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'Traditional music in Belgium', a mim production

In the interest of conservation and preservation, the mim is producing a couple of short films on the theme of traditional music in Belgium.

The first video presents a curious sound manifestation related to our forest massifs: a deer's bell competition. From ancient hunting traditions, these competitions are widespread in Germany and Eastern Europe. They have been in existence in France since 2013, and in Belgium since 2014, where they take place every year at Le Fourneau-Saint-Michel, near Saint-Hubert. Passionate encounters between nature lovers, they are also a musical phenomenon in their own right. The imitations are based on a very developed listening and restitution skills. As the film shows, there is a great variety in the quality and expressive capacity of the bell imitator.

The second film traces the « Hanske knap ». Hans knap knap knap, ... A penny or a coin to take Hanske's beard off! It hasn't been cut in 100 years. See how long his beard is! Ho Hans, ho Hans! Put a penny in the Hans! So resounds the song of the « knappers », who go from door to door wishing good wishes to the inhabitants on « Lost Monday », the Monday following Epiphany. This tradition was once celebrated throughout the Antwerp Polders, but can now only be seen in the villages of Berendrecht and Zandvliet. But for how much longer?

The third film in the series is about the « crâmignon », a traditional chain dance, once practiced throughout the Liège region. Nowadays, it is only danced in the villages of the Basse-Meuse area, between Liège and the Dutch border, and in some entities of Dutch Limburg. All afternoon long, two rival societies, Bleus and Rouges, parade through the streets, men in tuxedos, women dressed in sumptuous dresses, usually made by themselves or their entourage. In Hermalle-sous-Argenteau, near Visé, the celebration lasts five days. It ends with the crâmignon of the Youth (Monday, for unmarried people), and the gigantic crâmignon open to all (Tuesday). The latter is undoubtedly the most impressive for the external observer. The entire report was shot on Tuesday. We focused in particular on the musical aspect of the event and the bands.

The fourth film describes the practice of playing the ratchet. In Christian liturgy, the ratchet was once used as an alternative to bells for the three days before Easter. The silence of the bells, a sign of mourning, reminded the people of Christ's Passion and death. The squeaking sound of ratchets further reinforced the anguish and sadness of these three holy days. The tradition is still maintained during for the announcement of the Angelus in the small Ardennes village of Rossart.

Finally, the fifth video is about the 'knaptand'. The knaptand is a type of clapper in an animal costume with the head of a wolf or dog. The player within the costume can make the jaws of the muzzle clap together. Between the upper and lower jaw is a spring attached to a cord. Pulling the cord opens the jaws, releasing it allows them to clap shut. The term 'knaptand' applies equally to the player within the costume. Groups of these players accompany Dendermonde's annual parade of giants and the ten-yearly Ros Beiaard pageant. They act as stewards, as it were, using their clappers to keep the spectators at a distance as the parade goes by. To tease, they snatch hats, caps and other headwear, which they then throw back into the concourse.

The five videos with English subtitles have been published on our Youtube channel. More videos on the same subject will be uploaded soon.