July, 2000 Edition

European Popular Music Traditions

You may recall in our essay on the "dead zone" of American music and other essays also, we have commented on the European influences on American Popular music. The earliest American music was exclusively European in nature and origin. Only through many years of musical evolution did the uniquely American style emerge.

      We have seen from our explorations thus far that the American style really began to come into its own by the late 1890,s and from that point on, flourished as a musical movement. The evolution of Ragtime was an especially important watershed event and that came about also during the same period.

      Though our focus is on American music during this era, it is interesting to take a look at what might have been happening in Europe during the same period. We know what happened to American music; what happened in Europe? Did they stay the course? Did their music also evolve? What exactly was happening? We will try to answer those questions by looking at some contemporary music from France and Germany in this issue. We will further explore the development of European popular music through our essay this month "In search of French Fry Alley", be sure to read it for a short history and to see and hear lots more music.

      In the meanwhile, enjoy a little bit of genuine French and German music from ca. 1900 to 1920 with us this month. I am indebted to Louis-Simon Ouillet of Montreal for our French to English translations and to Patty Bridewell from KY, Claus Kucher from Austria and George Butler from Ramsgate, Kent in the UK for our German to English translations. See below for more information on each of them.

      Finally, as a special addition to this month's feature we are including Karaoke versions of each of the songs for your "sing along" pleasure. If you have not experienced a Karaoke file on the net, you are in for a treat. The KAR player plays the music and scrolls the lyrics as it plays. If you do not have a KAR player, you can download one from us. The player is an excellent one created by Mark Feaver. Try it, we think it will add an exciting new dimension to your ParlorSongs experience. Be sure to let us know what you think of it.

Windows users download player here (zip format)

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Sheet Music Cover In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus
circa 1920

Music by: Wiga-Gabriel
Lyrics by: Klaus S. Richter
Cover artist: Kral

We will start with a German song that is perhaps, stereotypical of what Americans believe German music must be like. Of course, since we have a stereotypical song, there must be some truth to the stereotype. This song is what many of us in America would call a "German OOMPAH" song. It is one that most of us might think of when we think of a German song..

      The song is a "drinking" song from around 1920. One difficulty I have had with this month's edition is establishing exact dates of publication. It seems that much of the music of Europe was copyrighted but the publishers were less rigid in including the date of publication. In fact, that seems so prevalent that of all ten editions included this month, only two have printed publication dates.

      Aside from any stereotypes, this is a really fun song to listen to and I'll bet it is even more fun after a few beers! Enjoy. As with all songs this month, we will include the actual lyrics as well as the translation. For another great example of a German drinking song, be sure to hear "Trink, Trink, Brüderlein Trink" featured in our essay this month about German and French popular music.
German text English translation
Da, wo die blaue Isar fließt,
WO man wit "Grüß Gott" dicht grüßt,
liegt meine schöne Münchner Stadt,
die ihresgleichen nicht hat.
Wasser ist billig, rein un gut,
nur verdünnt es unser Blut,
schöner sind Tropfen gold'nen Wein's
aber am schönsten ist eins:

In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus,
Eins, Zwei, g'suffa.
DA läuft so manches Fäßchen aus
Eins, Zwei, g'suffa.
DA hat schon mancher brave Mann,
Eins, Zwei, g'suffa,
gezeigt, was er so vertragen kann.

Schon früh am Morgen fing er und spät
am Abend kam er heraus!
So schön ist's im Hofbräuhaus!
There, where the blue Isar flows,
Where every one greats you with "God bless you!"
There is my beautiful city of Munich,
The likes of which you've never seen.
Water is cheap, pure and good, But it thins our blood.
Far better is a drop of golden wine,
But the best is this:

In Munich is the Hoffbrau pub--
One, two, drink up!!
Where the kegs are everflowing
One, two, drink up!!!
There is always some brave man,
One, two, drink up!!!
Who wants to show how much he can drink:

You find him starting early in the morning,
and coming out late in the evening--
Ah the beautiful Hoffbrau pub!
Listen to this superb German drinking song (mid format)

Download KAR version (German lyrics, right click for "save as")

Sheet Music Cover Un p'tit Baiser d'Amour
ca 1910
Music by: Alfred Sagor
Lyrics by: Ernest Gustin
Cover artist: unknown

And now to France, mes amis. In order to be scrupulously fair, we will also look at a stereotypical song for France. Romance, love, ah Paris! To many of us, France means romance and what better way to say it than with "A Little Kiss of Love"?

      A delightful and playful tune, the lyrics speak of love and stolen kisses. Musically, this song is firmly planted in the European tradition and classical form. It would fit nicely in the "dead zone" in American music. Of course it is far from being in a dead zone in France, it is mainstream of pop music and I am sure it enjoyed great popularity.

      I would like to add a word here about these translations. When a song is written in a certain language, the music and meter of the lyrics match exactly. The meanings are idiomatic to the songs native language. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to directly translate a song to another language so that the meter and music match. As a result, you will find two possibilities with these translations. Either the lyrics in English seem to be completely out of step with the music, or, the translation is not precise. In some cases, our translators (or I) have modified the translation somewhat to flow more smoothly in English.

French Text English Translation
On vous au-rait dit, pa-rait il,
Que l'am-our est u-ne chi-mè-re,
Un souf-fle ar-dent que l'on mau-dit
A-près une é-preuve é-phé-mè-re;

Or, si l'am-our é-tait ain-si,
Les a-mour-eux ser-ait en grè-ve.
Et je ne ser-ais pas i-ci
A l'heur-où la lu-ne se lè-ve-
Si vous vou-lez m'ai-mer
L'es-pa-ce d'un sou-ri-re

Dès mon pre-mier bai-ser
Vous n'o-se-riez plus- ri-re;
Un p'tit bai-ser d'a-mour
C'est le bon-heur su-prê-me.
Un p'tit bai-ser d'un jour,
C'est si bon quand l'on ai-me!
You were told apparently
that love is chimerical,
An ardent breeze that we forsake
after a momentary rush

So if love is like this,
lovers would be on strike,
and I would not be here
at the hour of moon rise.
If you want to love me
at the time of a smile

From my first kiss
you would not dare laugh
A little kiss of love
is the supreme happiness,
A little kiss once a day
is so good when you are in love!

Hear this French delight (mid format)

Download KAR version (French lyrics, right click for "save as")

Sheet Music Cover
Heinzelmännchen's Wachtparade
Music by: Kurt Noack
Cover artist: unknown

Here we have a great German march, in the traditional continental classic tradition with a wonderful display of cover art. It seems that, like the lack of dates, much of the European music also left off the artists names or credits. Only one of this month's features has an artist's name inscribed that is apparent.

      In this case, we have no lyrics, only a great march, much like the marches that flourished in America during this same period. The title is an interesting one also, it translates literally to: "little peoples' guarding parade" or "The Fairies Watch Parade". Of course, the whimsical "little people" on the cover conveys the message.

      Musically, this song could just as easily be a march by Abe Holzmann or any of the other US composers of the period. Of course, on one thing we might agree, The Germans are the masters of the march. German marches are some of the greatest ever composed. This work is quite an opus, running almost six minutes, but enjoyable in my opinion. Get yourself a cup of coffee, click on the cover and sit back and enjoy Herr Noack's creation.

Listen to this great old song (mid format only, no lyrics for KAR version)

Sheet Music Cover
N'importe quoi
ca. 1900
Music by: François Perpignan
Lyrics by: Paul Gay

There are a number of French songs by this title, one of which in the late 20th century was quite an international hit. This song though is a very obscure one.

      Musically, we are still very much in the "dead zone" style, a classical song but musically very appealing. Just as the last march was long, this song nearly sets a record for brevity. Coming in at only 32 seconds, it is nearly over before you can get into it. Some of the songs of the period were brief but had many stanzas, not so this one. What you hear is all you get. As such, it is titled as a "chansonnette", literally, a little song. The title in English is, "No Matter What".

French Lyrics
English Translation
Il ar-riv' par-fois qu' importe où
En vous prom' nant n'im-port' com-ment
Vous ren-con-trez n'im-por-te qui

Et vous pre-nez n'im-por-te quoi
Puis vous v'là par-ti n'im-porte où.

Pour di-ner n'im-por-te com-ment
Chez Char-tier, chez n'im-por-te qui
Où l'on bou-lott' n'im-por-te quoi

It sometimes happens that no matter where
while you walk, no matter how
no matter who, you encounter

and no matter what you take
then you are gone again, no matter where

no matter how
at no matter where
where we "eat" no matter what


Download KAR version (French lyrics, right click for "save as")

Just too much good music to fit on one page, the story continues here.

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