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European Folk Songs

Sleepy Rosie 03 Feb 09 - 03:41 AM
Jack Blandiver 03 Feb 09 - 04:37 AM
sian, west wales 03 Feb 09 - 08:43 AM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Feb 09 - 09:22 AM
Jack Campin 03 Feb 09 - 01:55 PM
Sleepy Rosie 03 Feb 09 - 03:09 PM
Jack Campin 04 Feb 09 - 08:34 PM
M.Ted 04 Feb 09 - 10:46 PM
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Subject: European Folk Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 03:41 AM

Wondering how many people dabble in European Folk Songs, in translation?
I'm not including Irish songs here.

I'm asking partly because European Folk Tales can be quite magical and I'm curious to know if some of that magic and mystery is carried in much European Folk Song?

Yes Europe is a big place! I know. And such open questions can be an annoyance to some, but they can make for some very interesting and productive thread drifts too...


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Subject: RE: European Folk Songs
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 04:37 AM

A related thread maybe??

Folklore: Analogues Across Linguistic Frontiers

Also:

Origins: Sir Olaf


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Subject: RE: European Folk Songs
From: sian, west wales
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 08:43 AM

Many of the threads to which I contribute (and occasionally ones I initiate) discuss Welsh traditional song. I think there has, at some point, been a discussion of the ox driving songs and their pre-christian animistic connections. Many Welsh love songs talk about using birds as "llatai" (messengers) to carry love notes to the objects of desire.

I know that you may be thinking of 'content' more than 'form' but there is a style of verse in Wales which runs along the lines, "if all the sea was black ink, and all the world was paper, and all the reeds were pens, then I could still not write of my love for you". There's actually quite a few religious verses on this line - the earliest example in Welsh is a Hymn to Mary. It's also found in England. In fact, one Welsh academic has written a piece on it being traceable across Europe and the middle East to India and a poem to Krishna, the Vasavadatta, written in Sanskrit about 2000 years ago. It might be interesting to pull together a list of European songs which use this pattern ...

On another front, I think it was Marius Barbeau in Canada who wrote about French Canadian songs and their French roots. Somewhere I've seen an article about these songs and how there are a lot of love songs - which you'd expect from raftsmen, Coureur de Bois and voyageurs who were a long way from home and womankind.   Worth a look.

sian


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Subject: RE: European Folk Songs
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 09:22 AM

As you say, two rather wide questions; to which the answers are 'quite a few' and 'yes'. As with folktales, a great many motifs recur in traditional songs throughout Europe and further afield without this necessarily meaning that the songs themselves are directly related, but many studies have been made; usually in relation to specific examples, so you will probably mostly get replies here relating to specific songs or song groups rather than the broad topic.

Child of course went into extensive detail on the subject in The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, and many of the discussions here that deal with 'Child' ballads refer to analogues found in other parts of Europe: quite a few are quoted in various languages, with or without translations into English. 'The Outlandish Knight' ('Le Tueur de Femmes') and 'The Cruel Sister' come to mind among others; from the 'non-Child' canon, I recall posting French relatives of 'The Ship in Distress', for example: Penguin: The Ship In Distress. A Danish antecedent found by Child's mentor Svend Grundtvig can be seen at En Märkelig Vise om de Söfarne Mänd: An Old Danish Ballad.

There is plenty more to be found in the Forum and elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: European Folk Songs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 01:55 PM

Dave and Toni Arthur (I think) adapted the Hungarian ballad "Féher Anna" to "Laszlo Feher stole a stallion" - in a remarkably short time her name has got garbled into an American song about someone called "Anathea". Their tune is not the usual Hungarian one, though it does have a Hungarian sound to it.

A lot of the real magic in songs is in the text setting. Hungarian has fairly similar prosody to English, but even for that there are hardly any singable translations that preserve the tune (a choral setting by Kodaly of "Molnár Anna" translated as "Annie Miller" sort of works). For languages which have very different accentuation, like Gaelic and Turkish, it just doesn't happen.


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Subject: RE: European Folk Songs
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 03:09 PM

"A lot of the real magic in songs is in the text setting. Hungarian has fairly similar prosody to English, but even for that there are hardly any singable translations that preserve the tune [...] For languages which have very different accentuation, like Gaelic and Turkish, it just doesn't happen."

Ahh, now that the obvious is pointed out to me, I can imagine. Pity though.
I suppose I was rather hoping to find the impossible...


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Subject: RE: European Folk Songs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Feb 09 - 08:34 PM

This gave me the impetus to look at attempts to rework one of my favourite songs. Nazim Hikmet's "Kiz Cocugu" (Girl), a monologue by the ashes of a girl killed in the Hiroshima bombing, is well known on the folk scene due to Pete Seeger, as "I Come and Stand at Every Door".

Here's that familiar one, sung by This Mortal Coil with video footage from a film of the Japanese manga about the bombing, "Barefoot Gen":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UycvFgD4r-A

But they don't sing it to that in Turkey. Here's Nazim Hikmet reading his own poem, followed by the popular setting by Zulfu Livaneli, here sung by Joan Baez in Turkish:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3I4OnAuZIo

Here's Livaneli singing it himself, solo:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxCFBbVF85o

Here's a very fine performance he did in the early 1980s with Maria Farantouri, who sang her verses in Greek:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMj51k_krxs

And here's a clip of an entirely different and rather wilder setting of the tune, by Ruhi Su, which I think predates Livaneli's:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIuZOu3UtL0

The same poem has been reworked in Japanese, by Ryuichi Sakamoto. I guess they've got more right to it than anybody else:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmsRNQ57f1M

And another take on that Japanese version, a very emotional performance filmed at Ground Zero in modern Hiroshima:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCCv2fS1wPU

(Most of the videos use harrowing footage of the bombing).

Other versions? There must for sure be one in Russian. There had better be one in Hebrew. (Speaking of which, where has Volgadon got to? He'll know of both).

Here's the ABC for Livaneli's setting (lines without words are instrumentals) from his book "Songs from the Past to the Future" (Ararat Verlag, 1981):

X:1
T:Kapilari calan benim
C:Zulfu Livaneli (words: Nazim Hikmet)
M:3/4
L:1/4
Q:1/4=120
K:D Dorian
"Dm"D F G|A c A|         c A          c |    d    f d|\
"Dm"g f d|c A F|"Dm7sus4"G F          C |"Dm"D3      ||
%
"G" c d2 |d (d<c)|"Dm"    d (c<    A)    |    A    A2 |
w:Ka-pi-lar-i* cal-an* ben-im
"G" c d2 |d (d<c)|"Dm"    d (c<    A)    |    A    A2 |
w:Ka-pi-lar-i* bir-er* bir-er
"G" c d2 |d (d<c)|"F"      d (A//G//F/- F)|"G"(A/G/) G2 |
w:Go-zu-nuz-e* gor-u-***ne-*mem
"Dm"F G2 |A F2 |"Cm7"   _E E2          |"Dm"D    D2||
w:Goz-e gor-un-mez ol-u-ler
"Dm"g f d|c A F|"Dm7sus4"G F         C |"Dm"D3       |
%
"G" c d2 |d (d<c)|"Dm"    d (A//G//F/- F)|"G"(A/G/) G2 |
%
w:Goz-u-nuz-e* gor-u-***ne-*mem
"Dm"F G2 |A F2 |"Cm7"   _E E2          |"Dm"D    D2||
w:Goz-e gor-un-mez ol-u-ler
%
"Dm"G A F|D C G|"Dm7sus4"F D          C |"Dm"D3      |]


The full Turkish text is attached to many of those videos and is on innumerable Turkish lyrics sites. The usual English translation changes the ending a bit.


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Subject: RE: European Folk Songs
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Feb 09 - 10:46 PM

Hungarian is a syllable-timed language, and English is stress-timed, making them very different, in terms of prosody. Turkish is also syllable-timed.


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