« VorigeDoorgaan »
of these songs; and, indeed, any power of
Pour un bouton de rose understanding the life and mind of the
Que trop tôt j'ai donné. peasants of any country makes the dis.
Je voudrais que la rose covery of a real vein of refinement the
Fût encore au rosier: wonderful thing. This also exists; M. Tiersot, with his clear and distinguishing
Et que le rosier même
Fût encore à planter; touch, shows us a whole series of songs which he calls by a general name : “la
Et que mon ami Pierre Chanson des Regrets." Several of the
Fût encore à m'aimer. songs he quotes here were discovered by The music is soft and slow, and each himself in the Bresse country. This one, couplet has its refrain: for instance, which has the ring of “Ye banks and braes;” the same idea has in
Tra la la la la lère, tra la lère la de ri ra. spired it :
M. Tiersot does not let us forget that
with all these popular songs, the music, Que veux-tu que je te donne?
the melody, equally popular, is of as much Je t'ai déjà trop donné: Je t'ai donné une rose,
or more importance than the words. He La plus belle de mes roses
carries this study to great length, as I Que j'avais sur mon rosier.
have said, in the latter part of his book,
but here, at the end of his chapter on In another, the forsaken maiden waters love-songs, he points out that the melothe meadows with her tears; so many has dies belonging to them are superior to any she shed, indeed, that three mills have others, and of these he makes a kind of been set going by the stream.
geographical study, reminding us, in the
true French critical method, that their inJ'ai tant pleuré, versé de larmes,
spiration comes not merely from the indi. Que les prés en sont arrosés; J'ai tant pleuré, versé de larmes,
vidual popular singer, but from the milieu Que trois moulins march’t à grand train.
in which he lives, by which he himself has
been made what he is. Certainly, even a It is not only the songs of regret that slight study of this kind gives an idea of have this real poetic inspiration. Many the infinite variety of these songs and instances of the happier kind of love.song melodies, spreading as they do over the are in the same way free from mockery, whole soil of France. satire, and coarseness. There is very It seems that French Flanders, so great little variety of ideas, it is true, in the in ancient music, a treasure-house, in fact, world of these popular poets ; their well- of those fine old melodies which were the worn subject has not much more than its foundation of so much modern music, has well-worn accessories of flowers, clouds, nothing to show in the way of these birds, in their relations with the singer's lighter airs and love-songs in which the love. M. Tiersot does not claim for these rest of France is rich. A few songs still songs the beauty of form and thought, the linger in the towns, as they do in Belgium, "charming subtleties," which belong to but the peasantry have lost them; and more romantic countries; but he does thus even those which remain have lost claim “un accent parfois très profond de their popular character. Picardy, too, the sincérité qui leur fait trouver l'expression old special home of the trouvères juste, touchante, celle qui va au cæur." sical centre in the days of Charlemagne,
He cannot better prove all that he has with its great singing Abbey of Corbie, said than by quoting one of the most gen. celebrated throughout France — song and erally known of French popular love- melody, for some unknown reason, have songs, familiar to him from childhood in deserted Picardy ; the peasant drives his Bresse and Franche-Comté, the first line cart in silence. The only popular song to of which is “En revenant de noces."| be found there now is of the grivois type, Tired with her walk, the maiden sits down a manifestation of the French spirit more by the clear water of a spring, bathes her to be avoided than sought after. In Norself, and listens to the nightingale, singing mandy, on the contrary, love-songs and above on the highest branch of the oak their melodies are plentiful, but they are tree.
ugly, coarse, and matter-of-fact.
" En Chante, rossignol, chante,
verité, la Normandie manque d'idéal.”
But in Brittany we come upon quite Toi qu'as le cæur tant gai.
another state of things. We might be Pour moi, je ne l'ai guère,
separated by an ocean from other parts Mon amant m'a quittée;
of France, so strangely, as M. Tiersot
points out, does the Breton atmosphere A province very rich in melody is La strengthen and purify both the music and Bresse; and from its many love-songs the words of popular song. A flippant most of the specimens given in this book tune, crossing the border, finds itself have been chosen. Here M. Tiersot finds transformed into something heroic. With a truer and more intense musical feeling, a ringing, sometimes harsh refrain, with a stronger love of the soil, a more sincere strange sonorous cadences breaking in on devotion to the beauty of nature, especially its monotony, it becomes the Breton sonn, of spring, than in any other part of France. curiously bitter sometimes, and always The love-songs of La Bresse seem to have melancholy, with a power of touching a special inspiration of their own. But, hearts seldom to be found in the melody though his affection for this province dates of the provinces. Going on into these, from his own infancy, the student has perPoitou, Saintonge, etc., the Breton pecul. haps a yet deeper feeling for Alsace, iarities are immediately lost. In most of where he ends his pilgrimage in search of them there is a great sameness of melody, melody. Many of her songs are German, if not of words. M. Tiersot lays it down or of German origin; but she has French as a principle, and it is a theory of much songs too; we may hear the shepherds interest, that popular melody has a dis. singing among green pastures and fir tinctive character of its own only in those woods, in the silence of the Vosges, a provinces that possess a primitive lan- mountain love-song, calm, sweet, dreamy, guage of their own, different from French. well known there - — "envoyant vers la These are anciently Flanders, always terre de France les notes lentes de leur Brittany, the Basque country, Alsace, and mélancolique chanson.” in a certain degree Béarn and Provence. In other provinces the popular tunes have
Là bas sur la montagne,
J'ai z'entendu pleurer! grown up from a common foundation, and
Ah! c'est la voix de ma compagne, the shades of difference between them are
Je m'en irai la consoler. hardly worth distinguishing.
The music that is born among moun. It must never be forgotten that “la tains seems to have a singular beauty of France - danse!” That part of this very its own. As a type of the love-songs of large subject which belongs to the dance Auvergne, we are directed to the melody | tunes and songs of France, and at which of Châteaubriand's lovely romance, “ Com- we arrive after our late excursion through bien j'ai douce souvenance,” which has the provinces, requires at least a whole indeed a dreamy, calm, exalted sweetness book to itself. M. Tiersot's sketch is that reminds us of the Alps or the Cé- short enough, but even it can scarcely be vennes. The greater warmih and life, as fully noticed in the limits of an article. it seems, of the songs of the south is This is not so necessary, as the whole owing more to its sonorous language than subject of dances in their history and proto any superiority in melody; but again in vincial variations has been by no means the Pyrenees the mountain sweetness, with thoroughly studied yet in France, and most even a greater refinement, shows itself, and of the ancient collections, such as the “Orthe music of the words is added to the ten.chésographie ” of Jean Tabourot, Canon der and charming beauty of the tune. As of Langres, seem to cause more confusion to the Basque country, the chief feature of than clearness, at present, in the minds of its melodies is their extreme liveliness, and students. The same may be said of the the variety of treatment which gives them list of one hundred and eighty dances a more civilized air among popular songs given by Rabelais, as danced at the fête generally. Provence, with her life of open in the kingdom of Lanternois. The study air and sunshine, " bruyante et gaie," pos is made more difficult by the fact that sesses no love-songs but aubados and sere. songs and airs of another character were nados, and for these she has little or no constantly adapted by the musicians original melody. To her lazy-minded, they do it still in all the provinces - to a bright-witted singers, imagination is easier dancing measure, so that the real old than memory; they improvise the words dances are not always easy to distinguish. of their songs to some bald old tune, or to At the same time, the provinces are rich some old air of a vaudeville. In Provence, in these. Brittany holds her place, as in it seems, the student can only find one other music, though many of her gavottes love-song of which the air is an original et jabadaos are unknown beyond her own Provençal melody. This is “ Magali,” | border. The Basque country has its universally popular, and preserved by zortzico, accompanied by voices and inMistral in “ Mirèio."
struments. In Provence, the farandole is
danced to old tunes on the flute and tam- | Mais les lauriers du bois - les lairons-nous bourine, the oldest tunes being the best
faner? and the most spirited; and of all French Non: chacun à son tour — ira les ramasser. dances, these of Provence are the hearti. Si la cigale y dort, - ne faut pas la blesser. est and most original. Auvergne and the Le chant du rossignol — la viendra réveiller; surrounding provinces have their bourrée, Et Jeanne la bergère avec son blanc panier,
Et aussi la fauvette - avec son doux gosier, with a melody entirely its own, of which Allant cueillir la fraise et la fleur d'églanthere are two varieties, the montagnarde, tier. always danced in valse time, and the Cigale, ma cigale - allons, il faut chanter; bourrée proper. Marguerite de Valois is Car les lauriers du bois — sont déjà repoussés. said to have introduced this dance at the French court, where for a long time it
Sometimes the most every-day events was popular. The other provinces have find their way into these rondes, and apnothing very distinctive ; there are certain pear there quaintly; sometimes religion old dances found everywhere, “la cou- has a part, as in the curious ronde sung rante, le rigaudon, la contredanse, et sur
even in this century by young girls in tout le branle.” Three centuries ago this Flanders, after a funeral. was the most popular of dances; this and
Dans le ciel il y a une danse, the ronde, in some ways very like it,
Alleluia! shared most of France between them. Là dansent toutes les jeunes vierges, There were many different branles, with Benedicamus Domino, small varieties. All were danced in a
Alleluia, Alleluia. ring; but sometimes the dancers clapped their hands, sometimes they stamped their
C'est pour Amélie,
Alleluia, etc. feet, or marked the time in some other way, according to the air that was played These rondes have a strong family like. to them.
ness with the berceuses, which follow them. The chief difference between this dance From the children's rondes, a study in and the ronde was that this was sometimes themselves, such as “Sur le pont d'Avig. danced to instruments only, the other non,” or “Nous n'irons plus au bois," or always to singing. In some ways the - Les Marionnettes," sung and danced by ronde was the most interesting and char- French children for five hundred years, it acteristic of dances. To it belong the is a short step to the monotonous music dance songs, for it was quite independent of the lullabies, whose chief virtues are of instruments, the dancers singing all the their few notes, their regular swing, their time and being their own orchestra. The gentle, sleepy refrains that mean nothing words were not often very poetical ; particular. It does not seem at first that rhythm was of course the great necessity, there can be much variety in these cradle and the song, depended on its refrain, songs, or much interest in their history. which might be either a repetition of a But in truth they have a world of their own, line or two or what M. Champfleury calls of birds, animals, trees, and flowers; they refrains par onomatopées. Wasted labor, vary, like other songs, from one province one cannot help thinking, for those lin. to another; the most curious survivals of guists who try to find a meaning for such old customs and old religion can be traced refrains “ Rioupioupioup patati in their more ancient types, such as “ La patata,” or “ Ricoco la hi tra la la." On Randonnée," a song of numbers and de. the other hand, a great many rondes with grees, of the nature of “the house that their refrains are very musical and grace. Jack built." ful, though perhaps without much meaning. As M. Tiersot says truly, in giving
Savez-vous qu'il y ai } bis. us many specimens of these, the impression, at least, is of charming poetry.
Il y a un arbre,
Le plus beau des arbres,
L'arbre est dans le bois.
Refrain. Oh! oh! oh! le bois,
Le plus joli de tous les bois.
The tree is in the wood, there is a branch C'est l'vent, c'est le vent frivolant .. on the tree, a nest on the branch, an egg C'est l'vent qui vole, qui frivole,
in the nest, a bird in the egg, a feather on C'est l'vent, c'est l'vent frivolant.
the bird. And then Or the well-known ronde of the children,
Sur cette plume
bis. “Nous n'irons plus au bois.”
Il y a un'fille,
The real working songs, words, music, La plus bell’ des filles.
action, all part of the work, were not alLa fill' sur la plume,
ways or by any means exclusively used by La plum' sur l'oiseau,
the workers. A collection called “La L'oiseau dedans l'euf,
Caribarye des Artisans," published in the
time of Louis XIV., contained every kind La branche sur l'arbre,
of song but chansons de métiers. The L'arbre dans le bois.
rhythm of many of these, no doub:, helped Oh! oh! oh! le bois,
the work to go on, and that the words Le plus joli de tous les bois ! were light, amusing, or warlike, mattered
little to the workman. The lighter the In one of the oldest of these, a Breton better, in fact, according to the story song, M. de Villemarqué found traces of which' M. Champfleury tells of a locksmith Druid worship. Then the words, néné, who was reproached by his curé for sing. nono, nenna, som-som, to be found in the
ing profane songs.
When he sang lullabies of all the southern provinces, and Psalms, he said, his tools went to sleep of Auvergne, are claimed by antiquaries
" au leiu qu'en fredonnant ces couplets as pagan invocations to sleep.
si gais -- jugez-en vous même " The Néné, petite;
lace-makers of Flanders, to this day, Sainte Marguerite,
count their stitches and pins by some moEndormez-moi mon enfant,
notonous old song, which has notbing to Jusqu'à l'âge de quinze ans. do with lace-making; and there are certain In fact, the berceuses, simple as they songs, all over France, which tradition has seem, may very likely have a longer ped. consecrated to be sung at certain work, igree than any other kind of popular song,
without any real connection between the Sleep is as old as love or death, older than work and the song. Some of the mauma. dancing or story-telling, though perhaps riées are used in this way. One, “ Le not older than the daily work which must Petit Mari," with a long refrain, is sung first bave made it precious. Here, too, by the women of La Bresse to their spinsong comes in, to lighten labor and help ning wheels. This song is nothing more tired limbs.
nor less than “ I had a little husband no “Le rythme est une force,” says M. bigger than my thumb." The refrain, Tiersot at the beginning of his chapter on Je cous, je teille, je coupe du fil, etc. the chansons de métiers. As a general rule, these songs of trade and labor are seems to have grown to it in the course songs of action, strongly marked in time of centuries. and tune. The exceptions are the songs
Normandy has special songs for fruitof trade companies and corporations, gathering and harvest; the mulberry-trees which have nothing to do with the work of the Cévennes have a slow chant of itself, but are sung to its glory, and such their own; in Provence the young girls old travelling songs as that to which the sing révéyés, to call each other to the gath. 'prentices used to make the tour of France : ering of olives or grapes. But one vintage
song, “ Plantons la vigne,” is traditional Partons, chers compagnons,
in almost all the vine-bearing provinces of Le devoir nous l'ordonne.
France. Only the vignerons of the Berry In old times, no doubt, every corporation have chosen to replace it with a song of had its own song. They are almost ex. their own, much less appropriate, being tinct, and do not even linger on in popular one more version of the maumariée, with tradition. Possibly the reason is that a special refrain. trade, more than daily labor, much more True old pastorals, slow and dreamy, than the daily round of life, has changed are sung by the shepherds on the moun. its character; besides that these songs tains. In Poitou they have what is called never can have been popular in the sense a huchage, a sort of monotonous, halfof many others we have studied. Some meaningless cry, without melody or even of the most curious among the chansons cadence, used by the shepherdesses to call de métiers are the Cries of Paris, which their dogs or their sheep. It raises a vis. from the earliest times were musical, and ion of a little old shepherdess, her distaff may well be called popular, belonging en in her hand, her scanty grey locks covered tirely to the people, and handed down with a close white cap, her short petticoat among them. But they are a study in showing bare legs and bare feet in sabots, themselves, into which we will not enter her shrewd face brown and thin with long even so far as M. Tiersot does.
| exposure. She cries in her patois aux bêtes ; such a song as this might have been known and much used in France, as now made for her.
in some less civilized countries, but dying Quand la bergère s'en va-t-aux champs,
out, as horses and steam are more used on Sa quenouillet' s'en va filant.
the rivers. “ La Maumariée," with a new
refrain, again appears as a special miller's Elle va — -elle vient,
song: Elle appelle son chien :
Pilons, pilons, pilons l'orge, Tiens, taupin, tiens !
Pilons l'orge, pilons-la,
Mon père m'y maria;
Pilons l'orge, pilons-la;
A ung villain m'y donna. Thus we come gradually nearer to the Marching songs, of course, are very old, most real and most striking of the songs and likely to live. So also, one would of labor — what the peasants call chan-think, are the songs of sailors and seamen, sons d grand vent – such as are sung to full of both poetical and rhythmical interthe oxen as they plough. These songs, est and beauty. Some of the best of these of course, as modern farming advances, belong to Brittany, and among them M. are dying out and disappearing every day. Tiersot especially mentions "la Légende Soon, with all their picturesque sadness, de Saint Azénor," and "les Trois Marins love of the soil mixed with bitter com- de Groix.” Songs of the form of the plaint, fineness of melody, supposed sa- Italian barcarole are also to be found on credness of origin, traditional pride - the French coast, especially in the south ; every good laborer must be able to sing to and here the melancholy beauty of more his oxen, and thus to drive them better northern sea-songs is replaced by gaiety, than with a goad - soon these songs, spirit, and swing. their refraios full of old names of oxen,
Turning from sailors to soldiers, we
find ourselves in face of a new great cycle Aronda, Virondâ,
of song, and to sketch even its broadest Charbonné, Maréchaô, Motet et Roget,
features in a few words is almost too diffiMortagne et Chollet,
cult an undertaking. But in truth the
war-songs of the Gauls were the earliest will be only found in collections, or in the beginning of the popular songs of France. wonderful descriptions of a writer like The oldest known of this character is the George Sand.
“Sword-Dance of Brittany." Its authenA longer life, perhaps, lies before that ticity is not quite certain, but some au. cycle of working songs whose cadence is thorities trace it back to the sixth century, actually a motive power, so that swing of and both words and melody are a striking song and movement of body belong to example of a battle-song. But we have each other, and hardly exist apart. Such not here so much to do with chants de songs as these are among the most ancient bataille – which generally, as we have of all. The boatmen and water-carriers seen, in becoming epic, ceased to be popof old Egypt, the corn-grinders of Greece, ular — as with songs composed by soldiers sang these measured songs at their work. themselves, and belonging to their daily Music is perhaps the secret of many won life, their adventures, their good or bad derful engineering feats of the old world. fortunes. The first singers of most of Now, in the threshing of corn in La Ven-these were the adventurers of the Middle dée, the flail falls to a musical refrain : - Ages, the free-lances, whose wild life Hol batteux, battons la gerbe,
breaks out in them. If they sang of their Compagnons, joyeusement!
battles it was generally to some old air,
which is sometimes to be found with Washerwomen, especially in the south; strangely different words and refrain, set sing as they beat the linen on the stones; to some peaceful song of the provinces. the Flemish weaver has his song, scarcely Many curious military traditions are preto be distinguished from the noise of his served in these songs made by the soldiers loom, so one helps the other :
themselves; the best collection of them, Et tipe tape et tipe tape,
it seems, is M. Leroux de Lincy's “ ReEst-il trop gros, est-il trop fin,
cueil des Chants Historiques Français." Et couchés tard, levés matin, Iroun lan la. As the centuries pass on the tone becomes En roulant la navette, Le beau temps viendra.
more easy, more good-humored; the mu.
sic is as much country.dance as march. There are also the towing or hauling Till the Revolution, when the “ Marseil. songs, "a pull all together,” anciently weli laise," of course, drove everything else