Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Answer: What is Bernard singing about?

Still enchanted...  

... even though Ranz des Vaches has been an earworm for this week.  

Recall that I found this YouTube video with the song “Ranz des Vaches” as sung by Bernard Romanens. 

Bernard Romanens singing Ranz des Vaches.

After listening to this a few times, I had Research Questions.  Maybe you did  too.  Let's tackle them one at a time:  

1. He’s singing this song at a festival.  What festival was it?  

Unfortunately, I don't read French, but I do know how to get to Google Translate.  

This tells me a couple of things.  First, "Armailli" is clearly some kind of title or job description (we'll look this up in RQ 5).  But more importantly, he sings this song at the "Fête des vingerons" in Vevey.  That looks like the name of a party or festival of some kind.  So.... 

     [ Fête des vingerons ] 

The official Fête page (in EN) quickly tells us that this is the Winegrowers Festival, held in the town of Vevey, located in the far southwestern corner of Switzerland, near the border with France.  The festivals date from the 18th century; the last five were in 1927, 1955, 1977, 1999, and 2019.  As it tells us: 

"The Fête des Vignerons pays homage to viticultural traditions many centuries old of an entire region with a spectacular show and coronation of the vineyard hands."

It certainly seems like quite the spectacle! 

2. When will that festival be held next?

That same page tells us that the festival is held every 20 years ("once a generation") ... AND that the previous festival was held LAST YEAR in 2019!   (I'd love to attend this festival--you're telling me I have to wait until 2039?  Arrrgh!)  

3. Once upon a time, this song was forbidden from being sung?  (What?  Why?  Where?  When?) 

My query was the obvious: 

     [ Ranz des Vaches forbidden ] 

which unsurprisingly led me to the Wikipedia page for Ranz des Vaches.  This leads to a fascinating excerpt:  

The Reverend James Wood, writing in the Nuttall Encyclopaedia in 1907, said that such a tune "when played in foreign lands, produces on a Swiss an almost irrepressible yearning for home", repeating 18th century accounts the mal du Suisse or nostalgia diagnosed in Swiss mercenaries. Singing of Kuhreihen was forbidden to Swiss mercenaries because they led to nostalgia to the point of desertion, illness or death.

The 1767 Dictionnaire de Musique by Jean-Jacques Rousseau claims that Swiss mercenaries were threatened with severe punishment to prevent them from singing their Swiss songs. The Romantic connection of nostalgia, the Kuhreihen and the Swiss Alps was a significant factor in the enthusiasm for Switzerland, the development of early tourism in Switzerland and Alpinism that took hold of the European cultural elite in the 19th century.

I didn't know what "Kuhreihen" was, so I looked THAT up.  Turns out that this is a collective noun for the "simple melodies of the Swiss mountain folk."  (And, as the definition below adds, sometimes "...with a middle section in which the names of the cattle are listed..."  

      Maxim:  Never leave a word unknown. 
                         Look those things up!

4. What are the lyrics?   What is the translation into English?  (I can’t understand ANYTHING!) 

The obvious query works here too, although you have to read through the results to make sure you're getting THIS version of the song.  Here are the lyrics I found, in both the original Arpitan and English: 

Le ranz des vaches
The Cows Song

1. Lè j'armayi di Kolonbètè
Dè bon matin chè chon lèvâ.

(Redzingon 1)
Lyôba, lyôba, por aryâ.
Lyôba, lyôba, por aryâ.
Vinyidè totè, byantsè, nêre,
Rodzè, mothêlè, dzouvenè, ôtrè,
Dèjo chti tsâno, yô vo j'âryo,
Dèjo chti trinbyo, yô i trintso,
Lyôba, lyôba, por aryâ.
Lyôba, lyôba, por aryâ.

2. Kan chon vinyê i Bachè j'Ivouè
Tsankro lo mè! n'an pu pachâ.

(Redzingon 2)
Lyôba, lyôba, por aryâ.
Lyôba, lyôba, por aryâ.
Lè chenayirè van lè premirè,
Lè totè nêrè van lè dêrêrè.
Lyôba, lyôba, por aryâ.
Lyôba, lyôba, por aryâ.

3. Tyè fan no ché mon pouro Piéro ?
No no chin pâ mô l'inrinbyâ.

(Redzingon 1)

4. Tè fô alâ fiêr a la pouârta,
A la pouârta dè l'inkourâ.

(Redzingon 2)

5. Tyè voli vo ke li dyécho ?
A nouthron brâvo l'inkourâ.

(Redzingon 1)

6. I fô ke dyéchè ouna mècha
Po ke no l'y pouéchan pachâ

(Redzingon 2)

7. L'y è j'elâ fiêr a la pouârta
È l'a de dinche a l'inkourâ :

(Redzingon 1)

8. I fô ke vo dyécho ouna mècha
Po ke no l'y puéchan pachâ.

(Redzingon 2)

9. L'inkourâ li fâ la rèponcha :
Pouro frârè che te vou pachâ,

(Redzingon 1)

10. Tè fô mè bayi ouna motèta
Ma ne tè fô pâ l'èhyorâ.

(Redzingon 2)

11. Invouyi no vouthra chèrvinta
No li farin on bon pri grâ.

(Redzingon 1)

12. Ma chèrvinta l'è tru galéja
Vo porâ bin la vo vouêrdâ.

(Redzingon 2)

13. N'ôchi pâ pouêre, nouthron prithre,
No n'in chin pâ tan afamâ.

(Redzingon 1)

14. Dè tru molâ vouthra chèrvinta
Fudrè èpè no konfèchâ.

(Redzingon 2)

15. Dè prindre le bin dè l'èlyije
No ne cherin pâ pèrdenâ.

(Redzingon 1)

16. Rètouârna t'in mon pouro Piéro
Deri por vo on'Avé Maria.

(Redzingon 2)

17. Prou bin, prou pri i vo chouèto
Ma vinyi mè chovin trovâ.

(Redzingon 1)

18. Piéro rèvin i Bâchè j'Ivouè
È to le trin l'a pu pachâ.

(Redzingon 2)

19. L'y an mè le kiô a la tsoudêre
Ke n'avan pâ la mityi aryâ.

(Redzingon 1).


1. The cowherd from The Colombettes
Got up very early.

(Chorus 1)
Lyoba, lyoba, for milking.
Lyoba, lyoba, for milking.
Come all, white ones, black ones,
Red ones, the ones marked with stars, young ones, other ones,
Under this oak tree where I milk you,
Under this aspen tree where I make cheese.
Lyoba, lyoba, for milking.
Lyoba, lyoba, for milking.

2. When they reached Bachè j'Ivouè
A pox upon me! They couldn't get through.

(Chorus 2)
Lyoba, lyoba, for milking.
Lyoba, lyoba, for milking.
The ones with bells go first,
The completely black ones go last.
Lyoba, lyoba, for milking.
Lyoba, lyoba, for milking.

3. "Poor Peter, what do we do here?
We're pretty stuck in the mud."

(Chorus 1)

4. "You must go and knock on the door,
On the priest's door."

(Chorus 2)

5. "What do you want me to say
To our good priest?"

(Chorus 1)

6. "He must say a mass
So that we can get through."

(Chorus 2)

7. He went to knock on the door
And said this to the priest:

(Chorus 1)

8. "You must say a mass
So that we can get through."

(Chorus 2)

9. The priest gave his answer:
"Poor brother, if you want to get through..."

(Chorus 1)

10. "You must give me a bit of cheese
But without skimming the milk."

(Chorus 2)

11. "Send us your maid,
We'll make a good, fat cheese for her."

(Chorus 1)

12. "My maid is too pretty,
You could very well keep her."

(Chorus 2)

13. "Don't be afraid, dear priest,
We're not that hungry for her."

(Chorus 1)

14. "You'll have to hear our confession
Because we kissed your servant too much."

(Chorus 2)

15. "We wouldn't be forgiven
For taking the Church's property".

(Chorus 1)

16."Go back, my poor Peter,
I'll say a Hail Mary for you."

(Chorus 2)

17. "I wish you many goods and cheese,
But come see me often."

(Chorus 1)

18. Peter went back to the Bachè j'Ivouè
And all the herd could get through.

(Chorus 2)

19. They put the rennet in the cauldron
Before they milked half the herd.

(Chorus 1)

5. Bernard Romanens is clearly wearing some kind of traditional costume that suggests a particular kind of job.  What is Romanens job (as indicated by his costume)?  

I started by doing a Search-By-Image for the picture of Bernard (the first picture above).  Here's what I found.  Wonderful things!  Lots of images from the festival.  

But I didn't learn too much about his costume.  But let's start with that description of Bernard we saw before.  

In Wikipedia "... the Armailli (from the patois gruérien armaye, cow) is a typical shepherd of the Friborg and Vaud Alps... the master armailli is the head of the cheese farm on the pasture where the herds of cows spend the months of summer..."  

So let's do this search:  

     Armailli costume ] 

This costume is the "Costume du soliste du Ranz des vaches (Armailli) de la fête des vignerons."  But clearly derived from the traditional shepherd / cheesemaker costume.  

As you know, there are links to all of the places in Wikipedia where this image is used.  (Scroll to the bottom of the page.)  

In this list we find the word "Bredzon," which turns out to be the name of the tradiational outfit worn by Swiss herdsmen--the clothing of the Armailli!  

But what of the man himself?  Bernard was an Armailli and cheese professional, a member of the Choir of the herdsmen of Gruyère.  Alas, after touring extensively as a singer of traditional Swiss songs, he died under mysterious circumstances in the village of Villarimboud at age 37.  

Bernard's tragedy aside, this song and this festival are fantastic.  You can watch the 2019 performance of Rache des Vaches on this YouTube video.  (It's worth it if you have a shred of Swiss soul in you. It might even make you desert your post!)  

I think I have to go to this festival... even if I have to wait 19 years.  See you in Vevey in 2039!   

Search Lessons

There's one big and obvious one here... and a more subtle one... 

1.  Not everything is in English.  In fact, few of the resources we used for this Challenge are.  Learn to use Google Translate and count on looking up all of the sources in French and German!  (There is, unfortunately, no translation for Arpitan!)  

2.  Learn the words you don't know In fact, be SURE to look up the terms you find that you don't really understand.  That's how we learned about what "Armailli" means... which is important to answering the Challenge!  

Search on!  


  1. far away -
    causing a little Gmaps stir… ever see/visit? near Kiuva Beach - Fiji…
    the plane off Fiji
    another view

  2. Just to share with all of you the Keynote Speech that Dr. Russell gave in December

    Keynote Speech, YouTube video

    an interview also at ICERI 2019

    1. I was SearchReSearching more about Bredzon. I wanted to know if there are different kinds, types, colors. so I searched [Bredzon] and later added other words like “Ranz des Vaches”, Fête des vingerons.

      Sunday Bredzon

      "...The bredzon is the traditional male attire. The armaillis (cattle farmers) wear a Sunday bredzon, a capet (small hat), an attractive loyi (a leather bag carried slung over the shoulder containing salt for the cows) and they carry a walking stick..." Now, I am wondering why the salt and how they use it.

      In that same site searched bredzon and found:

      The dzaquillon: In olden days, the women's apparel was worn for work in the fields. Nowadays it is seen only at religious and family festivities.

      Also read about a white bredzon and in 2019 Ranz was song by a group and not by a single person. Why? Because the first was song in that way

      With [bredzon Bulle, Biner-Pinaton]

      You can buy a bredzon

      Ranz 2019. "...José Romanens (dean of the group with his 58 years) is the brother of Bernard Romanens... Also not all singers wore bredzon.

      In 1928, La Gruyère "invented" her traditional costume

      Return to the roots

      José Romanens, Lyoba from brother to brother

      On different topic, and music related. In Spanish

      Teresa Carreño: la poco conocida historia de la niña prodigio venezolana que tocó el piano para Abraham Lincoln