Thrufters & Throughstones: La Bergére

07/23/09 2:05PM
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Michéle Choiniére
To celebrate Lake Champlain's Quadricentennial, the Vermont music collective Big Heavy World, the Vermont Folklife Center, and the Vermont Historical Society have produced a two-CD set that chronicles our region's musical history.

The compilation is called Thrufters and Throughstones, named for the special stones that help anchor the rocks in New England stone walls. The name is meant to symbolize the continuity of music in Vermont.

This week, Vermont Edition is exploring some of the music included in the collection.

Today we hear  La Bergére, by Michéle Choiniére

It's from the CD 'Coeur Fragile." Traditional, arrangement by Michéle Choiniére. Recorded and mixed by Lane Gibson at Charles Eller Studios, Charlotte, VT. Produced by Bill Garrett. Mastered by Lane Gibson at Charles Eller Studios, Charlotte, VT. Michéle Choiniére, vocals; Gaston Bernard, feet; Benoit Bourque, bones; Simon Lepage, bass; Brian Barlow, rek; Eric Beaudry, vocals.

"La Bergére" (The Shepherdess) is an arrangement of the traditional French folk song, "Il etait une bergere," made popular around 1765. The song arrived in Vermont in the early 1900s when many Quebec natives came to the mills to work. Choiniére first learned it while cooking with her mother, who learned many songs from her aunts and uncles of the De Repentigny and Riendeau families of St. Remi, Quebec. The girl, who is the subject of the song, is making cheese from milk. A cat comes along and wants to drink the milk, but the girl tells it, "if you put your paw in that milk, I'm going to give you a tap." Instead, the cat puts its chin in the milk, and out of anger, the girl kills the cat. The song is arranged in a minor key to better express the meaning of the song, and to appeal to a modern audience.

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