A World of Song

Discover the power of music to cross borders and bring us together

Instructions

Around the whole world in every place and culture, we find people playing music and song. The oldest musical instrument is thought to be about 35,000 years old — a bone flute found in Germany. Music is a universal language, communicating with us even if we don’t know the meaning of all the words.

Protest songs from around the world

Song is a powerful way to tell stories and also to raise your voice in protest or solidarity. One such song is Bella Ciao — an Italian protest song that originates from women working in harsh conditions in the 19th Century. Later it was changed and adopted by the anti-fascist resistance in Italy.

Versions of it are now sung worldwide as an anti-fascist hymn of freedom and resistance. Find out what the words mean in your own language.

Listen to the song and try singing along to the lyrics:

Bella Ciao

Una mattina mi son svegliato,
o bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao!
Una mattina mi son svegliato
e ho trovato l’invasor.

O partigiano portami via,
bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
o partigiano portami via
che mi sento di morir.

E se io muoio da partigiano,
o bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao,
e se io muoio da partigiano
tu mi devi seppellir.

Seppellire lassù in montagna,
o bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao,
seppellire lassù in montagna
sotto l’ombra di un bel fior.

E le genti che passeranno,
o bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao,
e le genti che passeranno
mi diranno «che bel fior.»

Questo è il fiore del partigiano,
o bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao,
questo è il fiore del partigiano
morto per la libertà

Other songs you might want to check out, then find out about their history and meaning:

N’Kosi Sikelel’ iAfrika

Óró Sé do Bheatha Bhaile

If you were going to share a protest song with other people from all over the world, what would you share? What makes a song universal and work for a listener even if they don’t know the meaning of all the words?

Take it further

Learn some words in other languages with our activity Hello! Or write your own protest song with the Back of the Bus Remix activity.

This is a weekly challenge activity. Why not share a photo of what you achieve on social media using the hashtag #DreamBigAtHome?

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