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Cajun Mardi Gras songs

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GUEST,Soldat d'Grand Marais 14 May 01 - 01:55 PM
wysiwyg 15 May 01 - 11:26 AM
GUEST,Tee Mamou 04 Sep 01 - 01:22 PM
Fortunato 04 Sep 01 - 02:37 PM
Sorcha 04 Sep 01 - 02:54 PM
GUEST,Tee Mamou 04 Sep 01 - 03:03 PM
Pene Azul 04 Sep 01 - 03:07 PM
MMario 04 Sep 01 - 03:20 PM
Pene Azul 04 Sep 01 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,Tee Mamou 04 Sep 01 - 05:37 PM
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GUEST,Tee Mamou 04 Sep 01 - 06:01 PM
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Joe Offer 06 Sep 01 - 01:53 AM
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Subject: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: GUEST,Soldat d'Grand Marais
Date: 14 May 01 - 01:55 PM

If anyone is interested in Cajun music in general or Cajun Mardi Gras in particular, I have an article (co-authored with Harry Oster) on Cajun Mardi Gras songs coming out in the next issue of the Journal of American Folklore. I'm not trying to beat my own drum, its just that the JAF does not have a particularly broad circulation and a lot of non-academics have probably not heard of it.


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Subject: RE: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: wysiwyg
Date: 15 May 01 - 11:26 AM

Sounds good-- how about posting it here? If it contains songs, we usually post a song in a thread of its own to make it easier to search the title later.

Hope to see more of you around Mudcat.

~Susan


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Subject: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: GUEST,Tee Mamou
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 01:22 PM

Some time ago I mentioned an article on Cajun and Creole Mardi Gras songs that I co-authored with Harry Oster for the Journal of American Folklore. Someone said that they wanted to post it or archive it (or whatever you all do) on this site. How do you go about doing that?


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Subject: RE: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: Fortunato
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 02:37 PM

I don't know but I'd like to see it done. regards, Fortunato


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Subject: RE: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: Sorcha
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 02:54 PM

Tee, you know how to start a thread--you started this one. How long is the article? Really long stuff needs to be broken up in paragraphs with the HTML line break symbol. If it's really, really long, I would ask Joe Offer, Pene Azul or Max before I posted it.


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Subject: RE: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: GUEST,Tee Mamou
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 03:03 PM

Actually, it is about 20 pages long with a lot of song texts so it probably wouldn't work well. If not, folks can always look it up in the journal or contact me and i can probably send you a photocopy.


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Subject: RE: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: Pene Azul
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 03:07 PM

Perhaps we could post it in parts. Please email it to me at jeff@mudcat.org and I'll see what we can do with it.

Thanks,
Jeff


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Subject: RE: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: MMario
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 03:20 PM

Jeff- what about posting it as an "article" on the main site?


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Subject: RE: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: Pene Azul
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 03:26 PM

I'm thinking about that, MMario. It'd probably be more visible in the forum, linked from the Site Map, but maybe we'll do both. I'd like to have a look at it, then I'll see.

Jeff


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Subject: RE: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: GUEST,Tee Mamou
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 05:37 PM

I only have a final version of the paper in printed form, so it can't be sent in as an attachment. I don't know if you all could scan in a hard copy.


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Subject: RE: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: Pene Azul
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 05:48 PM

Can anyone volunteer to OCR this for us?

Jeff


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Subject: RE: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: GUEST,Tee Mamou
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 06:01 PM

If you all decide to do that, it might be easier to contact me at my email address: sosexton@augustana.edu


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Subject: RE: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: Pene Azul
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 06:09 PM

Thank you very much, Tee.

Jeff


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Subject: RE: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Sep 01 - 01:53 AM

I e-mailed Tee and offered to scan and OCR his article so it can be posted. Sounds interesting.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 04:57 AM

Une `Tite Poule Grasse ou la File Ainee
[A Little Fat Chicken or The Eldest Daughter]:
A Comparative Analysis of Cajun and Creole Mardi Gras Songs
(Rocky L. Sexton and Harry Oster)
Journal of American Folklore 114(452):204-224 © 2001, American Folklore Society

Rocky L. Sexton is Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Welfare, Augustana College. (posted with permission from Rocky Sexton)
Harry Oster was Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa


A common aspect of rural Louisiana Mardi Gras is the Courir du Mardi Gras (Mardi Gras Run), a begging quest in which a band of costumed merrymakers travel house-to-house to solicit donations of food and money to provision a communal feast. The songs associated with the Mardi Gras run fall into two broad categories: those derived from continental French and French Canadian drinking songs and others with origins in continental French and French Canadian begging songs. Both forms represent combinations of direct survivals of earlier song texts, slight modifications that occurred through generations of oral transmission, and signficant changes introduced because of the desire to develop distinct local song variants.


In recent years, there has been a growing body of research on various aspects of the Louisiana Cajun and Creole country Mardi Gras celebration that is characterized by a begging quest.1. The songs associated with this manifestation of the celebration are a topic that has received little attention. This article explores the origins and evolution of Louisiana country Mardi Gras song texts by examining their relationship to continental French and North American French song traditions. It outlines scenarios for textual transformations linked to inevitable changes that occur in the oral transmission of songs, the conscious desire to develop new variants, and modifications stimulated by a new sociocultural and physical environment. Contemporary Mardi Gras songs fall into two categories: songs derived from generic French drinking songs and modified to fit the theme of Louisiana Mardi Gras, and similarly modified songs with connections to French and French Canadian begging songs and begging quest customs. There are, however, similarities across these types because of borrowing among traditions in France and North America. 2.

Mardi Gras and Related Traditions

The roots of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) lie in pre-Christian rites of winter. Bakhtin (1984) suggests a genetic link between celebrations like Mardi Gras and ancient pagan festivities that included comic elements in their rituals (Bakhtin 1984). By the Middle Ages, many such celebrations were loosely associated with the Catholic liturgical calendar (Spitzer 1986). Mardi Gras is now popularly viewed as a time of excess before Ash Wednesday ushers in Lent, a 40-thy period of abstinence and solemnity, during which music, dancing, eating, and drinking are curtailed among devout Catholics. Mardi Gras in Louisiana, as in France, the Caribbean, and Brazil, is generally associated with urban carnival. In Louisiana, this atmosphere dominates in New Orleans where Mardi Gras, in much of its current form, developed in the late 19th century as a season characterized by lavish parades and balls extending over weeks and culminating on Fat Tuesday.
The Louisiana country Courir du Mardi Gras, with a begging quest as a defining element, is different from its urban counterpart, although both versions of the holiday derive from the same broad carnival tradition. It has been postulated that the rural Mardi Gras is merely an extension of the New Orleans celebration (Post 1962), but it is impossible to ignore its connection to continental French and French Canadian celebrations that were characterized by a begging quest. In order to understand the development of Louisiana Mardi Gras songs, it is necessary to understand the sociohistorical contexts in which songs associated with begging quests originated in both France and North America. Begging quests occurred primarily within a carnival season that began as early as Christmas and lasted until the onset of Lent (Van Gennep 1947). In France, begging quests associated with Mardi Gras (also called "carnival") occurred on one or more of les fours gras (the fat days), generally the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday (Van Gennep 1947). Other holidays with associated begging quests included l'Eginane/Guignol‚e. This tradition was not linked to a particular Catholic holiday and it could occur anytime between Christmas and Mardi Gras. However, it was staged much more frequently between Christmas and New Year's day (Postic and Laurent 1986). La Chandeleur (Candleniass) commemorates the presentation of Christ at the temple in Jerusalem and the purification of the Virgin Mary. It is celebrated on 2 February and is known as "Chandeleur" because it is a day for the blessing of candles in church ceremonies (Arsenault 1982) 3.. Mi-Careme (Mid-Lent) falls outside of the carnival season and seems to have evolved as a brief suspension of Lenten restrictions (Van Gennep 1947). However, the structure and theme of its begging quest were the same as the above mentioned traditions. 4.
Although constituting different holidays, these events often featured begging quests that could be known as a courir (run) in reference to the highly mobile tour that occurred. This was especially true in Mardi Gras/Carnival, for example, Van Gennep (1947) noted the phrase faire courir carnaval (run carnival) in reference to 19th-century begging quests in areas of France. In some portions of France such as Anjou, the panicipants were specifically referred to as Les Mardi Gras (the Mardi Gras) (Van Gennep 1947). Begging quest participants traveled house-to-house where they sang, danced, and performed comical acts in exchange for meat, flour, butter, grease, chickens, eggs, candy, and money (Gallet-Villechange n.d.; Van Gennep 1947). These items were
consumed on the spot, accumulated for a communal feast to climax the holiday, or in some instances of the Guignolee celebration, they benefited the poor of a community (Postic and Laurent 1986).
Costumes included grotesque masks, blackface, ragged clothing, clothing worn inside out or backwards, and outrageous hats and bonnets. Also common was crossdressing by both sexes. Disguise ensured the anonymity of participants and promoted an atmosphere of inversion and disruption of notions of everyday or normal behavior. This carnivalesque imagery is articulated by Bahktin "We find here a characteristic logic, the peculiar logic of the `inside out,' of the `turnabout,' of a continual shift from top to bottom, from front to rear, of numerous parodies and travesties, humiliations, profanations, comic crownings and uncrownings" (1984:11).
These celebrations included outrageous behavior by the participants; for example, using whips or sticks to discourage overly curious spectators who might attempt to unmask them, or carrying muddy brooms to soil the clothes of innocent passersby (Van Gennep 1947). One 17th-century continental French description of a Guignolee celebration portrayed the conduct of overzealous celebrants as approaching extortion when they went to extremes in obtaining food and money from reluctant households (Postic and Laurent 1986). However, begging quests often had participants with honorific titles such as capitaine (captain) and chef(boss) who provided leadership. These leaders often carried a long staff or walking stick decorated with ribbons as a symbol of their status (Postic and Laurent 1986). A common feature of these festivities was begging songs with humbly worded lines that alluded to the group being hungry or which articulated the group's quest for particular foodstuffs. These songs were performed as bands of beggars sought entry into households where they would entertain the hosts in exchange for offerings of food and drink.
These holidays were introduced to North America and survived in various forms well into the 20th century, if not into the present. As in France, French North American communities often celebrated only one holiday with a begging quest. This varied distribution of North American begging quests was undoubtedly linked to the different regional origins of French colonists who settled North America. For example, the Guignol‚e celebration was widespread in Quebec, although Mardi Gras and MiCareme were common to many districts (Dallaire 1982; Desdouits 1987). Guignol‚e was also the primary celebration in the French settlements of present day Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana (Brassieur 1999). Begging quests associated with Mardi Gras/Les Jours Gras, La Chandeleur, and Mi-Careme were prevalent in different portions of Acadia (Arsenault 1982; Daigle 1993; Thomas 1995). 5. However, Mardi Gras is the only celebration with a begging quest that took root in Louisiana.
Tracing the introduction of Mardi Gras to Louisiana to a specific time or wave of French settlement is problematic considering Louisiana's complex settlement history and incomplete historical documentation of the subject. A large component of early Louisiana settlers came directly from various regions of France. However, many of the French involved in the earliest exploration, colonization, and trade in Louisiana were from Quebec and French settlements in the upper Mississippi Valley (Hall 1992). There was also contact between upper and lower Mississippi Valley French settlements throughout the colonial era. The later colonial era was characterized by a large influx of Acadians (the ancestors of contemporary Cajuns) who had been deported from what is now Nova Scotia and New Brunswick during the Seven Years War (Brasseaux 1987). A significant number of French refugees from the Haitian Revolution relocated to Louisiana in the first decade of the 19th century. Additional continental French immigrants arrived in Louisiana throughout the 19th century (Brasseaux 1992).
There is little written record of rural Mardi Gras celebrations in Louisiana prior to the early 20th century, but oral history indicates that Mardi Gras and Mardi Gras songs were a long-standing tradition by the mid-l9th century. One story from southwestern Acadia Parish (in the heart of the southwest Louisiana prairie region) relayed to the authors, tells of Jayhawkers (outlaw marauders) singing the Mardi Gras song when approaching a fiirmstead to commandeer food during the Civil War. Another account was given by a very elderly gendeman from northwestern Acadia Parish who was taught the Mardi Gras song as a young child by his then-elderly grandfather, who learned it as a boy during the Civil War era.
By the early 20th century, the annual Mardi Gras run was found in rural Cajun and Creole communities throughout French Louisiana, especially in southwest Louisiana (Ancelet 1989; Saucier 1956; Sexton 1996; Ware 1994). 6. The tradition declined sharply by the mid-20th century but it was revived or revitalized in many communities as part of a broad, late 20th-century Cajun French ethnic revival movement. Since then, the custom has been most associated with Cajun-French ethnicity although it is still found in a few Creole (Afro-French) communities (Sexton 1999).
The contemporary Mardi Gras run unfolds as a rowdy band of costumed characters, 7. known individually and collectively as Mardi Gras, travel house-to-house on horseback and/or in wagons soliciting charite (charity) - provisions for a communal gumbo to be served at an evening bal de Mardi Gras (Mardi Gras dance). 8. Hence, basic gumbo ingredients like flour, oil, rice, sausage, and chickens were collected. Live chickens are the most desired item of charity; they are thrown into the air by the host, resulting in a wild chase by the Mardi Gras. 9. As with many rites of reversal, Mardi Gras entails considerable alcohol consumption and non-normative behavior. Hence, each Mardi Gras group is headed by an unmasked capitaine, a highly respected member of the community who often carries a flag as a symbol of his considerable authority. The capitaine usually approaches homes and asks permission for the Mardi Gras to visit. He also maintains order within the group with the help of assistants, also called captains, and he serves as a responsible mediator between the Mardi Gras and the community (Ancelet 1989; Oster and Reed 1960; Ware 1994).
There is significant variation in Mardi Gras groups from community to community. This is reflected, for example, in the many differences between the Cajun Mardi Gras runs of Tee Mamou and Grand Marais, rural communities that are only a short distance apart. 10. Tee Mamou is completely mechanized as the group uses a large modified livestock trailer for transportation. The group has a pair of intermediate characters known as the negre (black man) and negresse (black woman), a clear instance of racial and gender inversion. These characters fall midway in the hierarchy of the Mardi Gras, between the captain and rank and file members (known individually and collectively as Mardi Gras, who wear clownlike suits, tall peaked hats, and highly decorated screen masks). The Grand Marais Mardi Gras, on the other hand, is half mechanized while the remainder of the group is mounted on horseback. The group is led by a captain but also utilizes four or five whip-wielding men in blackface (les negre) who are responsible for much of the begging and for maintaining order among the other members known as soldats (soldiers) who dress in ragged clothing, hats, and wear face paint. Other groups are eclectic in costume styles and the use of intermediate characters."
Further variation can be seen in the structure of visits by Mardi Gras groups. In Tee Mamou, after the capitaine receives permission for the Mardi Gras to visit a home, the group slowly advances in ranks toward the hosts while singing the Mardi Gras song under the leadership of the negre and negresse. In Grand Marais, les negre range ahead of the group in order to approach households and beg. If a host offers a substantial gift such as a live chicken and requests a visit, then the entire group will slowly approach the house. The Grand Marais song is sung after the soldiers have entered the host's yard and have formed a circle while seated on the ground.
The Mardi Gras run is climaxed by a bal de Mardi Gras held in a central location in each community. Traditionally, a communal supper of gumbo made from the various ingredients collected by the Mardi Gras was served as a final feast before Lent ushered in 40 days of austerity. However, fewer households maintain chicken flocks, so contemporary groups use the money collected the previous year to purchase food for the supper.


Variation in Mardi Gras Song Texts

A common feature of the Mardi Gras run is the performance of a Mardi Gras song. The diversity in Louisiana country Mardi Gras runs is paralleled by variation in Mardi Gras song texts and performance styles. The first category consists of texts derived from drinking songs. This type is now limited to three Cajun Mardi Gras groups, Lacassine, Tee Mamou, and Grand Marais, the latter two of which will be discussed in this paper. Of the Tee Mamou and Grand Marais songs, the Tee Mamou song is the best known and it has been transcribed and transliterated to facilitate its transmission to non-French-speaking participants. It is now in a highly standardized form. The Grand Marais song is still transmitted orally and, therefore, is more open to interpretation and improvisation by participants. Neither the Tee Mamou nor Grand Marais song is accompanied by music. Tee Mamou, however, does utilize a lively instrumental called the "Hee Haw Breakdown" as part of the group's entrance into the evening dance.


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Subject: ADD: Tee Mamou Mardi Gras Song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 05:19 AM

Tee Mamou Mardi Gras Song
Les Mardi Gras et ou viens tu, tout a l'entour du fond d'biver?
(repeat)
On vient de l'Angleterre, oh mon cher, oh mon cher,
On vient de l'Angleterre, tout a l'entour du fond d'hiver.

Les Mardi Gras quoi porte tu, tout a l'entour du fond d'hiver?
(repeat)
On porte que la bouteille, oh mon cher, oh mon cher,
On porte que la bouteille, tout a l'entour du fond d'hiver.
Et la bouteille est bu, tout a l'entour du fond d'hiver.
(repeat)

Il reste que la demi, oh mon cher, oh mon cher,
Il reste que la demi, tout a l'entour du fond d'hiver.
Et la demi est bu, tout a l'entour du fond d'hiver.
(repeat)

Il reste que la plein verre, oh mon cher, oh mon cher,
Il reste que la plein verre, tout a l'entour du fond d'hiver.
Et la plein verre est bu, tout a l'entour du fond d'biver.
(repeat)

Il reste que la d'mi verre, oh mon cher, oh mon cher,
Il reste que la d'mi verre, tout a l'entour du fond d'hiver.
Et la d'mi verre est bu, tout a l'entour du fond d'hiver.
(repeat)

Il reste que la rincure, oh mon cher, oh mon cher,
Il reste que la rincure, tout a l'entour du fond d'hiver.
Et la rincure on la bois pas, tout a l'entour du fond d'hiver.
(repeat)

Bonjour, le maitre et la maitress dans la maisson.
On vous demande un peu de chose;
On vous demande la fille ainee;
On va La faire faire une bonne chose;
On va la faire chauffer ses pieds.
Mardi Gras, where do you come from, all around the bottom of winter?
(repeat)
We come from England, oh my dear, oh my dear,
We come from England, all around the bottom of winter.

Mardi Gras what do you carry, all around the bottom of winter?
(repeat)
We carry (only) a bottle, oh my dear, oh my dear,
We carry (only) a bottle, all around the bottom of winter.
And the bottle has been drunk, all around the bottom of winter.
(repeat)

Only half a bottle is left, oh my dear, oh my dear,
Only half a bottle is left, all around the bottom of winter.
And the half bottle has been drunk, all around the middle of winter.
(repeat)

Only a full glass remains, oh my dear, oh my dear,
Only a full glass remains, all around the bottom of winter.
And the full glass is drunk, all around the bottom of winter.
(repeat)

Only a half glass is left, oh my dear, oh my dear,
Only a half glass is left, all around the bottom of winter.
And the half glass is drunk, all around the bottom of winter.
(repeat)

Only the dregs are left, oh my dear, oh my dear,
Only the dregs are left, all around the end of winter.
We do not drink the dregs, all around the end of winter.
(repeat)

Greetings (to the) master and mistress of the house.
We ask of you a small favor;
We ask for your eldest daughter;
We'll make her do a nice thing;
We'll make her warm up her feet.


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Subject: ADD:Grand Marais Mardi Gras Song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 05:19 AM

Grand Marais Mardi Gras Song

Mardi Gras, d'ou vices tu, tout a l'entour du fond du verre?
(repeat)
Je vices de l'Angleterre, oh mon cher, oh mon cher,
Je vices de l'Angleterre, tout a l'entour du fond du verre.

Mardi Gras, comporter-tu, tout a l'entour du fond du verre.
(repeat)
Je Porte que la bouteille, oh mon cher, oh mon cher,
Je porte que la bouteille, tout a l'entour du fond du verre.

Oh, La bouteille est bu, tout a l'entour du fond du verre.
(repeat)
Li reste que la demi bouteille, oh mon cher, oh mon cher,
Li reste que la demi bouteille, tout a l'entour du fond du verre.

Oh, La demi bouteille est bu, tout a l'entour du fond du verre.
(repeat)
Il reste que le plein verre, oh mon cher, oh mon cher,
Il reste que le plein verre, tout a l'entour du fond du verre.

Oh, il plein verre est bu, tout a l'entour du verre.
(repeat)
Il reste que le demi verre, oh mon cher, oh mon cher,
Il reste que le demi verre, tout a l'entour du fond du verre.

Oh, il demi verre est bu, tout a l'entour du fond du verre.
(repeat)
Il reste que la rincure, oh mon cher, oh mon cher,
Ii reste que la rincure, tout a l'entour du fond du verre.

Oh, La rincure est bu, tout a l'entour du fond du verre.
(repeat)
Oh, ringy rangy mon bouteille, mon bouteille,
Oh, ringy rangy mon bouteille, qui s'en va.

Les Acadiens sont pas si fou, de se laisser sans boire un coup,
Tous chansons qui perdre son fin merite un peu `tite coup a boire.
Mardi Gras, from where do you come, all around the bottom of the glass?
(repeat)
I come from England. oh my dear, oh my dear,
I come from England, all around the bottom of the glass.

Mardi Gras, behave yourself, all around the bottom of the glass.
(repeat)
I carry only a bottle, oh my dear, oh my dear,
I carry only a bottle, all around the bottom of the glass.

Oh, the bottle is drank, all around the bottom of the glass.
(repeat)
There remains only a half bottle, oh my dear, oh my dear,
There remains only a half bottle, all around the bottom of the glass.

Oh, the halfbottle is drunk, all around the bottom of the glass.
(repeat)
There remains only a full glass, oh my dear, oh my dear,
There remains only a full glass, all around the bottom of the glass.

Oh, the full glass is drunk, all around the bottom of the glass.
(repeat)
There remains only a half glass, oh my dear, oh my dear,
There remains only half a glass, all around the bottom of the glass.

Oh, the half glass is drunk, all around the bottom of the glass.
(repeat)
There remains only the dregs, oh my dear, oh my dear,
There remains only the dregs, all around the bottom of the glass.

Oh, the dregs are drunk, all around the bottom of the glass.
(repeat)
Oh, ringy rangy my bottle, my bottle,
Oh, ringy rangy my bottle, which is gone.

The Acadians are not so crazy, to leave to leave themselves without a drink,
All songs that lose their end deserve a little shot of drink.


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Subject: ADD: An Acadian Mardi Gras Song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 05:19 AM

Although currently found only in three communities, this form of Mardi Gras song was traditionally used in other areas of Louisiana. For example, in 1936 Lauren Post recorded the following "Acadian Mardi Gras Song" in Lafayette Parish approximately 40 miles east of Tee Mamou (Post 1936:10)12.

An Acadian Mardi Gras Song

O, Mardi Gras, de ou tu viens, toute alontour du fond du verre?
(repeat three times)
Je viens de l'Angleterre, oui je viens, oui je viens,
Je viens de l'Angleterre, oui mon cher, oui mon cher.

O, Mardi Gras, quoi tu portes dan la bouteille?
Je portes du vin dans la bouteille.

La bouteille du vin est bu,

Li reste que la p1ein verre,

Il reste que le fond du verre,

Il reste que le rincure,

Le rincure du vin est bu.

Il reste que le bouchon,

Le bouchon on boira pas.
Oh, Mardi Gras, from where do you come, all around the drinking glass?
(repeat three times)
I come from England, yes, I come, yes, I come,
I come from England, yes my dear, yes my dear.

Oh, Mardi Gras, what have you in your bottle?
I have wine in my bottle.

The bottle of wine is drunk,

Only a glassful is left,

Only the bottom of the glass is left,

Only the rinsings are left,

The rinsings have been drunk.

Only the cork is left,

The cork, we shall not drink.


The Tee Mamou, Grand Marais, and Post songs have the same basic structure. Like the Tee Mamou song, the Grand Marais and Post versions ask from where the Mardi Gras come and the reply is England. There are slight differences in wording, for example, the use of Je (I) as opposed to On (we), the use of et ou (where) instead of d'ou (from where), and oh mon cher (oh my dear), as opposed to oui mon cher (yes my dear). The body of all these Mardi Gras songs narrate the gradual consumption of a bottle of beverage. However, a significant deviation among the Mardi Gras songs occur in that the Tee Mamou and Post variants ask what the Mardi Gras carries, whereas the Grand Marais version states, "Mardi Gras behave yourself:" Another distinction is the reference to the dregs/rinsings which are consumed in the Grand Marais song but not in the Grand Marais song, whereas in Post's version, reference is made to the bottle's cork as the remnant of a once fill bottle.
These Mardi Gras songs are presented within the context of a begging ritual, but no reference is made to charity or the items associated with it. The only request which occurs is in the last verse of the Tee Mamou variant when the Master and Mistress are asked for their eldest daughter whose feet the Mardi Gras wish to warm up, presumably by dancing.13. The Grand Marais song, on the other hand, is rounded out with entirely (sic) lines that will be discussed shortly.
Because Tee Mamou, Grand Marais, and Lacassine lay directly west of the area where Post recorded "An Acadian Mardi Gras Song," one could assume a westward diffusion of the basic song through time in conjunction with the historical westward movement of Louisiana French. Also, similarities in the Tee Mamou and Grand Marais Mardi Gras songs could occur because the groups are geographically close. In the past, as well as the present, there were individuals who participated with both groups or lived in both communities during their lifetime. For example, the father of Drozin Sonnier, a long-serving Grand Marais captain in the early decades of the 20th century, was raised in the area where the Tee Mamou variant is performed. He later moved to the Grand Marais area, where Drozin was born, and eventually assumed leadership of the Grand Marais Mardi Gras group (Sexton 1996).
These forms of the Mardi Gras song demonstrate slight to moderate deviations from generic French Canadian drinking songs such as "Ami, Ami, d'ou reviens-tu"? (friend, friend, from where do you return) (Hebert n.d.), and "Je Reviens de la Guerre" (I return from the war) (Barbeau 1925). Both songs were collected in early 20th-century Quebec, but similar variants are found in the Canadian Maritimes.14.
(continued)


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Subject: ADD: Ami, Ami, d'ou Reviens-Tu?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 05:19 AM

Ami, Ami, d'ou Reviens-Tu?

Ami, ami d'ou reviens-tu?
Ami, ami d'ou reviens-tu?
Je reviens de la guerre, Ma lon lon la;
Je reviens de la guerre, Lan lir lan la;

Ami, ami, m'en donneras tu?
Ami, ami, m'en donneras tu?
Je t'en donnerai plein ton verre.

Ami, ami, le verre est bu; (repeat)
Je t'en donnerai la moitie de ton verre.

Ami, ami, la moitie du verre est bu; (repeat)
Je t'en donnerai le quart de ton verre.

Ami, ami, le quart du verre est bu; (repeat)
Je t'en donnerais garni le fond de ton verre.

Ami, ami, le fond du verre est bu;
Va t'en, Je ne t'en donncrais plus.
Friend, friend, where do you come from?
Friend, friend, where do you come from?
I come from the war, Ma lon lon la
I come from the war, Lan lir lan la;

Friend, friend, what will you give?
Friend, friend, what will you give?
I will give you a glass of wine.

Friend, friend, the glass is drunk; (repeat)
I will give you half a glass.

Friend, friend, half the glass is drunk; (repeat)
I will give you a quarter of a glass.

Friend, friend, the quarter of the glass is drunk; (repeat)
I will cover the bottom of your glass.

Friend, friend, the bottom of the glass is drunk;
Go away, I won't give you any more.


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Subject: ADD: Je Reviens de la Guerre
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 05:19 AM

Je Reviens de la Guerre

Je reviens de la guerre, o ma chere, o ma chere.
(repeat)

Soldat, soldat, qu'emporteras-tu?
Soldat, soldat, qu'emporteras-tu?
Une bouteille pleine o ma chere, o ma chere, o ma chere,
Une bouteille pleine, o ma chere petite enfant.

Soldat, soldat, que me donneras-tu?
Soldat, soldat, que me donneras-tu?
Je t'en donnerai pleine un verre, o ma chere, o ma chere, o ma chere,
Je t'en donnerai pleine un verre, o ma chere infant.

Soldat, soldat, mon verre est bu.
Soldat, soldat, mon verre est bu.
Encore la moitie du verre, o ma chere, o ma chere, o ma chere
Encore la moitie du verre, o ma chere enfant.

Soldat, soldat, la moitie du verre est bu.
Soldat, soldat, la moitie du verre est bu.
Encore le quart du verre, o ma chere, o ma chere, o ma chere,
Encore le quart du verre, oh ma chere.

Soldat, soldat, le quart du verre est bu.
Soldat, soldat, le quart du verre est bu.
Encore la queue du verre, o ma chere, o ma chere, o ma chere,
Encore la queue du verre, o ma chere enfant.

Soldat, soldat, la queue du verre est bu.
Soldat, soldat, la queue du verre est bu.
Encore le robinet, o ma chere, o ma chere, o ma chere,
Encore le robinet, o ma chere enfant.

Soldat, soldat, le robinet est bu.
Soldat, soldat, le robinet est bu.
I return from the war, oh my dear, oh my dear.
(repeat)

Soldier, soldier, what are you carrying?
Soldier, soldier, what are you carrying?
A full bottle, oh my dear, oh my dear, oh my dear,
A full bottle oh, my dear little child.

Soldier, soldier, what are you going to give
Soldier, soldier, what are you going to give
I am going to give you a full glass, oh my dear, oh my dear,
Oh my dear, I am going to give you a full glass, oh my dear child.

Soldier, soldier, my glass is drank.
Soldier, soldier, my glass is drank.
There is still half a glass, oh my dear, oh my dear, oh my dear,
There is still a half a glass, oh my dear child.

Soldier, soldier, the half a glass is drank.
Soldier, soldier, the half a glass is drank.
There is still a quarter of a glass, oh my dear, oh my dear, oh my dear,
There is still a quarter of a glass, oh my dear child.

Soldier, soldier, the quarter of a glass is drank.
Soldier, soldier, the quarter of a glass is drank.
There is still the tail of the glass, oh my dear, oh my dear, oh my dear,
There is still the tail of the glass, oh my dear child.

Soldier, the tail of the glass is drank.
Soldier, the tail of the glass is drank.
There is still the spigot, oh my dear, oh my dear, oh my dear,
There is still the spigot, oh my dear child.

Soldier, soldier, the spigot is drank.
Soldier, soldier, the spigot is drank.


The textual and thematic similarities among Louisiana Mardi Gras songs and drinkmg songs are striking. For example, Mardi Gras singers state that they come from l'Angleterre (England). Post (1936) suggested that because the Mardi Gras wished to convey an image as potential troublemakers they used England as a place of origin because of that country's responsibility for deporting the Acadians from Canada. However, it is far more likely that the textual transformation occurred because de l'Angletetre (from England) sounds like de la guerre (from the war) and it conveys the notion that the Mardi Gras have come from a long distance - an important theme of Louisiana Mardi Gras in other songs. The phrase, du fond du verre (from the bottom of the glass) from drinking songs slips easily into le fond d'hiver, (the bottom of winter), and although some Mardi Gras participants insist that dufond du verre is the correct line, others propose that le fond d'hiver is more appropriate because of the season in which Mardi Gras occurs. However, given the obvious connection to drinking songs and the reference to the bottle, glass, etc., lefond du verre seems more likely to be the original line.
Some minor transformation of Mardi Gras song verses across the Tee Mamou and Grand Marais songs, and in relation to other versions such as Post's, is attributable to the nature of the French language in Louisiana. Because most French speakers were not literate in the language, songs were transmitted orally, hence the potential for changes in wording across generations, a universal feature of folk songs. Changes may also be attributed to the preference of a particular captain or even individual singers even though they may not be shared by the entire community. A good example of this is the perspective of a former Grand Marais captain who stated that dufond du verre is the proper line, whereas his wife stated that she always thought that the verse was du fond d'hiver.
Major differences in the Mardi Gras song texts must also be considered. The phrase "Mardi Gras what do you carry" in the Tee Mamou and Post variants differ considerably from the statement "Mardi Gras behave yourself' in the Grand Marais song. The former Grand Marais capitaine is the most adamant in proposing that this is the proper line rather than "What do you carry?" He interprets "behave yourself' as indicating that the soldiers must form a neat circle and perform the song in an orderly manner as part of each visit. This perhaps reflects his responsibility for maintaining order in the group. It seems clear, however, that at one time the Grand Marais song, or at least the song from which it derived, actually included the question "Mardi Gras what do you carry?" Considering that the next line carries the same response as the Tee Mamou variant and drinking songs: "I/we carry a bottle."
The Tee Mamou and Grand Marais songs differ most in their endings. The final lines of the Tee Mamou song make reference to the eldest daughter of the household. This verse is almost identical to portions of the Guignolee song, especially variants from the upper Mississippi Valley and Quebec. For example, the Guignolee song currently performed in Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, includes lines, which apart from differences in dialect, convey the same image as the end of the Tee Mamou Mardi Gras song:
Nous vou demandons seulement
La fille ainee.
Nous lui ferons faire bonne chere,
Et nous lui ferons chauffer les pieds.
We only ask of you,
The eldest daughter.
We will make her be a good girl,
And we are going to warm her feet

The song used in the now-disbanded Lejeune Cove Cajun Mardi Gras near Tee Mamou had additional lines that are nearly identical to Guignolee songs. There, the greeting to the hosts and household: Bonsoir le maitre and la maitresse, Et tout le monde du logis (good evening to the master and mistress, and everyone in the household) precedes the request for the eldest daughter (Brassieur 1999).
It has been suggested, although certainly not substantiated and indeed over fanciful, that the request for the eldest daughter is in reference to pre-Christian customs of human sacrifice. Supposedly, within the context of Christianity, the reference was transformed into a request for a dancing partner (Gagnon 1955). However, it is more likely that this request originated because the singers wished access to the eldest (and hence most eligible) daughter for dancing and courtship. The similarity between the Guignolee song and the Tee Mamou Mardi Gras songs suggests a direct integration of begging song themes into drinking songs. Unfortunately, the specific process of textual borrowing can probably never be satisfactorily documented and, hence, only possible linkages can be proposed. Portions of the Guignolee song could have been introduced to Louisiana in the course of 18th-century contact between the French settlements of the upper and lower Mississippi valley. In fact, some contemporary Louisiana French families can trace their ancestry to settlers who migrated from upper Mississippi valley communities where Guignolee was celebrated. Or, equally plausible, these verses could have been introduced as a song fragment by a later settler from an area of France or Canada where Guignolee songs were common (Brassieur 1999). The mystery remains, however, as to why only this line from the Guignolee song was incorporated into the Tee Mamou song, although as will be discussed shortly, the conscious desire to selectively borrow fragments from other songs may be a flictor.


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Subject: RE: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 06:40 AM

In contrast to Tee Mamou, the conclusion of the Grand Marais Mardi Gras song is similar to French Canadian (and by extension continental French) drinking songs and toasts. One example of this genre of toast is the following excerpt from Quebec called "Les Canadiens ne sont pas des Fous" (the Canadians are not fools) (Tache 1946).

Ah les Marquis, boum
Sont pas des fous, boum
Partiront pas, boum
Sans prendre un coup
Ah the Marquis, boum
Are not fools, boum
Don't leave, boum
Without having a shot [drink]


Versions of this toast diffused to Louisiana where they survived in forms which refer to "Les Acadiens" (the Acadians). Two variants of these texts are reported from Vermillion Parish (a relatively short distance from Grand Marais) but they do not appear to be associated with Mardi Gras songs in that area. The first, reported by Brookshire Blanchet in 1970 is as follows:

Les Acadiens sont pas si fou de nous laisser a boire un gout,
a boire, a boire un petite gout.
The Acadians are not so crazy to leave us to drink a taste,
to drink, to drink a little taste.


A more developed text was recently recorded from the same general area.15.

Les Acadiens sont pas si fou de se laisser sans boire un Coup
Que le diable leur casser les cotes
Toutes les unes apres les autre
Les petite comme les grosses
The Acadian are not so crazy as to leave themselves without a drink
May the devil break his ribs
One after another
The little ones like the big ones


It is interesting to note that the Post variant is much closer to drinking songs because it has no colorful ending. If the Tee Mamou and Grand Marais songs were derived from a song like the Post variant, or that exact song, it is highly plausible that these communities chose to round out the original song with lines taken from other songs. These changes indicate a conscious choice to transform texts in order to differentiate them from neighboring variants.
A parallel to this scenario can be found in the contemporary Prairie du Rocher, Illinois Guignolee celebration. The current song leader stated that earlier this century when there were various active Guignolee groups in the same area, each utilized the same basic song text but they added a few lines to the ending in order to distinguish it from other groups. If the Mardi Gras song did, in fact, diffuse westward from Lafayette Parish to Tee Mamou and then to Grand Marais, the Guignolee example could serve to illustrate how the Mardi Gras songs came to differ in many respects particularly the endings. Related to this theme, Lindahl (1996a) proposes that each Mardi Gras group creates its own identity by elevating one or more of the basic elements of Mardi Gras above all others.
A similar process may be assumed for the development of community-specific song Mardi Gras texts through time. For example, Tee Mamou has always emphasized dancing with female members (as indicated in its song text, ideally the eldest daughter) of households during visits whereas this does not occur in the Grand Marais performance. However, the Grand Marais group does emphasize a mini-ritual for consuming whiskey during the run. In order to be given a shot of whiskey (i.e., "a little shot of drink") by those charged with distributing alcohol, participants must kneel and remove their hat.


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Subject: Mardi Gras Begging Songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 06:40 AM

Mardi Gras Begging Songs

The second category of Mardi Gras songs is specifically phrased as "begging songs" and they are associated with most contemporary Mardi Gras groups. Two such variants were first documented in the Cajun Grand Mamou Mardi Gras (Oster and Reed 1960); however, similar texts can be found in Cajun Mardi Gras groups in Basile, Church Point, and Elton, and in the Creole Mardi Gras groups of Basile and Anse Prien Noire. Because of subsequent commercial recordings and distribution of the Grand Mamou songs, they are the best known in the region. In fact, in most communities, including Tee Mamou and Mardi Gras, the Grand Mamou versions are performed by musicians who accompany some Mardi Gras groups or recordings of the song are played over a loudspeaker as the groups travel the countryside. However, local variants of the Mardi Gras song are perfbrmed, generally without musical accompanyment, during actual visits to homes.


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Subject: ADD: Le Danse de Mardi Gras
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 06:40 AM

Variant A - coming later


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Subject: ADD: Le Danse de Mardi Gras
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 06:41 AM

Variant B - coming later


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Subject: ADD: Anse Prien Noire
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 06:41 AM

coming in a week or so...


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Subject: Cajun Mardi Gras begging songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 07:29 AM

saved for expansion... These songs share numerous textual similarities. The Mardi Gras identify themselves as participating in a great voyage that occurs only once a year. They state that thegroups come from far away or, more specifically, in the first Grand Mamou song, England is identified as the point of origin. The refrain "all around the hub" in the Grand Mamou variants suggests a circular tour with the site of the evening's ball in the center. A key component of all these variants is the reference to the captain. The singers specifically request charity: chickens, grease, rice, and sugar, or they mention these items with the connotation that the impoverished group needs them for food. The beggars emphasize that they are des bonsjeune gens/des politessiens (good/polite people). In keeping with the theme of a quest, the Mardi Gras songs emphasize that the group must continue on its route by urging the captain to wave his flag thus signaling the group to move on to another site; for example, Capitaine, capitaine, voyage ton flag, la belle est loin (captain, captain, wave your flag, the sweetheart is far away), or Capitaine, capitaine, voyage ton flag, allons aller chez l'autre voisin (captain, captain, wave your flag, let's go to another neighbor's place). Lastly, all three Louisiana variants (as well as other related songs) share the theme of inviting the hosts to the evening gumbo and dance which benefits both the Mardi Gras and the greater community.
The Anse Prien Noire Mardi Gras song text is obviously adopted from the Cajun-French. However, the manner in which it is performed is indicative of the retention of African performance style. For example, Spitzer (1986) notes a major stylistic difference among the begging songs of Grand Mamou and L'anse Prien Noire. He differentiates the Creole variant in that, "this call-response chant, with partially improvised text, marks the Creole Mardi Gras as different from the Cajun Mardi Gras which emphasizes the repetition of a more standardized text to a more elaborated melody by one voice [human or instrumental]" (Spitzer 1986:484). At least one Cajun group, the counterpart to the Basile Creole Mardi Gras, performs the Mardi Gras song in similar fashion, perhaps an indication of African American call and response performance influences on Cajun performance style in that community. However, it must be noted that call and response is found in other North American French traditions, for example the Prairie du Rocher, Illinois Guignolee song.
These Mardi Gras songs are clearly related to earlier European begging songs. Two factors suggest this connection. First, as Oster and Reed (1960) noted in a pioneering article on Louisiana Mardi Gras, both variants of the Grand Mamou Mardi Gras song are "sung to the same melody, which is ancient since it has a gapped and modal scale" (Oster and Reed 1960). Thus, the indication is that, at least stylistically, these songs can be traced to France of several centuries ago.
Secondly, many lines from these variants of the Mardi Gras song are strikingly similar to continental French Mardi Gras and Guignolee songs as well as 19th-century French Canadian Guignolee and 20th-century La Chandeleur songs. For example, the notion of an annual visit is present in many Upper Mississippi Valley and Quebec Guignolee songs. The reference to a captain hearkens back to 19th-century Guignolee celebrations in Brittany, France, which mention a leader called "capitaine" or "chef' (Postic and Laurent 1986). The portrayal of the Mardi Gras as being in need of food is found in continental French Mardi Gras songs, for example, one 19th-century song text states Mardi Gras n'a pas soupe (Mardi Gras hasn't eaten) (Van Gennep 1947:897), whereas another variant informs the hosts that c'est Mardi Gras qu'est a la porte. Qui demande des crepes moVes (It's Mardi Gras who is at the door. Who requests soft pancakes) (Nogues 1891:57). Such statements are also very similar to continental French Guignolee songs which emphasize that the beggars Cherther de Ia viande.... (Seek meat) (Postic and Laurent 1986). This theme is also present in upper Mississippi Valley and Quebec vanants that request une thi~nee/echinee (pork backbone) to make afiicassee (stew) (Brassieur 1993; Gagnon 1955). Requests for foodstuffs also occur in some 20th-century Acadian La Chandeleur songs of the Canadian Maritimes; for example, Monsieur Marie a pas encore dine. Va-t-en dans ton quart me chercher du lard, va dans ta potdzine me chercher d'lafarine (Mister Marie has not yet eaten. Go bring me some bacon, go bring me some flour) (Arsenault 1982). Assurances about the good conduct of the beggars are also made in continental French Guignolee songs stating that Nous ne somme pas des maifaiteurs (We are not troublemakers) (Postic and Laurent 1986). The sense of urgency in continuing the route after each visit appears in French Guignolee songs such as the lines: Au nom de Dieu, depethez, depethez. Car nous avons encore tres loin a aller (In the name of god, hurry. We still have far to go), La route est longue et le terme est loin (The route is long and the end is far), and Allons dans une autre maison nous promener. Cherther une autres maison comme celle-d (Let's go to another house. Find another house like this one) (Postic and Laurent 1986).
Despite continental French origins, these songs are not simply pristine survivals of an earlier era but rather they demonstrate considerable in situ modification. For example, the dish gumbo, an example of cultural creolization in Louisiana, features prominently in Mardi Gras songs, a reflection of its importance as the last extravagant meal before the onset of Lent. Correspondingly, chickens, the primary ingredient of gumbo, are the item of charity most emphasized in these songs. The mention of chickens is rare in accounts of continental French Mardi Gras with the exception of begging quests in 19th-century Marne which were started after the end of communal cockfights, and Champagne where the collection of live chickens was a component of Mardi Gras (Van Gennep 1947). Chickens are a significant element of Acadian Chandeleur. For example, the leader of 19th- and early 20th-century Acadian Chandelur groups often carried a staff topped with the carved figure of a chicken (Arsenault 1982). The evening meal associated with the courir du Chanddeur included chickenfiicot (soup). However, no continental French or French Canadian song texts that refer to chickens were located.
With the exception of some continental French Guignolee songs, reference to a captain seems to be found only in Louisiana Mardi Gras songs, and mention of the capitaine's flag seems to be unique to Louisiana Mardi Gras. Reference to the capitame and his flag is a dominant theme in Louisiana Mardi Gras begging songs; this is perhaps indicative of the paramount authority wielded by Louisiana begging quest leaders in contrast to their French and French Canadian counterparts. Another Louisiana-specific distinction occurs in the variant of the Grand Mamou song stating that the group comes from England; this is most likely a local borrowing from a drinking song-derived Mardi Gras song.16 And the use of the refrain "all around the hub" does not appear in any of the numerous continental French or French Canadian songs surveyed. Likewise, an invitation to the communal gumbo and dance is found in all Louisiana begging songs but seems absent elsewhere.
this section hasn't been proofread yeat. I hope Mr. Scanner did a good job...


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Subject: Other Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 07:29 AM

Additional Mardi Gras Songs

In the past, there were additional songs associated with Mardi Gras runs regardless of the form of Mardi Gras songs utilized. These were sung during the play that accompanied visits. For example, Post (1936) reported the Ridelle, whose verses called for "the successive touching of the foot, knee, stomach, head and back to the ground in unison with the words." This was a parallel custom to holidays elsewhere. For example, Que Sais-Tu Bien Faire, performed as part of La Chandeleur visits on L'Isle du Cap Breton in Acadia earlier this century, is similar to La Ridelle (Leblanc 1954).
Other songs were performed as Mardi Gras groups departed a location and these were verses of thanks or reproach depending on the generosity of the hosts or the lack thereof (Sexton 1996; Ware 1994). For example, Lindahl (1996a) reports that in Basile, the Cajun Mardi Gras sang verses stating that it was hoped that the chickens of uncooperative households would die. This practice is also related to parallel French and French Canadian traditions: for example, in some continental French Guignolee songs and Acadian Chandeleur songs, cooperative hosts were informed in verse that God would reward them, while inhospitable hosts were insulted or threatened with some sort of punishment (Arsenauk 1982; Postic and Laurent 1986). Few, if any, of these songs are still performed. This is due to the decline of the French language in Louisiana, which makes learning and maintaining a repertoire of French songs difficult.


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Subject: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 07:29 AM

Discussion

Louisiana Mardi Gras songs fall into two categories. The first genre discussed in this paper obviously have origins in continental French and French Canadian drinking songs. The second type, begging songs, share themes with continental French and French Canadian Mardi Gras, Guignolee, and Chandeleur songs. The similarities among these songs is due to several factors: probable borrowing across traditions in France and in Canada, or, considering their common theme, parallel developments in song texts. The begging songs used in Louisiana Mardi Gras, or portions of them, diffused from France to Louisiana, or equally plausible, from Canada or the upper Midwest. Because Mardi Gras was the only holiday that developed with a begging quest in Louisiana, it could have served as a mixing pot of song texts from different customs introduced at different times. Elements of these songs could be adopted by different communities and then changed through oral transmission or they were consciously changed for a unique sound just like the Mardi Gras songs derived from drinking songs. Other changes reflect adaptation to Louisiana, for example, the reference to gumbo and correspondingly a strong emphasis on chickens in begging songs.
Why some communities became distinguished by begging songs and others by those derived from drinking songs is difficult to ascertain. However, this distinction may be linked to the desire to develop a new Mardi Gras song based on the modification of a drinking song rather than directly borrowing an existing begging song. The geographical origin of French settlers must also be considered. For example, the northern prairie region of Louisiana, where begging songs are so common, was initially peopled by non-Acadian French settlers (Brasseaux 1992). The southern and central portion of the prairie region where drinking song texts are/were utilized have historically had high concentrations of inhabitants of Acadian descent (Brasseaux 1992; Sexton 1996). Also, as proposed earlier, communities may have purposely modified Mardi Gras songs found in other settlements in order to distinguish their custom. This is perhaps the best explanation for differences between the Mardi Gras songs of Tee Mamou and Grand Marais and it also offers insight into why begging songs differ from community to community. Of course, some differences in song texts also occurred through the course of oral transmission of the songs. Despite the great contrasts between the two types of Mardi Gras songs, there was obviously some borrowing across these categories, for example, the theme that the Mardi Gras come from England.
Song texts obviously exhibit change through time, but communities often assume that their songs have persisted in an unchanged form. This assumption should not be surprising. As Lindahl (1996a) notes, a community will acknowledge that their Mardi Gras tradition is of great antiquity, but specific knowledge of the tradition is based on the Mardi Gras practices of recent generations. Thus, subtle changes become codified through time. Unfortunately, because of the oral nature of these songs and the dearth of historical information on the subject, the specific details of these various musicological transformations may never be fully documented. However, the analysis provided clearly demonstrates the complex processes behind the evolution of the various songs that still echo across southwest Louisiana during Mardi Gras.


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Subject: Cajun Mardi Gras songs - footnotes
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 07:29 AM

1See, for example, Ancelet 1989; Lindahl 1996a, 1996b; Lindahl and Ware 1998; Sexton 1996, 1999, 2001; Spitzer 1986, 1996; Ware 1994. Far more Cajun Mardi Gras song texts have been collected than Creole Mardi Gras song texts. This unequal distribution is unlikely to change given that there are very few remaining Creole Mardi Gras groups. This analysis attempts to consider the song texts of both groups, although this dispaiity results in a heavier emphasis on Cajun song texts.
2The research for this article induded field research in Grand Marais and Tee Mamou, Louisiana, and Prairie du Rocher, Illinois. Comparative archival data was located in the Laval University Foildore Archives, The University of Moncton; Center for Acadian Studies, The University of Maine, Fort Kent, Center for Acadian Studies; and the Brest University, Center for Breton studies. We are grateful to Jean-Pierre Michelin, Brenda Ornstein, Fanch Postic, and Ellen Badone for their assistance in locating various song texts. Spedal thanks are extended to C. Ray Brassieur for sharing his unpublished data on Guignolee songs and his insightful comments on Mardi Gras songs.
3There does not appear to be mention of begging quests in association with continental French Chandeleur celebrations. Arsenault (1982) suggests that a begging quest was linked to La Chandeleur after its diffusion to the Canadian Maritimes.
4Cross-cultural parallels to French begging quests include German Fastnacht and Christmas season mumming in the British Isles.
5Guignolee does not appear to have been present in the Canadian Maritimes prior to the late 20th century when it was introduced to some communities as a means of raising funds for civic organizations (Desdouits 1987; Ronald Leblanc, personal communication, 9 May 1995).
6The Creole has historically been linked to the Francophone descendants of colonial era Louisiana inhabitants both black and white. In contemporary southwest Louisiana, the ethnic label Creole is most commonly linked to the Afro-French. However, in the New Orleans area, "ownership" of the label is a matter of debate between Blacks and Whites.
7The Mardi Gras run was traditionally a male endeavor, although some childrens' groups could be found. In the last few decades, various communities have organized female runs as well as children's runs.
8Gumbo is a souplike dish served over rice. Its ingredients and preparation style represent a blending of African, European, and Native American practices.
9It is interesting to note that Louisiana Mardi Gras visits occurred outdoors, so the groups sought only access to the host's yard where activities like singing, dancing, the chicken chase, etc. took place. In Europe, Canada, and the upper Midwest, begging quest groups sought entrance to the host's house. The regional inside/outside dichotomy is probably due to Louisiana's mild climate which permitted considerable outdoor activities.
10Tee Mamou is the locally accepted spelling of `tite which is derived from the French term petite. It refers to the narrow southern end of Mamou Prairie and is not to be confused with the town of Mamou (often called Grand Mamou) located at the broad northern end of Mamou Prairie.
11For example, Oster and Reed (1960) and Post (1936) discuss a character called the Paillease whose disguise suggests a scarecrow.
12Post reported that various lines of this song involved repitition; however, he was not specific as to the number of times each line was repeated.
13There is a separate Tee Mamou women's run that was created in the early 1970s. It has the same capitaine and overall organization minus the negre and negresse. The only change in the song text is that the eldest son rather than the eldest daughter is requested.
14See for example, Leblanc 1977.
15The authors are grateful to Marc David for providing the text of this song.
16The area around Grand Mamou once supported numerous Mardi Gras groups, however, at the time of the Oster and Reed artide the Grand Mamou run was the dominant run in the area. Although the song texts collected by Oster and Reed are linked to Mamou, the texts (or variants of them) may have originally belonged to other communities.


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Subject: RE: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 08:57 AM

reserved for bibliography

Thanks a lot, Tee Mamou!!!


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