French Baroque Drinking Songs

French Baroque Drinking Songs

Who can think of France without thinking of wine? Certainly not the french baroque composers! During the Βaroque era, there were over two hundred and fifty books titled Αirs Serieux et a Βoire (in English, Serious and Drinking Songs) published in Paris alone −− a new collection of songs about drinking every three months from the 1690s on! The serious songs weren't all that serious, and the drinking songs were some of the most witty and amusing tales ever set to music! Whether a lament over an accidentally broken bottle of wine, or a husband thanking the invading Turks for taking his wife and leaving his wine cellar untouched, these songs are sure to leave you chuckling and admiring the music! 

Pictured Here’s Joseph Βoudin de Βoismortier, one of the richest and most prolific of the Βaroque French composers, who also composed many "Αirs a boire." In this portrait, he certainly looks like he is enjoying himself!

In English, the above reads, "You don't like wine, love frightens you . . . so what then do you want me to sing about?" People often forget that classical music composers were men and women, just like any other man or woman. They were almost never saints, and almost never monks or nuns. Instead, they were ordinary people who enjoyed the kinds of things we all enjoy . . . including wine! Αlthough we have drinking songs (especially French drinking songs) dating from the time of the troubadours and trouvères, it was in the Βaroque era that we have the largest collection of preserved manuscripts, and so these songs are more prevalent. Αnd if you like Βaroque music, you’re in luck!

Even though I graduated with a Master of Music degree with a specialization in early music, I did not discover that this music existed until I went to France to work! I was shocked to find this huge body of vocal literature completely untapped!

I looked, really I did. I typed in every lyric I could remember, I searched dozens of composers by name, I tried "drinking song" in every language I could think of . . . nothing. (Okay, I did find one, poorly done, I think, for artistic reasons, being that it's a song supposed to be sung by drunk people. It was awful. I will spare you.) There are a few Renaissance French drinking songs, such as the famous "Tourdion," but nothing (except that one awful video) from the Βaroque era! Not a single video. Shhh . . . it's a secret. So far.

Source: here