Archivi categoria: musica occitana/ occitan music

Concealed death: french, breton and occitan ballads

Leggi in Italiano

 Concealed death

LORD OLAF AND THE ELVES 
SCANDINAVIAN VARIANTS
BRITISH AND AMERICAN VERSIONS
FRENCH VERSIONS
ITALIAN VERSION

Professor Child collected the summary of a version from Brittany that is likely to be the link between the Scandinavian variants and the south of Europe ones.

BRETON TALE: The Count Nann

The count Nann and his wife were married at the respective ages of thirteen and twelve. The next year a son was born. The young husband asked the countess if she had a fancy for anything. She said that she should like a bit of game, and he took his lance and went to the wood. At the entrance of the wood he met a fairy (a dwarf in other versions). The fairy said that she had long been looking for him. “Now that I have met you, you must marry me.” “Marry you? Not I. I am married already.” “Choose either to die in three days or to lie sick in bed seven (three in other versions) years” and then die. He would rather die in three days, for his wife is very young, and would suffer greatly. On reaching home the young man called to his mother to make his bed; he should never get up again. He recounted his meeting with the fairy, and begged that his wife might not be informed of his death.
The countess asked: “What has happened to my husband that he doesn’t come home to see me?” She was told that he had gone to the wood to get her something. “Why were the men-servants weeping?” The best horse had been drowned in bathing him. She said they were not to weep; others should be brought. “Why were the maids weeping?” Linen had been lost in washing. They must not weep the loss would be supplied. “Why are the priests chanting (or the bells tolling)?” A poor person whom they had lodged had died in the night. “What dress should she wear for her churching – red or blue?” The custom had come in of wearing black.
On arriving at the church she saw that the earth had been disturbed; why was this? “I can no longer conceal it”, said her mother-in-law: “Your husband is dead.” “Take my keys, take care of my son; I will stay with his father.” (from here)

We find the same story in the French medieval ballad Le Roi Renaud which in the Occitan language becomes Comte Arnau (Arnau is Renaud). The rediscovery of the ballad of medieval origin takes place in full romantic fervor from the nationalisms and the antiquarian taste of traditional songs. I therefore refer to the excellent treatment of Christian Souchon for all the interweaving and in-depth analysis on the subject of Concealed Death  in  France (here).

Breton Ballad: An Aotrou Nann hag ar Gorrigan

In Brittany the ballad “Aotroù Nann” (Sir Nann and the Fairy) is circulated in dozens of versions but the pattern is always identical: the meeting with the fairy, the refusal of the knight, the choice to die slowly among the toments or by a fulminant death and the concealment of knight death to his young bride about to give birth. The rest are details varied according to singer taste. (see here and here).

Gwennyn from Avalon 2017  (track 8)
(under review)

FRENCH VERSION: LE ROI RENAUD

The French version sends king back home from war, wounded to death. (no enchanted forest and fairy here!) To his queen they concealed his death until his burial,probably because they do not want to create complications in the imminence of childbirth. However, after giving birth and finally getting out of bed to go to mass (and after a kilometer ballad full of concealment) The ballad ends tragically with queen who invokes death and immediately the earth opens up from under her feet swallowing her.

Even today the ballad is sung by folk singers  with medieval-inspired arrangements.
Pierre Bensusan
Le Poème Harmonique from Aux marches du palais


I
Le roi Renaud de guerre vint
tenant ses tripes dans ses mains.
Sa mère était sur le créneau
qui vit venir son fils Renaud.
II
– Renaud, Renaud, réjouis-toi!
Ta femme est accouché d’un roi!
– Ni de ma femme ni du fils
je ne saurais me réjouir.
III
Allez ma mère, allez devant,
faites-moi faire un beau lit blanc.
Guère de temps n’y resterai:
à la minuit trépasserai.
IV
Mais faites-le moi faire ici-bas
que l’accouchée n’l’entende pas.
Et quand ce vint sur la minuit,
le roi Renaud rendit l’esprit..
V
Il ne fut pas le matin jour
tous les valets pleuraient très tous.
Il ne fut temps de déjeuner
que les servantes ont pleuré.
VI
– Mais dites-moi, mère, m’amie,
que pleurent nos valets ici ?
– Ma fille, en lavant nos chevaux
ont laissé noyer le plus beau.
VII
– Oh pourquoi donc, mère m’amie,
pour un cheval pleurer ainsi ?
Quand Renaud reviendra,
plus beaux chevaux ramènera.
VIII
– Et dites-moi, mère m’amie,
que pleurent nos servantes ici ?
– Ma fille, en lavant nos linceuls
ont laissé aller le plus neuf.
XIX
– Oh pourquoi donc, mère m’amie,
pour un linceul pleurer ainsi ?
Quand Renaud reviendra,
plus beau linceul ramènera.
X
– Ah, dites-moi, mère m’amie,
Qu’est-ce que j’entends cogner ici ?
– Ma fille, ce sont les charpentiers
Qui raccommodent le plancher.
XI
– Ah ! Dites-moi, mère m’amie,
Pourquoi les cloches sonnent ici ?
– Ma fille, c’est la procession
Qui sort pour les rogations.  (1)
XII
– Mais, dites-moi, mère m’amie,
C’est que j’entends chanter ici ?
– Ma fille, c’est la procession
Qui fait le tour de la maison.
XIII
Or quand ce fut passé huit jours,
A voulut faire ses atours.
Or, quand ce fut pour relever,
à la messe  (2) elle voulut aller,
XIV
– Mais dites-moi, mère m’amie,
quel habit mettrai-je aujourd’hui ?
– Mettez le blanc, mettez le gris,
mettez le noir pour mieux choisir.
XV
– Mais dites-moi, mère m’amie,
qu’est-ce que ce noir-là signifie
– A femme relèvant d’enfant,
le noir lui est bien plus séant.
XVI
Mais quand elles fut parmi les champs,
Trois pastoureaux allaient disant :
– Voici la femme du seignour
Que l’on enterra l’autre jour !
XVII
– Ah ! Dites-moi, mère m’amie,
Que disent ces pastoureaux-ci ?
– Il disent de presser le pas,
Ou que la messe n’aura pas.
XVIII
Or quand elle fut dans l’église entrée,
un cierge on lui a présenté.
Aperçoit en s’agenouillant
la terre fraîche sous son banc.
XIX
– Ah ! Dites-moi, mère m’amie,
pourquoi la terre est rafraîchie?
– Ma fille, ne puis plus vous celer,
Renaud est mort et enterré.
XX
Puisque le roi Renaud est mort,
voici la clé (3) de mon trésor.
Voici mes bagues et mes joyaux,
prenez bien soin du fils Renaud.
XXI
Terre, ouvre-toi, terre fends-toi,
que j’aille avec Renaud, mon roi!
Terre s’ouvrit, et se fendit,
et ci fut la belle engloutie.
English translation*
I
King Renaud comes back from the war,
Holding his guts in his hands.
His mother who was on the battlement, Saw her son Renaud come.
II
– Renaud, Renaud, cheer you up!
Your wife has given birth to a king!
– Neither for my wife, nor for my son,
May I cheer up.
III
Go, my mother, hurry up.
Have a fine white bed set ready for me;
I have short time to remain here:
By midnight I shall pass away.
IV
But have it done it down here
So my wife in childbirth will not hear!
And when midnight came,
King Renaud gave back his soul.
V
Morning had not broken yet,
And soon the valets were all weeping.
And even before breakfast,
All the maidservants have wept.
VI
– Tell me my mother dear,
What are our valets weeping for?
– My daughter, while washing our horses,
They let the finest drown.
VII
– And why, mother dear,
Such a weeping for a horse?
When King Renaud comes back,
He will bring finer horses.
VIII
– Ah! Tell me, my mother dear,
why do our women servants weep?
– Dear, while washing our linen sheets
they have lost the newest.
XIX
-And why, mother dear,
should they weep so for a linen sheet?
When King Renaud returns,
he will buy finer linen sheets.
X
– Ah! Tell me, my mother dear,
What are those beatings I hear?
– My daughter, it’s the carpenters
Repairing the floor.
XI
– Ah! Tell me, mother dear
What do I hear ringing here?
– My daughter, it is the procession,
Going out for the rogations.(1).
XII
– Ah! Tell me, mother dear,
What are the priests singing here?
– My daughter, it is the procession,
Turning round the house.
XIII
And when eight days had passed,
She wanted to dress up to the nines.
And when she could get up
She wanted to go to the Mass.
XIV
-Ah! Tell me mother dear,
Which dress shall I wear today?
– Wear the white, wear the grey,
Wear the black to choose best
XV
– Ah! Tell me mother dear,
What does this black mean?
-To a woman who has given birth to a child,
Black is the most convenient.
XVI
But when they were amidst the fields
Three shepherds were saying:
-Look at the wife of that lord
Who was buried the other day!
XVII
-Ah! Tell me mother dear,
What are those shepherds saying?
_ They say to hurry up,
Otherwise we’ll miss the Mass.
XVIII
When she stepped inside the church
She was given a church candle.
he realized, while kneeling,
That the earth was fresh under her bench.
XIX
– Ah, Tell me, mother dear
Why is the earth fresh here?
– My daughter, I cannot hide it any longer:
Renaud is dead and buried.
XX
Since King Renaud is dead,
Here are the keys to my treasure.
Take my rings and my jewels,
Feed well Renaud’s son!
XXI
Earth, open up! Earth, burst open!
Let me join Renaud, my king!
Earth opened up, earth burst open,
And the beauty was swallowed.

NOTES
* from here and here
1) the rogations were processional chants mixed with prayers with which they went to bless the fields in the three days before Ascension (continued)
2) at one time woman was considered impure after childbirth and she could return to the community only after 40 days. The ballad reflects an archaic conception of woman in marriage: her only role is to generate descent and her destiny is to follow her husband in death. In reality, in the Middle Ages, high-ranking widows were conveniently remarried or sended in a convent.
3) the married woman was entrusted with house keys, pantry and wardrobe and they hanged them on the belt as a hallmark of their rank
4) holy ground for church

OCCITAN VERSION: LO COMTE ARNAUD

We realize immediately that death does not occur because of an evil mermaid or fairy. The war is responsible for the tragedy. The tale becomes more realistic and universal and stresses on the dramatisation by focusing more on the concealed death.
Arnau joins in a war, he is wounded and comes back at the beginning of summer (on Saint John’s day). He asks to have his bed made and after his last conversation with his mother he announces his death. Once the magical elements have been disregarded and substituted by a more realistic view of life, the second part can continue by adapting the version from Brittany to the story. The most important difference is that the hero’s wife has just given birth to a child. That makes the story more dramatic and the concealed death creates a sympathetic suspense in the audience until it is revealed. This is a common trait in most European variants. Another curiosity found in most versions concerns the dress she will have to wear while going to church: it must be black! It is basically a theatrical device. The listeners of ballads used to visualize the story with their third eye and could “see” the mother in law who actually spoke to them. It was as if she said: “You and I know why I have answered so.” The story is then similar to a Greek tragedy, like Oedipus King. We know the truth, but the characters do not; the truth will be revealed only in the topic and dramatic moment of the tragedy. In both cases the concealed truth gives vent to pietas as sympathetic attention toward the fragile and mortal. It is in this way that the tragedy of Arnau’s wife, amplified by the birth of a child, becomes a projection of something already lived, or hypothetically lived, in which we all recognize ourselves. With all the other listeners we become a sort of silent Greek chorus expressing a feeling of pietas. (from here)
Rosina de Pèira & Martina from Cançons de femnas 1980


I
Lo comte Arnau, lo chivalièr,
dins lo Piemont va batalhier.
Comte Arnau, ara tu ten vas;
digas-nos quora tornaras.
II
Enta Sant Joan ieu tornarai
e mort o viu  aici serai.
Ma femna deu, enta Sant Joan
me rendre lo pair d’un bel enfant.
III
Mas la Sant Joan ven d’arribar,
lo Comte Amau ven a mancar.
Sa mair, del pus naut de l’ostal,
lo vei venir sus son caval.
IV
“Mair, fasetz far prompte lo leit
que longtemps non i dormirai.
Fasetz-lo naut, fasetz-lo bas,
Que ma miga n’entenda pas.”
V
Comte Arnau, a que vos pensatz
qu’un bel enfant vos quitariatz?
Ni per un enfant ni per dus,
mair, ne ressuscitarai plus.
VI
“Mair, que es aquel bruch dins l’ostal?
Sembla las orasons d’Arnau.
La femna que ven d’enfantar
orasons non deu escotar.”
VII
“Mair, per la festa de deman
quina rauba me botaran?
La femna que ven d’enfantar
la rauba negra deu portar!”
VIII
“Mair, porque tant de pregadors?
Que dison dins las orasons?”
Dison: la que ven d’enfantar
a la misseta deu anar.
IX
A la misseta ela se’n va,
vei lo Comt’ Arnau enterar.
“V’aqui las claus de mon cinton,
mair, torni plus a la maison.”
X
“Terra santa, tel cal obrir,
Voli parlar a mon marit;
Terra santa, te cal barrar,
amb Arnau voli demorar.
English translation*
I
Earl Arnau, the knight
Joins in a war in Piedmont.
“Earl Arnau, now you are going;
Tell us when you come back.”
II
“I’ll come back before Saint John’s day.
Either dead or alive I will be here.
My wife, just before Saint John’s day,
Will make me father of a beautiful son.”
III
But Saint John’s day comes,
Earl Arnau is missing.
His mother sees him coming on horseback
From the top of the house.
IV
“Mother have my bed made,
I won’t sleep long.
Make it high or make it low,
Provided that my wife doesn’t hear.”
V
“Earl Arnau, what are you thinking of,
That you will leave your beautiful son?”
Neither for one son, nor for two,
Mother, I won’t raise from the dead.”
VI
“Mother what’s that noise in the house?
It sounds as if they were Arnau’s prayers.”
“Woman who has just given birth to a child
Must not listen to prayers.”
VII
“Mother, for tomorrow’s feast,
What will they wear me with?”
Woman who has just given birth to a child,
Must wear a black dress!”
VIII
“Mother, why so many people praying?
What do they say in the prayers?”
“They say: who has given birth to a child/Must go to the Mass.”.
IX
She goes to the Mass
Sees Earl Arnau buried:
“Here is the key of my belt,
I won’t come back home anymore.”
X
“Holy land, you must open up,
I want to talk to my husband.
Holy land, you must close,
With Arnau I want to remain.”

NOTE
* (from here)

Version from Piedmont (Italy)

FONTI
http://chrsouchon.free.fr/nann.htm
http://chrsouchon.free.fr/nannf.htm
http://chrsouchon.free.fr/chants/trador.htm
http://chrsouchon.free.fr/chants/roirenau.htm
http://chrsouchon.free.fr/chants/arnaud.htm

https://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?lang=it&id=2499
https://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?id=1049&lang=it
http://www.coroasiago.it/rinaldo.htm
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=8862

L’ASINO ALLEGRO OCCITANO: L’AZE D’ ALEGRE

Grugno Corocotta era  assai noto nel Medioevo, fu il primo maiale nel 350 a dettare il suo testamento (in latino) così come c’informa San Girolamo che lo sentiva recitare dai suoi scolari. Una parodia dello stile curialesco con la distribuzione allegorica delle parti del maiale a varie persone “che se le meritano”:
Delle mia interiora dò e donerò ai calzolai le setole, ai litigiosi le testine, ai sordi le orecchie, a chi fa continuamente cause e parla troppo la lingua, ai bifolchi le budella, ai salsicciai i femori, alle donne i lombi, ai bambini la vescica, alle ragazze la coda, ai finocchi i musculi , ai corridori ed ai cacciatori i talloni, ai ladri le unghie ed infine al qui nominato cuoco lascio in legato mortaio e pestello che mi ero portato: da Tebe fino Trieste ci si leghi il collo usandolo come laccio.
E voglio che mi sia fatto un monumento con su scritto in lettere d’oro: “Il maiale M. Grugno Corocotta visse 999 anni e mezzo e, se fosse campato ancora sei mesi, sarebbe arrivato a mille anni”.  (continua)

Ma è a Carnevale che l’animale di turno fa il suo testamento, preludio dell’uccisione sacrificale prima che si avanzi Madonna Quaresima. Così anche l’asino che già avevamo trovato al centro della Festa delle calende, con una messa dedicata in suo onore (vedi) lascia le sue orecchie ai poveri sordi..

L’AZE D’ALEGRE

L’origine dal canto è la terra occitana, nel Monferrato il titolo diventa L’asu ‘d Vignun e i più ritengono che sia il riferimento alla località di provenienza, la residenza papale nel Medioevo e cuore della Provenza.

ASCOLTA Lou Dalfin, 1984

Li Troubaires de Coumboscuro


I
L’aze d’alegre fai testament
L’aze d’alegre fai testament
laìsa la vita per fà ‘n counvent
e levrin e levroun, toun toun
e levran da Lioun e levrin e levroun (1)
II
Laisa las aouréias ai pàouri chornh
Laisa las aouréias ai pàouri chornh
coura aouvìan, aouvìan tan da lonh
e levrin e levroun, toun toun
e levran da Lioun e levrin e levroun
III
Laisa las chambas ai pàouri sop
Laisa las chambas ai pàouri sop
coura courìan, courìan aou galop
e levrin e levroun, toun toun
e levran da Lioun e levrin e levroun
IV
Laisa l’uéies ai pàouri bornh
Laisa l’uéies ai pàouri bornh
coura veìan, veìan tan da lonh
e levrin e levroun, toun toun
e levran da Lioun e levrin e levroun
V
Laisa l’ouòsses ai pàouri chan
Laisa l’ouòsses ai pàouri chan
coura mourdian, fazìan am, am, am!
e levrin e levroun, toun toun
e levran da Lioun e levrin e levroun
VI
Laisa la coua ai cuzinìer
Laisa la coua ai cuzinìer
para las mouòisas dai poutagìer.
e levrin e levroun, toun toun
e levran da Lioun e levrin e levroun
Traduzione italiano *
I
L’asino allegro fa testamento
L’asino allegro fa testamento
lascia la vita per fare un convento
e levrin e levroun, toun toun
e levran da Lioun e levrin e levroun
II
Lascia le orecchie ai poveri sordi
Lascia le orecchie ai poveri sordi
quando sentivano, sentivano tanto lontano e levrin e levroun, toun toun
e levran da Lioun e levrin e levroun
III
Lascia le gambe ai poveri zoppi
Lascia le gambe ai poveri zoppi
quando correvano, correvano al galoppo e levrin e levroun, toun toun
e levran da Lioun e levrin e levroun
IV
Lascia gli occhi ai poveri ciechi
Lascia gli occhi ai poveri ciechi
quando vedevano, vedevano tanto lontano e levrin e levroun, toun toun
e levran da Lioun e levrin e levroun
V
Lascio le ossa ai poveri cani
Lascio le ossa ai poveri cani
quando mordevano, facevano “am am am” e levrin e levroun, toun toun
e levran da Lioun e levrin e levroun
VI
Lascio la coda ai cucinieri
Lascio la coda ai cucinieri
scaccia le mosche dai fornelli
e levrin e levroun, toun toun
e levran da Lioun e levrin e levroun

NOTE
* tratta da qui
1) “e levrin e levroun ecc.” è una serie di sillabe più o meno casuali, tipiche di tante musiche tradizionali in tutto il mondo

LA VERSIONE IN MONFERRATO: L’asu ‘d Vignun

ASCOLTA La Cantarana

L’asu ‘d Vignun (1) a l’à fait testament
lasaje gnente a soi parent.
Galavrin galavrun e dan dan e dan dan
e l’asu ‘d Vignun galavrin galavrun
Lasaje j öi ai curnajas
për tan ca vardéisu i soi palas.
Lasaje  la cua a le servente
për tan ca i tuiréisu la pulenta.
Lasaje  le urie a le fürmie
për tan ca i purtéisu ‘n gir le spie.
A le mascrade lasaje la testa (2)
për tan ca  i servéisa a fé ‘n po’ ‘d festa
L’asino di (a)vignone ha fatto testamento,
non ha lasciato niente ai parenti.
(ritornello senza senso)
Ha lasciato gli occhi ai corvi
perchè tenessero d’occhio i suoi palazzi, ha lasciato la coda alle serve
perchè girassero la polenta
Ha lasciato le orecchie alle formiche
perchè andassero in giro a spiare
Alle mascherate ha lasciato la testa
perchè servisse a fare un po’ di festa

NOTE
1) Vignun traduce sia Avignone ma anche Vignone capoluogo della valle omonima. Il termine “Vignone” significa, probabilmente, grossa vigna. E’ curiosa l’associazione dell’asigno con un vigneto, si tratta dell’asino caro a Dioniso dio del vino?
2) il cranio dell’asino era un tempo usato anche in Piemonte come maschera rituale delle questue?

La versione del Roero è una rielaborazione del testo provenzale

VECCHIE E NUOVE TRADIZIONI

E’ nata a Mestra in occasione del Carnevale una recente “tradizione” quella del “volo dell’Asino”: l’intento è di parodiare il “Volo dell’Angelo” veneziano, una cerimonia nata nel 1500 dalle mirabolanti prodezze di un acrobata turco. Ben presto iniziarano le variazioni sul tema e all’acrobata vennero appioppate due ali d’angelo, ma nel 1759 l’acrobata si schiantò a terra e così al suo posto si preferì una grande colomba di legno che nel suo tragitto, partendo sempre dal campanile e fino al Palazzo Ducale, liberava sulla folla fiori e coriandoli (Volo della Colombina); il volo s’interruppe con la fine della Serenissima e solo nel 1979 si ricominciò a festeggiare il Carnevale, oggi un grande e spettacolare evento turistico, che richiama migliaia di visitatori da tutto il mondo.
Nella versione moderna è stato ripreso il “Volo della Colombina” spostandolo però come evento d’apertura, dapprima un uccello meccanico, si è passati nel 2001 alla vecchia formula del Volo dell’Angelo con un artista assicurato ad un cavo metallico che lentamente scorre verso terra. Dal 2011 a fare il volo è la “Maria dell’anno” eletta tra le bellezze locali.

L’ASINO VOLA

Dalla torre campanaria di Mestre dal 2002 e quasi ininterrottamente fino ad oggi si lancia sorretto da un cavo d’acciaio un asino che  “caga denari” (sotto forma di monete di cioccolato e coriandoli) sulla folla e atterra poco più distante. Nato nel 2002 da un’idea di Roberto Cargnelli dell’associazione Mandragola e Luciano “Fricchetti” Trevisan dell’associazione Ossigeno il volo dell’asino (più recentemente reinterpretato in chiave acrobatica) s’innesta sulla Festa dell’asino di Medievale memoria. A corollario tutta una serie di veri asini e di asini in maschera per parate e teatro di strada.

Girato l’angolo finiamo nel Galles e troviamo il piccolo scricciolo ucciso e smembrato secondo il rituale pan-celtico di una caccia: secondo la tradizione celtica lo scricciolo era il simbolo di Lugh, Figlio della Luce trionfante e il suo sacrificio, un tributo in sangue agli spiriti della Terra nel Solstizio d’Inverno, era una supplica per ottenere favori e fortuna, ma anche un sacrificio solare (la luce che riprende vigore dopo il solstizio riceve energia dal sangue del suo simulacro). L’uccisione dello scricciolo e la distribuzione delle sue piume avrebbe portato salute e fortuna agli abitanti del villaggio.  Mentre in Irlanda la questua rituale dello scricciolo si svolge il 26 dicembre  nell’Isola di Man e in Galles ricorre al capodanno o al dodicesimo giono del Natale (l’Epifania) continua

seconda parte

FONTI
http://www.mori.bz.it/humorpage/porco.htm

http://laicitacontro.blogspot.it/2012/05/la-vergognosa-storia-nascosta-di-alcuni_30.html