What does Jock-a-mo Gebuehr-no ai na-ne meaning

Mardi Gras Mambo

From Injuns, Claven, and "Hmmmm": What Makes New Orleans Unique and Why The City Is Being Dropped

On 28.2. Mardi Gras (French for "fat Tuesday", the day before Ash Wednesday) ended in New Orleans, the largest Mardi Gras festival in the United States. Some outside critics - but also some embittered locals - ask whether it is appropriate to celebrate a festival when more than half of the city is still a landscape of ruins and the rest of the rest is bobbing about: No planning for reconstruction, none Commitments for better hurricane protection and so on. Mardi Gras is above all a commercial endeavor that the city needs to survive this year. What is overlooked: The cultural background of Mardi Gras is an example of what makes New Orleans unique.

This article contains streams (mostly excerpts) from many of the pieces that will be discussed. So: switch on your sound! If you want to start right away, you can download the MP3 of the blues / funk number On The Prowl by Walter Wolfman Washington for free and in full length or stream "I Ain't Got Nobody" in full length (played by Jelly Roll Morton in 1938) right away. The piece should be known to most as "Just a Gigolo" by New Orleanian composer Louis Prima in the version by David Lee Roth.

You imagine a commercial event somehow differently - maybe with admission? In New Orleans, however, business acumen is not as strong as the party mood. The city had been looking for a sponsor for Mardi Gras for a long time - in vain. In the two weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday, there are parades through the streets of New Orleans; However, you have never seen a corporate logo because it is forbidden to put company logos and names on the trolleys during the removals.

Every year New Orleans throws a free festival: "the Greatest Free Show on Earth" - does Brazil see it that way too? In any case, no corporation could be convinced that it was worth two million dollars to cover overtime for the police and garbage disposal without their logo being everywhere. In addition, it was probably difficult to give Mardi Gras a positive image, because most Americans do not know the traditions. "Not all Americans see this as a logical first step to rebuild the city," said a marketing expert.

Until Katrina, millions of people came to New Orleans in the weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday; many mistake Mardi Gras for a binge in the French Quarter, especially Bourbon Street. Of course, alcohol consumption is an integral part of Mardi Gras, but what visitors often don't know: families, school classes and neighbors roam the streets all over the city. The cultural roots of Mardi Gras, which easily go back to the 19th and partly to the late 17th century, are least visible in the tumult of tourists on Bourbon Street, but almost everywhere else, when it says "On" every year La Salle and Rampart Street, a combo playing with a mambo beat. "

Mambo? Why not jazz?

As is well known, New Orleans was founded in 1718 by a Frenchman with the pompous name Jean-Baptise Le Moyne Bienville, but as early as 1699 there was a settlement on the Mississippi called "Pointe du Mardi Gras", which Jean's brother had founded the day before Ash Wednesday. Back then the French liked to enslave "Indians", but they just knew their way around the swamp too well and kept escaping. It was only with the black Africans that the Europeans' slave business flourished.

Later blacks marched to Mardi Gras dressed as Indians ("Injuns" pronounced as in the carnival number Here dey come by the Wild Tchoupitoulas) to show their solidarity with all the oppressed. They play their folk music - maybe a kind of jazz, swing not, but definitely a march music. The "northernmost port of the Caribbean" (and, like the Caribbean, a former French and Spanish colony) may have given birth to jazz, but not to swing. In 1954, the Hawkettes recorded the title Mardi Gras Mambo and made it clear that, musically, New Orleans is all about all possible rhythmic shifts, especially about 3 beats over a 4/4 time. Look out for the threesome in bass at Professor Longhair's Mardi Gras In New Orleans.

First, a few music theory explanations for understanding: Swing is about embedding three beats in one beat, not in one measure. A 4/4 time signature consists of the beats 1-2-3-4, whereby an "and" can be inserted between the beats: 1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and. This is a binary system: beat / offbeat-beat / offbeat, etc. It becomes ternary when you add a triplet, so to speak: 1-2-3-2-2-3-3-2-3-4-2-3. In swing you leave out the superscript 2, so to speak, so that you have the following rhythm: 1-x-and-2-x-and-3-x-and-4-x-and. Here the x is simply silent, but the "and" still comes later accordingly.

Anyone who owns a sequencer like the German product cappricio, which is recommended free of charge, will find that the swing comes out like an abnormally fast waltz if you set this swing "and" really clean to 66% like a triplet between the beats. For reasons that are still unclear, the correct swing feeling is rather unclean at 61%. For comparison: The "and" in "binary music" (i.e. everything that doesn't swing) is exactly 50% - halfway between the beats.

New Orleans music is more often binary than ternary swing. For example, in many Doo-Wop numbers, the superscript 2 in our example above is typically not silent, but is played full lot. Pay attention to the "1-2-3-2-2-3-3-2-3-4-2-3"in the right hand of Fats Domino (whose house was completely flooded by the way) in his Blue Monday or Blueberry Hill.

How is it that the city, which one often thinks of first when talking about jazz, embraces rhythms from the Caribbean at least as much as swing? Well, jazz originated in New Orleans much earlier than swing, which was mainly refined by Count Basie of Kansas City from the 1930s onwards (watch out for the "fills" from the piano on the swing "and" in Splanky ). The original jazz already existed in the north Caribbean city of New Orleans at the end of the 19th century, long before it was technically common to record music at all.

The color of the music

After the Civil War of 1861-1865, the USA enforced its black / white racial segregation in the city. Before that there had been a more detailed subdivision in New Orleans, where so many colored Creoles had been free for generations - so many "rebellious" hybrids who liked to pass themselves off as "all white".

Socially, this change meant that suddenly all colored people in the city - always free Creoles as well as former slaves - were in one boat. The Creoles, some of whom were still French, sang classical music from Europe at home. It was not for nothing that the first opera house in the USA with foreign language performances was founded in New Orleans. European music thus encountered African rhythms and pentatonic scales through the Creoles that the slaves still practiced. The result was a unique cultural explosion - and a real contribution to world music. You only have to compare Stephen Foster's "Old Folks at Home", written in 1851 (here in a recording by Paul Robeson, with the 100 years later recorded version of the same song as Swanee River Rock by Ray Charles, and the revolution is clear).

What exactly happened between 1851 and 1951? At the end of the 19th century the Europeans had already done the harmonious preparatory work: centuries earlier Bach had already demonstrated the interchangeability of the tempered keys in his "well-tempered piano", and around 1900 composers like Debussy had begun to break the boundaries of the keys. The Creoles in New Orleans were familiar with these first steps beyond the key limits, and they also heard the pentatonic scale of the former slaves on the streets of New Orleans: 5 notes in one key instead of 7.

The ragtime of Scott Joplin from Missouri is known worldwide. Here the so-called offbeats (the "and") were suddenly emphasized: The melody is now no longer only emphasized on the beats 1-2-3-4, but also on the "and" in between. In addition, a rhythm of 3 beats was placed over the 1-2-3-4 (i.e. over the beat), as can be heard from the world-famous number The Entertainer.

As early as 1900, folk music in New Orleans must have been far more advanced than ragtime, because Scott Joplin's music sounds rather old-fashioned - you could stop on almost any note without any tension urging it to dissolve - next to the songs by Jelly Roll Morton (see The Crave).

While Joplin only jumped back and forth symmetrically in the bass with his left hand (admittedly also a small breakthrough at the time) and remained relatively conservative melodically, Morton leaves holes in the bass with his left hand, as is known from the rhythms of the Caribbean (see Clave). The melody in Jelly Roll's right hand is also daring: you can almost hear the crazy lines of bebop coming. You cannot stop on the penultimate note; the melody builds up a tension that calls for dissolution.

Speaking of desire

"The Crave" also means something like "the cravings", and the nickname "Jelly Roll" is a sexual allusion. The Creole Ferdinand Joseph Lamothe Mouton ("Morton" for English speakers) was not only a pianist in a brothel in the Storyville district, but also the pimp. Back then, people improvised pieces of music in pubs like "Funky Butt" (the pub at that time only has the name in common with today's one) all evening long to keep the suitors (and probably also the prostitutes) happy. "Funk", like "jazz", had a sexual meaning in those days.

Jelly Roll was certainly not an individual genius, but a product of his environment. He himself once said that another Storyville pianist was the better musician: a gay black man named Tony Jackson, of whom no recordings exist.

In addition to the gradual dissolution of the key boundaries, the Europeans inadvertently made a second major contribution to jazz history in 1914 by throwing the First World War. When the US went to war in 1917, the government decided to close all brothels within 5 miles of a port. She was after Storyville. On Canal Street, walk 9 blocks from Mississippi to Basin Street (Basin Street Blues). A whole brothel district used to border the street corner: Storyville.

In Storyville, the US soldiers got the gonorrhea before going out to sea, and that's not how you can win a war. Against the resistance of the city, Storyville was not only closed as a brothel district in 1917, but also razed to the ground. Today almost nothing is reminiscent of Storyville (and Basin Street is no longer worth seeing - thank you America!), But the closure of the district also meant that musicians there like Louis Armstrong had to look elsewhere for performances. Louis first went across the river to Gretna (a settlement founded by German emigrants in 1836, originally called Mechanickham), where he met the first wife of his life - a prostitute - before going to Chicago, where no one could keep up with him musically .

Europe had broken the boundaries of the keys before the musicians in New Orleans, but the Europeans didn't know what to do with them. It is said that Europeans were culturally drained after the First World War, and this is best seen in music: composers like Arnold Schönberg performed terrible pieces in what is known as twelve-tone music. Here, for example, it was partly stipulated that all 12 notes (the 7 in the key and the 5 outside) had to be played through before a note could be repeated. The only thing left to the composer was to sort 12 notes differently over and over again. The result: an unaesthetic mentality that has more to do with mathematics than with the heart.

The US pop music is completely different: key changes were on the agenda, even in such blues as "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire". And in 1939 an English composer named Ray Noble working in the USA managed to write a number in which all chords - not just CDE etc., but also CC # -DD # -E etc. - appear, all as major and as minor chords. More than 200 years after Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier" Noble's beautiful number Cherokee succeeded in perfecting the circular temperament, without the inexperienced listener even noticing the constant breakthroughs through all key walls in "Cherokee". Just great.

The Babylon of the Southern States

But back to New Orleans, where Jelly Roll Morton had actually only refined the city's folk music: the mixture of European melodies as well as African pentatonic and rhythmic games with 3 beats against 4.

But that's not all: the port city was full of different nationalities and correspondingly full of languages. In addition to the three (former) official languages ​​Spanish, French and English, German was the largest immigrant language. In addition, the slaves had brought innumerable languages ​​with them from Africa, not to mention the Indians.

No wonder that New Orleans folk music consists of nonsense passages that probably had a meaning in the past. Jelly Roll Morton said in an interview in 1938 that as a child at the end of the 19th century he heard the line "two-way pocky way" as a Mardi Gras chant. The saying still lives on today and was even made into a carnival classic decades later by the Wild Tchoupitoulas: Hey Pocky Way.

From the Mardi Gras marching music to the music of the "second lines" (the people who come out of their houses during funeral parades to march and dance behind the actual musicians in the "first line" on the way home from the cemetery ): It's always drumming that underpins the music. Trumpeter Kermit Ruffins wrote his own second line, and even Wynton Marsalis, who moved from New Orleans decades ago to conquer the jazz world, wrote his Oh, But on the Third Day (Happy Feet Blues). You can hear the drums from Africa - or is it more the drums of the old military parades of the French on the place d'armes, today's Jackson Square?

Sure, the lyrics are mostly in English today, but the titles also contain a lot of nonsense. You can still hear a playlist like the following on radio station WWOZ today:

  1. "Iko Iko"
  2. "Ya-Ya"
  3. "Ooh Poo Pah Doo"
  4. "Cha Dooky-Doo"
  5. "Ta Ta Te Ta Ta"
  6. "Tea Na Na Na Na Nay"
  7. "Look-a Py Py"
  8. "Hey Pocky Way"
  9. "Handa Wanda"
  10. "Indian Red"
  11. "Coochie Molly"
  12. "Ki Ya Gris Gris"
  13. "Ho-Di-Ko-Di-Ya-La-Ma-La"
  14. "Ya Herd Me."

"Iko Iko" should be based on the word "Ago!" go back from Gambia and as much as Pay attention! mean. That fits with the text of "Pocky Way", because "two-way" should be nothing more than the French "tuer" (to kill) and the reply "pocky way" should be nothing else than "back away" - should mean, Mardi Grass parades are partially simulated street battles. The spy boy of a parade ("krew") looks out for other parades and announces to the opposing flag boy that if his parade does not clear the way, he will set his flag with a torch ("flambeau") on fire: "tuer" (I'll kill you!), "pocky way!" (Make way!), while the other has to answer: "Outenday" = French "entendais", or in German: "I heard!" And you actually hear the "outenday" in Hey Mama der Wild Tchoupitoulas. Funk or folk? At least at its best: the New Orleans Mardi Gras music.

The number "Iko Iko" became a hit for the New Orleans duo The Dixie Cups in the mid-1960s in a version that really was picked down to the bare minimum: Pay attention to the 3 beat of the timpani against the 4/4 time . The number actually goes back to "Jock-o-mo" (1950) by James Crawford. The lines "Jock-a-mo fee-no ai na-né, jock-a-mo fee na-né" can probably be recited by any child in New Orleans without knowing what it all means. You don't know exactly either: It is assumed that "jockamo" is something of a court jester.


It was in such a linguistic jumble that Louis Armstrong grew up. Louis not only expanded the vocabulary of world music, but also made folk music from New Orleans popular as a born entertainer. Like Jelly Roll, Armstrong was by no means a genius who came out of nowhere, but a gifted musician who grew up in a hotbed of ingenious musicality. After all, Buddy Bolden had been there before Louis.

In 1926, Louis Heebie took up Jeebies. He scatted a whole chorus: he improvised not only the melody, but also the text with nonsense syllables, allegedly because the sheet of music had fallen off his desk. But the excuse was only a pretext, because Louis was now doing in the world what everyone at his home had been doing for decades.

How did it come about that New Orleans brought music so much further out of this mishmash? If the people there were just (ahem ...) brilliant, why did they make music instead of painting like the Dutch and Italians of yore?

Steven Mithen provides an interesting thesis on the connection between music and linguistic confusion in his The Singing Neanderthal (2005). His theory is "holistic, multi-modal, manipulative, and musical" - in short: "Hmmmm".

Mithen believes that music is nothing more than an early, pre-linguistic form of communication that used to be inextricably linked with the original language. Back when we were all still living in Africa, the human ability to speak may not yet have been so clearly separated from musicality. Today I can tell you how bad I feel or I can hum my grief. In the first case you can understand everything, but in the second case you feel it yourself.

In hot New Orleans, you spend your time outside; in Holland it was often too cold for that. The artists preferred to hide in the warm room and paint. In Italy it is also nice to live outside, only there were palaces to be painted and rich people who wanted paintings. The port city of New Orleans didn't have anything like that. New Orleans has no great painters (even if Edgar Degas' mother was a Creole from New Orleans), but the people who spent their free time in shady parks made drums out of skins and pipes out of cane sticks, they sang European music in salons, and shared their love in brothels, dancing in parades in the street, and singing. They use music to exchange their feelings with each other across the many language barriers: joy, hunger, love, sorrow.

There was a lot of lovesickness: In her "The Great Southern Babylon" (note the title!) Alecia P. Long tells, among other things, of a German immigrant from high society in New Orleans who turned into a mulatto at the end of the 19th century black, half white) fell in love. The lady did not hesitate to ring his doorbell at his house in broad daylight if she wanted to see him. Such colored people were hung from trees in the rest of the southern states as "uppity niggers".

Everyone knows Rosa Parks, who just didn't sit where blacks had to stay on the bus in Alabama in the 1950s. And everyone knows that Martin Luther King Jr. turned it into the civil rights movement. But who knows that a Creole from New Orleans named Homer Plessy refused to leave the white compartment on a train back in the 1890s? He defended himself to the Supreme Court. But Plessy (along with Ida Wells from Mississippi) was ahead of his time, because no Martin Luther King came to start the movement, and the highest judges ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that "separate but equal" is constitutional - that only changed with Rosa Parks.

So many New Orleanians have always carelessly crossed borders: races, sex, tones. The people who waited for help on bridges without drinking water for days after Katrina are by no means immoral or even lazy blacks who cannot look after themselves, as some Americans see the situation. See, for example, Dan Herak of Cleveland, Ohio, on amazon.com, on Tom Piazza's book "Why New Orleans Matters", in which he writes, Piazza "refuses to recognize that blacks themselves have responsibility for their own lives". A former board member of the largest company in New Orleans said nothing else to me last December when we broached the subject of the people who waited for days after Katrina to be rescued from outside: the blacks were standing helplessly, as if someone had to take care of them instead of you Taking life into your own hands.

Sometimes the people on the bridges were too poor to own a car, but sometimes they were Creoles from the Treme - the oldest black neighborhood in the USA - who preferred to use their historic houses than buy a one-way tin box, preferring musical instruments for use who owned the kids and new feather suits for the whole family at Mardi Gras as a car, you can get around New Orleans without a car anyway.

Until Katrina, the people stranded on the bridges cultivated centuries-old, unique traditions mixed with cultures such as France, Spain and Africa, but also from Germany: Our bonfires are your Midsummer bonfires, slamming discs, etc. Whether the Alemanni bring their torchlight procession over to us have taken? As it says in "Iko Iko": "I'm gonna set yo 'flag on fiyo ..."

Today's hotbed of ingenious musicality

These traditions were by no means dead before Katrina. The city was still able to produce musicians like Harry Connick Jr., who recorded the soundtrack for When Harry Met Sally (Winter Wonderland), and the Marsalis boys. One evening in the mid-1990s I was standing in Donna's and heard a "brass band" (you really can't translate it as a brass band) from the Treme across the street. A 14-year-old trumpeter literally blew the audience against the wall - I hadn't heard such control over the instrument in years, no matter how old the trumpeter was. The audience in New Orleans is calibrated to 3 rhythms over a 4/4 time. New Orleanians can easily sing along to the rhythms in the call-and-response of Don't You Just Know It. After all, they grew up with it.

Today, many of these people - around 2/3 of the population of New Orleans - live all over the United States, in cities like Houston and Atlanta, where you really can't get around without a car and where Mardi Gras isn't celebrated. There borders are guarded differently: A police officer from Houston described the newcomers from New Orleans as wise-asses - wasn't that earlier called "uppity niggers"? Or does he mean it differently?

The US government is dropping New Orleans because it (like too many Americans, by the way) does not know what the US has about the city culturally. The city newspaper Times Picayune recently complained that it was still there

  1. 400,000 refugees who have not yet returned
  2. 200,000 houses destroyed
  3. More than 300 kilometers of dykes that need to be repaired
  4. Around 90 days until the next hurricane season
  5. 70 percent of the city without electricity
  6. Health care only in emergencies due to a lack of staff
  7. and daily hate mail from all over the US to the newspaper's editorial team.

Many Americans point to the city with a moral index finger: "You sinners have to learn to live decently now, and to live somewhere else where you won't be flooded!" As if Los Angeles weren't in a desert at a plate shift, as if Miami weren't hit by hurricanes every year. New Orleanians are not stupid because they live in a bowl below sea level, but because they have believed the federal government since 1917 that the dams built and monitored by the US military since then would hold. New Orleanians don't have to learn to care for themselves; they just didn't flee because they believed Washington's promises that the levees would withstand a storm the strength of Katrina (Category 3 when going ashore in New Orleans).

George Bush said he knew New Orleans, "where I used to come from Houston to have some fun - sometimes too much fun," but he only showed that he didn't understand what makes New Orleans special. After all, you can drink in many places in the United States. New Orleans has a lot to offer ex-alcoholics too. It's not about Democrats versus Republicans, but a saxophone-playing president like Clinton would certainly have got people off the bridges faster.

The federal government and the American taxpayers could now (apart from all worries about cultural losses) give the city the storm protection that the Dutch also indulged in - as compensation for the promised protection, which was not kept. But that will cost a lot: as much as a few months of war in Iraq. Somebody has to explain to taxpayers why this is important. See above.

Or below, because no one has said it more aptly than Wynton Marsalis: "I like to compare it to the way the Greeks treat Homer. They interpret him to death. When they read him, they say: 'He is one of us.' We didn't treat Jelly Roll Morton that way. We didn't treat Louis Armstrong and Mahalia Jackson that way. "

Not with Homer Plessy either. Not with Buddy Bolden either - he was locked up at 30 because he was "crazy". And when the brilliant black pianist Bud Powell defied some police officers in Chicago in 1945 at the age of 21, they beat him to the point of hospitalization. During his visits to the doctor in the years that followed, he told the staff that he was a brilliant pianist. Doctors prescribed electric shocks to cure his megalomania. He then wrote pieces like Un Poco Loco (a little crazy), Glass Enclosure and Hallucinations) until he found his peace for a short time in Paris (Parisian Thoroughfare).

Wynton, you are right: Japan didn’t deal with Kobe after the 1995 earthquake, nor did Germany with Dresden after the flood of 2002 ...

Dear reader, you can stream the radio station WWOZ via RealPlayer-Stream or Windows-Media Stream. Incidentally, the station is happy to receive donations. (Craig Morris)

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