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!

Because it is my birthday and EVERYTHING is awesome

When you do not have the words to properly express your relief at awesome medical news, screw words, go straight to KITCHEN PARTY IN YOUR HEAD! This is exactly how the inside of my head sounds like right now, people–my dream concert of ALL the awesome Quebecois and Newfoundland boys!
De Temps Antan!
And more behind the fold!
Continue reading “Because it is my birthday and EVERYTHING is awesome”

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 )

The roundup post of All the Musics!

Internets, I came back from this vacation with a grand spanking total of 13, count ’em, 13 CDs! Most of these were bought in Newfoundland, but considering that Quebec threw me discs by Bernard Simard et Compagnie (and any band that includes Olivier Demers is by definition GODDAMN RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS) AND three out of the five members of the Charbonniers, it must be said that Quebec put up a damn good fight.

Behold, the musical awesomeness!

Picked up at Memoire et Racines:

  • Au fil du temps, by Bernard Simard et Compagnie. Because see previous commentary re: GODDAMN RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS. M. Simard is of course a former member of Le Vent du Nord, but even more excitingly, Olivier Demers is also in this group! And not only Olivier–they’ve ALSO got André Brunet of De Temps Antan, and I’m almost certain it’s not legal in Canada OR the US to have that much awesome fiddle in one band! To round ’em out, they’ve got Frédéric Beauséjour who I recognized from La Voleé d’Castors, and a final gentleman whose name I don’t know yet but who made a HELL of an impression on Dara and me for amazing saxophone solos during their stage show!
  • L’album blanche, by Les Mononcles. Because THESE guys include Michel Bordeleau, André Marchand, and Normand Miron, who of course I already love from the Charbonniers! The CD vendor at the festival told me this album was essentially those gentlemen only with instruments, and I said, “SOLD!” They’ve got a fourth musician with them on a standup bass and I am very, VERY excited about listening to this one. Also, yes, I see what they did there with the album title. Ha!

From the Archambault in downtown Montreal, the one which happened to be right by our hotel and which proved to be an awesome store of awesomeness full of ALL THE THINGS I MIGHT EVER HOPE TO BUY:

  • Trésors du Québec en musique, by Les Frères Brunet. Because the Brunet boys, occupying as they do two of my favorite Quebec bands, need a fighting chance to see if they can yank my musical affections away from the Beaudrys. :D
  • Le galarneau, by Genticorum! Because as previously expressed here on this blog, the Genticorum boys are awesome, and this was the only album of theirs that I didn’t have yet!

Bought at Le Pays de la Sagouine in New Brunswick:

  • On y va!!! by Reveil, so that I could do a proper comparison of Acadian music with Quebecois! This was one of the albums recommended to me by the nice lady at the shop who was encouraging when I stumbled my way through explaining, in French, that “J’aime la musique traditionelle” and “J’apprends un peu francais!”

Bought from O’Brien’s Music while Dara and I were wandering around St. John’s on the 2nd:

  • Dance and Sing, by the Navigators. Because they’d been recommended and I can’t get them on the US iTunes store!
  • The self-titled The Forgotten Bouzouki, which appears to be about Greek bouzouki music, not Irish, but it’s important to be in touch with where the bouzouki originally came from! Plus the album looked potentially awesome.
  • The Eastern Light, by the Dardanelles. Who were already on my radar as recommended, so I was going to buy them anyway–but I was all the more glad I did after they put on a hell of a show at the festival in St. John’s! Important side note: this album DOES appear to be available on the US iTunes store, for those of you who don’t actually live in Newfoundland and/or can’t order it from O’Brien’s!

Bought from Fred’s Records while Dara and I were wandering around St. John’s on the 2nd:

  • Live at O’Reilly’s Vol. 1, by Shanneyganock. These guys were already on my radar, but this particular album came recommended, so I nabbed it while I had the chance!
  • What a Time!, by Ryan’s Fancy. This is a double-album, forty-year retrospective look at Ryan’s Fancy, who have of course also already been on my radar as a seminal influence for Great Big Sea. Looking forward to giving this one a listen, quite a bit!

Bought on George Street:

  • Rise Again: Volume 1, by the Irish Descendants. Nabbed this one after Dara and I were having dinner on George Street last night in a pub called Kelly’s, where we stumbled across an unexpected solo act by Con O’Brien of the Irish Descendants! MAN, that gent can sing, and he was quite amiable to me and Dara when we came up to chat and get the album!

Nabbed from the Fred’s table at the NFLD folk festival:

  • The self-titled A Crowd of Bold Sharemen, because Fergus O’Byrne from this group led a participatory workshop that Dara participated in, and he closed it off with a damn fine rendition of “General Taylor”.
  • Mosaïk, by Vishtèn. Because people keep telling me I need to listen to this group, and since they showed up at the festival and gave an excellent workshop on Acadian (chair-based) step-dancing, and then gave an excellent concert, and well, YEAH.

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)!
Continue reading “Le Vent du Nord and Genticorum videos!”