Robert Dempster
Welcome to my PMB blog!
17 March 2015
The Animal's German Band - A song Grandad Hall did not sing
14 August 2018
But someone else did, a woman who currently lives in the Netherlands and who learnt the song 65+ years ago in her English language class. She is 84 years old now and still sings it for her grandchildren who love it despite not being able to understand a word of it.

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The Animal's German Band - A song Grandad Hall did not sing

Granddad Hall was my wife Edith's maternal grandfather, and she, like all of his grand children, was very fond of him. He was a mischievous fellow who smiled readily, and while I only met him a few times in his latter years, it did not take me long to also like him. Edith has many stories that she can recount that relate to Granddad Hall, and when she is among her Hall relatives, these inevitably surface.

One of these stories related to a couple of songs, one of which was of course, 'The Animals German Band' and it was her aunt, Shar Dell who sang this song. The other was about a large women know as Matilda an this is the song that Grandad Hall sang. Edith could never remember all the words of the Animals German Band and would often say as much, adding that her sister Blanche probably could. So the last time that Edith and I were over in Western Australia visiting Blanche, I decided I should try and get Blanche to write down the words of the song. She did not oblige immediately, but true to her word, subsequently sent them to me as an email attachment.

When I received the words for 'The Animal's German Band' from Blanche, I tried to find the song on the Internet, but was unsuccessful despite several attempts. That then made me think that I should try and produce a recording of the song being sung by Granddad Hall's three granddaughters, Blanche, Edith and Catherine, who all have rather good singing voices. Of course this quality was not inherited from Granddad Hall. Instead, it probably came from his wife, who I have gathered was not only Australian, but an accomplished singer as well. I am sure she would have performed on many occasions in the living room of the Hall's Rietfontein farm in the Greylingstad district. In fact, I seem to recall stories relating to her redesigning the farm house to better accommodate her performances. To be fair, she must have been fairly accomplished as she also performed in public on more than one accession, and I recall having to include a visit to the Reception Rooms in Bath (UK), because Granny had performed there.

By now I had started to think of names for the trio, and the best I could come up with was the 'Davey Chicks'. When I communicated that possibility to Blanche, she replied that she thought 'Cornish Hens' would be more appropriate, as the Daveys had Cornish roots, an also because the trio was by now 'a bit old and tough!'. Who am I to argue? Now that I had the words, I needed some music as that would allow each of the sisters to record their renditions of the song independently. So I turned to Catherine, who followed Granny's footsteps and became a Music Teacher. Within no time at all, she sent me the first draft of the music created using Sibelius - a music composition and notation software package.

I promptly sent the music to Blanche asking her to make her recording. At the same time I set off for Cape Town to participate in the Cape Town Cycle Tour (formerly the Argus). Edith was already in Cape Town, and once I had ridden the Cape Town Cycle Tour, we headed for Hermanus to visit Cathy and her husband Keith Kenyon, and to record the contributions of the other two members of the trio. When we sat down to do that, I was embarrassed to learn that the recording of the music that Cathy had sent me earlier, and upon which I had complimented her, was not recorded with the correct tempo. Needless to say, I was left wondering whether Blanche had noticed.

Unfortunately Edith now had a cold and so she could not sing. As this left Cathy feeling reluctant to perform on her own, it was left to me to step in, and so Cathy and I recorded take 1. So we are making progress, but still has some ways to go if the Animals German Band as performed by the Cornish Hens if going to go viral on YouTube.

When Edith and I arrived back in Pietermaritzburg, I received an email from Cathy indicating that she had a new recording of the music that sounded really good, and that probably should be used to record the voices. She also sent me the full score, which will also be useful for recording purposes. It will also make it possible for all the relatives related to Granddad Hall who can play an instrument, to contribute to the project by producing recordings of themselves playing their particular instruments. So send me your contribution, and I will add it to the collection.

Below you will be able to find the contributions that have already been made towards putting the 'Animal's German Band' back on the map. The contribution from the Netherlands came from a woman whose mother first sang the song as a child at school and still loves the song. So much so that she was prepared to sing it for us. The contribution from a woman in Australia is a recording of the song that was bought for her daughter in 1969. The performers Jimmy & Sue were Australian and the song is on an EP with four other children’s songs – Hey Diddle Diddle, Peter Piper, Little Piggy and Yankee Doodle.

Comments and suggestions relating to the improvement of this page are of course welcome, as are your recordings.

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