Album review: Ici on fête, by Various Artists

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.

Fun with La Bottine Souriante lyrics

So y’all know that fun La Bottine Souriante concert video I posted yesterday? I totally got songvirused by the second song Éric Beaudry sings lead on in that–because the back of my brain kept going “HEY YOU TOTALLY KNOW THIS SONG”.
Except that it doesn’t appear on the later La Bottine albums, the ones M. Beaudry appears on. So it took my audio memory of the melody a bit before it finally went DING and appended “you know this song, but sung by André Marchand“! Turned out I recognized it because it’s “Pinci-pincette”, on the early La Bottine album Y’a ben du changement, and it was in fact on my playlist in iTunes for my favorite La Bottine songs!
‘Cause yeah. As I’ve said before, two of the biggest things I adore about Quebec trad are call-and-response and podorythmie, and this song’s an excellent example. Once I figured out which song it was, I promptly found the words right over here.
Let’s see what happens when I try to read through the lyrics without Google Translate, shall we? Here are bits and pieces of it I can take a guess at without looking them up. Translation attempts behind the fold!
Continue reading “Fun with La Bottine Souriante lyrics”

La Bottine Souriante is here to rock up your Thursday

I’ve posted before, O Internets, about how my rampaging love for Quebec trad can be traced straight back to La Bottine Souriante when I saw them perform at the same show where I first saw Great Big Sea. (Little did I know at the time that that concert at Chateau Ste. Michelle was going to be the birthplace of two of my three biggest lifetime musical fandoms!) I have not, however, had the good fortune to see La Bottine in concert since, and I’d really like to see them with their current lineup.
But I ain’t expecting that to happen any time soon unless they show up in Vancouver. Because transporting a band that big is, I’m sure, logistically challenging even without asking them to cross the US border. (Bah.)
BUT! Even if I can’t see them in person, the Internets have now consoled me with the surfacing of a great video of an entire show they did on their recent tour to Mexico. Behold! (And for all the non-Francophones reading this, note that the band members do introduce the songs in English; there’s only a little bit of Spanish attempted at the beginning.)

And I gotta say, after watching this, I am convinced that Éric Beaudry has access to the same shoe-based arc reactor technology that powers the feet of Olivier Demers. ‘Cause I mean damn, people, when your feet are the entire percussion section for a band as big as La Bottine, you have some mighty rhythmic feet. (+10 as well for Éric’s intro to the second song he sings lead on! Of which he has two, and they are both awesome. Dude can sing. But I’ve said that before, too.)
Go! Clickie! And be careful if you’re listening to this by a desktop computer. You may find yourself in danger of foot-tapping all over your power supply. Well, for values of ‘you’ meaning ‘me’. ;)

In which Anna figures out how to play Au rang d'aimer!

I’ve been spending quite a bit of my musical time on tunes from the Quebecois repertoire, but every so often I get to remind myself that actually, y’know? I also play guitar. Especially when I hear a song like the delicious “Au rang d’aimer” by La Bottine Souriante, which I’ve been swooning over for ages. It’s pulled hard into the lead to become the first song from Quebec that I’ve been able to figure out how to play and sing at the same time, properly!
I used the Chord Detector app I’ve got on my iPhone to get an initial idea of the chords. Now, the app ain’t perfect, and I find that when I throw a song at it, it’s usually good for giving me the general ballpark–the right key and several of the right base chords. But then I need to go in and finesse it and figure out things like strum patterns, and where to plug in chords that might be missing.
This song’s delightful to play with, just because it requires a more delicate strum pattern than I’m used to playing. (‘Cause hi, right, I’m the girl used to playing the sorts of chords that are better fitting to boinging around the living room, playing along with the Great Big DVD and belting out “Mari Mac” at the top of your lungs, NOT THAT I DO THAT OR ANYTHING!) Don’t quote me on the key, but I think we’re dealing with D mix here. There’s a lot of F, D, Em, and G, with periodic loverly little bits of Em7 and C. And I THINK there’s an Am that pops in as a transition chord between D and Em on the third line of the verses, but I’m not a hundred percent sure of that.
Note also, if you play with these chords, the first and fifth verses start with D->G->D->G, but the rest of them go F->Em->D->G, as near as I can tell. Because the first and fifth ones are coming after the intro and bridge, and starting them with D instead of F makes the chord flow work better.
I’ve got the overall strum pattern down, though, I think! And I’ve even managed to memorize the words, and for the most part I even know what they mean–though there’s a line in the fourth verse that goes “C’était un soir un facsillant, en courtisant sa mise”, and for the life of me I haven’t been able to figure out what the hell “facsillant” means. My google fu fails me. So did asking the La Bottine Souriante Facebook group I’m on, though one nice person from Quebec says she thinks it’s maybe an Old French word. Which would explain why Google Translate has no earthly idea what it means, and why I can’t find it in any of my usual online dictionary sources, either.
(Any French speakers out there who recognize this word, you want to clue me in, I’d be much obliged! I have even taken the drastic step of pinging the excellent gentleman who sings it, Éric Beaudry himself, to see if he can enlighten me. Given that I tried that in French, we’ll see if I managed to do so coherently. I make no guarantees. *^_^*;;)
Anyway though, here, lookit! I made a thing! This is a snippet of me playing with the chord progression, on the General, my big guitar (the Taylor 210). If you listen to the actual recording of the song (and you should, because goddamn, it’s pretty), there’s some mandolin in there. So I could make a case to myself for playing this on my little Ti-Jéan instead, but I dunno yet, the General’s deeper voice has a certain nice flavor to it too. Clearly, I shall have to try it on both instruments!
Every so often, I feel like I actually can play guitar. Tonight is one of those nights!

Quebec band recommendations, round 2: La Bottine Souriante!

As I’ve written before, La Bottine Souriante has the distinction of being the first Quebec band I ever saw perform live, and I said a great deal about them on this post over here. Most of what I had to say there still stands, with some notable exceptions.
First and foremost, as of this writing, La Bottine’s discography has become available for digital purchase on both iTunes and Amazon’s MP3 store! So if you’re a US fan of Quebec music like me, your chances of finding a La Bottine album have now improved considerably.
Which of course brings me to the question of what album should you get? The answer to that’s going to depend on what era of La Bottine you want to investigate, since they seem to come in four overall eras to their sound. I tend to break La Bottine down into “Yves Lambert era” and “Eric Beaudry era”, both of which have their massive appeal to me.
Yves’ Lambert’s era is classic La Bottine, and saw the rise of their mighty, mighty horn section. M. Lambert’s era also saw such seriously impressive musicians as André Marchand and Michel Bordeleau being in the lineup. This era is well worth your time, and if you want to sample it, I’d highly recommend La Mistrine as a studio album at the height of the band’s power in that era. Or, En spectacle for a marvelous live performance. Especially the opening “Ouverture” track, which features what’s kind of the canonical La Bottine tune–Sheepskin and Beeswax, one of the ones I’m trying to learn. I LOVE how they fire this one up, with the rumble out of the bass, then layering in the feet and the melody, until at last the horns start punching in with syncopated goddamn glory and oh, it’s wonderful.
The Eric Beaudry era kicked in with the album J’ai jamais tant ri, and at least as of that album, La Bottine also had Pierre-Luc Dupuis singing a lot of the lead, as well as André Brunet’s fiddle firepower and occasional lead singing as well. All three of these boys have gone on to form De Temps Antan, of course–so that particular La Bottine album rather sounds like “De Temps Antan plus a horn section”. This is not a bad thing!
If you want to get an idea of what La Bottine sounded like as of that album, check out this YouTube fan vid. It’s somebody’s almost entire vid of a La Bottine concert, in which you get to see Eric, André, and Pierre-Luc all rocking it the HELL up. There’s a jumbotron. There’s crowdsurfing. It’s AWESOME.

Now, I tend to prefer classic La Bottine over current, but that said, Eric Beaudry IS right up at the top of the list of Quebec musicians for whom I want pretty much every note they ever recorded (he’s fighting it out with Olivier Demers for the top spot on that list!). As I’ve also mentioned before, any band with a Beaudry in it gets my immediate and undivided attention. M. Beaudry’s vocals are splendid, and he is an amazing bouzouki player. In fact, musically speaking, he is my current favorite bouzouki player, and I do not say this lightly–as anyone who knows I’ve been fangirling Alan Doyle for the last 13 years knows! So his contributions to La Bottine are not to be underestimated in the slightest.
So if you go with Beaudry-era La Bottine, get their most recent release, Appellation D’Origine Contrôlée. I have a full review of this album right over here. I am madly, madly I tell you, in love with “Au rang d’aimer”. I’m trying to learn that one on the guitar. And yes, it’s one of the tracks M. Beaudry sings lead on. You may now show me your lack of surprise faces, Internets. ;)
Also, I’ll add that if you want to track what happened to other members of La Bottine who are no longer in the band, the aforementioned Yves Lambert is still doing music, and he’s got excellent albums available here. Michel Bordeleau and André Marchand are both now in Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer, deploying their massive vocal talent, and they’re also doing double duty as two of the members of Les Mononcles, where they’re doing instruments as well as vocals.

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!

Quebec tunes sheet music

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!

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 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!

Session and general music geekery!

I have made some happy discoveries, and the first of them is this: I am not entirely hopeless learning things by ear. I kinda knew this already–I do, after all, I have a history of playing along with Great Big Sea, or Elvis, or now also Le Vent, and just picking out melody lines on whatever flute I’m playing. I’ve also found out in the last couple of sessions that I can also pick out a melody line on a tune if it’s a slow one.
For example, I haven’t looked at the sheet music for either “Foggy Dew” or “Arran Boat Song”, and yet I’ve managed to more or less stumble my way through both of those at recent sessions. They’re slow, and not terribly complex, and so hey, I was actually able to manage them!
Faster jigs and reels though are still beyond me. This may be a matter of just not having a big enough musical vocabulary yet to be able to reproduce what I’m hearing as soon as I hear it–or, rather, a big enough musical vocabulary to do it with my fingers on the flute. I can whistle along almost instantly, or even dum-da-deedle if I’m feeling like trying to be Quebecois-ish about it. But I haven’t made that connection in my brain yet between “I hear this” and “I can reproduce it on my instrument”.
The core skill’s got to be there, though. I can do it with slower tunes. In theory, surely therefore I can learn to do it with faster ones!
In the meantime, Éric Beaudry, in his capacity of “one of the lead singers of La Bottine Souriante”, has now joined Le Vent du Nord in flinging me songs that are demanding I play them NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW. In particular, “Au rang d’aimer” on the new La Bottine album has pretty much parked itself in front of me and looked cute and expectant and unwavering, like Cync’s dog Kosha used to do in Kentucky!
So I went OKAY FINE, since this IS a song of one of the Beaudrys we’re talking about here, and first actually picked out the melody line on my piccolo–see previous commentary re: I can TOTALLY do this “by ear” thing, if it’s a slow enough song, and “Au rang d’aimer” is! This let me figure out though that this thing is totally in D mixolydian. The tonic of the melody line is D, but C is natural rather than sharp.
Thanks to throwing the song through a chord app I have on my iPhone, I was also able to figure out that there’s an awful lot of F in these chords, another marker of it being in D mix. Note: the chord app is pretty nifty; it takes recorded tracks in your iTunes library and flings you what chords it thinks are being played in it. From the songs I’ve flung through it so far, it does a fair to middlin’ job. Which is actually very, very good for my purposes, because it leaves enough wiggle room for me to exercise my ear some and figure out where it screwed up, and what the chords I actually want in there are.
Related to this same song, one of the lines in it that totally makes me swoon is “Je serai toujours ton serviteur”, which means “I will always be your servant”. I appear to have just enough of an ear now that I can tell when I totally screw up the pronunciation of “serviteur”–I keep wanting to say “servateur”! And I can’t tell if this is because I am an Anglophone, or if I’m an Anglophone from Kentucky who is totally drawling her infant French.
Dara says it would be hysterical if, in my efforts to learn to sing Quebecois French lyrics, I wound up sounding Cajun.