Monday, 20 July 2009

TRAD'ESTIU and the 102nd thing to do with a dead goat

Once again there is a lot going on. For the last few days there has been a festival of Musiques et danses traditionnelles - traditional music and dance going on in town.
After a morning of labour I walked into town to watch a dance lesson taking place under the Halle au Grains. Quite a few of the dancers were Association members or locals, but I didn’t notice any non-French speaking people taking part.

And to answer the question "Does size matter when you are dipping and lifting?"

I returned in the evening to watch Du Bartàs

Two of my local friends trip the light fantastic.

The group consisted of 3 men. One on a drum, one with a tambourine and one with an accordion. They were very good, and there are some of their catchy songs that they sang on the myspace link above.
There were teeny children running all over the dance floor, like toys running on Duracell batteries. Even tots too small to stand up, were being supported whilst they dribbled and “clapped” their hands along to the music, or were whirled around the floor by their parents.
There were a few stalls selling tee-shirts and cds. There was also a very dangerous grillade (barbecue) going on alongside the steps of the Halle, with Toulouse sausage coils sizzling on the grills. These were often left unattended and as I said small kids were racing about everywhere.
There was a stall selling crepes and gallettes which seemed to be doing well. Next to that was a rather unkempt man selling fresh drinks and sorbets made from local flowers, Next to him was Nicolas, who is a friend of Bee-boys. If I talk of him again he will be nougat man as he makes and sells montelimar type nougat. He has long black hair, and looks and dresses rather like Snape from the Harry Potter films. He does not move about a lot, and Bee-boys mother informs me that he is Kool. He was also selling Bee-boys honey and his gingerbread.
Sunday was a day of rest for me. I went to a barbecue at my French family’s house at 5.30pm. The 3 children are on holiday and their father’s job finished recently and he is currently looking for work. So the family might well end up moving away after being here for 5 years.
The youngest aged 8, is going to theatre school this week. I told her that she will probably have to learn how to be a tree, but she thinks that I am just a crazy person. She wants to be a vet. At the moment she has the attention span of a gnat and refuses to speak English. She tells me that she can do the doggy paddle and the breast stroke.
The 10 year old is heavily into Harry Potter and is currently reading book 5 or 6 during most of her waking moments. She will not however be allowed to go and see the latest HP film, as her mother says she has not read that far in the series and it will spoil it for her. It is preferable that she visualises her own characters in the books, rather than the celluloid stars. She has however been watching the HP film trailers on the computer……. So mother is fighting a losing battle.
The eldest had long hair until recently, but the hair has grown at a rapid rate over the last few weeks and now covers the left eye. This situation will be rectified prior to the return to school however.
After the barbecue I went into town to see the music and dancing once again.
The evening was much more dance tune orientated, and the majority of those on the dance floor were the same people as the night before. Dance music is however rather repetitive and lacks vocals, or it did in this case.
The group playing were Biscam Pas
And they were very good at teaching folk dances from various parts of Canada and other regions of the world. Their web site is worth a look and can be read in French or in English. There is a list of the instruments that they make and play alongside a bit of historical information. The most unusual instrument was a bagpipe type, but is mad from a whole goat. I took this photo and the information about it is taken from their website.

(pronounced : boudégo cràbo)

The first name is from French Aude department and the second, meaning goat in the South of France language, 'Occitan', from the Tarn department. The use of this bagpipe instrument is halfway between four French departments: principally the north of the Aude department, the south of the Tarn department, slightly spilling over into the Hérault department in the east, and the Haute Garonne department in the west; an area centred on the Black Mountain massive and the Sidobre plateau. For tens of years no players of the instrument were left and thus a long period of silence occurred. It again saw the light of day thanks to the initiative of Charles Alexandre and luthiers such as Claude Romero from Toulouse or Bruno Salensson from Nîmes. The pouch containing the air is made from a whole goat, of which at least three feet are retained. This pouch is called oire or embaissa in the 'Occitan' language (pronounced ooyré or émbàysso respectively). The long cylindric back piece produces a continuous note, called the drone, tuned to the melody's dominant note, or sometimes to the fundamental note. Its main use was largely individual, rarely accompanied by another instrument. The craba, or bodega, was above all the instrument of the rural social classes of non land owners, day labourers, shepherds and farm workers; this social restriction corresponds to the artisanal nature of its workmanship. This instrument is, along with the zampogna of Southern Italy, the largest of the bagpipes.
JNRR recently wrote about making pate from a whole pig's head which she bought from the butchers, but I think that everyone would agree that making a musical instrument out of a goat is much more useful and will give much longer lasting pleasure to many more people.
By half past 11 my legs had had enough of standing about, the little kids were still whizzing about and showing no signs of running out of juice. I did not see the last group of the evening, but went home to bed instead. After all the week long jazz festival starts tomorrow!

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