Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 47

Thread: German folk songs

  1. #1
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Northop, North Wales
    Posts
    5,996

    Default German folk songs

    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

    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
    Mein Schatz, der ist auf die Wanderschaft hin
    Es dunkelt schon in der Heide
    Ich hebbe se nich up de Scholen gebracht
    Wo gehst Du hin, Du Stolze?
    Ach Gott, wie weh tut Scheiden
    Es geht eine dunkle Wolk herein
    Gut Gsell, und Du musst wandern
    Da droben auf jenem Berge
    Es ritten drei Reiter zum Tore hinaus
    Ade zur guten Nacht
    Morgen will mein Schatz verreisen
    Es sass ein Käterlein auf dem Dach
    Mir ist ein schöns brauns Maidelein
    Bin i net a lustiger Fuhrmannsbue
    Es wohnte eine Müllerin
    Als ich ein jung Geselle war (Tod von Basel)
    Wie schön blüht uns der Maien
    Ich ging durch einen grasgrünen Wald
    Der Winter ist vergangen
    I bin a Steirabua
    In stiller Nacht zur ersten Wacht
    Stehn zwei Stern am hohen Himmel

    Martin

  2. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Martin Jonas For This Useful Post:


  3. #2
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Ann Arbor/Austin
    Posts
    5,109

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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.....

    Mick
    Ever tried, ever failed? No matter. Try again, fail again. Fail better.--Samuel Beckett
    ______________________

    '05 Cuisinart Toaster
    '93 Chuck Taylor lowtops
    '12 Stetson Open Road
    '06 Bialetti expresso maker
    '14 Irish Linen Ramon Puig

  4. #3
    Registered User harper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    268

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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.
    Harper (My other mandolin is a harp)

  5. #4
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 pc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,685

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  6. #5
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Northop, North Wales
    Posts
    5,996

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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. 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
    Der Schnitter Tod
    Maria durch ein Dornwald ging
    Hohe Tannen
    Piet am Galgen
    Es war ein König in Thule
    Schlemmerlied
    Gori Kaseki
    Jeden Abend träumt Jerschenkow
    Avec Que La Marmotte
    Trag auf meinem Mantel weiss

    Martin

  7. The following members say thank you to Martin Jonas for this post:


  8. #6
    Registered User Jesse Harmon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    581
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: German folk songs

    Thank you Martin. I come from Irish/German heritage--Harmon-Luchenbil-- and will look forward to downloading these and learning some.

  9. #7
    Registered User Bernd Bannach's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Germany, in the North
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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).
    Bernd

  10. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Aromas, California
    Posts
    252

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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."

  11. #9
    Registered User CharlieKnuth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Greenbelt, MD
    Posts
    198

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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.

  12. #10
    Registered User Cathal Whelehan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Berlin, Germany
    Posts
    106

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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!
    Cathal

    Dave Shapiro mandolin (in progress - ETA Dec 2011/Jan 2012)
    Stanford DFM-300 mandolin (2009)
    Eastman MD604 mandolin (2007)
    John Hullah bouzouki (1989)
    Clareen Oyster tenor banjo (2011)

  13. #11
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Ann Arbor/Austin
    Posts
    5,109

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfHpqbQTgxw

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

    Mick
    Ever tried, ever failed? No matter. Try again, fail again. Fail better.--Samuel Beckett
    ______________________

    '05 Cuisinart Toaster
    '93 Chuck Taylor lowtops
    '12 Stetson Open Road
    '06 Bialetti expresso maker
    '14 Irish Linen Ramon Puig

  14. #12
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Northeast Ohio
    Posts
    6,001
    Blog Entries
    3

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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)
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
    Gear: The Current Cast of Characters

  15. #13
    Registered User harper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    268

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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.
    Harper (My other mandolin is a harp)

  16. #14
    Peace. Love. Mandolin. Gelsenbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Canterbury, Kent
    Posts
    635
    Blog Entries
    5

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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.

  17. #15
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Northop, North Wales
    Posts
    5,996

    Default Re: German folk songs

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelsenbury View Post
    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:



    Martin

  18. #16
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 pc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,685

    Default Re: German folk songs

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelsenbury View Post
    ...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:

    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  19. The following members say thank you to Bertram Henze for this post:


  20. #17
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Northop, North Wales
    Posts
    5,996

    Default Re: German folk songs


  21. #18
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Northop, North Wales
    Posts
    5,996

    Default Re: German folk songs


  22. #19
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Northop, North Wales
    Posts
    5,996

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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
    Es is ein Schnee gefallen
    Ei Büble wennst mich so gern häst - verstehst?
    Es freit ein wilder Wassermann (Lilofee)
    Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht
    Ich steh auf einem hohen Berg
    Es waren einmal drei Reiter gefangen
    Es ritt ein Reiter sehr wohlgemut
    Ein Schäfer über die Brücke kam
    Lippai, steh auf vom Schlaf!
    Als wir jüngst in Regensburg waren
    Es wollt ein Mägdlein früh aufstehn

    Martin

  23. #20
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: German folk songs

    Thank you, martin!!!

    And please listen to this great German folk music:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSrKH...eature=related

  24. #21
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Northop, North Wales
    Posts
    5,996

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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).

    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.

    Martin
    Last edited by Martin Jonas; May-18-2011 at 3:58am.

  25. #22
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 pc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,685

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  26. The following members say thank you to Bertram Henze for this post:

    DougC 

  27. #23

    Default Re: German folk songs

    gorgeous tunes. thank you so much for taking the time to post these!

  28. #24
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Northop, North Wales
    Posts
    5,996

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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
    Ein Bäumlein stand im tiefen Tal (Der Liebesapfel)
    Ei Mutter, liebe Mutter
    Vo Luzern uf Wäggis zue (this one is a yodel, which sounds sort of interesting on mandolin)
    Hansel, dein Gretelein
    Prinz Eugenius, der edle Ritter (known with different words as "Bürgerlied" or "Ob wir rote gelbe Kragen")
    O Straßburg, o Straßburg
    Wir preußischen Husaren
    Ihr lustigen Hannoveraner
    Es reiten itzt die ungrischen Husaren (Lied der Czeklerhusaren)
    Des Morgens zwischen drein und viern
    Bei Waterloo, da fiel der erste Schuss (supposedly sung in the immediate aftermath of the battle of Waterloo by Prussian troops)
    Ein Schifflein sah ich fahren (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
    Was helfen mir tausend Dukaten (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 (demonstrating Bertram's point on the inherent melancholy of Plattdeutsch songs)
    Jänsken von Bremen (ditto)
    Wo soll ich mich hinkehren
    Tanz rüber, tanz nüber
    Z Lauterbach hab i mein Strumpf verlorn
    As Deandl mitn rotn Miada (Der Neubayrische)
    Je höher der Kirchturm desto schöner das Geläute
    Ich ging emohl spaziere
    Es wollt ein Schneider wandern

    Martin
    Last edited by Martin Jonas; May-29-2011 at 10:11am.

  29. The following members say thank you to Martin Jonas for this post:


  30. #25

    Default Re: German folk songs

    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.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •