Home > Solo instrument > Traditional French Dance Music for Viola, 60 Bourees,Polkas and more...

These 60 pieces are a selection of the traditional dance music of France. The main regions represented are Brittany, Auvergne and Provence, these being the areas where local cultural traditions most strongly persist.

Brittany offers the most vibrant living tradition with Fest-Noz dance evenings held regularly throughout the region. Even within Brittany there are strong local differences, with different dances and rhythms in each area. There is also the Bagad tradition, with bagpipe, bombarde and drum bands adapting and arranging the music, and the large summer festivals throughout Brittany provide a melting pot of ideas and influences. The dance music is most often played on small bagpipes, the biniou, and the Bombarde, a strident shawm, though other instruments do often appear. Dances are most often �en Chaine� or for couples, and, being simple, are more suitable for public participation than their Irish counterparts.

The dance music of the Auvergne is traditonally played by the cabrette bagpipe and the hurdy-gurdy, though recently the accordion is more in evidence. The Bourr�e originated in this region as a lively rustic dance.

In earlier times, Provence had a strong regional identity, with its own distinct language. The Farandole is a fast dance typical of the area, most often played on fife and drum. Polkas are popular throughout France, though each area has its own approach to the dance.

Musicians more used to Irish and Scottish music, used to set keys and names for their repertoire, will notice the French have a much looser approach to their traditional music. Individual tunes are often unnamed, turning up in different areas, adapted for different dances, and transposed for available instruments. The tunes are often harmonised and rearranged.

I have provided chord symbols for guitar, keyboard or accordion, though traditional accompaniment was more often provided by the drones on bagpipes or hurdy-gurdy.

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