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An Pluiméir Ceolmhar Folklore: Balluchon, vannelle French folk dances? (2) Folklore: Balluchon, vannelle French folk dances? 15 Jan 05


Time to consult the Mudcat, fount of all knowledge again.

A friend, currently cruising in Antarctica, has asked for urgent musico-linguistic assistance. One of his fellow-voyagers has a CD featuring a piece of music entitled French suite. Two of the pieces are named respectively baluchon/balluchon and vanelle/vanelle, and wants to know what the two words mean.

I checked both words out in dictionaries, but got no obvious leads.

A balluchon is a bundle held together in a square cloth with the corners knotted together - a bit like the thing that Charlie Brown uses to carry his possessions on the end of a stick when he's running away from home. Or it can be a bundle of cloth. The spelling baluchon is also accepted.

My only guess as to how it crops up in the piece of music is that it may be the name of a folk dance which involves dancing around a bundle, just as the girls used to dance around a pile of handbags in the discos in the 1980s.

I don't find the word vanelle in the dictionaries that I consulted, but vannelle exists. It means a small sluice gate or valve. Huh?

The only guess that I can make on this one is even more speculative. My starting point is the fact that vannerie is basket-weaving or wickerwork. There's an even more hazy memory at the back of my mind that there is some English folk dance or Irish set dance whose name is associated with weaving (presumably dancers pass in and out in a weaving motion through a line of other dancers).

The verb vanner means to winnow, so perhaps a vannelle is a working song sung by winnowers.

Vanneau is a lapwing or plover (Philippa's little friend), and the feminine form of this would be vannelle. So maybe it's a dance that involves strutting around the place like a wading bird ;-) ?

Suggestions invited.


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