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Subject: Children's song from Antwerp
(10 november 2019)


Hello,

My mother was from Antwerp. She would sing songs to my children and now I am a grandfather, they want to sing them to their children.

Unfortunately I can only count, swear and recite rhymes with a very limited amount of Dutch! I am 67 now and was born in England.

The song I'm searching for was sung with hands extended upwards and began "handches drias" and ended "cooken backen vis".

Does this seem familiar? I can remember the tune.

Hope you can help, thank you,

Frank.





Answer     (12 november 2019)


Dear Frank,

The song you're searching for is: 'Handjes draaien, koekebakken vlaaien'.

You can find 5 variants of the song in the Dutch Song Database. These kind of songs from the oral tradition, always have variants, both in words and melody. Of course I don't know which one comes closest to what your mother sang.

The Song Database gives two times the sheet music and text:
liederenbank.nl/handjesdraaien
Click on: "transcr."

I'll translate the first one at the end of this mail.

I can understand how important these memories and songs from your/their childhood can be. And I know by experience it's very hard to find a song, when you only know the sound of it and you're not sure of the spelling.

I hope this helps you singing these songs again to your grandchildren. Now you know the spelling, you even can search further: there might be websites with even a closer version to what you remember.

I wish you very many happy hours with your grandchildren!

With kind regards,

Rozemarijn (rosemary).

Dutch songs with English translation  (dutchsongs.overtuin.net)

---

Handjes draaien, koekebakken vlaaien
Koekebakken vis
En ge kunt het niet geloven
Hoe lekker dat dat is.


Turn your hands 'round, pan cakes and filled pie
Pan cakes and fish
And you cannot believe it
How tasty that that is.


The word 'koekebak' or 'koekenbak' is a real Flemish word, we don't know that in the Netherlands (we call a pancake a 'pannekoek').





Answer     (12 november 2019)


Rosemary,

thank you so much for your immediate reply.

I have lost so much of the Flemish. My mother did live near the docks in Antwerp and my father used to sail there, on the White Star Line route to New York.

Musical memories seem so easy to retrieve from the back of your mind - so keep up your good work!

Thank you again for your help,

Frank.









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