.
Kato estas besto. Kato estas besto. Besto, jes. Besto, jes.
(A black cat, a black cat, It is, it is.
A cat is an animal. A cat is an animal. An animal, yes.
An animal, yes.)
In each verse the first word is a color; the second word is an object which usually or even sometimes is that color. Then there is an indication that that object belongs to a larger class or group of objects.
I am not completely certain, but I think that Jon Romesmo in Norway is the person who first had the idea about this song, and that occurred about the year 1980.
In the year 1988 Charlotte Kohrs, founder of the organization
"Infanoj Ĉirkaŭ la Mondo" (Children Around the World) in San
Diego, California, U.S.A., published a paper booklet KANTU
ESPERANTE KUN JANICO KAJ JOHANO: 12 KONVERSACIAJ
KANTOJ POR KOMENCANTOJ (Sing in Esperanto with Janice
and John: 12 Conversational Songs for Beginners) together
with a sound cassette. The first song in the booklet was
"Ruĝa Pomo." (A Red Apple). Instead of the name of the author
one sees the words "Poeto nekonata." (Author of words
unknown). Nevertheless I think that Jon Romesmo wrote it.
That version of the song has three verses, one about a red
apple which is a fruit, one about a black cat which is an animal,
and one about a blue table which is a piece of furniture.
In the year 1991 I happily had a chance to visit Mr. Romesmon. He indicated that he wrote that song for children whom he taught. I said to him that I never saw a blue table. He then showed me in his house a small blue table especially for children. That experience convinced me that Jon Romesmo indeed is the author of those three verses of this song.
In that booklet Charlotte also created a new verse for this song. It appeared externally on the back cover. The words are
"Sur la Tero, ronda Tero, Loĝas ni, kantas ni.
Kune sur la Tero, Monda familio, Famili', famili'."
(On the Earth, round Earth, We live, we sing.
Together on the Earth, A world family, Family, family).
Afterwards the fourth word was changed to "bela" (beautiful).
I myself call this verse "the Esperanto anthem for children."
During the period 1993-2009 I little by little added more verses about other colors and objects. I also decided to change some words. I thought that tables usually are brown. Trees are green, so a green cedar would be a good new verse. Finally, I decided that there should be many verses for many colors. The primary colors which the cones in our eyes are able to distinguish are red as opposed to green and yellow as opposed to blue. The order of those four primary colors in the verses of the song should be the order in the rainbow: red, yellow, green, blue. We already had verses about a red apple and a green cedar, so I added verses about a yellow rose (a flower) and a blue skirt (a garment).
Black is a neutral "color," and we already had a verse about a black cat. I thought that there should be some other verses about other neutral colors. Therefore I added some verses about a white sea-gull (bird), a brown table (a piece of furniture), and a gray salmon (fish).
The song still lacked verses about two other popular colors, so I wanted to add verses about an orange ball (something to play with) and a purple auto (a vehicle). I began to realize that now maybe there will be a problem because there is one extra syllable for the names of the colors and also one or two for the new nouns. Nevertheless I know that other songs exist where people sometimes sing one or even two extra syllables more rapidly. When one uses the words for "orange" and "purple," one will have to have an extra syllable which one must sing more rapidly. Furthermore I want to use the words for "something to play with" and "something in which to travel" in order to show the use of the Esperanto suffix for "instrument." Therefore one again will have to sing the extra syllables more rapidly. I also used that suffix again in the next verse about a silver fork (an instrument with which to eat). The twelfth verse needs another metallic color. It is about a gold ring (an ornament). Consequently after the other ten colors now there are two metallic colors, silver and gold.
Now the song has twelve verses about twelve colors. I decided that the thirteenth and last verse should be "the Esperanto anthem for children" which Charlotte Kohrs created. It seems to me that
"Kune sur la Tero, Monda familio, Famili', famili'"
(Together on the Earth, A world family, Family, family)
is a good ending for the song.
After the pupils learn the song, the instructor can use it to dialog with them. They will have to answer with a complete sentence. "What is the second verse about?" "The second verse is about a yellow rose." "According to the song, what color is the fork?" "According to the song, the fork is silver." "According to the fourth verse, what is blue?" "According to the fourth verse, the skirt is blue."
My experience is that the pupils like to sing this song together. At the beginning they need help remembering the words and the order of the colors, but little by little they learn that and enjoy the dialog about the song during which they also learn the numbers from one to thirteen. This song is a good instrument to encourage the learning of our language.
Ronald Glossop, January 2016.
Enrique, January 6, 2016.