Arts-Scène Diffusion

Ensemble Contraste


' Robin Hood and the revolution ' - Protest songs

Since the Middle Ages, certain composers have not waited for the emergence of vast radical social movements to embody revolt, insurrection or political struggles. From the anonymous texts of the 16th century to the songs of the 1960s and 1970s, there has been a strong tradition of protest, patriotic, and in some cases libertarian and anarchist texts in England and Ireland. Each country has its own style, each century its own references. The "Protest Songs" programme focuses on these protest movements in pre-Thatcherite England against the background of social crisis and the Irish rift.

"The order is rapidly fadin' And the first one now Will later be last", says the eponymous and most famous song from Bob Dylan's third studio album in 1964, "The times they are a-changin'". This song perfectly expresses the state of mind of the 1960s, the learning of freer morals and challenge to the established order.


Hugues Coltman or Rosemary Standley singing
Marion Rampal singing

Ensemble Contraste
Arnaud Thorette violin and viola 

Johan Farjot piano, keyboard, arrangements
Matthis Pascaud guitar
Marion Ruault contrabass


The Cutty Wren (traditional song from the Middle Ages)

“Not in Nottingham” (ballade celebrating the symbolic revolt of Robin Hood)

The digger Song (Elizabethan song from the 17th century)

Beef and butt beer (drinking song published in 1743 in London containing dissident messages against royalty)

The H Bomb Thunder, John Brunner (song written for the 1958 Trafalgar Square protest against weapons tests)

Universal Soldier, Donovan (committed singer, notably against the Vietnam War)

Revolution, Beatles (1968, song celebrating the world revolution of May '68)

Iron Man, Black Sabbath (1970, song about the ecological cause, which anticipates the apocalyptic destruction of the planet)

Give Ireland Back to Irish (song composed by Paul McCartney in response to the events of 1972)

Woman is the nigger of the world, Yoko Ono (song against sexism, 1972)

God Save the Queen, Sex Pistols (1977, Punk movement against the dusty traditions of old England)

Army dreamers, Kate Bush (1980, evokes the trauma of a mother who lost her son in the Thatcherite wars)

Sunday Bloody Sunday, U2 (1983, in honour of the massacre of Irish civilians by British forces in 1920 and 1972)

Zombies, Cranberries (1993, in memory of two young Irishmen killed in an IRA bombing)

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