DJOUWÈ  (the booklet : summary)
Dance tunes for brass (Belgium)

Dance tune

The Walloon term "arguèdène" can be translated as "ariette", a tune played by a handful of musicians, typically in the brass band world. A solo melody, usually a dance tune, is accompanied by a few secondary instrumental voices playing by ear. This kind of entertainment music comes as a moment of relaxation on the fringes of formal outings, after a concert, a parade or any other banding event, and is placed under the sign of good humour, in a festive atmosphere. Arguèdène sessions – like jazz jam sessions – may last from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the circumstances. In the presence of dancers, they are transformed into impromptu balls.

Although the melodies are generally transmitted orally from generation to generation, the accompaniment is purely improvised: bass notes, off-beats and descant voices join spontaneously with the main voice. Bass and side drums can also be part of the game.

The practice of arguèdènes developed throughout the nineteenth century, parallel to the rise of amateur wind bands. After the First World War, the number of bands began to decrease as well as that of arguèdène players. The dances in favour until then – waltzes, polkas, schottisches, mazurkas, redowas, varsoviennes, etc. – gave way to more modern forms (such as quick steps, one steps, charlestons, tangos, javas, etc.), also used by the arguèdène players. Tunes from various genres such as jazz, rock, pop, French songs are nowadays also heard during arguèdène sessions, alongside the older forms that have survived.

Although the practice was formerly widespread throughout Wallonia, the southern part of Belgium, it currently persists in the Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse region, an area straddling the provinces of Hainaut and Namur located between the rivers of Sambre and Meuse. Arguèdènes survive thanks to a few individual village band players and to some fife players active in the Marches of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse. The traditional arguèdène forms – waltzes, polkas, schottisches and mazurkas – have been selected for this album, with tunes coming from several areas of Wallonia. The region of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse is best represented, with its sub-regions of the Boot of Hainaut, the Pays de Charleroi and southern Namur, but there are some incursions in Thudinie (area around Thuin) and in Walloon Brabant.

This charming music of times gone by was mainly orally transmitted, but not only. Some handwritten booklets or sheets have survived, as well as some commercial printed booklets where some arguèdènes come from or were published in. Other tunes had to be collected from aged players. The names associated with the tunes generally are those of the musicians who usually played these tunes. In some cases, the name of the composer is known, especially for the more recent arguèdènes. Indeed, some younger bandsmen, like their predecessors, nowadays compose their own arguèdènes. The mentioned place in the track list is where the arguèdène has been collected or where its usual player comes from. 

Arguèdènes also have a social function and contribute to the cohesion of the band members, to the links with the community, and are part of an intangible heritage that continues to evolve, mainly in rural Wallonia. It is a type of traditional music that is still largely unknown, which is underexploited by musicians from other horizons than the bands and which tends to disappear. More reasons to put them in the spotlight in this recording!

Djouw groupe site

À râse dè têre

The ensemble À râse dè têre was created in 2005, following the first arguèdène contest organized by the Royal Fanfare Band of Sivry. A flugelhorn, a cornet, a euphonium and a tuba form a balanced ensemble that is well suited to the arguèdènes. The group is composed of four passionate amateur brass musicians: a museum curator, a psychologist, a postman and a painter. They come from the banding world, where they received their initial musical training, completed in music academies or conservatories. They learned the arguèdenes on the job when they were young, with the older bandsmen who knew how to transmit to them the taste for these small pieces of somewhat rustic and old-fashioned music, but at the same time warm and charming tunes. The main advice of the old musicians was quite simple: “Djouwè!” (Play!).

CD tracks

  1. L’Ingrate, polka, J. Bauwens, version of Octave Guyaux – Florennes

  2. Valse à Gabriel – Macquenoise

  3. Sur le Mont Rosé, Émile Baudoux (74th serie of L’Aurore boréale) – Sivry

  4. Redowa – Leernes

  5. Polka à Urbain – Sivry

  6. Tout va bien, waltz for flugelborn, C. Van Uffelen (81th serie of L’Aurore boréale),
    version of Marcel Dumoulin – Sivry

  7. Polka des clochers de Clouzis, André Philippe – Sivry

  8. Valse à Nestor – Froidchapelle

  9. Do mi sol do, schottisch – Pont-à-Celles

  10. Joyeuserie, polka, Pascal Adam – Gerpinnes

  11. Valse en mineur – Ham-sur-Heure

  12. Gentille Lisette, mazurka, Émile Baudoux (74th serie of L’Aurore boréale) – Sivry

  13. Petit Bébé, polka – Beignée

  14. Regrets à la fanfare de F.V., valtz, Mélian Vander Jeugt – Fontaine-Valmont

  15. Schottisch n° 15 – Le Bourgeois

  16. Mazurka – Renlies

  17. Polka à André – Rance

  18. Valse du Monchau d’têre, André Philippe – Sivry

  19. Miss Broeck, polka for piston, L. Vermaelen (manuscript notebook & 76th serie of L’Aurore boréale) – Sivry

  20. Coucou, schottisch – Fraire

  21. Retour de Paris, valtz – Sivry

  22. Polka à Auguste – Nismes

  23. Sabine ou la douceur d’une jeune fille à l’aube du XXIe siècle, Pierre-Noël Latour – Yves-Gomezée