My next Quebec tunes challenge

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!

Death by harmony, exactly how I wanna go

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:

I am a folk music resource!

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!

Two more fun pics of me and De Temps Antan

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:

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!

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 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! :D

To the person who just hit my site looking for Le Vent du Nord sheet music

Google Analytics informs me that you just hit my site three different times looking for sheet music for the Le Vent du Nord instrumental “Petit rêve III”!
First of all, hello to someone who’s clearly a fellow fan, as well as being musically inclined!
Second, sorry I have no leads on such a thing, though I’m right there with you: it’s a beautiful tune and it’s high on the list of Le Vent things I want to learn to play myself! I’m having to amuse myself with trying to transcribe Le Vent tunes by ear. The only Le Vent instrumental I’m aware of that has sheet music available online is “Gigue à trois”.
Third, hey, drop me a line, I’d love to hear from a fellow musically inclined Le Vent du Nord fan! And I MAY be able to help you out if you want to learn to play “Petit rêve III”. I can sort of play it by ear, and I could probably transcribe it!
And for the rest of you, I’ll just take this opportunity to be amused at how it’s an indicator of how much I post about Quebec music AND about Le Vent du Nord that apparently people have started hitting my site pretty frequently looking for data! *waves cheerily to all her fellow Anglophone Quebec music fans out there*

That squeal of delight you just heard was me

Because, O Internets, I just more or less figured out the rest of “Manteau d’hiver”!
Which, for those of you who may just be joining in, is my very favorite instrumental by Le Vent du Nord, off of their current album Tromper le temps. I adore it to bits, as I have fangirlishly squealed about in previous posts. It’s lovely and evocative and upbeat and makes me think of snow showers and snowball fights and drinking hot chocolate by the fire after you come in from being outside.
I’ve been practicing trying to figure out tunes by ear and this was one of the ones I wanted to try, since having the awesome recording of it on hand is a fantastic motivator. I threw it through Tempo Slow on my iPhone, pulling the tempo down REALLY hard–we’re talking 40-50 percent of actual speed here–so that I could try to work out what the melody line was actually doing. And it WORKED.
The piece is deceptively simple in structure. There’s some opening ornamentation as an intro, and then the main tune kicks in with an A part and a B part. And that’s really all there is to it, except that as the piece progresses, they bring in the podorythmie on the second time through. And on the repetitions after that, they vary up the melody to make it more interesting. Harmony comes in, and rhythmic variations as well. And then at last you get the outro to wind it down.
I just focused on working out the basic melody, what appears in the first couple of repetitions. I’ve been trying to transcribe it using Finale Songwriter, but that’s proven to be surprisingly challenging–because it’s a crooked tune, and the time signature does some wacky things I haven’t figured out yet! So I’m not entirely sure how to notate it correctly.
I’ve been trying to get as close as I can by just writing it out in 4/4 and getting the notes in the right order and rhythm as best I can. But partway through the B part I flailed out on that hard, and tonight I opted instead to just try to listen very hard to the slowed-down track and see if I could get into the appropriate zen space of letting my fingers tell me where they needed to go.
I got the notes I was missing and ZOMG you guys, I think I can play this thing. :D Slowly, with some fumbling, but I can play it! And now that I have down the basic melody line, I can work on seriously practicing it so I can take it to session! This is going to be EIGHTY KINDS OF AWESOME.
And, amusingly enough, I’m working this out on Silver tonight–and realizing that for once, actually, the flute with the keys is striking me as the right instrument. Because Silver is metal, and tone-wise, that’s actually striking me kind of right for a piece whose title translates to “Winter coat”.
Want to actually hear what I’m babbling about? Behold, Bandcamp streaming goodness! (ETA: Adding in the direct link since LJ apparently eats the Bandcamp embed code. Sorry, LJ users who see this post!)
Manteau d'hiver by Le Vent du Nord
Or, here, here’s a live version!

For the record: I CAN’T do it that fast yet. But that will be coming. Oh my yes. It’s going to HAPPEN. :D

A bit of musical squee!

And now, several moments of musical squee from last night!
In a move that should surprise absolutely NOBODY who pays attention to what I post for more than five minutes running, a little part of my brain demanded last night, “YOU NEED TO FIGURE OUT THE CHORDS TO VIVE L’AMOUR NOW.”
Because y’all knew this was coming, right? I mean, what with all the delighted slurping up I’ve done of chords for Great Big Sea songs, working on Le Vent songs was pretty much inevitable. I’d already futzed around a bit with “Lanlaire”, but “Vive l’amour” is pretty much the other major song of theirs that’s prone to grabbing my guitar-based attention. So it’s the easy and obvious candidate for me to play with.
So I did! And there I am last night with Ti-Jéan in my lap, and I’ve got my piccolo too to try to twiddle out the melody line and make sure the key is actually what I think it is–which, for general reference, is G. And the first moment of squee is when I’m hitting note on the piccolo and the guitar strings start echoing them back at me, in this strange, lovely resonance that sounds a lot like a wet fingertip running around a wineglass. Very, very cool.
Second moment of musical squee: realizing that the chords to the song are in fact dead simple. Dara and I like to make cracks about GBS’ “Goin’ Up” being subtitled “Four Chords No Brain”, and really, “Vive l’amour” is pretty much the exact same chords in a different order (G, C, Em, and D) with occasional bonus A minor thrown in in places. What I haven’t quite gotten down yet is the strum pattern, since I keep wanting to play GBS-style and that doesn’t work with the flow of the song. But I broke out the original studio recording, the one Bernard Simard sings lead on, and it’s easier to follow that one on guitar than it is the Symphonique version. I foresee several more spins through this as I get it down. And possibly transposing into D, or maybe capoing up a fret or two, so I can get it into a better range for me to sing. :D
Third moment of musical squee: realizing that in the huge pile of sheet music transcriptions of various Quebec tunes I’ve slurped down from a couple of places, I do in fact have the reel that serves as the outro for this song! “Reel à Ti-Zoune”! WOO! Much fun to be had there as well!
And the final moment of musical squee for the evening was in fact unrelated to any of the above, but it’s also goddamned awesome so I’ve gotta squeal about it here too. Dara came downstairs with the mandolin last night and plucked out for me, I kid you not, a swing arrangement of “Road to Lisdoonvarna”. Y’know, the most basic of basic jigs in the Irish tune repertoire. She’s got a PROJECT in mind for this. And she’s jazzing this tune the hell up. She played it for me and I instantly had the swing band sound she’s envisioning pop into my head, complete with a full rocking horn section. I wanted to be able to play trumpet JUST so I could actually play that lovely thing myself. I cannot WAIT to see how her project progresses. Because this, ladies and gentlemen, is how Dara rolls.