Ok, this is the second tune I’ve posted today, sorry about that. The fact is that the tune is such an awesome one. Its not Irish though, its French. Because it starts so abrubtly on E, try playing GFD as a pick up.
Nice tune, it was played quite a bit around my parts for a while but suffered over exposure & I haven’t heard it in a little while. That D# makes the tune.
My understanding is that this tune was composed by Gillies Chabenat, a hurdy gurdy player. Winnie Horan’s version on Solas’ cd "Solas" is a classic, powerfully simple rendition.
A spelling fix: it’s GILLES Chabenat (yeah, those French names…). The tune’s name in Fench is Les Poules Huppe
Er, that was a typo, not a veiled attempt to make Msr. Chabenat’s name sound more Irish. Mea culpa.
Not a Waltz
In all fairness to Gilles, this is not a waltz but a three-time bouree. It is really in 3/8 time, and is delightful with out the downbeat effect so typical of a waltz.
Brollywacker does an extraordinary rendition of this on their album "Jump at the Sun"…
Anyone have a clue how such a beautiful melody got named Crested Hens??? Not that I have anything against Crested Hens, but, is there, possibly any relevance?
*Agrees with Syrith*
Brollywacker’s version of this tune is wonderful. It was the first version of this tune I had heard. Are they still around?
Such a beautiful tune! And the first one I’ve managed to learn by ear off a recording… 🙂
I just finished transcribing this because a guy at the session asked me to post it, and after all that I discover it’s here already. It’s in the wrong key though - this tune is in E dorian, not D major. Same notes, but the mistake will ensure this lovely tune gets regularly overlooked by people looking for wistful walzes in E modal keys.
I play this with an extra D sharp for the second to last note instead of a D natural, and I learned it at the Water Valley Celtic Music Festival in Alberta from a guitar player that was nice enough to sing it into my mini-disk recorder.
Oh man, lovely b part. I am in love with this tune. I’ve been for a while, but finally got around to commenting =P
I agree, the d# really makes the tune. As well as the gB Bg gB c4 part. Ahhhhhhhhhhh~
Surely this is in B minor, not D major.
Still, it’s a gorgeous tune.
……. Although it does feel more like E minor, in fact. I guess it’s modal, so actually it’s neither… But it’s definitely not D major.
Key Sig… ooops
🙂 What Crysania said….
Chris, all tunes are "modal" in that they fit into one mode (major, minor, dorian, etc.) or another.
Crested Hens definitely resolves (for my ear) to an E. I would say the first half is in E Dorian and the second half is in E minor.
This tune appears as a Bourrees a trois temps (in 3/8) in Mel Stevens Massif Central Book No. 1 where it is credited to Gilles Chabenat and is in D minor. This key allows some beautiful string crossing on the fiddle.
Where the name came from
"Anyone have a clue how such a beautiful melody got named Crested Hens??? Not that I have anything against Crested Hens, but, is there, possibly any relevance?"
Crsted Hens is a translation. According to Gilles ,Himself: I was 15 and couldn’t decide on a title, one day we were playing at oxymorons and my friend said "Poulles Huppees" we all laughed it that for a long time, so I decided to name the tune that…. I know it’s a dumb title, but we were just dumb kids".
He seemed to think, at that time, that getting credit was more important than collecting royalties. This tune used to be mentioned a lot as " a 400 year old Breton tune. Brettagne hens are the only one’s that grow crests". None of that is true. Gilles is from Centre — couple of hours south of Paris.
His own playing of the tune is generally "Fasht and Bad" with a hemiola to it.
That was very enlightening. Great story.
I started whistling on and off, but I keep a whistle in my case tho. I am having trouble D#. I need help on that!
The Carnival Band have recorded this
It’s in the middle of a set of Bourrees on their fabulous album "Jump for Joy".
Dancing to this tune
I’ve danced to this tune played by Wild Asparagus. It’s abolutely beautiful and powerful. It’s played at the time when a waltz is played. To Ceol Cafe, I’m hitting those D#s by just half holing the D, and as I come down the notes, I just park my right ring finger against my right middle finger, and it just covers half the hole (or close enought).
Winifred Horan plays this on the Solas Reunion CD and it is mesmorizing. One of those songs I had to drop everything and go learn it. She has a beautiful style of playing that seems unique to me.
Global Graffiti Publishing is the U.S. publisher of “Crested Hens” (aka Les Poules Huppees). While we and Gilles Chabenat (the writer) appreciate your enthusiasm for the song, we would also like you to understand that posting just about anything other than its title or your commentary requires a license issued by the publisher.
This would include (but is not limited to) music notation of any kind, midi files and sound files, whether in streaming or downloadable form. To obtain a license (at a very reasonable cost, btw), visit the “Songfile” online licensing page at www.harryfox.com , or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org . We will be happy to help you.
If you don’t wish to obtain a license, then we must ask you to remove any licensable materials from your posts.
Some trivia: 1. The original title of The Crested Hens is Les Poules Huppees and was written by Gilles Chabenat in 1983. Solas recorded the song in 1995 and translated the French title into English, which literally means, The Crested Hens. This change of title was not authorized by Gilles, but has become the de facto title of the song in America, but almost nowhere else in the world. 2. Gilles is still very much alive and well, and many of his songs have been recorded by the best Celtic artists in the world. 3. Crested Hens has been recorded and released worldwide more than three dozen times. 4. Contrary to popular belief, the song is NOT public domain 🙂
Our sincere thanks,
Global Graffiti Publishing
Global Graffiti PS
PS and FYI: You do not need a license to play Crested Hens in a live performance (or any song, for that matter). The license for a live performance is always the responsibility of the venue where you perform.
As we know, many the same tune by many names.
However, as a poet & previous (arthritis) player ( guitar, autoharp, drum, piano) should there not be room o this Web site for poems/lyrics of which mine may easily & freely turned to tunes? i.e "Rideau Canal Celtic Cross Poems", three of which have already been turned to tunes? Just e-mail me for them at email@example.com
i heard the solas verson of it, i absolutely love this tune! didn’t know it was a composed by a frenchman
I love this tune. I learned this during the Maine Country Dance Fiddle Workshop, but it was called The Crested Hen. Lovely tune!
Como poden per sas culpas
Como poden per sas culpas (No. 166), is a Cantiga de Santa Maria; that is a Song in Praise of Saint Mary. These tunes were of both secular and court composition. They were written down in the 13th Century by order of King Alfonso 10th, the Wise (aka Alfonso X el Sabio (B1221-D1284)) of Galicia & Portugal. At this time there was a flowering of the arts & sciences under his reign.
The tunes were very popular in Portugal and Spain, and came over the Pyrnees mountains to France, and thence to the England and Ireland.
The link below, will take you to a pdf file of the music for Cantiga No. 166. You will find it is pretty close to what we call Crested Hens or Coxcombe Bouree in France. The arrangement is for Pipe & Tabor. A 3-hole pipe similar to a penny whistle and is played with just the left hand. The Tabor is a small drum suspended from the left wrist and struck with a stick in the right hand.
If you search for Como Poden in Google you will also discover two YouTubes of different groups playing the tune with early music instrumentation.
There are over 300 Cantiga’s de Santa Maria, one of the largest collections of monophonic (solo) songs from the middle ages.
Cantiga’s were latter supressed by the Catholic Church for being too secular (read outside the church) and being a hold over from the more pagan Goddess worship tendencies of the peasant population. They were too popular!
There are many catchy tunes to be found here. The lyrics range from the devotional and spiritual to almost sexually lurid.
For instance, a more suspect lyric might describe the sins of a prostitute in rather suggestive terms by way of a warning; then she confesses her sins to Saint Mary, is forgiven and miraculously she made a virgin again. So that’s OK.
Somehow the Holy See didn’t quite see it that way, there being and Inquisition and all that.
Well that’s my take on this tune. Check it out and see if you think so too.
i love this tune!!
i posted a video playing it..
here’s my attempt at playing it:
Is this a 3/4 tune?
I’m having trouble with the time signature of 3/4. The versions I’ve heard sound much more triplet based, like a slow 6/8. Thanks for any wisdom.
Harmony & rhythm
The last 2 bars of the first part of the melody work nicely as a harmony under the last 2 bars of the second part - sounds great played on a low D whistle on which, BTW, it’s quite easy to find those d# notes by half-holing.
As regards rhythm, now I’ve been playing it quite a while it seems to fall out of the whistle as a slow 6/8. Seeing it written as a 3/4 seems just plain wrong!
What mode is this tune in?
I love this tune, but the mode is unique, or at least new in my experience. As far as mode goes, the first part is firmly in E Dorian, but the second shifts around. The fist couple of bars fit with a shift to the Aeolian mode , but is the D being sharpened in a similar way to a classical minor key, or is something different going on.
So what is it anyway? A Bourrée?? A waltz, maybe, perhaps a valse? No one suggested a mazurka?
I see what you mean about the similarity in the "A" part, but for me the upper reaches of the B part and the switch from two low on notes 1-5 to two high on notes 6-9 — and the syncopation near the D# — really make this tune — and make it very distinct from Como Poden, which is, however, also beautiful but more peaceful and less compelling. I wonder whether the 15-year-old who composed Les Poules Huppees had ever actually hear the Cantiga 166 or something loosely based on it. My own 14-year-old has many tunes yet to hear 🙂 So this could be a case of something heard as a small child filtered through a musical brain for several years and born in a fresh tune. It’s happened before.
Recording of “Les poules huppées”
This tune was presented in the "Les écoliers de Saint-Genest, Berry / airs nouveaux pour des danses anciennes" LP in 1983. The tempo is surprisingly fast, around 70 the dotted minim/half note with an obsessing rythm on the hurdy-gurdy of Gilles Chabenat as you can judge by listening here :
The title of the 4th track (on the cd) does not precise the type of dances of the 2 tunes in it ("Le galant indiscret - Les poules huppées")…
This tune can be advantageously followed by another Chabenat’s composition entitled "mazurka" (first track, last tune, of the same cd) for a nice set of mazurkas, which is unapproprately named "minor" here at https://thesession.org/tunes/5231, and is more widely known in France under the name of "mazurka des écoliers de St-Genest"
Just heard this this week while on vacation in montreal.. The lady next to me told me the title is slang for prostitutes.. Love them French.!
The way it was intended originally?
Re: Crested Hens
Here is our rendition coupled with Eleanor Rigby and Leaving Brittany by Johnny Cunningham. https://youtu.be/WTwEm-cVCFs
Re: Crested Hens on Irish flute can’t get the D#
I can not for the life of me play a low D# on my D flute (Irish). I try moving my pork sausage finger slightly off the hole and it almost gets to the point of playing but then goes quiet- just a whistle of air instead of a note. I have tried blowing harder/softer,.. I’m using a tuning to help find the note but get real frustrated since I just found a group to play with in sessions and they play this one?!?
Solas does a very good version of this.
Any cross finger help on this?
btw- not new at this. I can half hole other notes no problem
Re: Crested Hens
Jayl, the D# is the only note you can’t really get unless your instrument happens to half hole it particularly well. I can’t get it on the flute either, though it works fine for me on the whistle. That’s why, back in the olden days, flute players would get one keyed flutes - the one key being D# since that’s the only note you can’t cross. The only suggestions I can offer are to "lean" your finger over the hole (it’ll probably be muffled), get a keyed flute (which is what I did, and the D# is glorious), or play whistle on the tune (on mine I can "lean" the finger and it comes out fine).
That "lean" trick works on G# for me on whistle too. You can do a cracking Mason’s Apron with it.
Re: Crested Hens
I didn’t like this tune upon first hearing it; to me it sounded kind of like the tunes that get popular because of "famous" bands or ensembles that have played it, …thus…hence… everybody and his dog wants it. But now, after hearing an amazing piano player, I like it and will be playing at live shows.
Many celtic tunes aren’t notated properly, so to all of you wondering if it’s modal, or dorian, or 6/8, or 3/8, why worry about that? Just play the tune as you’ve heard it and feel free to own it by making it your own with a little bit of improvisation. That’s how "folk music" evolves: for want of a better word to describe this tune which isn’t strictly celtic (unless and of course it comes from Breton; Breton music being a distant cousin to Irish and Scottish music) After all, this isn’t like strict classical music. Comments seemed better before many players "learned to read dots" and then they want all and sundry to know about their newfound skill. Isn’t that a little bit like when someone wins money? They fall into the category known as : "new money", flashing their musical wad around (that’s "wad" not a typo for "wand"), it’s basically a euphemism for "splashing money around to show off". Sorry if this sounds judgmental.
Crested Hens, X:6
I love the F# in the first measure of the B part. Pretty sure that is how Gilles plays it. I think I pulled the dots & lines from "Danses Du Berry" by ‘Les Écoliers De Saint-Genest ‘…
Re: Crested Hens
At our session we play it in G dorian along with our vielle-a-roue player. I use a low F whistle…
Re: Crested Hens
magnifique version par le groupe SOLAS : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPQwyJaCyg8