Saltarello – a lively folk dance from near
Naples, Italy. Danced in pairs. It comes from the 1st
half of the fourteenth century, mentioned for the first
time in a manuscript from the year 1390. Eventually, it
became a court dance. Also known as Alta Danza in
Spain, Pas de Brabant in France and
Quadernaria in Germany.
Słoma (Straw) – or Słoma-siano (Straw-hay),
a Breton dance Branle De Champaigne danced in a
circle and finished with a pageant. Its origin may be
dated on early Middle Ages, however its steps evolved
and their form became more court-like. Popularized in
Poland thanks to the recordings by Open Folk band (album
“Branle” from the year 1995). The name of the dance is
supposedly misleading, because it came from nickname of
one of the members of the band - Jerzy “Słoma”
Motyle (Butterflies) – or Motylki (Little
Butterflies) - an old French dance, an ancestor of a
later court dance - allemande. Two versions are danced -
slow and fast. The melody itself was taken by us from
the 4th album by Open Folk from the year 1993. The
titles of the tracks on this album are quotations from
poems. This dance bears the following verses: ”The
voices of fine joy arose at once. The trembling harps
were calling merrily. A feast was set around, The night
was passing blissfully. Three days we cheered over the
beaten And we were summoning the hawks from the heaven.
They came from all the winds Onto the feast over the
Praczki (Washerwomen) – branle-type breton
dance. Also known as Washerwoman’s Branle and
Branle des Lavandières. Description of the steps and
neumas with the melody come from "Orchésographie"
tractate from year 1589, written by a dance
theoretician, Mr Thoinot Arbeau. The characteristic
thing in this dance is the flirt between the pairs of
the dancers, when the men threaten the ladies with their
fingers, while the ladies stand with their hands on
hips. The dance became popular in Poland thanks to the
recording by Open Folk from year 1995.
Taniec Węgierski (Hungarian) – performed by other bands
under various titles (for example Taniec słowiański
(Slavonic dance). The truth is it’s a breton
dance called Kost Ar C'hoat, one of the folk
dances danced in a circle. Where did the misleading name
come from? We don’t know yet
Belgijski (Belgian) – a cover of t’Smidje
(Blacksmith) from 1998, performed by a modern
belgian band Laïs. The text is a story of a blacksmith,
who is not very fond of his marriage, sung in Dutch.
Surprisingly, the melody has spread in various circles
as so-called Belgijka or Taniec Belgijski
(Belgian Dance). The dance took its steps from
another French dance called Chapelloise known in
Scandinavia as Aleman's marsj.
Drumul Draculi – free translated - The path of
the Devil. A dance known in Moldova, Romania (Друмул
Дракули), and Hungary (Ördög útja). It comes
from the Hungarian minority living in Moldova.
Maltańslki (Mltese Dance) – it’s other names are
Branle Maltese or Marazula. A branle-type
dance, danced in a circle. According to a French dance
theoretician Thoinot Arbeau (1519-1595), it originated
on Malta and was danced on court masquerades. Over time,
it spread itself in France. As it is described, at every
repetition of steps the dancers made a different
expression on their faces and performed different
Kender - presumably the steps of this dance
come from the beginning of the reconstructive movement
in Poland and were created on the basis of other dances
by a dancing group from the Bolkos’ castle. The melody
is an original composition by Karol Kruś. It was
popularized thanks to a recording from White Garden band
repertoire, year 1998. The titile Kender comes
from the nickname of one of the female reconstructors.
Music: Karol Kruś
Specknerin - or Nonesuch, a melody from
England. The first notes and dance figures come from
year 1651, from a tractate "The English Dancing Master"
written by John Playford. The choreography seen nowadays
on historical shows was created in Germany in the 1970s.
Taniec niedźwiedzi (Bear Dance) - depending on the region,
it may have different names: Branse de L'ours,
Polka de L'ours, Pòlca der ós, l’Orso Balù
(France), Berendanz, Berenbranle,
Bärentanz (Germany), Berenbranle
(Netherlands), Il balli del Urso, Danza del
Oso, Danza’l Osu (Italy), Dança da Ursa
(Portugal)... Similarly numerous are the theories on its
origin (starting from the most… acceptable to us):
A) the melody is a remnant of medieval bear handlers,
who trained Pyrenean bears for dancing and performed
with them at trade fairs in French cities between the
9th and 13th century. Or possibly it comes from the
jugglers who danced in bear costumes, singing a text
about a bear in Occitan.
B) it is a 19th-century folk dance from Brittany /
Flanders / Champagne / Pyrenees / Provence / Asturias /
C) it’s someone’s musical invention from the 60s. For
example - a recording from year 1972 with a citiation of
D) it’s a dance from Poland / Czech Republic / Russia,
which came to France in the 60s along with a wave of
interest in the culture of Eastern Europe. It may even
be related to pagan celebrations of the spring
solistice, during which the bear is a symbol of the
Whatever the truth is, today the Dance of Bears, along
with its steps, moved to folk ball and medieval events,
in which we’ll not disturb it… but on the contrary.
Nakon – a funeral rhapsody about a historical
figure known from the records by Ibrahim ibn Jakub.
Nakon is the lord of Garad stronghold, and the ruler of
a Pomeranian Slavonic tribe called Obodryci. He died in
966 leading an uprising against the Saxons. We wrote the
words of the song inspired by a novel by Anna
Świrszczyńska titled „Arkona – gród Świętowita” („Arkona
– the Stronghold of Świętowit”), which was published in
Wieczny ogień (Eternal Fire) – also Piosenka Jaskra (Dandelion’s
Song) or Zapachniało powiewem jesieni (It
smelled of autumn) - a ballade with text by Andrzej
Sapkowski and music by Grzegorz Ciechowski. The piece is
known from the story “Eternal Fire” coming from “The
Sword of Destiny” saga (1994) and movie “The Witcher”
(2001). In the movie, it is performed by Zbigniew
Zamachowski playing bard Dandelion.
Pada deszczyk (It's Raining) – a traditional folk song from
approx. 17th century, presumably from nearby Rakowicze
(Augustów District) right on the Polish border with
Belarus. The polyphony that appears in the song drifted
from behind the eastern border. In the 4th part of
„Dziady” (1822) by Polish national poet Adam Mickiewicz,
there are two lines taken from the song’s text: "Kto
miłości nie zna, ten żyje szczęśliwy, i noc ma spokojną,
i dzień nietęskliwy" ("The one who doesn’t know
love, lives a happy life, has a peaceful night and a
non-wistful day") It is sung by Gustaw the Hermit,
signed „people’s song”. Interestingly, these two lines
appear also in many other songs – you can read the full
Lipka (Linden) – a folk song known in Poland, Czechia,
Moravia, Slovakia and Russia. The Polish text comes from
Kobylin (Wielkopolska). Its variants are different
depending on the region. The first references of this
song come from the 16th century.
In Taberna – it comes from a collection of songs
called Carmina Burana (Codex Buranus /
Songs of Buren), written down by monks near year
1230. The manuscript including 254 poems and songs was
found in 1803 in a German abbey. The songs were written
in Old French and Old German. We chose a song that is…
convivial: In Taberna quando sumus (Praise of
an Inn) and we translated it to Polish.
Bitwa (Battle) – a cover of a piece performed by
a Belarusian medieval music band Stary Olsa (Стары
Ольса). Originally called Arsanskaja bitva (Аршанская
Бітва), it is a rhymed text about events from year
1514, when Polish-Lithuanian army battled against the
Russians. It was translated from Polish into
Belarussian. The description comes from
Kronika polska, litewska, zmudzka i wszystkiéj Rusi
(The Polish, Lithuanian, Samogitian and Ruthenian
Chronicle) written by Maciej Stryjkowski in 1582. In our
version the piece became a universal song about a
Koło Jana – a song sung in the Midsummer night.
We used one of the oldest known Polish folk texts -
Pieśń sobótkowa (Midsummer Song) from near
the Narew river. Actually we sing only a part of it,
because the original is a conglomerate of several text
Herr Mannelig – a medieval Swedish ballade from
the 11th century, telling a story of a female mountain
troll who wants to become a human. She believes it will
happen after she marries a knight called Mannelig. She
offers him wonderful gifts – horses, a sword, a mill,
rings, but he rejects her offer. There are many versions
of the ballade based on this story. We created our own
translation into Polish.
Helvegen (A Way to Hel) – a cover of a
song by a popular Norwegian band Wardruna, who are
widely known as creators of soundtrack from TV series
Vikings. The piece tells about death. It contains
quotations from poetic Edda called Hávamál (The Song
of The Highest), which comes from the 10th century,
Scandinavia. Music: Einar Kvitrafn Selvik from
album "Runaljod - Yggdrasil" (2013).
(Wolven Storm) – (Priscilla's Song) a love
ballade from game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015). After
the game’s great success, the piece became very popular
and is being widely covered, sung in different languages
and music styles. Lyrics: Aleksandra Motyka, music:
Oj, siadaj, siadaj (Oh, sit,
sit) – a ritual wedding song, sung during
przenosiny (relocation) – the Bride’s departure from her
parents’ house to the Groom’s house. The Bride herself
remained silent, saying goodbye to the house and family.
There are many variants of this song. Most of them come
from the north-eastern part of Poland. They were
decribed by Oskar Kolberg (a famous Polish etnographer).
The oldest recording of this song was made in 1955. In "Nad
Niemnem", a novel by Eliza Orzeszkowa published in
1888, the writer quotes this song in Cecylia’s wedding
Villeman og Manghild - a medieval ballade of
Harpens Kraft kind. It comes from Scandinavia - Norway,
Sweden (Gudmund og Signeliti), Denmark, Iceland (Gautakvæði).
The earliest text of hundreds of its variants comes from
a Danish manuscript from 1583. Lyrics tell the story of
a playing a golden harp and his fiancée Manghild
kidnapped by a Troll. We used a fragment of this story,
translated into Polish.
Zoriuszka - (Ой, зоря ты, зорюшка)
a polyphonic Russian song popularized by zespół
Piesnochorki (Песнохорки) ensamble, from town
Barnauł (Барнаул) in Altai region. In the ‘80s, members
of the ensamble wrote down the melody from folk singers
living in Sibiryachikha (Сибирячиха) village,
Novosibirsk region. In the beginning (17th century) it
was a wedding song sung in the morning, on the wedding
day. It was performer by Young women dancing in a
circle. The original has 18 stanzas interrupted by
melody luli-luli, which is characteristic for the
Russian tradition. The popular names appearing in the
lyrics were probably swapped during the specific young
couple’s wedding. The lyrics are full of symbols
connected with leaving the state of maiden. At the same
moment the old day passes and a new day gets up, while
the couple passes over the footbridge over the water. At
the same time, the lyrics can be interpreted as a Spring
ritual song, when during the spring solstice Jaryło
kidnaps Marzanna and leads her through the underworld.
Pieśń wojów Bolesława Chrobrego
Ai Vis Lo Lop
We combined Zoriuszka with Repasseado – a melody
of a Portuguese dance.
Skalmeje – a cover of a piece by a Danish medieval folk band Krauka.
The piece took its name from an instrument similar to
Memento – an acoustic cover of a piece by Swiss
folk-metal band Eluveitie from album „Evocation I
- The Arcane Dominion” (2009). The band performs pieces
with lyrics in Gaulish. This language is also the source
of the name of the band.
Last of the Wilds – an acoustic cover of a piece
by Finnish symphonic-metal band Nightwish from album
“Dark Passion Play” (2007). There are two versions:
instrumental and with Finnish words (Erämaan
viimeinen), telling about longing for primeval
landscape of nature. Music: Toumas Holopainen.
If anyone can complete our
knowledge about the origin of these melodies, please
contact us, we will appreciate it.
records are available under CC BY-NC 4.0 licence.