Horse’s Bransle polka

Also known as Branle Dei Cavalli, Branle Des Cheveaux, The Devil’s Fiddler, Horse’s Brawl, Horses Bransle, Horses’ Branle, Horses’ Brawl.

There are 7 recordings of this tune.

Horse’s Bransle has been added to 5 tune sets.

Horse's Bransle has been added to 123 tunebooks.

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Three settings

X: 1
T: Horse's Bransle
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
G>A BB|cB Ac|BA GF|E2 D2|
G>A BB|cB Ac|BG AF|G2 G2:|
dc/B/ AB|cB/A/ GB|AG FG|A2 A2|
dc/B/ AB|cB/A/ GB|AG GF|G2 G2||
_BA/G/ BA/G/|FG A2|DE FG|GF G2||
X: 2
T: Horse's Bransle
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gdor
G>A BB|cB Ac|BA GF|E2 D2|
G>A BB|cB Ac|BG AF|1 G3 D:|2 G3 d||
|:dc/B/ AB|cB/A/ GB|AG FG|A3 d|
dc/B/ AB|cB/A/ GB|AG GF|G3 d:|
X: 3
T: Horse's Bransle
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:G>A BB|c>B Ac|BA GF|E2 D2|
G>A BB|c>B Ac|BG AF|G2 G2:|
|:dc/B/ AB|cB/A/ GB|AG FG|A2 A2|
dc/B/ AB|cB/A/ GB|AG GF|G2 G2:|
|:_BA/G/ BA/G/|FG A2|DE FG|A_B AG|
_BA/G/ BA/G/|FG A2|DE FG|GF G2:|

Twenty-eight comments

Is the rhythm of this straight or is there some swing?

Horse’s Branle

It’s very often played with a low F natural in the last part.Opinion is divided.

We play this alot for some reason, with a bit of ‘swing’ and a low F nat in the third part apart from the last one. The third part always sound a bit ropey, but on the whole it has a nice Eastern European feel. Goes well with the Bear Dance and/or Man in the Brown Hat.

The Horse’s Branle

Is ther a mistke in the fourth bar?It’s always played E D,not E E.

The Horse’s Branle


The Horse’s Branle


Jocklet, that’s the way I know it, ED in bar 4.

(Never played it at a session but have crumhorn-ed it in silly costume many a time.)

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The horse’s mistatke

I play ED in bar 4 too, but I found in the net that ABC file with EE, and I liked it.

The Horse’s Branle

I’ve never heard it played that way,and it’s played at every session that I attend here in Belgium.

About the "Horse Branle"

In fact this melody is a médiéval street music from the 13th century.

It’s real name is : Le bransle des Chevaux
with a "S". It’s a dance called "Bransle".

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Branle/bransle/brawl has different spellings in different countries. The spelling "branle" is used throughout the Evans/Sutton Dover edition of Arbeau’s Orchesographie (which is kind-of the "O’Neill’s" of dance in that period) but it’s one of those words that gets around.

"Horses" is given in Orchesographie as a mimed branle (danced with miming and gestures) and if anyone’s interested, there’s a full description and tabulation of the dance there along with the basic tune. The book can be quite entertaining reading anyway, even if you’re not a dancer.

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We draw out the first eighth note in the first and fifth bars to a dotted eighth. As in: G>A BB | cB Ac etc. Also we play E2 D2 in the fourth bar.

"Le Vent du Nord" did a great rendition of this along with Daniel Thonon and his brother Luc at Calixa-Lavallee, QC, CA recently. I think it sounds best with the hurdy-gurdy at least accompanying.

vonnieestes, doesn’t everything?

How Blowzabella blow it:

track 4: Branle de borgogne / Horse branle
on their album "Bobbityshooty"

Another transcriptions in 2/2 can be found on page 50, ‘Horses’ Branle’, of the publication:
"Encyclopaedia Blowzabellica: The Blowzabella Tune and Dance Book"
Dragonfly Music

Horses’ Branle - the Third Part

The third part of this tune uses an old form of the minor scale, called the "melodic minor" - in this case G-Melodic Minor.

In this old form of the minor, the intervals differ according to whether the tune is going up the scale, or down the scale.

Going up the scale, in this key, all the Es are natural and all the Fs are sharp.

Going down the scale (although the third part of this tune doesn’t actually do this) the Fs would be natural and the Es would be flat.

The correct way to score a melodic minor tune in the key of G is to use a two-flat key signature (as for natural or harmonic G-Minor), and annotate the accidentals where they occur.

(Although in this case, it might seem strange to have an Eb in the key signature where none occurs in the tune).

Players of G-D and G-D-A melodeons often omit the third part of this tune - presumably because they are unable to play Bb.

Horses’ Branle - Time Signature

The correct time signature for this tune is 2/2 (although of course there is no way of submitting a 2/2 tune to the session!)

Horses’ Branle - Source

This tune was collected by Thoinot Arbeau (1520-1595).

Horses’ Branle

It’s the first in this tune set played by Barry Hall on a reproduction 5-string mediaeval fiddle (vielle) strung with plain gut. In my opinion it’s magnificent both in sound and playing. I believe the other two tunes in the set are Staines Morris and Kettle Drum.

You might be able to approximate the sound of Barry Hall’s vielle with a modern viola (not too good!) strung with plain gut strings, the C and G being tuned up to D and A. And use a baroque bow to get his articulation.

Horses’ Branle

Trevor, that link just takes me to my own YouTube page. ??

The Horses Bransl Set?

Does anyone know the names of similar tunes(s) that would follow on from “The Horses Bransl” to be palyed as a set.