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Lyr Add: Complainte de la Blanche Biche

In Mudcat MIDIs:
La Blanche Biche
Sur le pont d'Anignon j'ai ouï chanter la belle (a wedding song - tune used for Blanche biche tune dates back to at least 1503)
The White Hart


judy 31 Oct 97 - 02:59 AM
Mad Maudlin 07 Mar 02 - 11:41 PM
Mad Maudlin 07 Mar 02 - 11:46 PM
Malcolm Douglas 08 Mar 02 - 02:52 AM
Mad Maudlin 08 Mar 02 - 04:02 PM
GUEST,FBR 31 Jan 04 - 09:37 PM
Malcolm Douglas 31 Jan 04 - 10:20 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: COMPLAINTE DE LA BLANCHE BICHE
From: judy
Date: 31 Oct 97 - 02:59 AM

COMPLAINTE DE LA BLANCHE BICHE

Verse I
C'est le qui vont au bois, c'est la mere et la fille
La mere va chantant et sa fille soupire
"Qu'as vous a soupirez, ma blanche Margarite?"
"J'ai bien trop dirant, moi, et n'ose vous le dire."

Verse II
"Je suis fille de jour et la nuit blanche biche.
La chassette apres moi des barons et de princes,
Et mon frere, Renault, qui est encore le pire.
Allez, ma mere, allez, bien pronte m'en lui dire."

Verse III
"Qu'il arrete ces chiens jusqu'a demain midi."
"Ou sont tes chiens, Renault, et la chasse gentille?"
"Ils sont deux dans le bois a courre blanche biche."
"Arretes-eux les, Renault, arretes-eux , je t'en prie."

Verse IV
Trois fois les accornees de son corne de cuivre
A la troisieme fois la blanche biche ecrise.
"Mandant le depouilleurs, qu'ils depouillent la biche.
Celui qui la depouille dis-je ne c'est que dive."

Verse V
Elle a le cheveux blond et le sang d'une fille
A tirez son couteau, en quartiers il la mise
On en fait un diner aux barons et aux princes
"Nous voici tous cillees or ma soeur Margarite."

Verse VI
"Vous n'avez qu'a manger, je suis la premiere assise
Ma tete est dans le plat et mon coeur aux chevilles
Mon sang est repandu par tout la cuisine
Et sur vos noir charbons me pauvres os si grille."


judy
I will try to translate this the best I can. Please, any French speaker please correct me.

Verse I
The mother and the daughter are going to the woods
The mother goes singing and her daughter sighs
"Why are you sighing, my white Margarite?"
"I've too much to say, and I don't dare tell you."

Verse II
"During the day I'm a girl and at night I'm a white stag(?)
Barons and princes chase after me,
And my brother, Renault, is the worst.
Go, mother and tell him quickly of it."

Verse III
"(Tell him) that he should stop his dogs until noon tomorrow."
"Where are your dogs, Renault, and the hunt?"
"Two of them are in the woods running after the white stag"
"Stop them, Renault, stop them, I beg you."

Verse IV
Three times he blew his copper horn
On the third blow the white stag cried out(?)
"Send the skinners(?), that they should skin the white stag.
The one that skins it, ?????????????????????????

Verse V
She has blond hair and the blood of a girl
I took out my knife and cut it in quarters
They made a dinner for barons and princes
"We're all seated except my sister Margarite."

Verse VI
"You may as well eat, for I'm the first to have been seated
My head is in the platter and my heart ????????
My blood is spattered all over the kitchen
And on your black coals are my poor bones so grilled(?)
(repeat Verse I)

From the group Tri Yann


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Subject: RE: ADD: Complainte de la Blanche Biche
From: Mad Maudlin
Date: 07 Mar 02 - 11:41 PM

Here's another version...I think you misheard some words, Judy. I asked a native speaker, and she corrected the lyrics for me.

La Complainte de Blanche Biche

Celles qui vont au bois, c'est la mère et sa fille,
la mère va chantant et la fille soupire.
" Qu'a vouloir soupire, ma blanche Marguerite ? "
"J'ai bien trop d'ire en moi et je n'ose vous le dire.
Je suis fille le jour et la nuit, blanche biche,
là chassaient après moi les barons et le prince
et mon frère Renaud, qui est encore le pire.
Allez, ma mère, allez, bien promptemont lui dire
qu'il arrète ses chiens jusqu'à demain midi ! "
" Où sont tes chiens, Renaud, et la chasse gentille ? "
" Ils sont dedans le bois, à courrer Blanche Biche. "
" Arrete-les, Renaud, arrete, je t'en prie ! "

Trois fois les a corné de son cornet de cuivre,
à la troisième fois la blanche biche est prise.
" Mandons le depouilleur qu'il depouille la biche ! "
Celui qui la depouille dit : " Je ne sais que dire !
Elle a le cheveu blond et les seins d'une fille ! "
A tiré son couteau, en quartiers il l'a mis.
" Mandons faire un dîner aux barons et au prince !
Nous voici tous sieds hors ma sœur Marguerite. "

" Vous n'avez qu'à manger suit la première assise,
ma tête est dans le plat et mon cœur aux chevilles.
Mon sang est répandu par toute la cuisine
et sur vos noirs charbons mes pauvres os se grillent. "

Celles qui vont au bois…


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Subject: RE: ADD: Complainte de la Blanche Biche
From: Mad Maudlin
Date: 07 Mar 02 - 11:46 PM

And here's the translation:

The Lament of The White Hind

Those who go to the forest are a mother and her daughter,
The mother goes singing but the daughter sighs.
"Why do you have to sigh, my white Marguerite?"
"I have a great curse on me, and I don't dare tell you.
I'm a girl by day and by night, a white hind,
The barons and the prince hunted me there,
And my brother Renaud, who is worst of all.
Go, my mother, go right soon and tell him
To hold back his dogs until tomorrow morning."
"Where are your dogs, Renaud, and the noble hunt?"
"They have gone to the forest to chase the white hind."
"Hold them back, Renaud, hold them back, I pray you!"

Three times he blew his copper horn,
And at the third time the white hind was caught.
"Let us call the skinner that he skin the hind!"
He who skinned her said, "I don't know what to say!
She has the golden hair and the breasts of a girl!"
He drew his knife and cut her in quarters.
"Let us call for a dinner for the barons and the prince!
Look, we're all seated except my sister Marguerite."

"You only have to eat until the first course,
My head on the plate and my heart on the butcher's hook,
My blood is spilled all through the kitchen
And over your black coals my poor bones are roasting."

Those who go to the forest…

What a beautiful, sad song...gets me everytime!


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Subject: RE: ADD: Complainte de la Blanche Biche
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 02:52 AM

The second translation is pretty good, but I think that there are some mishearings or misunderstandings still.  I don't think I knew that this one was here, or I'd have addressed it before now.  I think that Tri Yann's source will have been the set in Henri Davenson's Le Livre Des Chansons (1955).  Here it is, with no slight intended to Judy or Maudlin; some of the words and constructions are old-fashioned and liable to confuse even a native speaker if heard rather than seen.  For the sake of easier layout, I'll give each couplet as a single line; each is repeated, as in the first verse, by way of refrain.  Arrangements on record may well omit this repetition and condense two or more verses into one for the sake of brevity, which is what I used to do when I sang this song, though I didn't use the traditional tune.  The translation is as exact as I can get without too much awkwardness.

LA BLANCHE BICHE

Celles qui vont au bois, c'est la mère et la fille.
Celles qui vont au bois, c'est la mère et la fille.

La Mère va chantant et la fille soupire:

"Qu'av'vous à soupirer, ma fille Marguerite?"

"J'ai bien grand ire en moi, et n'ose vous le dire:

Je suis fille le jour, et la nuit blanche biche.

La chasse est après moi, les barons et les princes,

Et mon frère Renaud, qui est encore bien pire.

Allez, ma mère, allez bien promptement lui dire

Qu'il arrête ses chiens jusqu'à demain ressie."

"Où sont tes chiens, Renaud, et ta chasse gentille?"

"Ils sont dedans le bois à courre blanche biche."

"Arrête-les, Renaud, arrête, je t'en prie!"

Trois fois les a cornés o son cornet de cuivre;

A la troisième fois, la blanche biche est prise;

"Mandons le dépouilleur, qu'il dépouille la biche."

Celui qui la dépouille dit: "Je ne sais qui dire:

Elle a les cheveux blonds et le sein d'une fille."

A tiré son couteau, en quartiers il l'a mise.

En ont fait un dîner, au baron et aux princes:

Nous voici tous illec, faut ma sœur Marguerite.

"Vous n'avez qu'à manger, suis la première assise:

Ma tête est dans le plat et mon cœur aux chevilles,

Mon sang est répandu par toute la cuisine,

Et sur vos noires charbons, mes pauvres os y grillent."

THE WHITE HART

Mother and daughter go to the woods.


The mother goes singing, the daughter sighing.

"Why do you sigh, Margaret, my daughter?"

"There is a great curse on me, and I dare not tell it you:

I am a girl by day, and a white hind by night.

The hunt is after me, the barons and the princes,

"And my brother Renaud, which is far worse.

Go, mother, go straight away and tell him

To stop his dogs until tomorrow noon."

"Where are your dogs, Renaud, and your noble hunt?"

"They are in the woods, pursuing the white hind."

"Stop them, Renaud, stop them, I beg you."

Three times he has sounded his copper horn:

At the third blast, the white hind is taken.

"Let us send for the skinner, to skin the hind."

The skinner says, "I don't know what to say:

She has blonde hair and a woman's breast."

He has taken his knife and quartered her.

They have made of her a dinner for the baron and the princes:

"Here we all are, save for my sister Margaret."

"You have only to eat; I am the first at table.

My head is in the dish, and my heart on the butcher's hook,

My blood is spattered throughout the kitchen,

And on your black coals my poor bones are grilling."



ressie:  the midday siesta.
O:  = avec
illec  = ici

Davenson comments that the song had been found in the area between the Vendée and Eastern Normandy, and most particularly in the French-speaking part of Brittany.  Only one version had been found with a melody at the time he wrote, and that, he added, was borrowed from a wedding-song, Sur le pont d'Anignon j'ai ouï chanter la belle, dating back at least to 1503.

A midi of the tune made from the notation in Davenson will doubtless find its way in due course to  Mudcat Midis;  until then, it can be heard via the  South Riding Folk Network  site:

La Blanche Biche


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Subject: RE: ADD: Complainte de la Blanche Biche
From: Mad Maudlin
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 04:02 PM

Thanks for posting the source and the Midi, Malcolm! Very interesting!


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Subject: RE: ADD: Complainte de la Blanche Biche
From: GUEST,FBR
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 09:37 PM

I just found this web discussion site today… two years after the last message, and I would like to add some comments in case the first writers are still interested in the subject :

The Blanche Biche tune from the notation of Henri Davenson is probably the best known tune for the Blanche Biche all over the world, although it is not the tune chosen by Malicorne, who sing this song on another melody borrowed from a Quebec version. But Tri Yann, Guy Béart, Marc Ogeret, Jean-François Dutertre, Emmanuelle Parrenin, the Groupe Chaconne, and numerous other singers or groups sing the Blanche Biche on the tune of the wedding song «Sur le pont d'Avignon j'ai ouï chanter la belle»… you will find it all over the web, translated in many different languages. This very interesting old wedding song is called La Chanson des Oreillers.

The words that appear and are translated on this web site, published by Davenson in 1946, are copied from a posthumous book published in 1904 by Georges Doncieux, who had died the year before, so the chapter of this book concerning the melodies was written by Julien Tiersot, a great musicologist of that period. He is the one who first mentioned the Chanson des Oreillers as a tune for the Blanche Biche. This Blanche Biche sung on this tune had been collected in the Vendée Department in France around 1896 by Sylvain Trebucq, who published it.

The Blanche Biche published by Georges Doncieux and Davenson after him is what is called a «version critique», which means that the author has reconstructed a new version with different lines which he liked best taken from the then known versions : this operation results in a new version which has never been collected in the field.


Doncieux chose to discard the different lines of endings of the field versions, and finished the song somewhat abruptly. A very beautiful ending he could have added might have been this one :

«Renaud sortit dehors comme un homme bien triste
Faut n'avoir qu'une soeur et l'avoir détruite

J'en suis au désespoir, j'en ferai pénitence
Serai pendant sept ans sans mettre chemise blanche
Et coucherai sept ans sous une épine blanche»

Translation :
«Renaud went out of the house like a very sad man
—I had but one sister, and I have destroyed her…
I am in great despair and I will do penance
Seven years I will be without wearing a white shirt
And seven years I will lie under the white thorn»



There are many other beautiful versions of the Blanche Biche, but very few people know them. Some have been recorded, fore example by Roland Brou, Solange Panis, le Groupe Après-Demain in France ; Michel Faubert, Danièle Martineau, Raoul Roy, Edith Butler in Quebec.


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Subject: RE: ADD: Complainte de la Blanche Biche
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 10:20 PM

Thanks for that additional information. Important as Davenson's work was, we might wish that he had provided rather more in the way of source information. The version critique is something that we've also suffered from in English-language folksong studies, from the days of the first antiquarian ballad editors, but there has been a greater tendency here, perhaps, to move beyond the "epitomising" of texts and to seek to present something more like what was actually sung; though there has still been a lot of unacknowledged editorial mediation even recently.

The mediated form of La Blanche Biche certainly ends on a very dramatic note, but the final lines you quote are more in keeping with traditional structures, and it's good to be made aware of them.


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