This is a song from Southern China that I learned from my friend Bei. The title means “spinning round and round,” and it could refer to a pinwheel in the garden, a merry-go-round, or other turning things. In the song, it is the 5th of May, the day of the Dragon Boat Fest. A mother tells a child to go watch the boat races, but instead the kid wants to watch the chicklings as they hatch and think about about how much the chickens would sell for in the market. The chorus returns again as the kid watches the pinwheel in the garden.
Children would often sing this song accompanied by a single woodblock keeping time, which is played here by my friend and percussionist David Cossin, whose basement in Chinatown is overflowing with Chinese percussion instruments! We sat on his floor and played every wooden object we could find. It also features pianist extraordinaire Vicky Chow on vocals and John Foti singing harmonies.
Tum Tum Chuen = Spinning round and round and round…
Vicky Chow, vocals
David Cossin, wood blocks & percussion
Rob Friedman, mellotron
John Foti, vocals
Elena Moon Park, ukulele, vocals