Album Songs and Lyrics

Lyrics and facts about the tracks from Astrakan Project’s album.
1. pemp bolot # 3’50
2. tri martolod an oriant # 3’43
3. kreñv ‘veld ar garantez # 6’17
4. twist en-dro war al leur-goat # 5’39
5. 1932 # 4’13
6. barzh an ifern # 4’08
7. mouezhioù [pa garche ma mamm] # 4’17
8. o soñjal [konskriet sant nikolaz] # 5’02
9. 7 hills # 5’27

Album Songs and Lyrics

Look at the Stars – English lyrics + PdF

Upon an almost general request, here are the lyrics with an approximative translation in English – bellow the video, so that you can follow the lyrics – or download the PdF version here and follow it along!

Me am boa bet ul lez-vamm (ha) | he oa kriz ha kalet

Div teir eur a-roak an deiz | ganti me (a) vije savet

Da vont da gerc’hat dour da feuntenn ar Wazhaleg

I had a stepmother, she was harsh  with me,

She would wake me up 2 or 3 hours before the sunrise

To get water from the fountain

Ar feuntenn a oa pell | an dour a oa strafuilhet

Gant mab un den jentil | oc’h abeuriñ e gezeg

Hag eñ a c’houl diganin « Plac’hig (ha) c’hwi zo dimezet »

The fountain was far away, the water was cloudy,

By a gentlemen’s son watering his horse

And he asked me “young girl are you married?”

Med me oa ken yaouank | a respontis ne oan ket

En o kregiñ en em dorn (e)vit ma c’has er valeneg

Eno a lakas ac’hanon da sellet ouzh ar stered

I was so young, I replyed I wasn’t,

He took me by the hand for a walk,

There he made me look at the stars,

Pa savis ac’hane ma dilhad a oa joget

Ma c’halon a lampe ha ma c’horf a oa brevet

Ha me a soñje neuze « Petra am eus amañ kollet ? »

When I got up from there,  my clothes were wrinkled,

My heart was “loping” (like a horse!) and ma body was tired,

And I thought “ what did I lose there?”

Neuze deus e c’hodell e roas din pemp kant skoed :

« Kerzit d’ar gêr plac’hig lârit d’ho tud oc’h dimezet

D’ur c’havalier yaouank o tistreiñ deus an Naoned »

Her took from his pocket 500 “crowns”

“Go back home young girl, tell your parents you’re married

To a young knight returning  from Nantes”

Pa oan o tont o vont, dre hentoù braz Plouaret

Me a glevis ar c’hleier o seniñ evit ma eured

Me a glevis a c’hlieier o soniñ evit ma eured

While I was going through Plouaret’s roads,

I heard the bells ringing for my wedding

I heard the bells ringing for my wedding


And you can also download the PdF version here – please let us know how you enjoy learning Breton words!

You can stream the full album here:

Album Songs and Lyrics

O soñjal

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[ lyrics, translation & facts for the 8th song from our album >here< ]

This particular song – and in a way it is funny that it will happen to be the last one I’m translating – might be the true origin of Astrakan Project.

Magic Tree in Saint Servais Brittany

Back to 2007, we were both living in Brittany and playing in various bands, among which in a fest-noz band – basically… Breton dancing music ! Yann started to record parts of tunes so that the other members could practice home – in this song for instance, the rhythm is slightly “shifted” to get closer to what singers actually do. For some reasons, we never got to play it on stage in Brittany, but… Yann had learned that he could bring all the music he had in his head to life !


When we moved to Istanbul in 2008, Yann started to work on that song again, and it’s one of the first we recorded for our demo in 2009 – and finally his dream come true : we are playing it at every concert !

For me, this song is very personal too, when I’m singing:

O sonjal an devezh, kalonad am e oa bet, me partias d’eus ar gêr”

“Thinking about that day, my heart is full of sorrow, I left home”

I can only but relate to my father that left his home country Portugal when he was only 17, like many young men in his age, before they would be taken to serve the army.


Music : 1st tune was sung by the famous Frères Morvan (3 brothers among whom 2 are still singing all around Brittany) , the 2nd was composed by Yann in 2007

Instruments : guitar + loops

Rhythm : Plinn (dance from Central East Brittany, around Bourbriac)

[ don’t forget to start the music while you’re reading the translation 🙂 ]

Ar bempvet devezh warnugent, demeus ar viz genver
Kalonad me am boe bet, sevel ‘maez ma gwele

On the 25th of January
I had a lot of sorrow while I was getting out of my bed

Kalonad me am boe bet maez ma gwele sevel
O sonjal an devezh,  pezhani ’m boe da dremen

I had a lot of sorrow while I was getting out of my bed
Just thinking about the day I’ll have to get threw

O sonjal an devezh, pezhani ’m boe da dremen
Allas a benn pe oe noz, / / me am boe bet anken

Just thinking about the day I’ll have to get threw
Unfortunately when the night came, I was still anxious

Me partias eus ar ger, (na) oen ket gwall diwehat
Ar c’hentan ker a antreen, oa en Sant Nikolas

I left home, it was quite early
The firtst village I got to was Sant Nikolas

Ar c’hentan ker a antreen, oa en Sant Nikolas
Na disdostit d’ar c’houvi, dindan an doen mein glas

The firtst village I got to was Sant Nikolas
Approaching to the halls, under their slates roof

Na pa oamp erru enan, ni oa digemeret
Gant paotred al livitenn, o pe an tokou trouset

When we got there we were welcomed
By guys with hoods and bicornes

Kalonad am me boe bet / E soñjal barzh un devez
Me partias d’eus ar gêr / Kalonad am me boe bet

My heart was full of sorrow / Thinking about that day
I left home / My heart was full of sorrow 

A pa oa lanset an ordr, astenet an drapo
Na da gentan ‘vit koumans tennan ‘reas ar maeriou

And when the order was given and the flag unfurled
Mayors where to first to pick up the tickets (*)

Ha goude e teue war-lerc’h tro ar baotred yaouank
Ha peb hini a denne der ma hae deus a renk

And right after them, the young ones, 
Each was picking up a ticket as his turn came

Benn pa oa erru ma renk evit tennan ar bilhed
Ma c’hamarad ‚denne unneg, me a denne douzeg

When it came to me to pick up one, 
My friend picked up eleven, and I did twelve (**)

Ma c’hamarad ‚denne unneg me a denne douzeg
Soudarded an assurans, partiet e zo ret

My friend picked up eleven, and I did twelve
We were insured to become soldiers, and would have to leave

saint nikolas

A French translation >here<

(*) at that time (probably around Napoleon III wars, end of XIX century), not every young man would go to serve the army, the ones who would have to go were “drawn” among all young men from the same village

(**) we’ve heard the the meaning of this particular sentence could be that being from lower extraction, these two young man and their families had received money in order to pick up more than one ticket – picking up the ones from luckier ones who would so avoid for sure going to the military service.

Notes: As usual, it’s a personal translation, with no attempt to translate the poetic style, it might not be fully accurate, the purpose is more to give an idea about what it is about.

§ Simone

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Album Songs and Lyrics


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[ lyrics, translation & facts for the 5th song from our album >here< ]

1932 as said in the fist sentences of this song is the year it was composed in, but it is also the year 1929’s economical crisis started to really affect remote places like Brittany.

The first tune from the song is a strange rhythm march that we heard from an old singer in Saint Nicodème, Central Brittany, around 2005. You can hear a sample we tape-recorded at that time – bare with the sound quality !

The lyrics were totally different, and funny actually. Our interpretation, because of the lyrics we used sounds totally different :

Music & Lyrics: traditional

Instruments: acoustic guitar

Rythme : 1st part is a march, 2nd is a gavotte rhythm

Me ho ped kozh ha yaouank deuet de selou kanañ
Ur resit kalet meurbet kompozet ar bloaz-mañ
Na vid donet da rimañ ne ‘m eus ket a dalant

I‘m asking you old and young people, come over to listen singing
To a hard story composed this year
I’m not very good at rhyming 

Nor for writting have I had any teaching

Kenneubeut evit skrivañ ‘m eus ket a zeskamant
Met evit reiñ deoc’h da gromprenn trubulhioù ma spered
Ma ya d’ober ma bosubl ‘vit bezhañ komprenet

Nor for writing have I had any teaching
But to lead you to understand what’s bothering my mind
I’ll do my best to be understood 

Dre un devezh a viz Mae e bloazh 32
An amzer a zo kalet, trist a oe ma c’halon
Pa sellan a peb tu ne gavan ‘med hirvoud

One day of may in the year 32
The times were hard, and my heart was sad
Wherever I’m looking around, I only find whimper

Nag an amzer tremenet na n’hon ket ‘vit tapout
Un dra sur, ‘baoe ar brezel, gwelet ‘m’eump bloavezhioù
Nag a laré toud an dud oe moaien da vevo

I know we can’t get back to the past 
But one thing is for sure, since last war [1914-18] we have passed a couple of [difficult] years 
And people were saying it was possible to make a living

Breman ‘zo kalz a dud ‘n eus poan kavet bara
Trist a vez d’ar vugale, kalet d’an tad, d’ar vamm,
Lakaat aneze da gousket ma n’eunt ket bet o c’hoan

Now for many people bread is hard to find, 
It’s sad for the children, and hard for their mum and dad,
When they send them to bed without having eaten

Deus beurzh al labourerien, ne glevamp ‘met klemmoù
Trubuilh, hirnez hag anken e pevar c’horn ar vro

From workers I only hear claims, 
Anxiety and distress from every corner of the country

Ar gomersanted vihan a lare ivez d’o zro
Gwerz a-walc’h a reomp hom zraoù, nemet piv a bevo

Merchants are also saying 
They’re selling, but they’re not enough people still alive

An eost kozh zo koñsomet kasimant holl dija
Ha n’emaomp ket erru c’hoazh nemet hanter ar bloazh

Last harvest are almost already gone
And we’re not yet at half of the year

Ma zastumfomp ket muioc’h barzh a bloavezh a ren
Koulz ar mestr vel’d ar mevel halfe kavet anken

If you don’t harvest more next year
Gentelmen as much as employess will suffer 

Bevañ gant neubeut arc’hant, un dra sur, n’eo ket brav
Nemet gwasoc’h a vez c’hoazh gant neubet a vara

Living without much money isn’t easy for sure, 
But without bread it’s even worse

Pa vez voted ar budjet ‘vez kavet dañ e blaz
Komjoù ar bankeoù pe d’ar industriel braz

When the budget is made, you’ll find there 
Bankers and big industrials’ words. 

This is as usual a personal translation, with emphasis on the meaning than on the exact-correct-official translation

§ Simone

Album Songs and Lyrics

7 Hills


[ lyrics, translation & facts for the last song from our album >here< ]

This song is a really really famous one, all over Brittany although it is originally from the Vannes area (>google map<). The dance itself is quite simple. The song is usually called by the 1st sentence of the lyrics, du-hont ar ar manez over the mountain/hills. Indeed, the Breton word for mountain may be used for hill as well, they aren’t any huge high mountains, highest point is 380 meters (yes !) at the Mont Saint Michel de Brasparts.

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Yann transformed the initial dance rhythm by adding a 7th beat. To be more technical it was a 6/4 and it was turned into 7/4.

Music & Lyrics: traditional

Instruments : acoustic & electric guitar, acoustic & electric saz

Rythme : hanter-dro dance with an extra beat

In case you had miss it, here is the video from that song that you may listen to while reading further. In case you hadn’t? Well take a chance to enjoy it once more!!!



The Vannes area has a particular Breton dialect, for linguistics lovers, the stress on the words and sentences tend to be on the last syllable, a bit like in French but unlike the other dialects from Brittany – and for non linguistics lovers, well, it does have a huge impact on the beat and the rhythm of the songs. Some words are also spelt

Du-hont, du-hont, àr ar manez ez eus ur verjelenn
Berjelenn e c’houarn he deñved a sonas ur sonenn.

On the top of the hills there’s a shepherdess
While she’s taking care of her herd, she’s singing a song

Mabig ar roue he selaoue hag he selaoue mat
Na dre ar fenestr uhellañ ‘oe e palez e dad

The son of the king listen to her, and he listens well
From the highest window of his dad’s castle

Sonet, sonet, berjelennig, kar me ‘gav brav ho son
O na raktal pan he c’hlevan e rejoui ma c’halon

Sing, sing young shepherdess, since I like your song ,
And when I hear it my heart is full of joy

Nompas, nompas, denig yaouank, me ne ganin ket ken
Kar me ‘meus ur breur en arme hag a ra din anken

Oh no, young man, I won’t sing any longer
Since I have a brother gone to the army, which makes me sad

Ouian ket mard eo beuzet er mor, pe lazhet en arme
Kaset em eus un evnig rouz da c’houiet e zoare

I don’t know whether he drowned in the see or if he died at the army
I’ve sent a little red bird to hear about him

Mar da ma breur ha dont en-dro me ‘vo-me begulez
Mar da ma breur ha chom en dour me ‘vo-me minourez.

If my brother is to come back I’ll have children
If my brother drowns in the waters I’ll be orphan

This is as usual a personal translation, with emphasis on the meaning than on the exact-correct-official translation

§ Simone

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Album Songs and Lyrics

Twist en-dro war al leur goat

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Twist en-dro is this month within >fRoots playlist<, it is time for some explanations + translations!

There is be too much to say about this odd title, en-dro means “again”, but it is also the name of a particular dance from the Vannes area. Al leur goat is a wooden generally non-permanant flooring used outside or in ballrooms for fest-noz, our favorite ones are smooth enough so that you feel lighter while dancing, but not too much either, and it responds by a sharp sound while you dance (see notes bellow from the translation…. )

Plancher de fest-noz Wooden floor for fest-noz
Image source >;

Lyrics used are a very common text mostly sung as a “gavotte” like here, and know under the title “Ar Poatr Yaouank Kozh”. They are however much longer, you may find the full version >here<, with French translation.

Instruments : guitar, violin, ‘oud, electric ‘oud, derbouka

Rythme : gavotte dance

Music: a mix of traditional tunes with Yann’s compositions

[ don’t forget to click on the cover image bellow, so that you can listen to it while reading the translation… ]

Ar Poatr Yaouank Kozh 

The Bachelor

Me zo chomet da goshaat ha n’on ket c’hoazh dimezet
Ha dre-se on gwelet fall gant an dimezelled

I’m getting older but I’m still not married
This is why I get mocked by young Ladies

Ar merc’hed a oa gwechall a glaske labourat
Kannañ gwenn ar rochedoù, ober stamm ha gwriad

Girls used to work hard
To wash, sew and repair clothes

Met ar re yaouank zo bremañ a zo o klask bezañ koant
Setu aze ‘vit petra on chomet poatr yaouank

But young ones now are trying nothing but to look pretty
This is why I’m still a bachelor

Pa vo pardonioù ‘barzh ar vro, ‘hay en noz da zañsal
Neuze ‘vo klevet o c’hoarzhin hag he zreid o strakal (*)

When they are fairs around the country, they’re going at night to dance
You’ll only hear laughing and their feet hitting the floor (*)

Hag an deiz war-lerc’h ‘chomo ‘pad an deiz en he gwele
Gant ar boan ba’n he divhar pe an droug ‘n he c’hostez

And then the next day they stay in bed for the all day
With pain in their legs or on their stomach

Un dilhad eus ar c’haerañ ‘renko c’hoazh da gaoued
Ur robenn brodet gant seiz hag un tok alaouret

They’ll also claim for the most beautiful clothing
A dress embroidered with silk and a goldish hat

An dra-se ‘vez ket gwall-bell ‘tegas ur mil da bemp kant
Setu aze ‘vit petra on chomet poatr yaouank

Before you notice it you’ll out of money

And this is why I’m still a bachelor


(*) strakañ : hitting and making a “bang” noise all together, mostly used for the noise made by dancers feet and… like in aSTRAKAn

This is as usual a personal translation, with emphasis on the meaning than on the exact-correct-official translation

§ Simone

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Album Songs and Lyrics

kreñv ‘veld ar garantez

[lyrics, translation & facts for the 3rd song from our album >here<]

Kreñv ‘veld ar garantez means “as strong as love can be“, is a tragic-romantic song (a young man choosing to let himself dye so that he can be with his beloved one again) that we both treasure, for many reasons.

krenv veld ar garantez2 iwan gamus madame bertrandThe song itself is best know as Iwan Gamus, this version being recorded in 1959, and is part of wonderful and incredible Marie-Josèphe Bertrand‘s repertoire. When recorded, she was over 70 (she died in 1970), and still, she had a powerful and very expressive voice. She’s quite well-known among Breton singers, and a CD from her has even been recently released:

Marie-Josèphe Bertrand chanteuse du Centre-Bretagne

When Yann started to work on this song, there was also a big part of magic and mystery. Indeed he didn’t intend to “work” on this song, he got the idea of the all musical part, and when almost all the structure was done, sounds, rhythms, and the little saz notes. Then he remembered about this song, played it together with his composition… and that was it!!! You can hear her voice at 4’34.



Instruments used : Turkish saz & programming

Keñv ‘veld ar garantez

Iwan Gamus a Blouvino
Eo ‘r glac’haretañ mab ‘zo er vro
Eo ‘r glac’haretañ mab ‘zo er vro

A-greiz kano ha c’hwitellad
Ac’h ae da gas e saout d’ar prad
Ac’h ae da gas e saout ya d’ar- prad

A greiz kano…
E kreiz c’hwitellad ha kano
Komañses e fri diwedo

Ajen a reas war ur men gwenn
O c’hortoz e c’hoar vari da dremen
O c’hortoz e c’hoar vari da dremen


Ma c’hoer Vari din a laret
Peseurt neventiz a poe klevet
Peseurt neventiz a peus klevet

Neventiz awalc’h am eus klevet
‘vid lakaad ho kalon baour glac’haret
Ho muiañ karet a zo nouet

Gant an hent braz, pan avañse
Gweloud a rae an dud, ar veleien,
ar veleien gwisket en gwenn
Da gas e dous sa Sant Jelven
Da gas e dous sa Sant Jelven

Iwan Gamus ya pa gleva
Sa Sant Jelven moned a ra
Sa Sant Jelven moned a ra


En Sant Jelven pa ‘n arruvas
War gornig he bez a daoulina
Razig e galon a ouela

Ma c’hoer Vari mar ma c’haret
Gwele ma c’habinet a riet
Gwele ma c’habinet a riet

Zavet ma breur dag alese
Merc’hed awalc’h a gavit c’hwi

Stang eo merc’hed en Plouvino
‘veld ar sablenn war an heñchoù
c’hwi ‘zo yaouank hag a gavo


Ma n’eo ket graet, o, graet anezhañ aes
Kar birviken ne deuin er-maez
Nemed ur wech da liano
Hag ur wech all da intero

Vimp laket en ur beziad
Pa n’omp pas bet n’ur gweliad
Pa nonpas bet n’ur gweliad

Vimp eurujet gant Doue
Pa n’omp pas bet gant ar c’hure,
Pa n’omp pas bet gant ar c’hure

Personal translation, may be incorrect or incomplete regarding English or the Poetic effect.

As strong as love can be

Iwan Gamus from Plouvino
Is the more afflicted boy in the country

Singing and whistling
He was leading the cows to the fields

He was singing and whistling
When he started to nosebleed (*)

He set on a white stone
And waiting for his sister Mary to come over


“Mary my sister will you tell me
What kind of news have you heard

– I heard some
That will sadden your heart
Your beloved one just passed away”

Walking forward on the main road,
He saw the crowd and the priests
The priests dressed in white
To carry his beloved to Sant Jelven

When Iwan Gamus heard that
He headed to Sant Jelven


When he arrived at Sant Jelven
He knelt down on the grave’s corner
And cried all his heart out

“Mary my sister if you love me,
You’ll prepare my bed in my room (**)

Stand up my brother,
You’ll find other girls

They are as many girls in Plouvino
As there is sand on the tracks
You’re young and you’ll find


If my bed is not ready, get it ready
Since I’ll never get out again
Only once to lie on the shroud
And once more to be buried

We’ll lie down in the same grave
Since we haven’t in the same bed

We’ll be united be God
Since we haven’t been by a priest

(*) this is how he “knows” something happened, he interpret it as a sign (bad in that case).
(**) according to me it as not really a “bedroom”, but it has been translated so into French, and so far I couldn’t find any proper explanation.

Hope you enjoyed! § Simone

Album Songs and Lyrics

5 Breton words you’ll find in our songs

5 breton words from our songs

And you’ll find them more than once…

breton word kanan to sing

Kanañ [‘kã:nã] is “to sing”, you can find it in the first sentence of >1932<, and other words from the same roots like in >barzh an ifern<, kanaouenn, song, used in plural, kanaouennoù. This is also where the “kan” from Astrakan comes from, meaning singing. More about it in the >FAQ< section.

Breton words from songs Berjelenn

Berjelenn : is a Shepherdess (or also maybe a cow-girl 🙂 ) you’ll find this word in many Breton songs, and sometimes even in their titles. She’s taking care of sheep but also of cows. The word however never appears in Breton dictionaries, it might be because it’s from French origins, but anyway, this is the word I most commonly use, and songs too! You can find a nice love story between a Shepherdess and a Prince in this video from >7 Hills< with all the lyrics hand-written. On stage we also play another song called Berjelennig lazhed, or the murdered little shepherdess.

Breton word yaouank youngYaouank [‘jɔwãŋk] : young, it is found very often in typical sentences like “young and old people, listen to my song”, but also in in >3 Martolod an Orient<, in >1932<, in >barzh an ifern<, in this last song it’s the word “yaouankiz” that is used, for youth. It’s a very common word in Breton, and even people that don’t know Breton know it, maybe also because of a very well known fest-noz band from the 90’s called Ar Re Yaouank (the young ones)

Breton word Marv death

Marv [marw] : death, we have a certain addiction to sad songs, and they are also quite common in Breton culture, so, this word is also to be found a lot… In >Pemp Bolot<, a few times for example. On stage we also play a very famous song called “Marv eo ma Mestrez“, my beloved is dead.

breton word kalon heart

Kalon [‘ka:lɔ̃n] : a beautiful word meaning heart, used in most of songs, like our >Kreñv ‘veld ar garantez<, >Pemp Bolot<, >1932< and also >O Soñjal<, in this last song, the exact word used is “kalonad“, which basically is “the content of your heart”, in that case fear and sadness.

§ Simone

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Album Songs and Lyrics

Singles covers

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As we will shortly advertise around a digital edition from our album, we’ve been preparing some single covers for each track, since they might be downloaded and appear on your play-list to. And it was quite fun to do! It’s a little bit like going back to the 80’s… And it’s also a good opportunity to use some (strange) pictures we have been taking there and there.

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Album Songs and Lyrics


[ lyrics, translation & facts for the 7th song from our album >here< ]

We’ve played this song for many years, in fest-noz (breton balrooms). The dance itself is called kas a-barh, and it has origins in the south of Brittany (in the Vannes area). The rhythm is similar to many traditional dances from various places in Europe and in the Balkans.

Traditionally in that area of Brittany, the assembly will repeat the lyrics after the leader while dancing. Our way to add extra voices however is more influenced by the time we recorded it, in Shiroka Laka, a small mountain village from the Bulgarian Rodopi Mountains. During our breaks we used to watch Folk TV. The result then of course doesn’t sound Bulgarian at all, maybe more Albanian?


Because of these voices, we named  the song “mouezhioù” which means “voices”. Indeed, most of Breton songs, unlike Irish ones, don’t have any official title, we tend to refer to them by the beginning of the first verse, this one being referred to as “pa garche ma mamm”


Music & Lyrics: traditional

Instruments : guitar, darbuka

Rythme : kas a-barh dance.


Pa garche ma mamm ha ma zad / Ma’m behe bet ur chansig vat

Ma’m behe bet ur chansig vat / Ma’m behe mab un avokat

Ma’m behe mab un avokat / Breman m’eus bet un astralhuiad

Breman m’eus bet un astralhuiad / Na oar na devoam nag arad

Na oar na devoam nag arad / Med konduin e c’har a c’huitellad

Med konduin e c’har a c’huitellad / Monet d’en davarn mintin mat

Ha leun an ti a vugale / Pevar ar bank pemb e gwele

Pevar ar bank pemb e gwele / C’hoaz a vo c’hoaz ma vez danvez

C’hoaz a vo c’hoaz ma vez danvez / Ya ma bez bolontez Doue

Ya ma bez bolontez Doue / Bolontez an dud gwech a vez


If my mother and father had wanted to / I would have been more chanceful

I would have been more chanceful / I had married a lawyer

I had married a lawyer / Now I’m with a drunkard

Now I’m with a drunkard / He doesn’t know how to plow a field

He doesn’t know how to plow a field / But he drives his wagon and whistles

But he drives his wagon and whistles / And goes to the pub early in the morning

And the house is full of kids / Four on the bench and five more on the bed

Four on the bench and five more on the bed /  And there will be more if there is willingness

And there will be more if there is willingness / Or if it’s God’s will

Or if it’s God’s will / And also people’s will sometimes


Notes: As usual, it’s a personal translation, with no attempt to translate the poetic style, it might not be fully accurate, the purpose is more to give an idea about what it is.

Astrakan world music album on band camp

Album Songs and Lyrics

Barzh an ifern : I’ve been to Hell


[lyrics, translation & facts for the 6th from our album >here<]

Yes, it’s the real title of the song!

Only the last 3 verses (translation bellow) of this very short piece are traditional. They’re not a song as such, they’re extra verses you may add to the end of another song when you’re singing for dancers and you feel that want to carry on a bit more. Simone learned them from her master Erik Marchand.

We like very much the way you can say/write in Breton, “I’ve been to hell” just like a very normal thing, a place where you can go and come back. Nowadays, things have changed of course, but the relation with the “other world” is still very strong, specially among the old generation.

Brittany, Brenilis
Brittany, Brenilis, entrance to the other world


Although it may have a “belly dance” flavour, it’s still a Breton dance! The improvisation singing introduction part is more inspired by Kurdish impro like this one from Aynur Dogan:


Music : Yann Gourvil

Instruments : ‘oud, darbuka, violin

Rythme : gavotte danse.

A live version from the same song:


E pad an amzer ma yaouankiz, tro ar bed ‘m eus beajet / Istorioù ha kannaouennoù kalz anezho ‘m eus klevet

O nag a breman e deuit din a c’hoan da zisklerian / Da zisklerian istorioù kozh, Dre chañs e veoc’h kontant

Me zo bet barzh an infern e pad mizh gwengolo / O sirañ ar voutou d’an diaoul ha troc’hañ dezhan e varov 

Med pa oant erru eno me zo bet soueset, o wellañ an tud jentil peseurt mod e oen lakaet

Net ket ‘vel pe war an douar a barzh o chatoioù, oc’h evañ d’eus a gwinn mat, hag o kontañ marvalhou

When I was young I’ve been travelling around the world / I’ve heard so many stories and songs

And now I’m feeling like telling old stories, If I’m lucky enough, you even might enjoy them

I’ve been to hell last September, polishing the devil’s shoes and pulling his tail

But once I got there I was surprised to see how gentlemen were treated

It was not like when they were on earth living in their castles, drinking nice wine and telling unreal stories


Notes: As usual, it’s a personal translation, with no attempt to translate the poetic style, it might not be fully accurate, the purpose is more to give an idea about what it is.

 Astrakan world music album on band camp