French Carousel

In 2013, on holiday in France, we had a couple of travel stopovers in the city of Troyes. On the journey back to England, we arrived in Troyes tired, and left the hotel in the early evening in search of something to eat.

In a backstreet on the way into town there was a small pizza takeaway with a couple of tables outside. Inside, the owner was a genial French man with a ready smile and a bottle of Pastis, and a parrot on his shoulder. This was a good start. We had a hilarious meal with great food, good wine and fantastic entertainment from the combination of the owner and Harry his green feathered friend, whom, so the story goes, had been rescued from a bar where he was being mistreated – or was it that he had won it in a bet – I think both stories came out at different times.

Anyway, giddy from the hilarity of the evening, we strolled into town and as the sun went down and the moon hung silently above the cobbled streets, my wife and daughter rode on a carousel in the town square.

Here they are on the way to the ride.


french carousel



I was thinking about that night whilst improvising and called the piece that emerged I called ‘French Carousel’.
It’s in three time which, as a time signature has a ‘circular’ feel about it and it is often used on old fairground rides.

The left hand opening chords turn around on themselves.

The melody has, I think, something of an old fashioned quality to it – distinctly European – the regularity of the phrasing, helps with this and the harmonies don’t stray far from the original root.

In the middle section the right hand embellishes the melody with the addition of an arpeggio figuration which attempts to represent a little of the giddy excitement of the ride as well as the bonhomie of the evening with the parrot and his owner.

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