A Lullaby for Little Sailors

The waves are roaring outside, but at home, in a small stony cottage, there’s no wind and all is well in mummy’s arms. The small Yannick – or Dewi or Marzhin, who knows – will grow up one day and get used to being lulled to sleep by the sway of a ship’s deck, but these days, he can still slumber in a dry and warm room, listening to a swinging song.

little sailor

Lullabies are known by children from all over the world, and when you listen to them carefully, you’ll realise how similar they all are – usually quiet and peaceful, handed down over generations. Yet even such a lullaby can be interpreted in many ways, so that it sounds quite merry in the end.

Just like Toutouig, played on an accordion. It isn’t difficult, and if you keep the “lullabyish” rhythm, you can learn it in a while. This gives you an opportunity to focus all the more on the control of the bellows, play with all your heart, sway with the melody, or accompany the singing quietly…


instructional recording 90 bpm
Toutouig – instructional recording – 90 bpm

lyrics in Breton:

Toutouig la la, va mabig, toutouig la la
Da vamm a zo amañ, koantig
Ouzh da luskellat, mignonig

Toutouig la la…
Da vamm a zo amañ, oanig
Dit-te o kanañ he sonig

En deiz all e ouele kalzik
Hag hiziv e c’hoarzh da vammig

Toutouig la la, ‘ta paourig
Poent eo serrañ da lagadig

Toutouig la la, bihanig
Ret eo diskuizhañ da bennig

Toutouig la la, rozennig
Da zivjod war va c’halonig

Da nijal d’an neñv, va aelig
Na zispleg ket da askellig

free English translation:

Sleep , my little child, sleep
Your mommy’s here, my little squirrel

By your crib, my little pretty

Your mommy’s here, my little lamb

Singing her little song to you.

Formerly, she wept a lot
But today, your mommy laughs

Sleep, my poor little one,
Time’s come to close your little eyes

Sleep, my wee one
You must rest your little head

Sleep, my little rose
Your cheeks on my little heart

To fly to heavens, my little angel
Don’t spread your little wings.

… and when you can play Toutouig well enough, there are – as always – a plenty of possibilities how to develop it further, for example with variations for the right hand. You can find inspiration in the following video:

And finally, to do justice the traditional approach to lullabies, you can listen to this beautiful version by the famous Breton singer Annie Ebrel – especially if you’re reading this article late in the evening. Good night!

Toutouig – sung by Annie Ebrel


article and scores | Háta Kreisinger Komňacká
instructional recording | Jindra Kelíšek
published on 26/02/2014