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Quebecois Music

Festival du Bois 2016: Dara and I make noise!

This year was the third one that Dara and I have made it up to Festival du Bois in Coquitlam (previous visits having been in 2012 and 2014). We have grown rather fond of this cozy little festival and hopefully will get to start attending yearly rather than every other year!

Day 1: Saturday

This time around, we had a lovely lineup of acts I wanted to check out, two of which were familiar to me and one of which was not. My main point of interest was the power trio of Le bruit court dans la ville–who, of course, were the most excellent musicians who were my draw to Fiddle Tunes this past summer, Lisa Ornstein, André Marchand, and Normand Miron. But also quite noteworthy was Maz, who I’d already become aware of; I have both of their albums. I had not to date had a chance to see them live, though!

And last but not least was ReVeillons!, who came highly recommended by a few of the folks in our local session crowd. I wanted to check these guys out in no small part because they include Jean-François Berthiaume, who I’d already known about courtesy of his being the percussionist for Galant Tu Perds Ton Temps.

We did get to see all three of these acts, and I am pleased to report that they were all excellent. But as it turned out, this time around Dara and I actually got in some time getting to play ourselves!

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Fun with reels and podorythmie!

It was inevitable, O Internets, that when I fell in love with the podorythmie in Quebec music, I would of course eventually have to try it myself. Those of you who have seen me post about the monthly Quebec music sessions I’ve been going to know that I’ve already tried it a time or two at those. The REAL fun, though, is if you can do it while simultaneously either singing or playing an instrument!

As I am not only a neophyte at Quebec trad but still fairly heavily out of practice on my flute in general, I ain’t expecting to get this down right out of the gate. Tonight, though, while playing with Gigue du Père Mathias, I HAD to try it. Just to see if I could.

So far what I’ve observed about podorythmie is that it’s generally done with reels (or gigues, or stuff that’s generally in 4-based time signatures). I have maybe one or two recordings where the tunes being played are clearly jigs, yet simple podo is happening underneath them–most of it, though, it’s 4-based stuff. And the very simplest rhythm I’ve been able to note thus far is a ta-ga-DAP pattern. The DAP falls on each downbeat, with the ta-ga leading into it as pickup notes (sixteenths, if you break ’em down).

Getting the pattern down with my feet is pretty easy, with the caveat of my having neither proper board nor proper shoes, so I cannot actually hear myself making the satisfying rhythm that I get in so many of the tracks I’ve got in my collection now! (Note: getting proper shoes IS an eventual goal, but I want to see if I can learn this first! ;D ) I can, however, at least get down the rhythm and the motions, and I can feel each strike of my foot against the floor even if it’s muffled.

Then comes the tricky part–trying to work in the tune to play on top of it. Since Gigue du Père Mathias is a tune I’ve now managed to memorize (and is actually the first 4-based fast tune I’ve picked up, the rest I know are all jigs so far, or waltzes, or Da Slockit Light which is I believe an air), I thought I’d try to layer that in on top of the root rhythm. I had to try it very, VERY slowly. But I thought maybe I could apply the same principle I do to trying to sing while playing guitar–i.e., don’t think about ‘your hands have to do this’ vs. ‘your feet have to do this’, but instead, get into a sort of zen space where all parts of you are uniting to make the song happen.

I think this might actually work! I tried just vocalizing the tune over my feet, and that worked okay. Then I tried actually playing it–and it took me a few tries before I got the hang of it–but I was eventually able to do the whole A part! Also, paradoxically, I did it a little better once I speeded things up a bit.

I can already tell though that this is going to be super-extra-bonus fun for a wind player. By which I mean, “oh god oh god where the hell am I going to breathe?!” It’s amusing enough to be a flute player trying to tear your way through a reel at top speed without making your legs go at the same time!

But WOW this is going to be fun. And hard. But FUN. The challenge is ON!

(STILL need a proper podorythmie icon. Must find a proper picture. And the caption will have to read ‘my fandom wears the Smiling Boots’!)