Lyrics

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: http://astrakanproject.bandcamp.com/album/astrakan-project-b

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Musicians' Diary

Love, politics, myth and history


It may sound a bit like a movie script. And actually it could be, those are some of the themes of the story of Pedro and Inês, a Portuguese medieval love story turned into a myth. We started to explore the story in last release in the song Gwerz Inês with the precious and wonderful contribution of Sten that wrote a beautiful lament that really sounds like one written centuries ago.

Because of the complexity of Inês story, we had to chose an “episode”, and gwerz Inês is indeed the murder of Inês. But while working together, we felt we wanted to bring the story further. We’ve been reflecting on the ambiance, the story, the sounds and instruments we’d love to tell more about this story.

Simone Alves & Sten Charbonneau working on lyrics for next album / Pedro e Ines / Astrakan Project
Looking at last album poster that shows some of the details of lyrics written by Sten

No musician is luckiest that we are to have such a dedicated and talented author with whom working is liberating, with whom we can work in a crazy and passionate way! Finding someone that shares the same love and passion for Breton tunes and stories is a blessing!

Simone Alves & Sten Charbonneau working on lyrics for next album / Pedro e Ines / Astrakan Project
At least… it looks like a lot of fun!

You can visit Sten’s facebook page: he also creates game boards in Breton to get people to learn and talk in breton!

§ Simone

Musicians' Diary

Tradition: freedom of evolution vs. Museum gate keepers


While searching my pile of lyrics a couple of days ago, I fund that printed copy:

image

It’s the first version of 1932 I got back in 2004 while I was studying with Erik Marchand.

It’s a messy piece of paper. With notes from various projects I used it for. With rhythm variations. With pronunciation variations.

An time I attended workshops, I always noticed singers had the same kind of messy lyrics. It feels like even when we type them into our text editor, as soon as they get printed, we need to mess them around.

Certainly it has a strong connection with the fear we all have that it would make it “the” ultimate version. For centuries songs have evolved, people would forget about some parts, then re-invent them, or just adapt some parts to the way they would pronounce them, or feel that it would sound even better with some little changes…

Public writer, Italy, ca. 1865

Being able to make mistakes, to forget, admitting that there is never one truth but only individuals, that tradition is not one, but made of many people bringing their own interpretation together, this is also what has made my singing journey so fulfilling and ever-surpriing so far.

§ Simone

 

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Album Songs and Lyrics

1932


1 Comment

[ 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


3 Comments

[ 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!!!

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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 >http://www.relaisdelocean.com&lt;

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

Notes:

(*) 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.

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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

Barzh an ifern : I’ve been to Hell


3 Comments

[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

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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:

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Music : Yann Gourvil

Instruments : ‘oud, darbuka, violin

Rythme : gavotte danse.

A live version from the same song:


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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

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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

Pemp Bolot


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

The opening of the album, Pemp Bolot (five bullets) is a composition from Yann with traditional lyrics. In Brittany, we have lyrics and tunes, and they’re in most of cases not connected to each other, indeed, you may pick up some lyrics and use almost any tune with it. There’s of course some rules regarding their geographic origin, but once you get it, it provides musicians a lot of freedom to use them.

pemp bolot - five bulets
five bulets…..

An Dezertour is quite popular among singers most probably because it has a very good inner rhythm. It’s one of the first songs Simone remembers having learned. Regarding the story, it may relate to the 19th century Napoleon’s wars, it may also be older but with late changes, the topic is quite a common one in French traditional music, even with the details regarding “the blue scarf to close my eyes” (see translation below) is to be found in French language versions.

The introduction was initially just an idea for a short sequence that Simone wanted to use for this video, she wanted something very ceremonial to go along with the sun dawn, and on which she could add kind of mystic voices.

 

Only a week before sending the album for manufacturing, we thought that it could be a nice introduction, both for this song and for the album.

Instruments : guitar, violin, darbuka, percussion sounds on introduction : davul samples.

Rythme : gavotte danse.

This slightly different version was recorded live in Beirut last spring.

(more…)

Album Songs and Lyrics

Tri Martolod An Oriant


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[lyrics, translation & facts for the 2nd song from our album >here<]

A version of this song became very popular since Alan Stivell sung it in the 70’s), and today many bands are still playing it, mostly under the name “tri martolod yaouank“. During a recording break, we watched a video from Kevin Camus playing it on the Irish bagpipes together with Nolwen Leroy.

tro martolod an oriant astrakan project single
. . . 3 boats . . .

While wondering about the origin of the song, that is, before Stivell’s version, we found a very nice and interesting version sung by an old woman (from whom unfortunately we don’t even know the name). We found that version so nice and delicate that we immediately started to work on it, and we arranged this tune very quickly.  The lyrics we’re using are a mixture of both versions.

In our version (you can hear it here or get a free mp3 if you sign-in for our newsletter here), extra beats take it away from the original rhythm that to our hear could well be a dance from the Breton coast(s), but we’re not really specialists about those facts… Yann got inspired for the rhythm by Balkan pop music (Albanian ?)

Instruments used : ‘ud, guitar, darbuka, bendir, violin, and a pack of Nescafé Gold (yes it’s true! you can see it yourself on this >video<)

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