annathepiper: (Music All Around You)

(This post is a little overdue, as all of this went down a couple of weekends ago, and I didn’t really have the chance to sit down and write this out in full until now! Plus, there was a session to go to as well as questionable mammogram results that, thank all the universe’s powers, turned out to not be a problem after all. So let’s return to this post in progress and get this written up, shall we?)

Y’all may remember that last year in February, I had the distinct pleasure of getting to attend a workshop in Qualicum Beach, at which André Brunet spent a glorious weekend teaching a bunch of us how to play several tunes. Well, we all had such fun doing that last year that our hosts, the Beatons–not to mention André himself–decided we had to do it again.

And when I learned from Joyce Beaton that this was happening, I leapt RIGHT ALL OVER THAT. Because last year’s workshop was a huge influence on my decision to start taking official fiddle lessons! Plus it’s just such great glorious fun to hang out with a house full of musicians for a weekend, learning things and jamming.

Better yet: this year I brought Dara. 😀 Not to mention a whole pile of instruments.

All! The! Instruments!

All! The! Instruments!

(For those keeping score, the instruments in this picture are the General, my guitar; my as of yet unnamed fiddle; Silver, my flute with keys; my carbon fiber and blackwood whistles; and my quartet of carbon fiber flutes, the little D, the G, the A, and the big D.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Do the Job)

This past Monday I had my annual mammogram.

This afternoon, Dara alerted me that Evergreen had left me a message on our home answering machine asking me to call them. This is not normal procedure when a mammogram goes well. I got through to them after a couple of tries, and was informed by their staffer that their radiologists want me to come in for an ultrasound of my left side.

Doublechecking my January 2013 posts, I am reminded that this is not the first time I’ve had a questionable mammogram. In 2013, they told me they saw teeny calcifications on the left side, and after they did a biopsy, they told me it was fine.

I am nervous now, four years later, to be informed that they want an ultrasound of that same side. So now I am scheduled to go back in for an ultrasound, on Wednesday of next week, and I get to be nervous about this until then.

I will now be doggedly focusing on trying to be the least amount of nervous I can manage, because goddammit, cancer, I do not have time for your shit. I have writing to do. I have tunes to learn. And I have a fiddle to learn how to play better.

Especially because goddammit I am going to Quebec this summer, for Camp Violon Trad, as I’ve been wanting to do for ages now. Dara and I are beginning a plan for her to meet up with me after the camp is done, for Memoire et Racines, which I’ve been wanting to go back to ever since the brief and awesome time we had there in 2012. We’re discussing the possibility of meeting up with Vicka there, even.

And I have a lot riding on this, you guys. Because not only is Violon Trad run by two of my favorite Quebec musicians–André Brunet and Éric Beaudry, along with their colleague Stéphanie Lépine–this is going to be the 10th anniversary of the camp, which is sure to make it extra epic this year.

Pretty much guaranteeing that it will be epic: ALL FOUR MEMBERS OF LE VENT DU NORD WILL BE GUEST TEACHERS.

Which means, Internets, that I’m going to be at a music camp that will contain André Brunet (from whom I have already had the pleasure of a couple of excellent workshops, now), Éric Beaudry (because BOY HOWDY do I want to spend multiple days learning guitar from this man, YES PLEASE), AND Olivier Demers (who, as y’all may recall, I dubbed the Best Fiddle Player Ever).

I am not remotely ready to tackle playing the fiddle in a full-bore week-long camp like Violon Trad–I’ll be going for the guitar classes, mostly. But I will also be bringing at least some flutes. And now that I actually do own the fiddle I’ve been renting (I bought it because woo! promotion and bonus!), along with a bow that doesn’t suck, I will ALSO be taking that fiddle to try to at least learn SOMETHING.

Because why yes an opportunity to learn tunes from Olivier Demers will make up for how I haven’t seen Le Vent perform in over a year, and I haven’t seen them perform with Olivier for over two years.

I AM DOING THIS AND NO OTHER OUTCOME IS ACCEPTABLE.

Han says NO.

Han says NO.

TAKE THAT, questionable mammogram results. >:|

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Music All Around You)

This past weekend I had the very great pleasure of being able to attend a small fiddle workshop featuring André Brunet of De Temps Antan! The workshop was held on Qualicum Beach, at the home of the same wonderful couple who hosted the house concert I attended in August 2014. And I was overjoyed to be invited to come back up to Qualicum for this–because as I’d written in that post, for the chance to learn from André, I’d do that long drive again in a heartbeat.

You will notice that this was a fiddle workshop, and that I am still not a fiddle player. But I am a flute player, and moreover, just hanging out in a fiddle workshop was valuable to me as an exercise in hearing assorted tunes broken down into smaller phrases. Even after a few years of trying, I still struggle to keep up in a full session environment. So it’s hugely helpful to hear someone break a tune down into bits that I can then try to reproduce by ear. It works in my brain the same way that trying to read French does. I.e., it lets me better understand the overall structure and feel of a tune. So I will be leaping all over any tunes workshops I can get.

And you guys, this past weekend? Amazing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Aubrey and Maturin Duet)

Dusty Strings is a dangerous place!

Any acoustically-oriented musician in the Seattle probably already knows this, of course–and I myself have mentioned this before. But it was driven home to me again this past weekend, when Dara and I went in to get her a proper shoulder strap for the Godin A5 fretless bass we finally got her as a late Solstice present!

This is a sexy, sexy bass, you guys. But also surprisingly heavy! So we wanted to make sure to get a strap that could support its weight and not kill Dara’s shoulder while she plays it. We fully expected Dusty Strings would provide, and they did indeed. We got her a nice leather strap with a padded section for her shoulder.

But what I did not expect was that a blackwood whistle made by Sweetheart would leap into my fingers and go “HI I’M COMING HOME WITH YOU.”
One of these, specifically. Dusty Strings had two of them, one in rosewood and one in blackwood, and since I’ve been more interested in whistles lately I started playing around with them while Dara experimented with straps.

The rosewood didn’t seize me. But the blackwood did, with some surprising clarity and power to its tone. And wow, it carried well in Dusty String’s instrument room. I could see this being an instrument I could use to make myself heard in a room full of fiddlers and accordion players. Maybe not a session cannon–I’m not that powerful a player–but perhaps a session pistol.

Here’s some shots of what the instrument looks like, side by side in a couple of them with my carbon fiber whistle for comparison! You can see these pics directly on Flickr here.

And here’s what the instrument sounds like. I did a few snippets of recording with my phone last night, playing around with bits of “Ciel d’Automne”, one of my favorite tunes by André Brunet, who as I’ve said before writes lovely flute-friendly tunes.

First, this is me doing the tune on my small D carbon fiber flute. Because while I am having fun learning whistles, I’m still way more comfortable on a flute. And I wanted to show this for a comparison of tonality as well.

Second, this is my carbon fiber D whistle.

Last but not least, here’s the blackwood whistle! There’s better clarity here than on the carbon fiber whistle–possibly because this thing is a bit heavier as well as being wider in diameter. So the feel of it in my hands is closer to what I expect with a flute, and I don’t have to work as hard to figure out what amount of air to put through it.

So this is all fun and I’m going to greatly look forward to bringing this new whistle to a session!

And if you want to hear “Ciel d’Automne” in all its full La Bottine Souriante glory, go find their album Xième, which was also released in the States under the name Rock and Reel. This has the distinction of being the first André Brunet tune I ever fell in love with, so it’s got a special place in my heart!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Alan and Sean Ordinary Day)

My third visit to St. James Hall, a.k.a. the Rogue, proved every bit as delightful as expected and as they always do, De Temps Antan put on a lively and spirited show.

A satisfyingly large posse of my local AND online Quebecois trad fandom friends were on hand: in addition to myself and Dara, Dejah and Michelle from the Seattle crowd came up for the show. Ginny and Gary from Coquitlam were on hand, as well as Carol all the way from Iowa! And this time I brought Geri along so that she could see De Temps Antan in action, since she had not before. We all claimed a table close to the front of the room, since Ginny and Gary had ever so helpfully reserved it. There was singing! There was podorythmie! And there may possibly have been mammoth jigs on Dara’s head while the band was playing “Valse St-Sévère”.

Full deets behind the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Music All Around You)

When you go to Canada for two consecutive weekends, Internets, you tend to get behind on posting stuff to your blog. Which means for you that I got delayed posting my writeup of the MOST excellent concert by De Temps Antan at the Rogue. But I’m home again, and posting again, so here you go!

Previously in our adventures with Festival du Bois 2014, yours truly got to chat with both Éric Beaudry AND André Brunet after the close of official festival events on Saturday night! And y’all may recall that SOMEBODY got a little creative with how he did his signature on the inside of my copy of Ce monde ici-bas!

So what happened? Full concert blow-by-blow behind the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Music All Around You)

My belovedest Dara and I have done the trip up to Vancouver quite a few times at this point–but still, it’s a bit rough getting up at stupid-o’clock in the morning in time to get on an early bus, go all the way down to King Street Station, and get on a train to go all the way up to Vancouver. There was quite a bit of yawning involved.

But then, with Festival du Bois waiting on the other end, I was quite willing to spend my Saturday morning snoozing on a train!

As always, our friends Geri and Rob kindly put us up for the weekend at their place. This time around, we brought Rob a bottle of Scotch by way of a “thank you for letting us snooze here!” gift. (That, and I’m sure their dog was happy to have two extra pairs of hands to throw the ball down the stairs.) And, this time around, Geri elected to come to the festival shenanigans with us on Saturday!

My only regret? Realizing only after we were on our way north that I’d totally forgotten to bring Jean-Claude. AUGH. For the best, though, since the weather was wet and cold and let me tell you, Internets, there’s nothing quite as pungent as the smell of wet mammoth.

(Full deets and pics behind the fold!)

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Aubrey and Maturin Duet)

I had a couple different people hitting my site today looking for sheet music to La Bottine Souriante tunes–specifically, “Hommage à Philippe Brunea” and “Valse d’hiver”.

Since I am not actually a sheet music site, I direct interested parties to these links:

Failing either of those, TheSession.org may be able to help you. I’ve periodically found Quebec tunes there, though I use it as a tertiary resource.

You may or may not be able to find tunes composed by specific Quebec artists. I’ve found things composed by André Brunet (who in fact has a few of his tunes available in PDF form here, along with tunes by a couple of other people), and a couple of things composed by Olivier Demers (“Gigue à trois”, which is on the Montreal session tunebook site) and the guys in Genticorum (again on the Montreal site, but a couple on TheSession.org as well–notably for them I’ve found “Violon guérisseur” and “Valse de poeles”, the first on the Montreal session site and the second on TheSession.org).

I will also note that the lovely people at the core of the session I go to, La Famille Leger, have a collection of accordion-friendly tunes right over here. I note also that I am NOT an accordion player, but as I am a flautist, stuff that’s easily playable in D is very friendly to my flutes.

Happy tunes hunting, my fellow instrumentalists!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Aubrey and Maturin Duet)

I had a couple different people hitting my site today looking for sheet music to La Bottine Souriante tunes–specifically, “Hommage à Philippe Brunea” and “Valse d’hiver”.

Since I am not actually a sheet music site, I direct interested parties to these links:

Failing either of those, TheSession.org may be able to help you. I’ve periodically found Quebec tunes there, though I use it as a tertiary resource.

You may or may not be able to find tunes composed by specific Quebec artists. I’ve found things composed by André Brunet (who in fact has a few of his tunes available in PDF form here, along with tunes by a couple of other people), and a couple of things composed by Olivier Demers (“Gigue à trois”, which is on the Montreal session tunebook site) and the guys in Genticorum (again on the Montreal site, but a couple on TheSession.org as well–notably for them I’ve found “Violon guérisseur” and “Valse de poeles”, the first on the Montreal session site and the second on TheSession.org).

I will also note that the lovely people at the core of the session I go to, La Famille Leger, have a collection of accordion-friendly tunes right over here. I note also that I am NOT an accordion player, but as I am a flautist, stuff that’s easily playable in D is very friendly to my flutes.

Happy tunes hunting, my fellow instrumentalists!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (A Star Shines)

In which our heroine and supervillain hike around the lake, in which the mammoth makes a break for it (but is thankfully recovered!), in which the festival suffers an accident (which we do not see), and in which perfectly ridiculous amounts of fun are had seeing De Temps Antan–and then getting pics with them afterwards! With Jean-Claude!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (A Star Shines)

In which our heroine and supervillain hike around the lake, in which the mammoth makes a break for it (but is thankfully recovered!), in which the festival suffers an accident (which we do not see), and in which perfectly ridiculous amounts of fun are had seeing De Temps Antan–and then getting pics with them afterwards! With Jean-Claude!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Bouzouki Fandom)

In which our heroine and her supervillain spend their first full day in Harrison on beach exploration, music played and music watched, and lake wading! And in which De Temps Antan rocks the afternoon with sunglasses and a bouzouki that can goddamn roar!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Bouzouki Fandom)

In which our heroine and her supervillain spend their first full day in Harrison on beach exploration, music played and music watched, and lake wading! And in which De Temps Antan rocks the afternoon with sunglasses and a bouzouki that can goddamn roar!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Alan LOL)

In which our heroine and her belovedest supervillain take a leisurely scenic drive to visit our fair neighbors to the north, in which they arrive at the charming B&B which will serve as their Lair for the weekend, in which Jean-Claude Mamut does indeed issue hir blessing upon the proceedings, and in which they encounter Quebecois musicians and try not to fangirl all over them. Much.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Alan LOL)

In which our heroine and her belovedest supervillain take a leisurely scenic drive to visit our fair neighbors to the north, in which they arrive at the charming B&B which will serve as their Lair for the weekend, in which Jean-Claude Mamut does indeed issue hir blessing upon the proceedings, and in which they encounter Quebecois musicians and try not to fangirl all over them. Much.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Aubrey and Maturin Duet)

Being the raving fangirl of Quebec music that I am, I’ve happily identified several skilled musicians who are now well and thoroughly in the category of “I want to purchase every single note these people EVER RECORD EVER”. And very high on this list is André Brunet!

I didn’t know it at the time, but I first discovered André when I saw La Bottine Souriante perform for the first time. And when I brought home the album Rock and Reel, one of the tracks I fell most strongly in love with was “Autumn Sky”–which I know now of course as “Ciel d’Automne”, one of his earlier compositions. These days, he’s one third of the fantastic trio De Temps Antan, who I’ll be scampering off to see perform in Canada in one more month! (Of which there WILL be extensive coverage, O Internets, and as many pictures as possible. With mammoths!)

But only in the last few weeks have I learned that he’s also a member of a quartet called Celtic Fiddle Ensemble. This group just dropped a brand new live album, Live in Brittany. This was reviewed by Hearth Music right over here, and on the strength of that review plus André Brunet, I snapped this album right up. In the process I actually wound up getting an older album of theirs as well, Équinoxe, because Loftus Music’s mail server kept mailing me confirmation mails over and over and they kindly offered me a complimentary CD for the trouble.

(And because the person I spoke with in email was so awesome about giving me that free CD, let me plug their site directly: they’re right over here! Seriously, go check them out and see if they’ve got something you’d like to buy!)

Anyway, survey says re: both albums: if you’re a fan of excellent fiddle, check these guys out. There’s masterful, expressive playing all over every single one of these tracks. You can definitely tell which tunes are Quebecois whenever André kicks in with the podorythmie, which of course pleases me immensely–but there’s plenty of goodness on the non-Quebecois tracks as well. And some of these tunes I actually recognize from hearing them played in session, which gives me, as a newbie session player, a particular little kick of pleasure.

Now, like it says on the tin, these guys specialize in fiddle. But their guitarist is by no means an afterthought. As I’ve come to learn in sessions, you don’t want more than a single guitar backing up the melody players–but this means that whoever’s on guitar has the responsibility to provide suitably skillful accompaniment. Rhythm and tempo must be maintained–and whatever chord line is getting hit, ideally, should be just as interesting to listen to as the melody. So that rhythm needs to not only support the melody, but sometimes provide counterpoint to it as well. And that’s not as easy as it sounds. I’ve tried it.

I was very happy to observe that the group’s guitarist, Nicolas Quémener, is absolutely up to the task of accompanying three master fiddlers. While André, Kevin Burke, and Christian Lemaître are over there laying down the law on their instruments, Nicolas lets fly with return fire on his guitar. You’d think that three fiddles versus one guitar wouldn’t be a fair fight–but with these gentlemen, you’d be wrong.

Équinoxe is an earlier album, dating back to 2008, while Live in Brittany is of course the brand new album. If you pick up both of them, listen to Équinoxe first, just because it’s fun to see how the group progresses from studio album to live concert album, and what happens as they get five more years’ experience between them. If you get just one, get Live in Brittany–but get one! Because wow, these guys can play.

Loftus has the live album right over here in both CD and MP3 form. Ditto for Équinoxe, here. You can find the older album on iTunes as well, and both are on Amazon, but honestly, since Loftus Music’s rep was so awesome to me–buy ‘em straight from Loftus. You’ll be glad you did.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Music All Around You)

I’ve been chatting a lot with Dreamwidth user fluterbev lately, and we’ve started swapping pointers to each other’s favorite tunes! I promised her I’d do a post with some pointers to various Quebec tunes I’ve been working on learning lately, not only for her but for anybody else out there who might be interested in learning these tunes too!

I more or less can play seven tunes at this point and six of those are available in sheet music form on the Net, so I commend to your attention the following:

  • Ciel d’Automne, by André Brunet! This is arguably the first Quebec tune I ever fell in love with, and it’s extremely friendly to the flute. It’s available on the La Bottine Souriante album Xième, which was released as Rock and Reel in the States. First Quebec album I ever bought and I highly recommend it, in no small part because of that very instrumental. (Fair warning if you get hold of the recording and try to play along–it DOES change keys, from D up to E, which is a bitch to follow if you’re playing on a keyless flute. Or um, so I’ve heard. *^_^*;;)
  • La Fée des Dents, another of André Brunet’s, over which I totally swoon. <3 Recorded by De Temps Antan on their album Les habits de papier.
  • Maison de Glace, because apparently I’m learning All The Tunes By Guys Named Brunet. This one is by André’s brother Réjean, who is of course the accordion player and bassist for Le Vent du Nord!
  • 6/8 d’André Alain, taught to me by Alexandre de Grosbois-Garand of Genticorum! Loverly little jig in D.
  • Gigue du Père Mathias, the other tune Alexandre taught me! Again, in D, and so far the only thing I’ve been kinda halfway able to do a little podorythmie to while I’m playing on the flute. SLOWLY.
  • Valse de Poeles, which is yet another tune with a tie to Genticorum! Recorded by them on their last studio album, Nagez Rameurs.

Enjoy! :D

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Music All Around You)

I’ve been chatting a lot with Dreamwidth user fluterbev lately, and we’ve started swapping pointers to each other’s favorite tunes! I promised her I’d do a post with some pointers to various Quebec tunes I’ve been working on learning lately, not only for her but for anybody else out there who might be interested in learning these tunes too!

I more or less can play seven tunes at this point and six of those are available in sheet music form on the Net, so I commend to your attention the following:

  • Ciel d’Automne, by André Brunet! This is arguably the first Quebec tune I ever fell in love with, and it’s extremely friendly to the flute. It’s available on the La Bottine Souriante album Xième, which was released as Rock and Reel in the States. First Quebec album I ever bought and I highly recommend it, in no small part because of that very instrumental. (Fair warning if you get hold of the recording and try to play along–it DOES change keys, from D up to E, which is a bitch to follow if you’re playing on a keyless flute. Or um, so I’ve heard. *^_^*;;)
  • La Fée des Dents, another of André Brunet’s, over which I totally swoon. <3 Recorded by De Temps Antan on their album Les habits de papier.
  • Maison de Glace, because apparently I’m learning All The Tunes By Guys Named Brunet. This one is by André’s brother Réjean, who is of course the accordion player and bassist for Le Vent du Nord!
  • 6/8 d’André Alain, taught to me by Alexandre de Grosbois-Garand of Genticorum! Loverly little jig in D.
  • Gigue du Père Mathias, the other tune Alexandre taught me! Again, in D, and so far the only thing I’ve been kinda halfway able to do a little podorythmie to while I’m playing on the flute. SLOWLY.
  • Valse de Poeles, which is yet another tune with a tie to Genticorum! Recorded by them on their last studio album, Nagez Rameurs.

Enjoy! :D

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

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