Chansonette - (2009)    

Joachim Ringelnatz

for medium voice and piano


War ein echter Prinz und hat Warzen im Bett.
Und kniete vor jeder Schleife.
Vaters Leiche lag auf dem Bügelbrett
Und roch nach Genever und Seife.
Wenn der Pfaffe unter meine Röcke schielt,
Sagt die Alte, werd' ich Geld bekommen.
Meinem Bruder, der so schön die Flöte spielt,
Haben Sie die Nieren rausgenommen.

Glaubst du noch an Gott? und spielst du Lotterie?
Meine Schwester kommt im Juli nieder.
Doch der Kerl ist ein gemeines Vieh.
Schenk mir zwanzig Mark; du kriegst sie wieder.

Außerdem: ich brauche ein Korsett,
Und ein Nadelchen mit blauen Steinen.
In ein Kloster möcht ich. Oder bei's Ballett.
Manchmal muß ich ganz von selber weinen.

[ 4 pages, circa 2' 30" ]

Joachim Ringelnatz


From his 1920 collection, Turngedichte, this absolute nonsense -- a "little song" in the French -- wanders off aimlessly into comical non sequiturs of all sorts and ends with a signature color for Ringelnatz, sorrow, for in all comedy there is a always a touch of the tragic. For more settings of this poet, please see Ringelnatz in the Authors' Index of this site.


Little Song


There was a prince suffering with warts in bed.
He knelt before every bow tie.
His father's corpse lay on the ironing board
And smelled of Genever  [ 1 ]  and soap.
When the cleric under my shirt peeks out,
The old one says, I'd take my money.
My brother, who plays the flute so well,
Have you removed the kidneys?

Do you still believe in God? And play the lottery?
My sister gives birth in July.
All the same, that fellow is a complete bastard.
Loan me twenty bucks; you'll get it back later.

Besides: I need a straightjacket,
And a little needle with blue stones.
I'd like to be cloistered. Or at the ballet.
Sometimes I simply have to weep.


Translation by GB



The augmented dominant chord acts as a curtain between segments of this song setting. The succession of chords slips from the tonic major to the subtonic major by a bass line moving in chromatic order. The overall harmonic structure is firmly rooted in the tonic. A brittle, secco waltz time accompaniment carries this "little song" through four verses. in an ABAB form.




The B section features occasional polytonal colors while the chromatic lines in the A section's chromatic bass line gestures now are found in the upper voice before continuing on in the diatonic major.




The score for Chansonette is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.






[ 1 ]     Genever is a type of gin made primarily from malt wine, which is a mixture of malted barley, wheat, corn, and rye that which gives a fuller-bodied spirit similar to raw malt whisky. Some genever produced in Belgium and the Netherlands is distilled directly from fermented juniper berries, producing a particularly intensely flavored spirit, a highly aromatic blue-green berry of the juniper. Genever makers have recipes with secret combination of botanicals used as additional flavoring, such as anise, angelica root, cinnamon, orange peel, coriander, and cassia bark.