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We Sang for Each Other: Real Boucher and His Songs


Remarkably in this twenty first century, Real Boucher’s songs flow unbroken from his ancestors
in seventeenth century France. Real’s corpus of songs embody human adaptability, more
particularly the adventurous and daring spirit of the Boucher family whose family history began
in Mortagne, Normandy and lives on in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Much of the information below comes from Real’s history, Marin Boucher (1588 to 1671) To
Jean Baptiste Boucher (1838 to 1911) and His Descendants. Real describes his Norman
ancestors as masons who came to Canada and helped build New France alongside Champlain. In
the eighteenth century the riches of the fur trade lured them to the Northwest Territories where
some found Native wives and prospered on their land along the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.
Like many Métis they moved even farther west after the 1870 resistance in the Red River
Colony. The old French songs travelled with them as they established again in 1882 on the banks
of the Saskatchewan River. And always the Boucher song repertoire continued to grow as they
added songs about the lives and characters of the Northwest Territories and then acquired more
from newly arrived settlers to the northern plains from France and Belgium in the 1890s.

In the twentieth century this song repertoire lives on in the memory and heart of Real Boucher.
Born in 1929 and educated at St. Thomas College, Battleford, Saskatchewan and College St.
Jean, Edmonton, Alberta, both affiliated with the université d’Ottawa, Real moved quickly
through the ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces. After 24 years in the service he attained the
highest rank in the Personnel Administration branch. He served with NATO in Germany during
which time he founded a semi-pro hockey league and afterwards, remained its honorary
president. Later, supported by his wife, Florentina, he was on the military staff with diplomatic
status at the Canadian High Commission in London, England.

And all the while he sang, in a fine baritone voice, his large repertoire of both old and new
French songs. As you will hear, it is important for Real to credit the persons from whom he
learned the songs such as his grand uncles, Joseph and Frederic Boucher. The old songs keep
him in touch with his ancestors and may help you too, to appreciate French music and history
through the centuries. Following is some context for the songs before you listen.

The 55 songs following are most of the sung repertoire of M. Real Boucher a Métis raised in St.
Louis, Saskatchewan. He suggested three main sources of his songs sung in French: first, the old
songs from New France (Québec), many with origins in French provinces such as Normandy,
that were brought to the West; secondly, songs that had their origin in the West, like those
composed by Real’s great uncle, Charles-Eugene Boucher, and by Capitaine Huot of the
NWMP; and thirdly, the songs learned from French speaking immigrants to Canada of the late
nineteenth century.

Some of the songs from France date from medieval times. Some are extant in published
collections and some are still sung. In the book Canada’s Music, Clifford Ford writes, “In our
search for the successful transplantation of European culture in the New World, it is clear that

the folk music in France was the most lasting. Secular art music did not take root. The French
middle class never gained a superior position in the colony and, after the British conquest, most
of the nobility and officers returned to France, leaving the Church and peasants to defend their
heritage” (26). Thousands of these old songs sung in French, many dating not later than the
seventeenth century, have been collected. Some tell of court life, quite different from the life of
the pioneer who cleared the land and who travelled by canoe and traded with the Aboriginals.
Music historian Ford mentioned above, writes, “The great flow of immigrants from 1664-1672
was largely made up of the peasantry from the north of France, whose contribution was the
preservation of French folk music. Approximately ninety-five per cent of the 9,000 folk songs
can be traced to this period of immigration, and many songs still do exhibit their original
seventeenth-century character”(25)[i].

Ford’s term, peasantry, is not entirely appropriate for the circumstances of Marin Boucher in
Canada: the stone mason trade of the Bouchers was much in demand and respected. Real’s
ancestor, Marin Boucher, arrived in Quebec in 1634 and began work on the land awarded by
Champlain to construct a seigneurie at Beauport. When Marin died at age 83 in 1671, his family
line was established in the now thriving colony of New France. And so too were the songs that
the Boucher family brought from Normandy, France, some of them dating from medieval
times. LISTEN:

Monsieur de Lapalisseest mort. En passant Paris. Du temps que j’allais voir les filles. L’autre
jour en me promenait. Un beau navire. Il y a une brune. L’Hermite. Nous voila tous
rassembles. Le Matelot--Marin. Presque tous les jours. Mon pere aussi ma mere. L’hermite. Un
soir m’en allant voir la belle.Madelon. La bas sur ces montagnes. Les vallons et les plaines(La
chanson de mon Oncle Nin Nin)

I suggest that Real’s old songs have musical qualities in common with early orally transmitted
French monodic song, even songs of the trouvères as described by Gilbert Reaney, in his essay,
The Middle Ages. Reaney notes a favoring of triple time, notated as 6/8 or 3/8 (17); strophic
form and stable tonality; there was no standardized instrumental accompaniment(18); and finally
there is an economy of material and small compass, not much more than an octave. (27)

These songs still sung by the Métis retain textual as well as musical characteristics of old French
songs. There is little conscious concern with the musical or poetic qualities, it is the message that
counts. Although there are of variety of song topics there are many songs about the joys of drink
and women (Reaney, 25); on the other hand, many express sadness and melancholy (Reaney,
23). Longing for the unattainable woman may come from the Roman Catholic veneration of the
Virgin Mary; this was not part of Aboriginal culture. Such longing often calls up songs about and
even sounds of birds, as in Real’s Les hirondelles and Napoleon en prison:


Pourquoi me fuir passagere hirondelle?

Oh! Viens fixer ton vol aupres de moi.

Pourquoi me fuir lorsque ma voix t’appelle?

Ne suis-je pas voyageur comme toi?

David Cox describes the “lightness of spirit” (195) in French songs and his list of 16th century
song poetry applies well to the topics of the Métis songs in Canada: “pastoral affectations; the
unhappy lover sighing and complaining; the beauty of his mistress’s eyes; and so on”(195).
Moreover, Cox lists various French song genres continued by the Métis: the pastourelles; the
dance songs and drinking songs; the adored brunette (195); and the many patriotic songs fostered
by the French Revolution (199) the style of which was emulated in songs such as
Francoeur. One wonders if any of our songs came from Louis Xlll himself!

Indeed, many of Real’s songs fit Rousseau’s description of a romance. Rousseau wrote, “As the
romance is written in a simple, touching style, with a somewhat antiquated flavor, the tune
should be in keeping with the words: no ornaments, nothing mannered—a simple, natural rustic
melody, which makes its effect of its own accord, without depending on the way it is sung….for
the singing of romances one needs no more than a clear, carefully-tuned voice, which
pronounces the words well, and sings simply” (Cox, 200). It is no wonder these songs survived
in their original form on the Canadian frontier and that they would be enjoyed by those with
Aboriginal as well as French heritage. In contrast, some of the songs that lived on in Europe
were notated and made the subject of polyphonic arrangements (Reaney, 33) such as those of
Guillaume de Machaut (1300-77). They have also provided inspiration for later composers such
as Charles Gounod (Cox, 203). These then are some general qualities of the French songs that
Real sings. As to be expected, the orally learned songs in his collection, such as La Paloma, vary
considerably in music style and content.

The Bouchers, like other adventuresome and ambitious men, saw opportunity in the West.
Several of Marin’s descendants were hired as voyageurs and coureur de bois by the fur
merchants. Although distantly related to Pierre de La Verendrye, none of the Bouchers explored
the Northwest with him. Some of them stayed in the West trapping furs and working as
merchants and guides. Records show that descendants of Marin, Jean-Marie and his brother
Francois were manning canoes for Montreal merchants between Ile a la Crosse and Athabasca in
the early 1780’s. At this time Jean-Marie started a family with an Aboriginal woman of the area;
one son, called Jean-Baptiste also Waccan was well-known as a Métis guide. And the old French
songs travelled with them to the West. Real has a voyageur song and several others that may
have served the fur traders[ii]. There are also songs created in Quebec that travelled west.

LISTEN Marie Calumet. Dans tous les cantons.Voyageur song

The aforementioned Jean-Baptiste had five sons one of whom moved West and worked as a
middleman on the York boats of the Hudson Bay Company, deserted from the company taking
some goods, was sentenced and rehired (Boucher, 70). When he retired from the company he
bought land at Red River. He married a woman named Catherine Mashegane, a Swampy Cree
name. After his wife’s death he moved to live with his sons at White Horse Plain, the home of
“The bard of the prairies”, Pierre Falcon. So far I have discovered none of Falcon’s songs in

Real’s repertoire. But the Boucher family did sing the songs of Louis Riel, in fact Jean-Baptiste
and Riel called each other cousin and were indeed, distantly related.(72)

LISTEN: Henriette

Many of the songs celebrate the joys of the flesh, although often indirectly. Joseph Boucher
(Real’s grand uncle) of St. Louis, Saskatchewan was recorded in 1957 singing Le beau
plumage. The singer tells of being dressed in feathers to pass his life singing while winning his
fortune. He tells of hearing young women saying to each other that they would like such a
beautiful bird in their castle.

C’est une grosse de la bille qu’elle m’a pris pour un perroquet.

Et elle dit a sa mere tout en secret:

Maman, voila un beau plumage. Je lui payerais son entretien.

Ah, si ce bel oiseau etait dans mon chateau.

Not all is rosy dressed as a bird though, because in the last verse he just missed being killed by a
hunter who says Sans ton habit de plumes, car t’etais foutu! Some kind of metonym here!

(Whidden 1993, page 19).

The songs of the joy of drink come from the Bouchers’ French ancestors, such as Vaut bien
mieux moins d’argent and their Cree:

LISTEN: Give us something to drink

While we are sitting here

Just a little glass will do us fine.

Many of Real’s songs were created in the late nineteenth century and are different in both
content and musical style. These songs, sung by the Métis, are strongly influenced by admiration
for military heroes[iii]. Indeed, some of them may not be known in Quebec; their singers
brought them directly from France to the Northwest. To show the European connection here is a
French song I received online in March, 2010 from a septuganarian woman in the Netherlands
stating that she was sending along the oldest song she knew, Je suis zouave, in order that it might
be preserved. Her mother had learned it in Tunisia from a woman in her 80’s just after WW2. I
was fascinated to see that the idea, even some phrases, were identical to a song I had recorded in
St. Louis, Saskatchewan in 1990 from Real’s sister, Lea Regnier. It has the usual description of
the dashing mousquetaire and his farewell to Marguerite. In the refrain he sings that he is a brave
zouave, whose death may be soon. But no matter, he has his memories of the Prussian’s head
falling to the ground whereupon he discovered a médaillon around the Prussian’s neck
containing a picture of his mother. The Francoeur (30-31) song from St. Louis, Saskatchewan,

has the same theme: a caporal des zouaves tells the story of a brave young Prussian that he
killed. While the details are different (for example, le vaillant garcon dit adieu a Toinette), it has
the same motifs that folksong scholars can track from song to song. These motifs clearly
travelled to Canada’s Northwest; I recorded several as recently as 1990.

In Real’s variant the military are near idolized. Francoeur is young, handsome, and fights like a
demon in war. Yet he has a sensitive, good heart, and of course, says goodbye to his beloved
with his last breath[iv].

LISTEN: Francoeur caporal des zouaves

A la guerre etait un demon

Francoeur etait comme tous les braves

Avait un coeur sensible et bon

Il reconta ainsi l’histoire

D’un jeune Prussien qu’il tua

Oh mes amis de celui la

J’en garderais longtemps memoire.

Here is verse 2 of three in which the military are clearly revered:

C’etait un jeune volontaire

Fine moustache et grands yeux bleus

Brave comme tout militaire

Portant un coup il parre en deux.

Bien malgre moi ma bagnonette

Frappant au coeur le vaillant garcon

Il trecuhe, murmure et meurt

Et j’ai compris adieu Toinette.

Of course, such songs with mention of Napoleon and the zouaves are of more recent origin. In
the 1763 Treaty of Paris, France ceded its North American lands to Britain. After this, there were
few French immigrants to Canada until Napoleonic times about 1814. Indeed, London allowed

only two French clergy into Canada during these five decades. During this time a parallel British
culture evolved quickly with the establishment of a middle class. “In rural areas, land was being
cleared by Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and others….“ (Ford 26). Always linguistically
adaptive, the Métis, particularly in northern Canada, sang songs in English as well as French.
Real sings an English song, Rosie Nell, learned from his Uncle Joe, who in turn, learned it as a
lad from Pantaleon Schmidt, song of Louis Schmidt of St. Louis, Saskatchewan, who was Riel’s
secretary during the Red River insurgence.

LISTEN: Rosie Nell

Although they were educators and surely used music to proselytize little is known about the
influence of the Oblates, religious communities within the Roman Catholic church, on Metis
music. They came to the Red River in 1841 and were the first Roman Catholic religious order to
establish missions. Their female counterparts, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, arrived in
Canada about the same time. Both male and female missionaries spread across western Canada
with the primary goal of introducing Christianity to Aboriginal peoples. Real, like other Metis
singers, has songs (sometimes humorous) that refer to the church but none that are religious in

LISTEN: Le cure de Terre Bonne

Although not Real’s home community, Ste. Rose du Lac, Manitoba, has a well documented
heritage from settlers both Canadian and French. In 1889, several families from St.Vital, needed
more land for hay, and moved West to Fort Dauphin and Turtle River (Ste. Rose). They had all
the characteristics of Métis, the names (Desmarais, Nault, Ritchot, Sutherland); the folklore ( a
black mass becomes a fireball that is seen as a ball of fire, the devil himself) as well
as languages such as French and English and Saulteaux. By 1890 a missionary, Reverend Father
J. A. Dupont OMI, visited them at Easter and wrote, “What happiness for these brave people,
deprived of all religious services since their departure from St. Vital, one year before “(Theoret
5). By 1891 a group of settlers from France arrived: Charles de la Solmoniere, who had for
godfather, Manager Dupanloup; Robert de la Tremblaye, officer in the marine infantry, whose
father was the colonel of the guards of Charles X; Edmond Didion, great Anvers merchant; Jules
Toisonnier, Louis Dupuich and Eugene Perrin. (9). For just $10.00 they could own 160 acres of
land.:”There is no mention in Theoret’s history of the songs they sang, except of course mention
of an organ and choir for the church but thanks to Henri Letourneau there is a large body of
recorded French and Metis song from Manitoba and Saskatchewan (St. Boniface Archives).

The importance of the new French speaking immigrants can not be overestimated. They renewed
the musical pool of French language songs both folk and classical. For example, Guillaume
Joseph Mechtler (1763-1833) one of the first of many Belgian musicians to settle in Canada, was
organist at Notre Dame Church in Montreal and was one of the city’s leading musicians until his
death” (Ford, 28). And in Métis homes people sang the new songs arriving with immigrants and
clergy but some also continued to dance using Indian steps with British dance patterns. When not
possible to buy a fiddle for accompaniment they made them.

Just as the Métis were struggling to be recognized as a new nation in the 19th century so were
the states comprising Germany and Italy. Nationalism was in the air and it was strongly
reflected in music. In Italy, Guiseppe Verdi, best known for opera, in which there are some great
march tunes, e.g. I Lombardi. His name became a rallying cry and a patriotic symbol. (Vive
Verdi stood for Viva Vittorio Emmanuel Re d’Italia—long live Victor Emmanuel, king of Italy
736 Grout). Germany too, became unified, and Wagner’s music was part of the cause. e.g. The
Flying Dutchman. Norway had Grieg; Finland, Sibelius. These composers used folksong and the
folk, the unschooled, often supplied the tunes for songs about great battles and leaders. La
marseillaise, by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle is a good example of this type of music. Real’s
song mentioned above, entitled Francoeur is the sort of song sung later in the century.

The Roman Catholics advocated for a bulwark of French Catholicism in the West and their
doctrine was a good fit with Louis Riel’s love of politics and religion. He dreamed of a new
Catholic state in the West, perhaps in Saskatchewan or the Dakota/Montana territories (Howard,
314-317). Real’s ancestor Jean-Baptiste Boucher, fearing loss of his land and community,
fought alongside Riel in the 1885 uprising. Stories about Riel and his songs have continued to
this day.

Moreover, the ultramontanist, an authoritarian movement in the Catholic church sought to restore
the union of church and state. They believed in a dominant role of the clergy in a Catholic
society and it was shown in their behavior in Aboriginal communities. The nationalist approach
is clear in the words written by Riel (1869) for his song La Métisse. (Margaret McCleod 53).
Riel uses the images common to the nationalistic movements of the time. The Métis are
described as a “nation” who will win with military means. They are a people with a great
destiny; who have played an important role and they will have their “moment of triumph”.
Woven into this “manifest destiny” doctrine is religion: God made creation and all peoples with
his generous hand. The Métis are referred to as sons of the plains. It must be noted that Riel’s
Native background was never far away and is certainly part of his infusion of religion into all
parts of life. And as is common in the military songs Riel’s song includes the woman’s point of
view. In fact the song is told by a woman! She says she would love a brave soldier from the little
detachment proudly led by the chief in command.

La Metisse

Musically these songs are different from the seventeenth century ballads. The metres are well
established. Many have martial rhythms, but there are exceptions such as the song about
Napoleon in prison that has a slower, enervated rhythm as one would expect of the captured
Napoleon reflecting his fate. The melodies are built upon the chord progressions that were well
established by the nineteenth century and reflecting the more standardized harmonies of the
time. After all, in the second half of the 18th century, Haydn and Mozart were arranging their
music in classical style. Military music was popular among the educated classes in Canada as
well as Europe and must surely have found its way back to rural areas through the clergy and the
military garrisons. These songs no longer have the convoluted melodies, modal scales, flexible
rhythms and vivid language characteristic of the old 18th century and earlier, melodies. Instead
they have march rhythms, simple melodies, clear harmonies, and the words extol the victories
and virtues of a group.

These later 19th century songs frequently have a female presence, characterized by unfulfilled
love. Often they are farewell songs. The young men always say goodbye to la belle before
leaving for their tour of duty. When they arrive home the woman has left or has another lover.
Other songs tell of love in a sentimental way with sexual longing only hinted at. For example, in
Un soir (Whidden 43), the narrator describes a young girl meeting son cavalier. The voice
changes to the suitor who tells of the affair and back to the narrator who concludes by telling
how he consoled the woman whose lover has to leave on long voyage. They have much in
common musically with the military songs with the exception of the melodies which are the
sentimental tunes of the Victorian era.


Un soir

Sous les roses

Malgre tes serments

La berceuse aux etoiles

Les bles d’or

Ma Blanche Colombe

Several of Real’s favorite songs were composed in the Northwest Territories. He sings a song
composed by Capitaine Huot of the NWMP. Huot was a colleague of Sam Steele and apparently
served at Batoche. In his song, he says that because of his desire to serve liberty he has made his
mother cry and given up marriage to his beloved. He died at age 33 in 1893, supposedly in part
due to excess drinking.

LISTEN: La chanson du Capitaine Huot

Another of Reals’ songs was composed by Real’s uncle Charles-Eugene Boucher for his
campaign to represent the first federal constituency named The District of Saskatchewan
(Boucher 177-178). This ballad is still sung at family gatherings. He lost in the first round, but
later became a dynamic representative and one of only two who could speak French. Despite his
efforts official recognition os French was terminated in the territory in 1892 and the year after,
bilingual status in schools was revoked; teaching of English was obligatory (Boucher 181). In the
face of these efforts the survival of Real’s French songs to this day is remarkable!

LISTEN: Election song of Eugene Boucher

As one examines the songs, it is clear that they represent, not just in broad outline, but in some
detail, the history of the Métis in Canada. In Real Boucher’s collection alone, there are
Aboriginal songs, old and new French songs, English songs, and a broad array of song styles
from early French folksong to popular songs of the twentieth century. The old adage holds true:

if you want to have your song live, don’t write it, have someone sing it. Songs that are worthy of
oral tradition may live forever: Real’s Métis songs are evidence of a living and ever-changing
oral tradition.


Belden, H. M. ed. Ballads and Songs. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1973.

Boucher, Real. Marin Boucher 188 to 1671 To Jean Baptiste Boucher 1838 to 1911 and His
Descendants, 2001. Unpublished Manuscript. (In National Library)

Chantons La Vie. Regina, Saskatchewan: Les Editions Louis Riel, 1988.

Cox, David, The Modern Period, France. In A History of Song, ed. Denis Stevens. New York: W.
W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1960. (pp. 194-227).

Ford, Clifford. Canada’s Music: An Historical Survey. Agincourt, Ontario: GLC Publishers,

Fowke, Edith, ed. Canadian Folk songs. Hammondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books,
Ltd., 1973.

Gibbon, J. Murray, ed. Canadian Folk Songs. London and Toronto: J. M. Dent and Sons, Ltd.,

Grout, Donald Jay and Palisca, Claude V. A History of Western Music (Fourth Edition). New
York: W.W.Norton and Company, 1988.

Howard, Joseph Kinsey. Strange Empire. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1952.

Labelle, Ronald, ed. La Fleur du Rosier. Collected by Helen Creighton. Sydney: University
College of Cape Breton Press, 1988.

MacLeod Margaret A. Songs of Old Manitoba. Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1959.

Métis Legacy. ed. Barkwell, Lawrence J. Dorion, Leah, Prefontaine, Darren R. Winnipeg,
Manitoba: Louis Riel Institute, 2000.

Oblates of Western Canada: Archives and Special Collections. retrieved from http://www.

Podruchny, Carolyn. Making the Voyageur World. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006.

Reaney, Gilbert. The Middle Ages. In A History of Song, ed. Denis Stevens. New York: W. W.
Norton and Company, Inc., 1960. (pp. 15-64).

Theoret, Rev. Anatole E. History of Ste. Rose du Lac, Manitoba. Ste. Rose Regional Library,
1980 (Translation by Simone Gagnon)

Whidden, Lynn. The Songs of Their Fathers. Ethnologies. Vol.25 no 2, 1993.

Whidden, Lynn. Métis Songs, Visiting Was the Métis Way. Regina, Saskatchewan:

Gabriel Dumont Institute, 2003.

Woodcock, George. Gabriel Dumont. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2003

[i] There are few surviving in the USA. In contrast, there are many collections of French song in
Canada, and even a few of Métis song, beginning as early as 1865 with Ernest Gagnon’s
Chanson Populaires du Canada. So the focus is on Canada in this paper, because, despite an
enormous population of mixed blood peoples along the lower Missouri River, the northern
plains, and elsewhere in the United States, the great American song collections contain almost
no songs in French, and indeed few French songs in English translation: the French language has
little presence in American song. Louisiana, where the French-speaking Acadians went in 1764
has collections of Cajun and Creole music, most of it is instrumental). One could expect more
because of the migration of French speakers to America in the 1760’s and in the 1850’s. For
example there were 50,000 to Canada and 470,000 to the USA between 1820 and 1914.

There are two songs in French in J. M. Belden’s collection of 1840, Ballads and Songs that was
first published by the University of Missouri Press in 1940. Even two songs give us insights into
the culture and history of, and the attitudes toward mixed blood people south of the border:

The first, Chanson de L’annee du coup, in Belden’s collection, dates from 1780. Although we do
not know the tune used, the words are attributed to J. B. Trudeau, a St. Louis schoolmaster of the
time. It tells of an attack on the community by a force of French Canadians and Indians. The
attack was instigated by the British against St. Louis, a Spanish controlled settlement. The song
is in the form of a dialog between the governor and a messenger bringing news of the fight
(1973,519). Incidentally, the attackers were driven off by General George Rogers Clark, an
American. The final verse describes a young man named Calve who was “tomahawked” by his
own uncle according to the song. The Canadians are described by Trudeau as sans coeur, sans
honneur (520). Because of the extensive intermarriage in New France and use of the word
“tomahawked”, I fully expect that these Canadians would be mixed bloods.

Another of the French songs recorded by Missourian Belden is La Guignolee (la gaie-annee with
words and tune). It contains many of the bird images I described in my first paper: le coucou
chanter et la colombe; Et le rossignol is asked to tell ma maitresse that “Que j’ai toujours le
coeur joyeux” (516). In 1914 Mrs. Edward Schaaf, Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri, wrote that
these songs are never written. La Guignolee has a simple tune and the dance is a shuffling march.
The band wore masks and the favorite costume was that of an Indian chief….”It is quite likely
that the custom and the costumes are a mixture of French and Indian” (515).

The song was probably sung as people went door to door to celebrate the New Year:

Bonsoir, le maitre et la maitresse

Et tout le monde du logis

Pour le dernier jour de l’annee

La Guiannee vous nous devez.

The rhythm does suggest a dance song and it may be old, because the key is unsettled i.e. it
begins in G + and ends in C+. (Johnston, 14) Usually songs remain in one key or mode, often
the pentatonic, throughout, but a few employ one mode in one phrase and another later, for
example, old songs may change form an ionian to a dorian scale. Rhythms are usually consistent
within one song. So far, these are the only two old American songs that I have found that suggest
the influence of mixed bloods and indeed, that are written in the French language.

[ii] Podruchny notes that voyageurs had three kinds of songs: “romantic and melodic French
ballads, lamentations for tragedies that occurred to fellow voyageurs, and everyday work songs
composed on the spot and constantly changing”(2009, 93).

[iii] Military music has its roots in the earliest of human civilizations. Its continuance in the
besieged French colony, later to be Canada, is no exception. The military supported bands in
many of its garrisons. (Ford 27) Regimental bands often took part in special church services,
such as thanksgiving. For example, in 1791 the Duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria and a
commander of the Royal Fusiliers Regiment, supported music in Quebec and Halifax by
financing concerts attended by officers of the regiments or gentlemen in the service of
government or small business.

[iv] Several other points of interest: the zouaves, who were part of song about the French
Foreign Legion, wore colorful sashes around their waist as did the Métis buffalo hunters. And,
just as the Red River Métis were calling their newspaper (Howard 160) la nouvelle nation,
between 1868-1870 seven contingents (500 men) of young French Canadian volunteers from
Quebec helped Pope Pius 1X in his struggle against the Italian risorgimento(national rebirth).
Although these Papal Zouaves were fighting Italians and not Prussians as in the song, these are
the sorts of military exploits that fostered new songs like Francoeur.


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