Songs of oral tradition in the Breton language
in books, reviews, manuscripts, discs, cassettes, CDs

General informations - Some definitions

Collector: This is the person who collects songs from singers.

Bearer of tradition, Source singer: This is the interpreter of the song, the person who transmitted it to the collector.

Folklorization: The process by which a song is transmitted by oral tradition and which results in the creation of multiple versions of the same song.

Song-type: Song catalogues are based on the concept of a ‘song type’. Two songs belong to the same type if they say the same thing in the same way, that is, deal with the same subject, using comparable expressions. This song-type is identified by a critical title.

Critical title: This is the title given to a song-type.

Version: A version is a song collected from a singer at a certain place and published by an "editor" (the author of the work who brought the song to public notice or the author of the manuscript where it appears). Even if the information about the singer and the place are not always mentioned by the publisher, they nevertheless are at the origin of the existence of the version.

Occurrence: A version could be the subject of several editions (by the same editor in different books, in an anthology, in a written form and then in recorded media, etc.). These are multiple occurrences of the same version.

Gwerz (plural Gwerzioù): The gwerzioù are dramatic narrative songs. Depending on the case, these are songs about historical events (wars, revolts, accidents ...), or dealing with legendary subjects (eg lives of saints, miraculous episodes ...) or fantastic legends(in relation to death, Hell ...), or relating episodes of life, destiny...
For this type of song, we often find in French the term "complainte" or in English "ballad".

Son (plural Sonioù): Sounds corresponding to lighter themes. They deal with personal feelings (love, reveries, disappointments ...) and the author is often actor, in episodes of everyday life, satirical subjects (vices, mockery ...), poems to the glory of people or the country. But, like the gwerzioù, they are songs with a rather narrative character (poetry for poetry is rare in popular Breton song).

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