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galant tu perds ton temps

Quebecois Music

Quebec band recommendations, round 2: Galant, tu perds ton temps!

Here we have another band who dropped a new album since I put up my original recommendations post about them: Galant, tu perds ton temps!

As with previous posts in this series, pretty much everything I said in the first one for the Galant ladies still holds true–with the notable exception that they do have a shiny new album out, Soyez heureux, which I reviewed here. And now that they do have that new album out, I need to update my “What album should you get?” rec for them–because yes, you should absolutely get this album if you’re interested in checking out this group, just on musical strength alone. (The other two albums are also available to US customers on digital markets, but if you’re going to pick one album, get this one first.)

They’ll be a bit more challenging to follow for newbies at French like myself, since so far I haven’t been able to confirm whether they have publicly available lyrics–I’ve only been able to find lyrics to one of their songs so far, and they don’t have any posted on their website. But if you don’t consider that a drawback, then absolutely, give these ladies your listening attention. As I said in the album review post, I adore the complexity and precision of their vocals. And they all have distinct and lovely voices as well, which blend beautifully in those many layers of harmony.

As you can see here, courtesy of bordurat on YouTube (source of MANY excellent Quebec music vids), you can see the group performing the title track off the new album:

Though I’ll link to this one again as well, “Les promesses du galant”, just because it IS one of my favorites off the album before:

Find the Galant ladies on their official site, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Go check ’em out!

Quebecois Music

A guide to Quebec trad for English speakers

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!)

    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.

  3. 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.

    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!

Quebecois Music

And now, to solve an ongoing problem

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!

Quebecois Music

Album review: Soyez heureux, by Galant, Tu Perds Ton Temps

Several of my Anglophone friends both online and off who’ve studied French have talked about French is the language of precision. I’ve seen this referenced online as well as a reason for why French gets used in diplomatic negotiations–because it is in fact much clearer than English when it comes to vocabulary. Newbie as I am in my French studies, even I can see this. So far I’m definitely finding that if I want to say a given thing in French, there’s pretty much going to be one and maybe two ways tops to say it.

I mention this because it rolls over into music as well. In music, though, precision is not just a matter of word choice; it’s also a matter of tempo, of rhythm, of melody and counter-melody and harmony. Mind you, suitably trained musicians can do this regardless of what language they speak or sing. My brother the rock drummer, I daresay, might tell you all about how precision is the life’s blood of a percussionist. But in my explorations of Quebecois traditional music, precision is absolutely one of the qualities I’m seeing shining forth. If you want to know why I admire the hell out of instrumentalists who can do podorythmie, it’s exactly because of that–the physical precision and coordination required to do that with any speed at all. And when you throw in the ability to sing at the same time, the precision becomes more than just physical. It becomes a defining factor of the music, and it’s a real big part of what sends me bouncing down the street singing turluttes at the top of my lungs, or seeing if I can in fact get my feet going while playing a reel on one of my flutes.

All of which leads me to the topic of this post: the brand new album by Galant, Tu Perds Ton Temps!

I’ve written before about how Quebec trad is a pretty male-heavy genre of music, and usually I am absolutely fine with that, given how much I’m enjoying all the various bands I follow. Galant, Tu Perds Ton Temps however go a long way to address this gender imbalance and I adore them. For one thing, it’s delightful to try to sing along with French lyrics sung in my actual range. For another, that precision thing? The women of Galant, Tu Perds Ton Temps have it in spades. I am in awe of how their five vocalists can interweave their voices. They may not be as roaringly powerful vocal-wise as the Charbonniers, my other favorite Quebecois a capella group–but every one of their songs is an exquisite, delicate work of musical art. (And when I say delicate, don’t let that make you think they lack energy! I assure you, they don’t!)

Their new album is called Soyez heureux (“Be happy”). It’s their third release, and now that they’ve reached album #3, it’s clear that they’ve gotten their style down and can now spend time polishing it until it shines. Being a newbie to French, I do suffer a considerable handicap in not being able to follow most of the lyrics–but I can tell that vocally and rhythmically, they’ve definitely kicked it up another notch or two from their previous albums. Moreover, from what I’ve read about the album, there is a concerted effort here to tell the stories of women in the various songs. What surprised me the most, too, was one article mentioning at least one song about a lesbian! Which makes me really want to dig into the lyrics and see if I can figure out which song has that story. Because that? That’s an awesome thing to see cropping up in folk music.

The digital booklet that came with the album does not include lyrics for every song, sadly, so I’m going to have to spend some time trying to translate what is there–which appears to be a broad overview of the five women whose stories the songs are telling. But in the meantime I can tell you that the addition of little interludes of violin between several of the tracks give the album an almost classical-sounding structure overall, and I suspect they’re serving as transitional markers between one woman and the next in the story flow.

I don’t know which woman in the group has which voice yet, but I particularly love the deeper voices in the harmony mix; whoever’s got the contralto has a gorgeous voice, in particular. Listen too for the rhythms laid down by their percussionist–that precision thing again! This being the only one of my main Quebec groups that includes a bodhran in their percussion as well as feet adds another unique layer to the band’s sound, and it’s a great rumbly low anchor to their high, sweet vocals.

And I can tell you as well that of the tracks available on the album, my favorites so far are “Laissez-moi faire” (+10 for any song with turlutte rhythms to it!), “Elle attent tout l’temps”, “Virons-la” (because mmmm turluttes in minor mmmmm), “La complainte de Ste-Marie” (for some haunting slow harmonies), “Le blues de la ménagère” (because of sweet waltz tempo), and “Louise et son soldat” (for OH HEY I can actually understand that title, so maybe I’ll be able to pick a story out of the lyrics!).

This album’s been released to US markets, so you can grab it from US iTunes or Amazon. Canadians can grab it from Canadian iTunes or a physical CD from Amazon CA. Archambault in Quebec has it right over here, and Renaud-Bray has it here.

The band can be found on both Facebook and Twitter, as well as at their official website. Go tell ’em bonjour, won’t you? And get their album!

Quebecois Music

Thank you, Galant girls!

I was going to do another French sentence post tonight about Fred and George and the lively discussion I’ve had on Facebook about better words to use for describing cats as ‘fuzzy’. But this just got trumped by my picking out an entire understandable sentence in a song I don’t even have written lyrics for!

The song is “Faites-moi un homme sans tête” by Galant Tu Perds Ton Temps. The Galant girls have no lyrics posted on their website, which gives me a Sad, so I have to just keep listening to them and hope I get lucky picking out a word or three here and there. Tonight, that actually happened! On the way home I heard, in this particular song, a phrase that sounded like “je ne vas pas marier”. Which means, “I will not marry!”

I already knew ‘je’, the ‘ne … pas’ construction, ‘va’ being part of the conjugation of aller, and I got ‘marier’ from various other songs in my collection. So WOW, I picked out an entire sentence in French with my very own ears. Go me!

I just doublechecked the song and discovered that the line is actually ‘je ne va pas me marier’; I hadn’t caught the ‘me’ just before ‘marier’ the first time through. Now, Francophones, sanity check me on this–if I’m understanding my shiny new verb book correctly, the presence of the “me” in there indicates that the verb being used here is “se marier”, not just “marier”, which is the difference between “getting married to someone” vs. “causing an act of marriage”. So that makes the sentence more “I will not get married.”

Am I reading that right?

Either way, HOLY CRAP I just understood an entire French sentence in a song! *does a little dance*

Quebecois Music

Quebecois band recommendations: Galant, Tu Perds Ton Temps!

It gives me ridiculous amounts of glee that a (mostly) female group has dived into the male-dominated Quebecois trad genre, and this is exactly what you get with Galant, Tu Perds Ton Temps! I tend to listen to male groups in general just because I’m a sucker for the sound of several guys singing in full round harmony, a thing of mine that goes clear back to Elvis and the Jordannaires–but if you give me a bunch of women doing the same thing, oh my yes, I’m there.

The Galant group is technically not 100% female–they do have one male member of the group, Jean-Francois Berthiaume, who does their footwork and other general percussion. However, he doesn’t sing–so all the vocals are in fact female. And yeah, the Galant girls meet and match their male colleagues in this genre with some kickass vigorous harmonies! I haven’t identified which girl is which yet in terms of ranges sung, but whoever’s got the lower ranges in particular is delivering some great contralto/tenor lines, and whoever’s got the highest soprano is notable as well.

They’ve got only two albums available to date, Fais-toi pas d’illusions and the self-titled Galant, tu perds ton temps, which is actually the newer of the two albums. To further confuse matters, the band gets its name from a song of the same name, and that song appears on the earlier album! “Galant, tu perds ton temps” translates roughly to “Suitor/lover, you waste your time”, which is another thing that makes me giggle and giggle. Especially given that my boys over in La Volée d’Castors have also covered this song.

So which album should you get? That’s a bit of a hard call. I’ve got a LOT of tracks off the newer one on my Favorites list, and that one does have the selling point of being a double CD so you get a lot of music for the money. On the other hand, the three tracks I’ve marked as favorites on the other album are in fact the ones I’ve recently played more often. So really, it becomes a question of which one you can find, and which one you feel like paying money for.

YouTube has a lot of videos of them up, though, so if you search for “galant tu perds ton temps”, you should be able to find them. Here’s one of them doing “Mary of the Wild Moor” in English, and the video quality is good, so you can get an excellent idea of their overall vocal style. And here’s a partial vid of them doing “Les promesses du galant”, which is one of my favorites off the newer album, and I’m desperate to find proper lyrics for it because I’m FAIRLY SURE they aren’t actually singing “Monsieur Pants” in there. XD This one is “Faites-moi un homme sans tête / Reel Bergerville”, which I like off the newer album as well!

They’ve got no links to buy on their site, so your only option (that I know of) is iTunes if you want their music electronically and you’re outside Canada. has only the second, larger album available for download, and their downloads are only for Canadian customers. For physical CDs,,, and all have those, but as with my earlier rec posts, if you’re not actually in Canada, be on the lookout for large shipping charges and be prepared to double up your purchases to qualify for free shipping if necessary! Or, if you are so inclined, recruit a Canadian friend to buy albums for you and ship them to you!

Out of all the Quebec groups I’m following, in some ways I’m most delighted by this one because, well, girls. And I heartily encourage checking them out in particular, if nothing else to encourage them to put out more albums–and to encourage other female groups to jump in on this genre as well. Because I’ll totally buy them, if they are this awesome!

Quebecois Music

Too much awesome for one band alone

All this starts, as many things musical do for me, with Great Big Sea! As I’ve mentioned, the first time I saw GBS perform, La Bottine Souriante was part of that show. At the time they were nine members strong, and I was almost as blown away by them as I was by GBS.

Also from GBS, I get to La Volée d’Castors. I found them thanks to a thread along the theme of “if you like Great Big Sea, you’ll also like ” on the OKP, though it took me some time to actually do anything about it–i.e., to find their music, see if I liked it, and actually buy it! I’m just sorry I didn’t find them sooner. 😀

From LVC I get to Le Vent du Nord, because I found Le Vent buying LVC albums on iTunes. LVN popped up in the list of ‘people who bought this also bought’ albums. It turns out also that Réjean Brunet, current member of Le Vent, also used to be in LVC!

Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer I also discovered on iTunes when I started buying LVC and LVN albums. Again, it took me a bit to actually decide to buy their stuff–but I decided this was clearly Important when I read their web page and discovered a) they’re an a cappella group, and b) two of their members are former La Bottine Souriante guys! One of them in particular, Michel Bordeleau, was in La Bottine when I saw them perform in 2000.

De Temps Antan and Galant, Tu Perds Ton Temps are my most recent acquisitions, thanks to M Kenney, who’s dropped me several comments on the topic! De Temps Antan are connected both to La Bottine Souriante AND to Le Vent du Nord, since all three guys in De Temps are either current or former La Bottine members–and Éric Beaudry is of course the brother of Simon, over in Le Vent.

The Beaudry boys are connected back to the Charbonniers, since André Marchand, current Charbonniers member, produced their album Le sort des amoureux for them.

The Galant girls are also connected to LVN, since M Kenney informs me that they, Le Vent, and the Charbonniers have all performed together, doing a song called “Diable et le Fermier”, written by Nicolas Boulerice of Le Vent. Here it is, on YouTube:

Long story short, clearly all the best bands in Quebec are tied together in one great big web of AWESOME. I love that! And I’ll be amused to see how many more ways I can find to tie all these groups together, and if there are other groups in the web as well!