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Quebecois tunes roundup post!

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! 😀


Another tune I figured out!

To follow up on yesterday’s post of musical squee, I am delighted to report that that wasn’t actually the only fun musical thing I pulled off this weekend!

As I reported earlier this week, session folks are encouraging me to learn Genticorum’s lovely little ditty “Valse de poeles” (Waltz of the Stoves). It was played at session this past Wednesday, and I do have it on my Genticorum Favorites playlist, so I’ve heard it several times now. This morning, I caught myself whistling it. And I realized, “Wait a minute. Now it’s in my BRAIN.”

Because, O Internets, if a tune actually makes it into my brain well enough that I can reproduce it by whistling, chances are very, VERY good that I can reproduce it on the flute.

So this afternoon I picked up Norouet and promptly started trying to reproduce the tune. I got the entire A part pretty much without trying–though I quickly also realized, after checking against the recording, that dammit! The tune’s in A! Which means that I can’t really play it on Norouet, due to previously lamented issues with G sharp. So I had to jump over to Shine instead.

But with the help of Tempo Slow, gunning the tune down to about 65 percent speed, I worked out the B part in fairly short order. As with Le Vent du Nord’s “Manteau d’hiver”, “Valse de poeles” is very simple in structure. There’s just an A part and a B part, and Genticorum does several passes through each before they vary it up some with harmony and a few differences in rhythm on the final iterations. So with this tune, too, the challenge for me will be to figure out whether I can work out the harmony along with the melody, or to make up something of my own to vary it up.

Here’s the really fun part though: unlike with “Manteau d’hiver”, where the melody is complex enough that I had to actually transcribe it note by note, I got all of “Valse de poeles” by ear. I don’t have any sheet music for it at all, and I was just going entirely by the recording!

And this was the very first time I’ve ever been able to pull that off. I’m ridiculously excited by this! It means that yeah, maybe I can indeed progress towards the goal of being able to damn well learn tunes by ear like a real session player!

Check this out, too–Genticorum’s got the album in question streaming up on, so you can hear the song thusly right over here! Ain’t that pretty?

(Streaming player widget behind the cut, since it breaks on LJ and Dreamwidth!)

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Quebecois tunes now in my sights

One of the big intimidating things for me as a newbie to Quebec tunes is that there are so! goddamn! many! of them–a problem equally applicable to Irish/Celtic tunes in general, but I’m growing to appreciate the sheer number of tunes available to an interested student!

And thanks to being pointed recently at this beautiful repository of tunes goodness and a few other fine links as well, I’ve now happily ID’d an initial lineup of tunes I can focus on. These are ones that I have confirmed recordings for, mostly–a LOT of La Bottine Souriante, but also some Genticorum, some De Temps Antan, and even Le Vent du Nord!

These tunes are:

  • Gigue a Trois–this is a Le Vent du Nord tune, by M. Demers! \0/
  • Gigue André Alain–a.k.a. 6/8 de André Alain, this is the first of the two that Alexandre of Genticorum taught me! Including it here for completeness
  • Gigue du Diamante Bleu–Alexandre mentioned this one when he was trying to remember what Gigue du Père Mathias was called. So clearly I must investigate whether it’s similar!
  • Gigue du Père Mathias–And this is the other one that Alexandre taught me! This one’s fun! Also including for completeness since I’ve played with this one already.
  • Hommage à Philippe Bruneau–La Bottine recorded this one! But I’ve found two different PDFs of this, and they appear to be two different tunes. I need to determine which one is actually the one that La Bottine recorded.
  • Jigue/Gigue de Salon–on the grounds that Pascale Gemme of Genticorum wrote it! Don’t have a recording, I think, unless it’s uncredited in one of the instrumental sets on the Genticorum albums.
  • Le brandy–La Bottine recorded this one, and if the mighty La Bottine recorded it, it requires my undivided attention.
  • Le Chat Noir–This has Andre Brunet and Éric Beaudry’s names on it on the Montreal Session site, to wit, category Highly Relevant to My Interests!
  • Le pommeau 1–Alexandre wrote this one! Genticorum recorded it on La Bibournoise.
  • Le reel des menteries–Written by Normand Miron, who I know of course from the Charbonniers. I have a couple different recordings which should have this tune in them.
  • Les Patins de Pauline–By Andre Marchand, recorded by La Bottine Souriante recorded on Chic & Swell. And, well, you don’t get more venerable than M. Marchand, I think…
  • Nuit sauvage–… unless perhaps you are Michel Bordeleau! Again, recorded by La Bottine!
  • Reel au relenti–By the aforementioned M. Brunet! No recording, but for M. Brunet, I make an exception.
  • Reel de Caribou–We’ve played this in session! Though I need to determine which of the conflicting PDFs I have is more like what we’ve played.
  • Reel de la tuque bleue–Recorded by Les Frères Labri.
  • Reel de Siamois–Again, Andre Marchand! Recording on Le Bruit Court dans la ville.
  • Reel des vieux garçons–Must check this against the same recording as Reel de Siamois; same as first tune on that recording?
  • Sheepskin and Beeswax–BEST LA BOTTINE EVER! \0/ This gets played in our session crowd, and it was played when Genticorum was here last year, and oh gods this one is awesome. Recorded on La Mistrine as well as the opening “Ouverture” track on La Bottine’s live album En spectacle.
  • The Woodchopper’s Reel–I think this is in our session repertoire!
  • Valse Bernadette–Another La Bottine, on Tout comme au jour de l’an.
  • Valse d’hiver–Yet another La Bottine, on La traversée de l’Atlantique.
  • Violon guérisseur–Genticorum! \0/ This is on the most excellent Nagez Rameurs.
  • Reel du Pendu–The last of the La Bottines I’m targeting! Again, conflicting PDFs, must match up against my recordings!

This, I think, should keep me happily occupied for months. SO EXCITING! And hopefully also stomp-inducing, because oh my yes I’m going to see if I can get footwork going on these things while I’m playing!

About Me

Demandez, et vous irez recevrez!

As y’all know, O Internets, I am a big raving fangirl for Quebecois trad music. I am also NOT a native French speaker. And one of the points of vexation of being a fangirl for a genre of music sung in a language I do not properly speak (YET!) is that I desperately, desperately want to sing along with these eminently catchy ditties. Quebec trad is hugely singable–that’s one of the big things I love about it–and participatory as well. The vast majority of the songs are set up in a call-and-response structure, so you can’t help but sing along with them. At least, if you’re me!

But I can’t in fact properly sing along with a lot of the songs yet, because I can’t make head or tail of song lyrics just by listening, not yet. So it helps immensely for me to see written-out lyrics for songs I’m interested in. If I see the words, my brain is better able to understand them as words while I’m listening to the songs. I’ve set lyrics on a lot of the songs in my collection in iTunes, just so that when I listen to them on my phone during my commute, I can look at the lyrics on the screen while I’m listening.

Which means of course that I have to have the lyrics at hand to begin with.

Now, Le Vent du Nord is very, very good about posting not only French lyrics for their songs on their their Bandcamp site (go! GO LISTEN! RIGHT NOW!), but English translations as well. Actual understanding of French, I find, is optional when enjoying Quebec trad–but because I am in fact me, my language geekery is engaged. I can’t properly appreciate this music if I don’t understand the words. Plus I just love languages; I mean, I’m a writer. Words are what I do.

But not all of the bands I’m following have lyrics so readily available. In which case I need to start consulting liner notes of the albums I have physical copies for–such as all of the albums by Genticorum, about whom I have enthused before, and who are arguably now my second favorite Quebec band. <3 Last night I was transcribing lyrics of a few of their songs out of the liner notes for their album Le galarneau, only to discover that aw, crapweasels, a couple of the lines in “Les parties de Grégoire” were not actually included in the notes!

AUGH, I said. Now, with all this listening I’ve been doing to Quebec music, my ear is improving. But I’m still not to the point yet of being able to pick out more than a word or two at a time in unfamiliar lyrics. I recognized “boire” at the end of one line in question, but damned if I could make out the rest, aside from being half-sure that the first word in that line was either “tant” or “quand”.

Google Fu failed me. So it was time to invoke drastic measures: asking the band!

However, this was very easy as I follow all three of the Genticorum boys on Facebook, and one of them even supported my Faerie Blood Kickstarter, and so he very quickly filled me on the line I was missing: “T’en iras-tu sans boire?” Which means, “Will you leave without drinking?”

Language geekery engaged as I realized that “t’en” sounded a lot like “tant” to my ear–and moreover, it took me a few minutes to realize that this sentence had an unfamiliar verb construction in it! “Iras”, I realized, was the future tense, second person informal for “aller”. But there’s that sneaky “t’en” in there too. So I looked up “en aller” on and was immediately rewarded with this super-helpful page describing the five verbs in French that mean “to leave”.

Four of these were already familiar to me, since I’d gotten them as vocabulary words in SuperMemo. But I’d been having trouble distinguishing between them, in no small part because SuperMemo gives all its spoken definitions in French, and I hadn’t managed to distinguish the various examples by ear yet. But I hadn’t gotten “s’en aller”! So this page was a huge boon to helping these verbs all suddenly make sense to me.

In conclusion: Quebecois trad music, fun and linguistically educational!

Also, go buy Genticorum’s latest record. Because they’re all excellent musicians and awesome people. Tell them I sent you!

AND OH HEY! For bonus giggles, this YouTube video over here shows a different band performing the same song. This has four additional verses at the beginning that Genticorum’s recorded version lacks, but you can definitely hear the “t’en iras-tu sans boire?” line in there!


An evening of flute practice

As y’all know I’m a writer first and a musician second, but Musician!Anna is really only a few steps behind Writer!Anna, and if the instruments yell loud enough I have to pick them up. No questions asked and no quarter given. Tonight, the instruments yelled loud enough. So I grabbed Norouet and Shine for some tunes practice! (For those of you who may just be tuning in, Norouet is my current main wooden flute, and Shine is my piccolo, my oldest working instrument, from way back in my days of middle school.)

It’s been too long, so my fingers found Norouet a bit big and awkward to deal with (which of course means I damn well need to play Norouet more). So I mostly punted over to Shine instead just to review all the various tunes I know.

Started off with Road to Lisdoonvarna, including the variation I’m trying to play with. And by variation, I mostly just mean, several little additional twiddles I’m throwing in there, just to vary up the rhythm a bit and make it more interesting to listen to when I swing back around for a third repetition. Along with this, since I still typically play ’em in a set even though our Renton session imploded, I did Swallowtail Jig and Morrison’s. Morrison’s STILL gives me fits. I can’t play it at speed without losing my breath control. Augh.

Also stumbled my way through Banish Misfortune, Blarney Pilgrim, and Si Bheag Si Mhor, the other tunes from the Renton session I am still more or less able to play without having to consult sheet music.

After that, though, I jumped from Ireland over to Quebec, to practice the two tunes I was taught by Genticorum’s flute player! These tunes, y’all may or may not recall, are 6/8 de André Alain and Gigue du Père Mathias. Playing with these tonight, I determined that 6/8 de Andre Alain is more or less in my fingers. The Gigue, not so much. This is probably pretty much a direct result of how I was working with Alexandre de Grosbois-Garand on the first tune for most of our lesson, and we barely bounced off the second one.

That said, I DO have a phone recording of him playing through both of the tunes. And I have just determined that I was more or less able to follow what he was playing, at least in the slow bit of the recording. The fast bit where he kicks into full, proper tempo? Um, yeah. I gotta work on that part. *^_^*;;

The real, important takeaway here though is that yes, I apparently can learn tunes by ear if I have an opportunity to work through them a few times–either with a suitably slow recording, or with somebody with an instrument sitting with me who’s willing to fling me a few measures at a time until I can reliably echo what’s being played. And let me clarify–I can do this on the flute. And specifically on Shine, since that’s the instrument that goes back clear to my formative years, so it’s the one whose fingerings I don’t have to think about. I don’t have that level of comfort yet with flutes that don’t have keys.

(And the other takeaway here is that holy hopping gods Alexandre can play him some flute. Y’all go buy Nagez Rameurs for a proper demonstration of this! Did I mention the part where that album’s up for an award, and going head to head with Le Vent’s latest AND La Bottine’s latest as well? BEST AWARD NOMINATION LINEUP EVER. <3 )

Quebecois Music

Le Vent du Nord and Genticorum videos!

Because YouTube loves me this weekend and wants me to have awesome things, I bring to you three brand new videos posted by YouTube user bordurat, who clearly has a lock on all the best Quebecois band videos, and two older ones from the same user’s posts.

Videos behind the fold! The three new ones are from Le Vent du Nord’s recent CD launch party in Montreal–so all the between-song stage talk is in French, too fast for me to follow, but the videos are long and have two songs each, so they are quite worth your time. The two older ones are Genticorum, who I feature here now since those boys are putting in a powerful bid to become my Official Second Favorite Quebecois Band (though I reserve final judgement until De Temps Antan gets out here in August)!

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