View Full Version : German folk songs

Martin Jonas
May-02-2011, 7:10pm
As some of you may know, I am German although I have been living in the UK for almost twenty years now. I guess I was fortunate in that I grew up in a family with a fair amount of music making and singing, even though I showed little if any aptitude in either singing or playing an instrument when I was young. I was even more fortunate in that I was exposed to German folk music in one of its few palatable incarnations, as homemade acoustic music rather than the absolutely terrifying public faces of Volksmusik as either oompah music or cheese-as-cheese-can folk-tinged Schlager music (think the most sentimental type of Nashville C&W and multiply by a hundred). Thus, even though I have gone through extensive periods of infatuation with British, Irish and American folk and traditional music -- and more recently Italian and Greek -- I have always had a soft spot for traditional German folk songs. Unfortunately, there are very few recordings of this type of music in a setting that doesn't set my teeth on edge. Looking through Youtube, for example, one sees that most folk song settings are either choral arrangements, piano/voice Lieder in the Schubert/Brahms tradition, or the above-mentioned unspeakables.

That is not how I learned these songs. Through my parents (who in turn followed from my grandparents in this respect), I was exposed to the values of the early 20th century Wandervogel, a back-to-nature youth movement centred around outdoor living, rambling and folk music. Their instruments of choice for folk song accompaniments were the guitar and the mandolin, and the seminal song book of the Wandervogel was the Zupfgeigenhansl, first published in 1908, containing 250 or so traditional songs. My mother owns several original copies and I have got a very well-preserved copy of the rare 1914 guitar-and-vocal edition (previously owned by my late aunt). A full scan of a later (1920) edition is available as free download in PDF format from the web site of the Dusseldorf University Library at this link (click on "Download"):

Zupfgeigenhansl 1920 Edition (http://digital.ub.uni-duesseldorf.de/ihd/content/titleinfo/2065449)

I should say that my own 1914 copy is in much better condition than this scanned library book, and also has fully arranged guitar parts for every song rather than just chord symbols. For those who are confused by the lack of song titles in the book, there is a peculiar convention that German folk songs don't have titles as such but rather are referred to by the first line of the lyrics.

Yesterday, I sat down with my copy of the book and picked a few songs on my Mid-Missouri that I like the tunes of, some of which I knew either from my parents or from recordings, but most that I learned from the book itself. Some are well-known in Germany, others now very obscure. All of these are just the melody lines, exactly as written in the Zupfgeigenhansl, occasionally with a tiny bit of double-stopping, and generally very short. I have played each tune twice through, and most are around a minute or so. I have made no attempt at arranging or ornamenting the tunes -- these are simple folk melodies and in my view work best if left simple. This isn't meant to be some sort of best-of: I just skipped through part of the book and played what I fancied. I got about a third of the way through (pages 1-25 and 146-192, to be precise), so there may well be an update soon of tunes from the rest of the book.

Here are Youtube videos of 24 of these songs:

Ich hab die Nacht geträumet (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcvFWfN3c3M)
Mein Schatz, der ist auf die Wanderschaft hin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTxUxs-zBps)
Es dunkelt schon in der Heide (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qll27ONbgTg)
Ich hebbe se nich up de Scholen gebracht (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyovdBcXpMg)
Wo gehst Du hin, Du Stolze? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XT_-z3yjuRM)
Ach Gott, wie weh tut Scheiden (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJslFwMYCAw)
Es geht eine dunkle Wolk herein (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF-2O7jldAc)
Gut Gsell, und Du musst wandern (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XrSEnhqiSs)
Da droben auf jenem Berge (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLjY4gN2gyQ)
Es ritten drei Reiter zum Tore hinaus (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kr1jjlBhVtU)
Ade zur guten Nacht (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfaR0PtgUns)
Morgen will mein Schatz verreisen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tu5RwGq3Oes)
Es sass ein Käterlein auf dem Dach (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58urVIzkVWE)
Mir ist ein schöns brauns Maidelein (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTvtT2gAHc8)
Bin i net a lustiger Fuhrmannsbue (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sHtruya1jY)
Es wohnte eine Müllerin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytPOddeOyVU)
Als ich ein jung Geselle war (Tod von Basel) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hV0kWp0gb2E)
Wie schön blüht uns der Maien (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JVBN9wz9d0)
Ich ging durch einen grasgrünen Wald (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUfzOjYxx0E)
Der Winter ist vergangen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThscUMTRH88)
I bin a Steirabua (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G52y-6DWME)
In stiller Nacht zur ersten Wacht (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrPUbRBMD6g)
Stehn zwei Stern am hohen Himmel (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ey8cwExQ9n8)


May-02-2011, 7:27pm
Amazing. This will take some time to work through. What a great project, Martin, thanks for sharing. You know my wife is German as well, from the north, and shared similar sentiments about traditional music from the homeland. I will share these with her, they are sure to spark some memories and reveries. She is definitely a migratory bird.....


May-02-2011, 11:11pm
Thank you so much for posting the link to the German songbook and your recordings, Martin. I love the song by Brahms, "In Stiller Nicht." I learned it as a child in school (in Texas yet!) and have always remembered it. These were the English words we sang (as I recall over a gap of several decades):

One quiet night before the light
I heard a sad voice singing.
Upon the trees it stirred the breeze
The tearful sound was ringing.

It tore apart my listening heart
And made me weep with sorrow.
And flowers below had tears to show
For dew upon the morrow.

Bertram Henze
May-03-2011, 3:12am
Most of German folk music is a minefield of trivial staghorn-buttoned Biedermann pop and right-wing political misuse, in other words, it is in the firm hands of both the dumb and the evil (which is not such a big difference - just two noises out of the same darkness).

To find the small percentage that remained innocent is a difficult task and deserves all the honor we can give. Therefore, your little collection is a jewel indeed. I remember "Es geht ein dunkle Wolk herein" in a version written by Hugo Distler, we sang that in the school choir.

Martin Jonas
May-03-2011, 7:21am
Thanks a lot, Mick, Harper and Bertram -- glad you enjoy them.

Bertram: Yes, indeed, German folk music is a minefield, largely because of its misuse by the nazis which meant that unlike in the US or the UK, the liberal/left-wing folk revival in Germany in the 1960s was always tiny, and to a much larger extent interested in international folk music, in particular Irish, than in the indigenous folklore which was largely abandoned to the dumb-wit extreme right as you say. Still, there was (and still is, barely) a left-leaning German folk revival centred around the 1960s open-air festivals at Burg Waldeck -- my parents attended those festivals from the small-scale beginnings in 1964 right up to the highly politicised 1968 festival which descended into chaos. This was taken up in the 1970s by reasonably successful recording artists such as Zupfgeigenhansel (named after the book, obviously, although with slightly different spelling), Liederjan, Hein und Oss, or Hannes Wader, who arranged old folk German folk songs in a style somewhat reminiscent to the British/Irish folk revival -- guitars, mandolins, fiddles and (sometimes) waldzither. I like a lot of those records, and they are a good antidote to the dumb and/or evil Volksmusik described by Bertram.

You may already have noticed that I have included the full set of words for every song in the Youtube descriptions. I haven't typed them in by hand -- they're cut-and-paste from a very nice web site here: Volksliederarchiv (http://www.volksliederarchiv.de/). I've checked the words for minor variations compared to my printed copy, but most of the ones at the site are more-or-less identical to the Zupfgeigenhansl.

As I said, I'll record a few more tunes later. In the meantime, I have previously recorded some other German folk songs not necessarily from the Zupfgeigenhansl (some of these are more modern, and some are non-German tunes set to German words):

Es saß ein klein wild Vögelein (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXeS-aRJRlk)
Der Schnitter Tod (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDEABUuIvqo)
Maria durch ein Dornwald ging (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-foz7mJTJc)
Hohe Tannen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3bo_XOZX2A)
Piet am Galgen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=782zZliiY8I)
Es war ein König in Thule (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVgoxgpa06I)
Schlemmerlied (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQrnziBL93A)
Gori Kaseki (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ip_SVWLz_I)
Jeden Abend träumt Jerschenkow (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrCPLOMThcE)
Avec Que La Marmotte (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mf4yb3cPTZk)
Trag auf meinem Mantel weiss (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYZA6hGiDtQ)


Jesse Harmon
May-03-2011, 8:30am
Thank you Martin. I come from Irish/German heritage--Harmon-Luchenbil-- and will look forward to downloading these and learning some.

Bernd Bannach
May-03-2011, 9:13am
Thank you Martin, I have a copy of a Zupfgeigenhansl somewhere in the cellar. I'm starting the search for it right now (instead of changing strings).

Pete Hicks
May-03-2011, 10:46pm
Thank you for this wonderful information, Martin. Ich bin auch Deutsch (Halb). I do "Muss i denn" in my cowboy band. Americans know it as "Wooden Heart."

May-04-2011, 6:48am
I have always been taught that the German language has more folk songs than any other language in the world. Don't have any authority on that other than teachers and professors. Whether it is true or not, there are a lot of them out there and and it is too bad that more isn't done with them. When I was a number of years younger, I did play mostly Austrian and Swiss folk songs with a friend of mine and we actually had a few performances.

Cathal Whelehan
May-04-2011, 8:06am
This is fantastic, Martin!! I've just watched every one of the clips listed in the first post and subscribed to your youtube channel half way through the second one. What a fantastic collection of truly enchanting melodies! As an Irishman living in Berlin sicne 1993 I feel more than a little ashamed that I haven't spent more time finding out about the real traditions of proper German folk music and lay the blame for this squarely at the door of Schlagermusik and it's mind-destroying fakeness. I can't count the number of times my mother-in-law has switched the telly to watch RTL Sommergarten and had me running for the hills. I'm absolutely delighted to have spotted this thread! Many thanks for the eye-opener!

May-04-2011, 10:35am
After all the schlagen that Schlagers have been taking here it made me wonder a bit about our own US bred versions. I was too young to really understand what was going on with the Lawrence Welk show (pretty surreal to a little kid) but it made a lot more sense after watching TV in Helmstadt with my wife's omchen. I didn't realize the guy was of German heritage. We always thought people from up north had accents.

Now that I labor with the fisarmonica, watching Welk has a new resonance. No mandolins on "My Mandolin" but some snappy playing:


Sorry for the diversion from a very welcome thread.....


Ed Goist
May-04-2011, 11:08am
Martin, this is fantastic!
Thank you so much.
I very much look forward to viewing all of the YouTubes you have posted, and to digging into this deeper.
Ed (whose family is originally [several generations ago] from Ravensburg in Baden-Württemberg, Deutschland)

May-05-2011, 10:05pm
Mick, what a great video of Myron Floren and Louis Del Monte playing "My Mandolin" on two accordions. I am an accordionist, and I think its was that tune that made me want to play the mandolin some day. And now I do! Myron was "The Happy Norwegian," a first generation American of immigrant parents. I got to meet him and play Liechtensteiner Polka with him when I was nine. A very nice man.

May-07-2011, 8:36am
Wow, what a thread! :) Thank you for starting this off, Martin. I've downloaded the PDF and will add it to my collection of tunes to learn. Many of them are a beginner-friendly tempo, which is nice.

I like the music, but I have also found the histori-politico-socio-psychological argument about the Germans' attitude towards, and treatment of, their folk music heritage very interesting for a while now. I agree with you and Bertram about the colonisation of German folk by the "dumb and the evil", which has put several generations of Germans out of touch with these nice melodies. Unlike you, I wasn't lucky enough to be brought up into a Wandervogel-inspired tradition, so most of these tunes are new discoveries for me, rather than nostalgic reminders.

One of my pet theories at the moment is that the German subculture for folksy music with a medieval (or "medievalistic") slant could be a folk instinct finally finding expression in a musical genre that hasn't been ruined by Schlager and oompah afternoons. Re-popularising the real thing is a taller task.

Martin Jonas
May-07-2011, 9:56am
One of my pet theories at the moment is that the German subculture for folksy music with a medieval (or "medievalistic") slant could be a folk instinct finally finding expression in a musical genre that hasn't been ruined by Schlager and oompah afternoons. Re-popularising the real thing is a taller task.

Thanks, Gelsenbury. The current "medieval" genre in German music is interesting -- contrary to the name, quite a few of the actual tunes being played (other than the newly-written, and usually rather crude, pastiches) are actually the Zupfgeigenhansl-type songs, albeit with strange goth-metal or mock-medieval arrangements.

The 1970s Deutschfolk genre was rather more sensitive in its treatment of the songs, gently updating Wandervogel-type guitar and mandolin arrangements with touches of Irish folk-inspired arrangements.

Here are a few examples of late 1970s recordings from Youtube, of songs that I have also played above.

The first two are by the band Zupfgeigenhansel, singing songs from the near-eponymous book.

"Es dunkelt schon in der Heide":

"Wie schön blüht uns der Maien":

This one is "Der Winter ist vergangen" by Hannes Wader (with a first verse in English, sung by Finbar Furey, who also adds uillean pipes to the arrangement):

And finally, these are two from the Northern German band Liederjan.

"Ich hebbe se nich up de Scholen gebracht" (they call it "Fünf Söhne"):

"Der Schnitter Tod":

And just to illustrate the current "medieval" movement, here is that last song again, in a 2008 recording by the goth-rock band ASP, starting reasonably close to the Liederjan version, but becoming somewhat bombastic towards the end:


Bertram Henze
May-07-2011, 12:19pm
...the German subculture for folksy music with a medieval (or "medievalistic") slant could be a folk instinct finally finding expression in a musical genre that hasn't been ruined by Schlager and oompah afternoons.

Agree - it is mostly evasive action, containing much imagineering on what medieval times were like, and adopting many songs that are not really medieval at all, like this very popular one:

The role of the Plattdeutsch language (spoken still today in some North sea coastal regions of Germany) is an interesting one - it is related to what the Angles spoke and found its way into the English language, and it lends itself much better to an expression of deep melancholy than of vain merriment or marching boots.
Here is one version sung by a guitar player I regularly meet in our ITM sessions:

Martin Jonas
May-07-2011, 6:17pm
Here is another batch of 12 songs. Same drill as before: all songs are from the 1914 edition of the Zupfgeigenhansl, and played unadorned exactly as in the book, usually twice through.

Ich fahr dahin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJrV_pnnDZQ)
Wohl heute noch und morgen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B56nz3xK4E)
S isch äben e Mönsch uf Aerde (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPlNtosvQXo)
Dort niedn in jenem Holze (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-xYqNL0U_I)
Rosestock, Holderblüh (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaKBV20TFXQ)
Das Lieben bringt groß Freud (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNU9FTxD2Hg)
S isch no nit lang (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beyWJ6C0918)
Es Burebüebli mah-n-i nit (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9r7U9H__4M)
Es wollt ein Jägerlein jagen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlqzP6s3Ah0)
Es war ein Markgraf überm Rhein (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zo6rx6AmZ9Q)
Schwesterlein, Schwesterlein (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdgsxDOPBf0)
Mein Schatz, der ist auf die Wanderschaft hin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kz98WBven_g)


Martin Jonas
May-07-2011, 6:18pm
Here is another batch of 12 songs. Same drill as before: all songs are from the 1914 edition of the Zupfgeigenhansl, and played unadorned exactly as in the book, usually twice through.

Ich fahr dahin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJrV_pnnDZQ)
S isch äben e Mönsch uf Aerde (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPlNtosvQXo)
Wohl heute noch und morgen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B56nz3xK4E)
Dort niedn in jenem Holze (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-xYqNL0U_I)
Rosestock, Holderblüh (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaKBV20TFXQ)
Das Lieben bringt groß Freud (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNU9FTxD2Hg)
S isch no nit lang (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beyWJ6C0918)
Es Burebüebli mah-n-i nit (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9r7U9H__4M)
Es wollt ein Jägerlein jagen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlqzP6s3Ah0)
Es war ein Markgraf überm Rhein (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zo6rx6AmZ9Q)
Schwesterlein, Schwesterlein (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdgsxDOPBf0)
Mein Schatz, der ist auf die Wanderschaft hin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kz98WBven_g)


Martin Jonas
May-17-2011, 5:30pm
Oops, sorry for the double-post above -- too late by now to edit it.

However, here is genuinely another batch of tunes, another 12 of them to bring the total to 48. For variety, I have recorded these ones on my Gibson Ajr rather than the Mid-Mo. The Ajr is darker and more mellow than the Mid-Mo, and this gives the tunes a slightly more melancholy edge (quite apart from the fact that these ones are largely folk ballads which are sadder and starker to start with than many of the other songs).

Verstohlen geht der Mond auf (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7A9Wn5uOvg)
Es is ein Schnee gefallen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oSAQCW9zFU)
Ei Büble wennst mich so gern häst - verstehst? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrM3nq7-Hno)
Es freit ein wilder Wassermann (Lilofee) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIlXMDSKfok)
Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVFa2sVCags)
Ich steh auf einem hohen Berg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85pZvfm58so)
Es waren einmal drei Reiter gefangen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rlGJ7-tqeo)
Es ritt ein Reiter sehr wohlgemut (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u83pZJhtyeY)
Ein Schäfer über die Brücke kam (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWYWZqHMx34)
Lippai, steh auf vom Schlaf! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPXxXMkVE0Y)
Als wir jüngst in Regensburg waren (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cB3nashFC30)
Es wollt ein Mägdlein früh aufstehn (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vv3QFyVCHGg)


May-17-2011, 5:56pm
Thank you, martin!!!

And please listen to this great German folk music:


Martin Jonas
May-18-2011, 1:52am
Thanks, Holger -- I didn't know that band, or the song (which I think is a version of the ballad "Es freit ein wilder Wassermann", recorded in my last batch).

From a quick search, I see that Deitsch also perform in an expanded line-up together with two Scottish musicians (Claire Mann & Aaron Jones) under the name "2duos". They have an English-language homepage (Link (http://www.2duos.com)).

Their record company has uploaded this live video of the same song, recorded on BBC Scotland, which makes an interesting contrast to the studio version. For extra relevance to the Cafe, Aaron Jones plays a nice Sobell zouk on this version:

For full Scottish/German crossover, here is another German folk ballad performed by this line-up, in both languages, live from Warwick Folk Festival 2010:

I'll have to look out for more Deitsch, I think -- thanks again for the heads-up, Holger! Their approach is interesting. Not really an updating of German folk styles, more a reworking of German source material in an Irish/Scottish style. Yet another way of getting around the historical problem with German folk music, discussed above by Bertram and me.


Bertram Henze
May-18-2011, 9:33am
The singer of Deitsch, Gudrun Walther, is also singer in the band Cara:

Real German folk has found kind of asylum in a corner of the Celtic folk scene, it seems.

May-24-2011, 4:32am
gorgeous tunes. thank you so much for taking the time to post these!

Martin Jonas
May-29-2011, 9:55am
Here is the next, and probably final, batch of 24 tunes. I've now worked my way through the book, briefly picking every tune and noting those that appealed to me on first sight-reading down for potential recording. I've left out some of the best-known tunes, precisely because they are well-known (at least in Germany); tunes like "Es, es, es und es" or "Dat Du mein Leevsten bist".

Here are the last ones, from the chapters on "songs from the spinning chamber" (which I think is meant to mean "women's songs"), "soldiers' songs", "dancing songs" (dance tunes with lyrics) and "schnurren" (no idea what that is meant to mean -- the songs in that category are all over the place thematically).

Ich habe mir eines erwählet (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vRJihGelIQ)
Ein Bäumlein stand im tiefen Tal (Der Liebesapfel) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bics-fGDmeY)
Ei Mutter, liebe Mutter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZ8HK6US1oM)
Vo Luzern uf Wäggis zue (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNvu1NwNHtk) (this one is a yodel, which sounds sort of interesting on mandolin)
Hansel, dein Gretelein (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVVBT4tS64k)
Prinz Eugenius, der edle Ritter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96VSvh4M4gw) (known with different words as "Bürgerlied" or "Ob wir rote gelbe Kragen")
O Straßburg, o Straßburg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgsPWdQ3A90)
Wir preußischen Husaren (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUZGOGR6VQg)
Ihr lustigen Hannoveraner (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7p18uoCFkM)
Es reiten itzt die ungrischen Husaren (Lied der Czeklerhusaren) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwdrJMPNl_g)
Des Morgens zwischen drein und viern (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPsWwZIdNpM)
Bei Waterloo, da fiel der erste Schuss (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryzBxw65ICc) (supposedly sung in the immediate aftermath of the battle of Waterloo by Prussian troops)
Ein Schifflein sah ich fahren (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzWPyaU1hjI) (possibly of interest to the historical reconstruction crowd in the US: this is marked "from the American Revolution" in the book, presumably sung by the German soldiers
Lippe-Detmold eine wunderschöne Stadt (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4oP7Ln9K1k)
Was helfen mir tausend Dukaten (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5O46PtGK7xI) (probably the best-known of this batch of songs, and one I heard a lot as a child)
Hans Naber, ick hebb et ju togebracht (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geRpm9niGfU) (demonstrating Bertram's point on the inherent melancholy of Plattdeutsch songs)
Jänsken von Bremen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eQx4_c3wf4) (ditto)
Wo soll ich mich hinkehren (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urku9Ziy_ac)
Tanz rüber, tanz nüber
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwDOsrpnW0s)Z Lauterbach hab i mein Strumpf verlorn (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12I7FC5wBeM)
As Deandl mitn rotn Miada (Der Neubayrische) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUTkWKQHOuw)
Je höher der Kirchturm desto schöner das Geläute (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBMvvlzAW90)
Ich ging emohl spaziere (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gb1P9T9kG34)
Es wollt ein Schneider wandern (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUCismA7W_0)


May-30-2011, 5:07pm
Hi Martin,
and thanks for posting the links to your playing!
I believe 'Schnurren` are some kind of humourous, usually rather short songs/ stories that comment on everyday social issues, sometimes with a slightly malicious twist. Can't put it better in english.
One thing I would like to add to this thread is that it is still very common to sing 'Volkslieder' with children.

Jan-06-2017, 3:04am
'.....Hannes Wader, who arranged old folk German folk songs in a style somewhat reminiscent to the British/Irish folk revival ....'

I played on a number of his Albums in the 70's and 80s.... among them 2 German Folk Albums " Hannes Wader singt Volkslieder" and "Hannes Wader singt Plattdeutsche Lieder". imo Hannes was a decisive influence on the post war generation's rediscovery of the beauty of German Folk Songs by playing them in a more modern style and removing the taint of the Nazi misappropriation during those terrible times. He, more than anyone perhaps of that era had the "believability" through his other brilliantly biting and sarcastic social critical songs tho Franz Degenheart, Dieter Sueverkrupp, Hein und Oss, Peter Roland and others also helped steer us younger musicians towards the beautiful timelessness of our own heritage. In the wake of his work new and exciting Folkgroups of different ethnic regions began to flower.....Singspiel, Lilienthal, and so many more. I often describe Hannes as the "Bob Dylan" of Germany tho in truth he was more than that......he gave us back a part of our own history. Btw, I joined the Mandolin Cafe just to post this message.... a wonderful thread. Thank you....see you on FaceBook?

Jan-07-2017, 1:47pm
Thanks for the link to the Zupfgeigenhansl and the nice recordings, Martin. The Mid-Missouri sounds great for these melodies.
Though being German, I must admit, that I know only few of the songs.
There are other songs in most traditional songbooks and the German "Volksmusik" as Bertram described, is something completely different.
Bands like Zupggeigenhansel or Liederjan were a bit before my time, so I guess, there's a lot of nice music to discover.

BTW: The link where you can download the Zupfgeigenhansl is to the Heinrich Heine University.
Heinrich Heine wrote the lyrics to another nice German song, the "Loreley"(Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten) with music by Friedrich Silcher.
That was one of the first songs I played on my bowlback. It's 6/8 and played a little faster, it almost sounds like a jig!

Jan-08-2017, 12:23pm
Hello Klaus, nice to meet you here.

Thank you Martin for this threat. Indeed the german folksong tradition is very rich in number and content. In addition to the 'Zupfgeigenhansl' I would like to lead the attention to the following books.

'Der Große Steinitz' first released in 1955 was the main trigger of the folk revivel in the sixties. Peter Roland, the founder of Waldeck-Festivals, Hannes Wader and their followers uses this substructure.

Hein und Oss Kröher published 'Das sind unsere Lieder' a very nice and lovely designed book.

Fischer and Insel had released a nice compilation to several folksong themes.





Martin Veit
Jan-08-2017, 2:32pm
Martin, that's a nice Threat.

As long as i play(ed) our (V)Folkmusic ( you can listen to some of my music under www.noachteule.de), it often seems to be the problem, that no one knows the songs anymore.
There are only a few songs outcoming of the Folkrevival in the late 1970s, such as "Zogen einst fünf wilde Schwäne" or "Es, es und Es" that are known by a greater croud of people.
The Liedermacher (Singer-/Songwriter) Area has established their heros like Hannes Wader or Liederjan or Zupfgeigenhansel.
But few Bands remained unknown.
The problem in Germany was and probably still is, that there is no room for real "Hausmusik".
Can anyone imagine, how it will be, grabbing your mandolin or maybe your guitar an striding trough the door of a traditional german "Kneipen"-door, saying "Hey, lets play some old german Folksongs". :))

When you look to the gaelic / celtic Scene, you have a lot of good musicians which have ther roots in the traditional "Pub-Music" based. Such is none here in germany.
Have a look at our "Musikkneipen"-scene and you see, that most of the bands doing only Covermusic from the 80's until to the present. Or, the better ones presenting good american or gaelic Folkmusic.

My hope is in the new americana / celtic crossover, such is as in the "transatlantic sessions" or in Bands as "The Once, Stray-Birds, Birds of Chicago". Only when handmade music again will be favored, there will be although place enough for playing our traditional "Volkslieder".

Martin Jonas
Jan-08-2017, 3:58pm
Thanks, all. This is an old thread -- my recordings in the openings posts are from 2011 -- but it's nice to see it reviving after all this time.

Klaus: great to hear from you and welcome to the Cafe! I remember your name from the credits of those old Hannes Wader albums and looking it up I see that you wrote "Das Loch in der Banane", used for many years as music for the NDR (North German TV) ident. Great tune! There are quite a few bands and singers from the 60s and 70s that recorded good German folk songs, but they didn't make much impact on public awareness (or where they did, it was more for their singer/songwriter material, such as in Hannes Wader's case).

Crisscross: If you've never heard them, do check out Zupfgeigenhansel and early Liederjan. Great music, and quite different from each other. Zupfgeigenhansel were always the more serious band and Liederjan the more boisterous live band (they eventually drifted off into the cabaret scene, not to their advantage in my opinion). Unfortunately, both bands' back catalogue has suffered badly at the hand of budget labels putting out unsympathetically compiled collections. Try to get hold of the full original albums, which hold up better than the compilations. Both bands eventually moved away from actual traditional songs and into singer/songwriter material, which hasn't aged as well.

Leo: yes, I know these books -- my mother collects German folk song books. A good recent one is the "Codex Patomomomensis (https://www.zauberwald-verlag.de/codex/inhaltsverzeichnis.htm)", which puts together most of the Fahrtenlieder sung around the campfires by various youth groups over the past few decades, with a good sprinkling of German folk songs (actual or reinvented). Lots of nice tunes, well-edited and with copious annotations.

Martin: There have been some attempts at a cross-over with Celtic and US folk in the past, the pinnacle of which were the two "Folk Friends (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folk_Friends)" double albums (now on single CDs) in 1979/80. These were very much in the style of the Transatlantic Sessions: Hannes Wader brought a bunch of Irish, UK and US musicians together with (only a few) German ones in his windmill home in Northern Germany and they recorded a lot of very good music not available anywhere else.


Jan-08-2017, 7:55pm
Can anyone imagine, how it will be, grabbing your mandolin or maybe your guitar an striding trough the door of a traditional german "Kneipen"-door, saying "Hey, lets play some old german Folksongs". :))

That kind of spontaneity would not happen in an English pub either. I can't vouch for Ireland, but presumably any pub session needs to be organised with the involvement of the owner, whose business is at stake after all. The organiser of several local sessions has already mentioned several times that most pub landlords simply don't want folk music in their pubs. So German folk music is not alone in struggling for habitat.

A purely or mainly German folk session is difficult to imagine, that's true. The image of German folk music is too bad, for the reasons already discussed here. There aren't enough players or enough people willing to sit in a Kneipe and listen to that stuff. But "Irish" pubs seem to be offering some development aid. The Irish pub in my German home town has now had a regular acoustic session for 6 years. I go along very rarely because I don't tend to visit home at the right times. But when I last went, there were German songs as well as Irish music played. There is hope.

Jan-09-2017, 3:14am
A purely or mainly German folk session is difficult to imagine, that's true.

I cannot agree without reservation. I suppose, Gelsenbury, your hometown in Germany is Gelsenkirchen :). I live only a few kilometers away from you in Dorsten. The Ruhr-District is a melting pot and has no unitary Folkmusic. But in other parts of Germany, i.e. Bavaria or in Friesland, we can find a complete different situation. Traditional music or 'Hausmusik' is there frequently common. The people identify with their musical tradition. When I meet musicians from alps I become envious of their rich musical tradition.

Bertram Henze
Jan-09-2017, 3:39am
Can anyone imagine, how it will be, grabbing your mandolin or maybe your guitar an striding trough the door of a traditional german "Kneipen"-door, saying "Hey, lets play some old german Folksongs". :))

There are songs supporting that, but I wouldn't call them exactly Folk :whistling:


maudlin mandolin
Jan-13-2017, 5:32am
An interesting thread which I must have missed the first time around.
Does "Annchen von Tharau" count as a German folk song? Looking on youtube it appears to be very popular with choirs and orchestras but much less so in a folk setting.
This tune was drawn to my attention by D H Lawrence in his book "Women in Love".

Martin Veit
Jan-24-2017, 3:39pm
Ooh - "Ännchen von Tharau" is definitly a folk song. You should listen to the Hannes Wader (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAS0gEgk-iU) (great german singer / songwriter) version. Not a bit of "Volkstümlich"

Feb-15-2017, 11:03am
Martin -
your journey through Zupfgeigenhansl has also inspired me somewhat. I have gathered a few song books like "Der Kilometerstein" (from my mother's youth) and "Rühles Wandervögel", and have had some fun with them. I have also started to play a few on the Waldzither, which I felt was a reasonable choice for these songs. As previously said, some of them are definitely un-PC these days...

If I find the time over the next couple of days, I will record an upload a couple more to my playlist on YouTube. (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWe0cts98fuN4u-D9fKWB3-bW4jo9sT7T)

I am also selling a Plückthun on ebay in the UK - Don't want to fall foul of advertising rules, so if you are interested, just use the search bar in the next few days.

Feb-17-2017, 3:03am
Even the King appreciated German Volksmusik!

The German lyrics of the songs are "Muss i denn zum Städele hinaus" ( Do I have to leave town)
I remembered the song when I bought a mandolin from Stuttgart

It had to leave the city of Stuttgart and travel to where I live...