annathepiper: (Music All Around You)

As I’ve already written about several times on my blog, it’s always a pleasure to hear Le Vent du Nord perform–although this time, it was on a seriously rainy Wednesday night at the Rogue. Yet the loyal fans filled the place nonetheless!

This time too we actually were without Olivier Demers. If you’ve been following my posts and have seen my earlier Le Vent concert posts, you know Olo’s my favorite of all the members of the group! (And I’m not just saying that because he follows me on Facebook and therefore might actually read this. Auquel cas je dois dire SALUT OLO!)

But this time he had to stay home, due to having a death in his family. :( He posted to his Facebook wall that his father had passed away just a couple of days before the show. (And I was simultaneously very sad to hear the news and a bit relieved to have been warned about it in advance, because if I’d shown up without knowing M. Demers wouldn’t be on hand, I would have been even sadder!)

So Le Vent had to pull in Jean-François Gagnon Branchaud as emergency backup fiddler. If you know Quebecois trad, you may well recognize his name as one of the two fiddlers currently playing with La Bottine Souriante, who also sings some lead on La Bottine’s last album. And if you know La Bottine, you know that anybody who plays for them is guaranteed to bring their A game to a stage. Jean-François did not disappoint, and so even though we all missed Olivier, it was still a delightful show!

Let’s get down to the details, shall we?

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Music All Around You)
Têtu

Têtu

There are certain phrases that hold massive magical power with me, people. “Great Big Sea is coming to town”, for one. “Let’s go out for sushi”, for another. “I just read and loved your latest book,” that one’s a contender. My favorite over the last couple of years, though, is hands down “a new album by Le Vent du Nord”. Têtu is album number eight for mes gars, and the sixth one with the lineup of Nicolas Boulerice, Olivier Demers, Simon Beaudry, and Réjean Brunet (counting four studio albums, the live album Mesdames et messieurs, and my beloved Symphonique)!

You may take it as read at this point that yeah, I’m going to adore anything these boys do. That goes without saying, since I’ve spent a whole lot of energy here on my blog and on social media not being able to shut up about them. But when they drop a new album, I get to actually back up my fangirling with evidence. I get to talk about not only adoring the music of this band, but why I adore it, too. And despite this post I made earlier today, I do not really have the French vocabulary yet to talk properly about this album. So I’m going to do it in English.

Overall picoreview first! This is the longest Le Vent album yet, with a total of 15 tracks, and there’s a whole lot to love with each one. After all the time these boys have spent playing together, they’ve pretty much got this down to an art and a science, and it shows here. Têtu is a tight, expert production, one in which the joy of the music shines through on every note. If you’re a fan of this band, you’re going to relish this album. If you’re not a fan yet, I submit for consideration that this would be an excellent album to use as your first introduction to them. Instrumentally and vocally, les gars are at the top of their game. And there are particularly high quantities of Simon Beaudry singing lead on things, and that’s always a good thing.

And now, track by track commentary behind the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Music All Around You)

As you know, O Internets, in the ongoing dearth of Great Big Sea shows in my life, I have turned to the joy and consolation of the principle of “Any Band With a Beaudry gets me across the border”. Which of course means mes gars of De Temps Antan–who last year broke my personal record of “How many times I visited Canada in one year to see the same band”–and most definitely, Le Vent du Nord!

By now the Rogue in Vancouver has a very warm place in my heart, since I’ve seen both Le Vent and De Temps Antan there twice each. This time around the venue was not set up with tables, which surprised me! But Le Vent did sell the place out, so it does not surprise me that they wanted to get as many people in there as possible. And most importantly, they did leave space for us to boing by the stage as we liked. That’s important, you know.

As for the show itself–it’ll surprise exactly no one that I enjoyed myself immensely. Particularly because this show included five, count ‘em, five brand new songs that’ll be on the forthcoming new album, AND because we got the rare and unexpected treat of Olivier Demers taking a break from his usual masterful fiddling to demonstrate that he also plays guitar. AND: “Papineau”, a multi-layered turlutte that showcases all four of the boys’ voices to splendid effect, is now officially one of my top favorite Le Vent songs and that album isn’t even OUT yet. Everyone was in excellent voice and high spirits, band and audience alike, and by the end of the proceedings we had quite the crowd dancing around to “Au bord de la fontaine”. It was AWESOME.

In-depth show proceedings behind the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Blue Hawaii Grin)

Namely, Bandcamp embeds! So here, have a couple! (Does this also work on Dreamwidth? LET’S FIND OUT.)

Like “Manteau d’hiver” by Le Vent du Nord!

And “La déroutée” by Yves “Most Badass Accordion Player in Quebec” Lambert and his trio! A song which rattles me around every time I hear it. I LOVE the repeated chorus.

And last but MOST ASSUREDLY not least, Dara’s got some tasty previews up for the WE SWEAR TO ODIN IS ACTUALLY FORTHCOMING Bone Walker Soundtrack!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Blue Hawaii Grin)

Namely, Bandcamp embeds! So here, have a couple! (Does this also work on Dreamwidth? LET’S FIND OUT.)

Like “Manteau d’hiver” by Le Vent du Nord!

And “La déroutée” by Yves “Most Badass Accordion Player in Quebec” Lambert and his trio! A song which rattles me around every time I hear it. I LOVE the repeated chorus.

And last but MOST ASSUREDLY not least, Dara’s got some tasty previews up for the WE SWEAR TO ODIN IS ACTUALLY FORTHCOMING Bone Walker Soundtrack!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Aubrey and Maturin Duet)

And now, O Internets, the second to last post of my Victoria and Cumberland vacation series–in which Dara, userinfosiestabear, userinfomaellenkleth, and I all had the supreme pleasure of getting to see Le Vent du Nord play at the Cumberland Hotel!

Previously in this particular adventure, Dara and I saw Le Vent in Victoria! And then we explored a bunch of rocks before Dara sang that night! And then we explored Cumberland and sang some more!

It’s truly fitting that we wound up the trip with one hell of a gig out of les gars. Because don’t get me wrong, you guys–I enjoyed the symphony show immensely, but even after only four shows’ worth of experience, I’m here to tell you that the best way to enjoy Le Vent du Nord is in a tiny, cozy venue. Preferably front row center. With a MAMMOTH.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Aubrey and Maturin Duet)

And now, to start documenting my and Dara’s recent excellent trip up to Victoria, to see Le Vent du Nord! Saturday the 8th was when the adventure got underway–when we headed up to Victoria in the morning, for the symphony show to take place that night!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Musical Jack)
Ici on fête

Ici on fête

I owe a large debt of gratitude to my friend Melanie in Montréal for alerting me to the gem that is Ici on fête, a recently released live compilation album featuring a broad swath of bands and artists in the Quebecois trad genre. This thing features not one, not two, but FIVE of my top favorite Quebec bands, all of whom I’ve posted about in glowing terms as you all know. La Bottine Souriante! De Temps Antan! Le Vent du Nord! Genticorum! And Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer!

It’s pretty much only lacking Galant tu perds ton temps to be a stunningly accurate summuary of my entire collection, really. And while I must sadface at the lack of that fine group, there is much consolation to be found in several other familiar names out of my collection here–Les Batinses, Mes Aïeux, Nicolas Pellerin, Yves Lambert & Le Bébert Orchestra, Les Chauffeurs à Pieds, and Michel Faubert.

Melanie pointed me at this communique about the album, from which I learn that the redoubtable M. Faubert (whose voice I came to know as part of the Charbonniers) is a driving force behind the collection. He in particular is represented on three of the tracks, and he’s in excellent voice in all three, setting the bar very high for everyone else’s performances–and, happily, every other artist on the album meets and matches him.

Tracks 2 and 3 all by themselves make this collection worth the price of admission for me. Y’all already know I’m a De Temps Antan fangirl, and hearing them whip through a live take of “Buvons mes chers amis buvons” is always fun. But what really blew my socks straight off is La Bottine Souriante’s track 3, “Le p’tit porte-clé”–which I immediately recognized as the song I know as “Le ziguezon”, a very early footstomper from La Bottine’s first couple of albums, recorded with André Marchand singing lead. “Le ziguezon” is one of my regular repeat favorites, and to hear it sung by Éric Beaudry here, doing it fine lively justice, made me want to start stepdancing through the streets of downtown Seattle.

Of course I cannot talk about my favorite tracks without talking about Le Vent du Nord. They’re here too, checking with a very strong take of “La fille et les dragons”. This is a song I’ve experienced as its studio take as well as on both of Le Vent’s live albums–but not with a drum track, which was a startling and fun addition, though I wouldn’t want to make a habit of that. (The drum track, after all, rather drowned out the laser precision of the feet of Olivier Demers. And we can’t have that, now can we?)

Genticorum also represents, with a take of one of their earlier instrumentals, “Cascou”, from their album Malins Plaisirs. The only lament I have about this performance is that Alexandre de Grosbois-Garand is not playing his flute on this set. But since he is cutting loose on the bass, that lament is actually fairly small. I’ve seen and heard that bass with my own eyes and ears, people. Five-stringed fretless basses are love.

And then there’s Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer, who offer up what to my ears is a treat indeed: a song of theirs that I do not, in fact, have represented on any prior album of theirs I own! The song is called “Tout l’monde est malheureux”, and it flips back and forth between morose and full harmonic speed. My ear for a song is tugging at this, convinced I’ve heard it before at some point, but I don’t currently have anything else by the same title–so if some other band I’ve purchased music from has recorded this, they did it under a different title. Clearly I’m just going to have to listen to my entire collection again until I find it. Oh darn.

“Souliers rouges” was another song I immediately recognized, though here it’s performed by Manigance, and I’m familiar with the version by La Volée d’Castors. Still, I find it great fun to hear different artists’ interpretation of the same song (the aforementioned “Le ziguezon” is a great example of this, given that I’ve got a version of that by Mauvais Sort in my collection too!). This time was no exception.

Les Tireux d’Roches, as if to console me for the lack of Genticorum’s flute firepower, handed me some of their own and filled my ears with glee. And harmony, for that matter. Very much liked their take of “Maluré soldat”. I’ve got a bit of this group represented in my collection now, but I didn’t have this song yet, which is one on of their albums I have not yet acquired. I shall be rectifying this problem at my earliest opportunity.

I was quite pleased, too, to see women take the lead on the singing at least on a couple of the tracks, so I’ll call them out both by name here: Mara Tremblay on “La chanson du bavard”, and Angèle Arsenault on “J’ai un bouton sur le bout de la langue”. This wasn’t quite enough consolation to make up for the lack of Galant tu perds ton temps, but it did help!

All in all the album is upbeat in spirit, which is befitting a release targeted for the holiday season (c.f., the communique I linked to above). While the material here isn’t specifically holiday-themed, it is nonetheless quite festive–one of the things that made me fall in love with this entire genre of music to begin with.

So if you’re looking to get into Quebecois trad, Ici on fête would be an excellent place to start. Investigation leads me to find it only available to a limited degree–it’s on iTunes, but only on the Canada store, here. And if you want to order the album from Amazon, I’d strongly advise hitting Amazon.ca in particular, since the Amazon.com site has it at import prices. You’ll get it much more cheaply from Amazon.ca, here. (Note the slow delivery time. But also note that Amazon.com right now isn’t showing the album in stock at all.)

Quebec listeners can get it from Archambault digitally here as well as on CD. Renaud-Bray is also carrying the disc here.

Outside of Quebec though, your easiest bet will be to try to scarf an iTunes gift card for the Canada store and buy it that way. It’ll be a hard hunt, but if you can find it, your ears will be rewarded.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Musical Jack)
Ici on fête

Ici on fête

I owe a large debt of gratitude to my friend Melanie in Montréal for alerting me to the gem that is Ici on fête, a recently released live compilation album featuring a broad swath of bands and artists in the Quebecois trad genre. This thing features not one, not two, but FIVE of my top favorite Quebec bands, all of whom I’ve posted about in glowing terms as you all know. La Bottine Souriante! De Temps Antan! Le Vent du Nord! Genticorum! And Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer!

It’s pretty much only lacking Galant tu perds ton temps to be a stunningly accurate summuary of my entire collection, really. And while I must sadface at the lack of that fine group, there is much consolation to be found in several other familiar names out of my collection here–Les Batinses, Mes Aïeux, Nicolas Pellerin, Yves Lambert & Le Bébert Orchestra, Les Chauffeurs à Pieds, and Michel Faubert.

Melanie pointed me at this communique about the album, from which I learn that the redoubtable M. Faubert (whose voice I came to know as part of the Charbonniers) is a driving force behind the collection. He in particular is represented on three of the tracks, and he’s in excellent voice in all three, setting the bar very high for everyone else’s performances–and, happily, every other artist on the album meets and matches him.

Tracks 2 and 3 all by themselves make this collection worth the price of admission for me. Y’all already know I’m a De Temps Antan fangirl, and hearing them whip through a live take of “Buvons mes chers amis buvons” is always fun. But what really blew my socks straight off is La Bottine Souriante’s track 3, “Le p’tit porte-clé”–which I immediately recognized as the song I know as “Le ziguezon”, a very early footstomper from La Bottine’s first couple of albums, recorded with André Marchand singing lead. “Le ziguezon” is one of my regular repeat favorites, and to hear it sung by Éric Beaudry here, doing it fine lively justice, made me want to start stepdancing through the streets of downtown Seattle.

Of course I cannot talk about my favorite tracks without talking about Le Vent du Nord. They’re here too, checking with a very strong take of “La fille et les dragons”. This is a song I’ve experienced as its studio take as well as on both of Le Vent’s live albums–but not with a drum track, which was a startling and fun addition, though I wouldn’t want to make a habit of that. (The drum track, after all, rather drowned out the laser precision of the feet of Olivier Demers. And we can’t have that, now can we?)

Genticorum also represents, with a take of one of their earlier instrumentals, “Cascou”, from their album Malins Plaisirs. The only lament I have about this performance is that Alexandre de Grosbois-Garand is not playing his flute on this set. But since he is cutting loose on the bass, that lament is actually fairly small. I’ve seen and heard that bass with my own eyes and ears, people. Five-stringed fretless basses are love.

And then there’s Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer, who offer up what to my ears is a treat indeed: a song of theirs that I do not, in fact, have represented on any prior album of theirs I own! The song is called “Tout l’monde est malheureux”, and it flips back and forth between morose and full harmonic speed. My ear for a song is tugging at this, convinced I’ve heard it before at some point, but I don’t currently have anything else by the same title–so if some other band I’ve purchased music from has recorded this, they did it under a different title. Clearly I’m just going to have to listen to my entire collection again until I find it. Oh darn.

“Souliers rouges” was another song I immediately recognized, though here it’s performed by Manigance, and I’m familiar with the version by La Volée d’Castors. Still, I find it great fun to hear different artists’ interpretation of the same song (the aforementioned “Le ziguezon” is a great example of this, given that I’ve got a version of that by Mauvais Sort in my collection too!). This time was no exception.

Les Tireux d’Roches, as if to console me for the lack of Genticorum’s flute firepower, handed me some of their own and filled my ears with glee. And harmony, for that matter. Very much liked their take of “Maluré soldat”. I’ve got a bit of this group represented in my collection now, but I didn’t have this song yet, which is one on of their albums I have not yet acquired. I shall be rectifying this problem at my earliest opportunity.

I was quite pleased, too, to see women take the lead on the singing at least on a couple of the tracks, so I’ll call them out both by name here: Mara Tremblay on “La chanson du bavard”, and Angèle Arsenault on “J’ai un bouton sur le bout de la langue”. This wasn’t quite enough consolation to make up for the lack of Galant tu perds ton temps, but it did help!

All in all the album is upbeat in spirit, which is befitting a release targeted for the holiday season (c.f., the communique I linked to above). While the material here isn’t specifically holiday-themed, it is nonetheless quite festive–one of the things that made me fall in love with this entire genre of music to begin with.

So if you’re looking to get into Quebecois trad, Ici on fête would be an excellent place to start. Investigation leads me to find it only available to a limited degree–it’s on iTunes, but only on the Canada store, here. And if you want to order the album from Amazon, I’d strongly advise hitting Amazon.ca in particular, since the Amazon.com site has it at import prices. You’ll get it much more cheaply from Amazon.ca, here. (Note the slow delivery time. But also note that Amazon.com right now isn’t showing the album in stock at all.)

Quebec listeners can get it from Archambault digitally here as well as on CD. Renaud-Bray is also carrying the disc here.

Outside of Quebec though, your easiest bet will be to try to scarf an iTunes gift card for the Canada store and buy it that way. It’ll be a hard hunt, but if you can find it, your ears will be rewarded.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Music All Around You)

Y’all knew THIS one was coming, right? What with the whole “I haven’t been able to shut up about these guys for the last several months” thing? Because yeah, let’s talk Le Vent du Nord. Hands down, uncontested, kings of my favorite Quebecois bands. The guys who are going head to head with Great Big Sea for Anna’s All-Time Favorite Band EVER. I gushed enthusiastically about them when I first found them. I adored the album Symphonique, and I fangirled Tromper le temps seven ways from Sunday.

So yes, it should surprise absolutely none of you that if you ask me “So Anna, I want to check out Quebec trad music, who should I listen to first?”, my instant answer is going to be “Le Vent du Nord”!

Many and varied are the musical reasons, but primary among them are Nicolas Boulerice’s mastery of the bitchin’ metal hurdy-gurdy solo, their toe-curling four-part harmony, and their humor on stage when explaining songs to English-speaking audiences. Not to mention that I have personal experience now with how awesome they are to see perform live.

And I could write entire dissertations on the theme of Jesus jumping Christ, Olivier Demers can play him some fiddle. That guy? That guy right there? That’s the guy who’s making my fingers itch to pick up my flutes and try to cram as many Quebec tunes into my brain as possible. The guy who inspired me to transcribe “Manteau d’hiver” just because I love that tune so much I had to figure out how to play it. The guy who, because he is just that awesome, gave me his permission to ask him musical questions. BEST. FIDDLE. PLAYER. EVER.

It should also surprise none of you that my unequivocal recommendation for “which Le Vent du Nord album should you get first?” is Tromper le temps. For the love of all that’s holy, get that album. In no small part because it’s got the aforementioned “Manteau d’hiver” on it, but it’s also got “Le dragon de Chimay”, and I’ve written before about how I’m obliged to love the hell out of that song because it involves a knight being transformed into a dragon. A DRAGON, YOU GUYS. Why yes, I DO love a little bit of fantasy in my trad, thank you. :D

If you can find it, I also cannot recommend Symphonique passionately enough. It’s the only Le Vent album not available digitally to US customers, though, so if you want it, you’ll have to order it–or maybe show up at a Le Vent du Nord concert and buy it from them directly. (Which you should do. And tell them Anna the Piper sent you!) For one thing, it’s an excellent live album. For another, the juxtaposition of Le Vent and an orchestral backup is lush and gorgeous and it’s got three of the top repeat tracks on my Le Vent du Nord playlist. As a former student of symphonic band and wind ensemble in my school days, I adore the orchestral backup. I adore it like kittens, and have to sternly remind myself that next March, when I get to see Le Vent do a live symphony show, that no it is not socially acceptable to use stealth technology to hide in the flute section so I can make off with the sheet music. (But I digress.)

If you go poking further through Le Vent’s discography, it’s important to note that they did go through two prior membership changes before settling on their current lineup. Here are my notable tracks on the various previous albums!

Their very first album, Maudite moisson !, is worth listening to just because that one features vocals by Bernard Simard, who does have a gorgeous champagne-like tenor voice. And it’s got the original versions of “Vive l’amour” and “Au bord de la fontaine”, which have survived as concert staples for the group.

Album #2, Les amants du Saint-Laurent, drops M. Simard but gains Simon Beaudry, and I’ve already gushed enthusiastically about M. Beaudry’s vocal skills. This album’s worth a look for “Cré-mardi”, one of my all-time favorites, but it’s also got “Le retour du fils soldat” and the title track as well, both of which show up in current Le Vent concerts.

As of album #3, Dans les airs, they drop Benoit Bourque but gain Réjean Brunet. So anything in the discography as of Dans les airs or later gets you the current membership of the group, and that’s the point at which their vocals really kick into high gear for me. On Dans les airs, look for “Rosette” and “La piastre des États” as standout vocals performances by Nicolas and Réjean, but also look for “Le vieux cheval” for more KILL ANNA DED WITH HARMONY loveliness. Instrumental-wise, look for “Petit rêve III” (which I can play, woo!) and “L’heure bleue”.

Album #4, La part du feu, adds “Lanlaire” to the Le Vent arsenal and that’s hands down one of my favorites of theirs. But this album also unleashes “Octobre 1837″ (c.f. previous GODDAMN Olivier can play him some fiddle commentary), “Les métiers” (ridiculously bawdy fun, this one), and especially “Rossignolet”, which is haunting and beautiful and one of my top repeat Le Vent tracks.

For live Le Vent you do actually have two options–the aforementioned Symphonique, but also Mesdames et messieurs, which is their live concert from the Memoires et Racines festival in 2008. Kickass version of “Au bord de la fontaine” on there, and there’s guest support from Bernard Simard on “Vive l’amour” as well.

Ultimately, though, I stand by my rec of Tromper le temps for which album you should get first!

Find the boys at their official site, their Bandcamp page (where you can stream a lot of their current stuff AND find helpful lyrics in both French AND English), on their Facebook page, or on Twitter. Tell them I sent you.

And in closing, here, here’s Le Vent doing “Le dragon de Chimay”!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Aubrey and Maturin Duet)

Internets, as you all know, I’ve been happily fangirling Quebec traditional music for a couple of years now, and quite a few of you have started to ask me questions about it. And because I like you, Internets, and I want to share with you the musical goodness, I’d like to present for you a Guide to Quebecois Traditional Music for English Speakers!

Q: What is Quebecois traditional music?

A: A very close cousin of Irish/Celtic trad. If you’re a fan of Irish or Scottish music, you’ll probably find Quebec trad very compatible to your tastes; there’s a lot of overlap between the two genres.

Q: What makes Quebec trad differ from Irish/Celtic/Scottish/etc.?

A: Three main differences, which are:

  1. Podorythmie. With most Celtic bands the percussion will usually be handled by a bodhran player, who may double up on shakers or bones. There may or may not be an actual drumkit depending on how far into rock the band in question slants. With a Quebec trad band, though, the percussion is almost always handled by someone who does podorythmie, the rhythmic footwork that’s a big signature sound for the genre.
  2. Call and response. Quebec trad is very heavily structured around call and response, where you’ll have whoever’s singing lead echoed by the rest of the band. Relatedly, you’ll find a great number of Quebec trad songs structured in such a way that the first line of a verse will be called, then responded, and then the verse will finish up with a chorus and then a second line which will then roll over into being the first line of the next verse. (This is a very helpful song structure when you’re a newbie to French and you’re trying to figure out how to sing the words!)
  3. Now, sure, call and response isn’t unknown in Celtic trad in general–but I’ve seen it be a LOT more common in Quebec trad. It makes the songs highly participatory and that’s one of the big reasons I love singing along to the songs so much.

  4. Turluttes. You’ll find a lot of Quebec trad songs will have a turlutte section, sometimes small, sometimes dominant, and sometimes as the entire song. Turluttes are when you get a singer or group of singers vocalizing a melody that in other traditions might be played with instruments. You’ll also hear this referred to as mouth music or mouth reels, similar to puirt à beul or lilting.
  5. As the Wikipedia link I’ve pointed at in the previous paragraph calls out, turluttes are built out of a set of specific phonemes–a lot of t and d and l and m sounds. They’re almost always up-tempo and joyous and great, great fun.

    A truly splendid example of turluttes in action can be found sung by Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer right over here, with bonus podorythmie solo in the middle.

Q: How is Quebec music similar to Irish/Scottish/Celtic music?

A: Lots of Quebec trad will be familiar to Celtic music fans just because there’s a rich heritage of tunes, jigs/gigues, reels, etc. There are some fun musical and stylistic differences that instrumentalists will notice–particularly how many Quebec tunes are often played “crooked”, doing interesting things to time signatures and varying up the rhythm. If you’re an instrumentalist you’ll want to listen for that.

Likewise, a lot of the topics of the songs will be familiar to Celtic music fans. Alexander James Adams has been often quoted (in particular by me!) as saying that the three main categories of Celtic music are Whiskey, Sex, and Death. This is also true of Quebec music, although from what I’ve seen in Quebec music, it’s more like Wine, Sex, and Death, with a side helping of Religion. (I’ve noticed quite a few songs involving shenanigans that involve priests, for example. ;) )

Q: Do I need to be able to speak French to appreciate Quebec trad?

A: No! Certainly no more than you need to be a Irish or Scots Gaelic speaker to appreciate Celtic music, anyway. I find that studying a little bit of French enough to let me get an idea of how Quebec trad lyrics go enhances my appreciation of the songs considerably, but you don’t have to go to the lengths I’m going. A lot of the most active bands in the genre post lyrics to their websites, often in both French and English, and even if they only post the French lyrics that’s enough for you to throw the words through a translation engine.

And there’s fun stuff to be found in the lyrics, too. Plus if you do that, you get to be one of the Anglophones in a Quebec trad concert who can start snickering at all the best bawdy bits of songs!

Also, turluttes are language-agnostic!

Q: Enough overview! Who are some bands or artists I can check out?

The ones I’m most fond of are La Bottine Souriante, La Volée d’Castors, Galant, tu perds ton temps, Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer, Genticorum, De Temps Antan, and especially Le Vent du Nord!

And if you have trouble telling all those names apart, I can direct to you to this handy flowchart I made for that exact problem!

Quebec Band Flowchart

Quebec Band Flowchart

For a nice crossover of Celtic and Quebec fiddle styles, I also highly recommend Celtic Fiddle Festival, who feature André Brunet of De Temps Antan. There are also a couple of excellent albums done by André Marchand and Grey Larsen, specifically on the theme of crossover between Irish and Quebec music, and I recommend those too. You can find them here.

I will update this FAQ with new data as I think of it. I did overviews on my favorite bands a while back but I’ll be posting new ones as well, since several of the bands in question dropped new albums since I originally wrote those posts.

Any questions I haven’t covered here? Shoot ‘em at me!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Aubrey and Maturin Duet)

Internets, as you all know, I’ve been happily fangirling Quebec traditional music for a couple of years now, and quite a few of you have started to ask me questions about it. And because I like you, Internets, and I want to share with you the musical goodness, I’d like to present for you a Guide to Quebecois Traditional Music for English Speakers!

Q: What is Quebecois traditional music?

A: A very close cousin of Irish/Celtic trad. If you’re a fan of Irish or Scottish music, you’ll probably find Quebec trad very compatible to your tastes; there’s a lot of overlap between the two genres.

Q: What makes Quebec trad differ from Irish/Celtic/Scottish/etc.?

A: Three main differences, which are:

  1. Podorythmie. With most Celtic bands the percussion will usually be handled by a bodhran player, who may double up on shakers or bones. There may or may not be an actual drumkit depending on how far into rock the band in question slants. With a Quebec trad band, though, the percussion is almost always handled by someone who does podorythmie, the rhythmic footwork that’s a big signature sound for the genre.
  2. Call and response. Quebec trad is very heavily structured around call and response, where you’ll have whoever’s singing lead echoed by the rest of the band. Relatedly, you’ll find a great number of Quebec trad songs structured in such a way that the first line of a verse will be called, then responded, and then the verse will finish up with a chorus and then a second line which will then roll over into being the first line of the next verse. (This is a very helpful song structure when you’re a newbie to French and you’re trying to figure out how to sing the words!)
  3. Now, sure, call and response isn’t unknown in Celtic trad in general–but I’ve seen it be a LOT more common in Quebec trad. It makes the songs highly participatory and that’s one of the big reasons I love singing along to the songs so much.

  4. Turluttes. You’ll find a lot of Quebec trad songs will have a turlutte section, sometimes small, sometimes dominant, and sometimes as the entire song. Turluttes are when you get a singer or group of singers vocalizing a melody that in other traditions might be played with instruments. You’ll also hear this referred to as mouth music or mouth reels, similar to puirt à beul or lilting.
  5. As the Wikipedia link I’ve pointed at in the previous paragraph calls out, turluttes are built out of a set of specific phonemes–a lot of t and d and l and m sounds. They’re almost always up-tempo and joyous and great, great fun.

    A truly splendid example of turluttes in action can be found sung by Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer right over here, with bonus podorythmie solo in the middle.

Q: How is Quebec music similar to Irish/Scottish/Celtic music?

A: Lots of Quebec trad will be familiar to Celtic music fans just because there’s a rich heritage of tunes, jigs/gigues, reels, etc. There are some fun musical and stylistic differences that instrumentalists will notice–particularly how many Quebec tunes are often played “crooked”, doing interesting things to time signatures and varying up the rhythm. If you’re an instrumentalist you’ll want to listen for that.

Likewise, a lot of the topics of the songs will be familiar to Celtic music fans. Alexander James Adams has been often quoted (in particular by me!) as saying that the three main categories of Celtic music are Whiskey, Sex, and Death. This is also true of Quebec music, although from what I’ve seen in Quebec music, it’s more like Wine, Sex, and Death, with a side helping of Religion. (I’ve noticed quite a few songs involving shenanigans that involve priests, for example. ;) )

Q: Do I need to be able to speak French to appreciate Quebec trad?

A: No! Certainly no more than you need to be a Irish or Scots Gaelic speaker to appreciate Celtic music, anyway. I find that studying a little bit of French enough to let me get an idea of how Quebec trad lyrics go enhances my appreciation of the songs considerably, but you don’t have to go to the lengths I’m going. A lot of the most active bands in the genre post lyrics to their websites, often in both French and English, and even if they only post the French lyrics that’s enough for you to throw the words through a translation engine.

And there’s fun stuff to be found in the lyrics, too. Plus if you do that, you get to be one of the Anglophones in a Quebec trad concert who can start snickering at all the best bawdy bits of songs!

Also, turluttes are language-agnostic!

Q: Enough overview! Who are some bands or artists I can check out?

The ones I’m most fond of are La Bottine Souriante, La Volée d’Castors, Galant, tu perds ton temps, Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer, Genticorum, De Temps Antan, and especially Le Vent du Nord!

And if you have trouble telling all those names apart, I can direct to you to this handy flowchart I made for that exact problem!

Quebec Band Flowchart

Quebec Band Flowchart

For a nice crossover of Celtic and Quebec fiddle styles, I also highly recommend Celtic Fiddle Festival, who feature André Brunet of De Temps Antan. There are also a couple of excellent albums done by André Marchand and Grey Larsen, specifically on the theme of crossover between Irish and Quebec music, and I recommend those too. You can find them here.

I will update this FAQ with new data as I think of it. I did overviews on my favorite bands a while back but I’ll be posting new ones as well, since several of the bands in question dropped new albums since I originally wrote those posts.

Any questions I haven’t covered here? Shoot ‘em at me!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Whistling Bob)

I have identified the next Quebec tunes set I wish to learn: the recording “Gigue à trois”, which appears on the Le Vent du Nord album Les amants du Saint-Laurent!

The first tune in this set is locatable in sheet music form right over here. However, checking it out, I note a problem in that very last measure: i.e., it’s going down to low B and G, and those are notes below the bottom end of my range on ANY of my flutes, really. My silver goes down to middle C. My piccolo goes down to D just above middle C.

(And I can’t really play the piece on any of my keyless flutes either–the first tune I linked to is in G, but the other two are in F and A minor, and you know what I’m not doing on a D or A flute? Playing stuff in F and A minor. I DO still suck at half-holing!)

So in order to play that tune I’m going to have to do one of two things: either a) I will need to kick the whole thing up an octave, or b) doink around with that measure and play notes instead that’ll work okay as chords with that B and G. Option B is more likely, and this is why!

The latter two tunes of that set, according to my initial explorations (aided by an Extremely Awesome Person Who Shall Remain Nameless, but Merci Beaucoup, Awesome Person!), have a part that goes up to the C that’s two octaves over middle C.

And that is a problem. Because if I try to kick the piece up an octave, that means I’d need to play the C that’s THREE octaves over middle C, and that is not happening on my piccolo. It’s barely going to happen on my flute. Hell, I don’t even remember successfully hitting that note on my piccolo in school, although I got up there a few times on the flute.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about re: middle C and octaves and such–an octave is scale in music, basically. Think of the “Do, a deer, a female deer” song in The Sound of Music. Go all the way through do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do, and that’s an octave.

Middle C is the C that’s right smack in the middle of a piano. It’s kind of the landmark note around which most standard musical notation is centered. Wikipedia has a good description of it over here, including some midi files of what various octaves of C sound like.

If you look at their “Designation by octave” chart, middle C is C4. That’s the low C I can hit on my flute. The lowest C I can hit on my piccolo, on the other hand, is C5. I can do C6 easily enough too. C7 is the problem.

And here’s the really fun part. A piccolo is pitched an octave above a flute–meaning that if I use the same fingering to produce a note on both my instruments, the flute will have the low “do” note, and the piccolo will have the high one. And if that wasn’t complicated enough, piccolo music is actually written an octave down, on purpose. So a piccolo C5 looks like a flute C5, when written out in music. But the piccolo C5 is going to SOUND like a C6.

Which means that that C7 I’m trying to hit on my piccolo is actually a C8. I get woozy just THINKING about trying to hit that note. ;D

(The reason piccolo music is written an octave down on purpose is because if you’re writing notes that go too high to fit on the staff, you have to use extra lines called ledger lines to notate them. And there are only so many ledger lines you can comfortably use in a given piece of sheet music before you pretty much have to ctrl-alt-fuckit, write everything an octave down, and mark it 8va, which translates to ‘kick this up an octave because SERIOUSLY, I’m not sticking 15 extra lines over the staff, are you NUTS?’)

In any event, this is going to be quite, quite fun and I look forward to playing with this piece more. BUT FIRST, I gotta finish pulling Vengeance of the Hunter out of my head, and then work on Bone Walker soundtrack stuff! More bulletins as events warrant!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Music All Around You)

Those of you who’ve read my writeup of the amazing time Dara and I had seeing Le Vent du Nord in Victoria this past April may have noticed how one of my very favorite parts of the entire show was when les gars started belting out “Le Retour du Fils Soldat”. Four-part harmony, right in front of me and Dara, YUM.

I’d said at the time that you should all find this song ASAP, though I couldn’t find a video of it on YouTube. A kind soul has now CORRECTED this little problem, and my friend and fellow devoted Le Vent fan Susan pointed me at this delightful thing.

BEHOLD! “Le Retour du Fils Soldat”, now joining “General Taylor” and “River Driver” on the list of Songs That Have Killed Me Ded of Harmony:

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Music All Around You)

Those of you who’ve read my writeup of the amazing time Dara and I had seeing Le Vent du Nord in Victoria this past April may have noticed how one of my very favorite parts of the entire show was when les gars started belting out “Le Retour du Fils Soldat”. Four-part harmony, right in front of me and Dara, YUM.

I’d said at the time that you should all find this song ASAP, though I couldn’t find a video of it on YouTube. A kind soul has now CORRECTED this little problem, and my friend and fellow devoted Le Vent fan Susan pointed me at this delightful thing.

BEHOLD! “Le Retour du Fils Soldat”, now joining “General Taylor” and “River Driver” on the list of Songs That Have Killed Me Ded of Harmony:

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Whistling Bob)

Well, for a small number of bands, anyway! Because apparently this is the week for people to hit my site trying to find out about the instruments played by my favorite groups.

Yesterday somebody came by with the search term ‘what mouth instruments do le vent du nord play?’ Answer: just one! Réjean Brunet plays the mouth harp. You can hear it all over a lot of their songs and you can see it in various live videos. Like this one! The mouth harp shows up in the second song in this vid, “Au bord de la fontaine”, which kicks in around the 6:57 mark. Though I heartily endorse watching the first song, “Lanlaire”, too!

And today’s search term is ‘what flutes do great big sea use’. Answer: none! Séan McCann and Bob Hallett play whistles–Séan plays a small tin whistle but only on “Run Run Away”, and Bob breaks out the big low whistle for things like “Boston and St. John’s”. Behold the whistle in action!

To those of you who came by looking, in case you see this post, I hope this is helpful!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Whistling Bob)

Well, for a small number of bands, anyway! Because apparently this is the week for people to hit my site trying to find out about the instruments played by my favorite groups.

Yesterday somebody came by with the search term ‘what mouth instruments do le vent du nord play?’ Answer: just one! Réjean Brunet plays the mouth harp. You can hear it all over a lot of their songs and you can see it in various live videos. Like this one! The mouth harp shows up in the second song in this vid, “Au bord de la fontaine”, which kicks in around the 6:57 mark. Though I heartily endorse watching the first song, “Lanlaire”, too!

And today’s search term is ‘what flutes do great big sea use’. Answer: none! Séan McCann and Bob Hallett play whistles–Séan plays a small tin whistle but only on “Run Run Away”, and Bob breaks out the big low whistle for things like “Boston and St. John’s”. Behold the whistle in action!

To those of you who came by looking, in case you see this post, I hope this is helpful!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Alan LOL)

Dara put up a few posts of her own detailing her POV of our adventures in Harrison Hot Springs, including a loverly picspam of various things we looked at. Including a couple of shots off of her camera of me and the boys of De Temps Antan!

I particularly like this one, of my reaction when I got called out for being a double agent for Le Vent du Nord, since I was wearing their T-shirt:

LOL

Quebec Boys are Amused When I Explode from LOL

Go click over to Dara’s post to see the other one, of me and Éric Beaudry, current holder of the title of Anna’s Favorite Bouzouki Player from Quebec!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Viva Las Vegas Smug)

My belovedest of Daras is at a bit of a loss when it comes to comprehending my rampageous affection for Quebecois traditional music. She doesn’t speak a lick of French, and so I could mention any one of the various bands I’m following, only to have their names just parse to her as “French sounds”. And it didn’t help matters much either when we went up to Harrison Hot Springs this past weekend–because two of the guys in De Temps Antan ARE brothers of guys in Le Vent du Nord, and the sets of brothers in question do look rather alike!

Several of you who read me on a regular basis won’t be having these problem, but in case you’re in the same boat Dara is and find yourself trying to figure out who all these people are I keep enthusiastically babbling about, here. I present for you this handy flowchart for how to tell apart my seven favorite Quebecois traditional bands!

Quebec Band Flowchart

Quebec Band Flowchart

Never let it be said that I am not helpful!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Viva Las Vegas Smug)

My belovedest of Daras is at a bit of a loss when it comes to comprehending my rampageous affection for Quebecois traditional music. She doesn’t speak a lick of French, and so I could mention any one of the various bands I’m following, only to have their names just parse to her as “French sounds”. And it didn’t help matters much either when we went up to Harrison Hot Springs this past weekend–because two of the guys in De Temps Antan ARE brothers of guys in Le Vent du Nord, and the sets of brothers in question do look rather alike!

Several of you who read me on a regular basis won’t be having these problem, but in case you’re in the same boat Dara is and find yourself trying to figure out who all these people are I keep enthusiastically babbling about, here. I present for you this handy flowchart for how to tell apart my seven favorite Quebecois traditional bands!

Quebec Band Flowchart

Quebec Band Flowchart

Never let it be said that I am not helpful!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

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