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. *^_^*;;)
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 reverbnation.com, 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!) Continue reading “Another tune I figured out!”
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
I begin to feel like I’m getting my feet under me at our local Quebecois session! And that every so often, my feet can actually do something interesting! Literally and figuratively. ‘Cause really, at a Quebec session, I want my hands and my feet to be doing interesting things. ;)
Tonight though was mostly about the hands. I did in fact play my actual flute in front of actual people! Since most of what I’ve been able to learn so far has been slower things friendlier to the flute and to my skill level at picking up stuff by ear (read: not happening in an active session, not yet), I’m still mostly hanging back and just trying to figure out the structures of tunes and get familiar with the style of how they’re played. But tonight, when asked to play something, I was able to more or less play through André Brunet’s “Ciel d’Automne”, and I only sorta kinda maybe messed it up in only a few places. *^_^*;; But everybody was very encouraging, and one of the gents at the session told me he liked my flute’s voice.
Also, I got to show off my new teeny guitar and let Dejah see that why yes, actually, for such a little guitar he actually does have a good voice on him, and surprisingly responsive strings. Courtesy of Dejah I also learned a new guitar term: parlor guitars, which are smaller-bodied guitars. Like Ti-Jéan, really! So that was all lovely.
Part of our session tonight was outside on a deck, which was also awesome. We were overlooking a bit of a nearby park, so joggers were going by and clapping as they saw us playing! I hung out out there until it got a little cold and pollen started irritating my throat; then, inside, I got to listen in on a lovely conversation about crankies. Then everybody else came in and Dejah showed off her shiny new cranky, telling a great little story about four French Canadian lumberjacks who want to go to a party in Montreal, and who make a bargain with the Devil to borrow his magic flying canoe (like ya DO) so they can get there. I was particularly charmed by the lumberjacks all having different colored caps and big beards, so of course where I go with this is the dwarves in The Hobbit, so I’m pointing at the cranky art and going “So this is Dori, Nori, Ori, and Jean-Baptiste?” ;)
Dejah’s dad Louis also very, very kindly provided me a couple of PDFs of tunes that were played tonight, which I deeply appreciated. I overheard the names of three other tunes that were mentioned, and promptly discovered that I either had them immediately available in the store of tunes I’ve amassed so far, or that I could immediately find them on thesession.org.
Also deeply pleased by another reminder that why yes, I do in fact need to be learning Genticorum’s “Valse de poeles”, which was called out to me tonight as something that would be very friendly to me to learn. I do not actually have this tune in my store of tunes, so I’m going to have to do something ambitious and see if I can learn it by ear off the recording on the most excellent album Nagez Rameurs. :D
(Because as I’ve previously lamented, I am NOT good at picking up stuff by ear quickly. However, I have learned that I can do it slowly. Alexandre of Genticorum helped me demonstrate this to myself, that if somebody sits me down and feeds me a tune in bits and pieces I can, in fact, pick it up. But I can’t do it quickly. This is why I have to slow stuff down in Tempo Slow, too, if I don’t have an actual live musician in front of me to learn from. I occasionally get bits and pieces just trying to listen in session, though. Kind of like bits and pieces of French firing off in my brain as I study, really. I’m hoping as I learn more tunes I’ll start getting more of these bits and pieces firing off faster and maybe eventually I will in fact be able to whip out a tune as I’m hearing it.)
And then I was very kindly offered a ride home so I wouldn’t have to take the bus. And “Maison de glacé” was played, and I got to go OH HEY AWESOME I KNOW THAT ONE, because yay tune by Réjean Brunet! \0/ So I played my actual flute in front of actual people TWICE! Go me! And the Sheepskin Reel was played, better known by me as BEST GODDAMN LA BOTTINE SOURIANTE TUNE EVER. And I overheard three other tunes identified, which I was able to immediately find either in my personal tunes store or on thesession.org: Valse des Petites Jeunes Filles, Valse des Jouets, and Reel à Toto.
Tonight’s session: definite success!
Internets, I cannot tell you how much I needed to forget dealing with computers for a couple of hours, and go play me some music with the local Quebec session crowd. We had a pretty tiny group tonight, and things were relaxed and groovy–all the better for a newbie player like myself to try to figure out how to play along with unfamiliar tunes, while not making too much of a nuisance of herself in the corner.
This time, however, I had the distinct pleasure of being able to ask for specific tunes. Namely, the ones Alexandre of Genticorum had taught me! (6/8 d’Andre Alain, and Gigue du Père Mathias!) I wasn’t able to play through them perfectly at speed, but I got within range of it–and it’s worth noting that a couple of passes through where I had to drop out was because I had to get my breath back, not because I’d forgotten what I was doing. Such is the peril of being the only flute player in a room full of fiddlers and accordion players!
I also asked about playing Ciel d’Automne, a.k.a. Autumn Sky, which has the distinction of being the first Quebec tune I fell in love with ever. This is because it’s the loveliest instrumental on the La Bottine Souriante album Rock and Reel (as it was called when it was released in the States), and to this day, stands out for me as one of my favorite slower tunes. I was particularly happy recently to learn that OH HEY it was written by André Brunet–so no wonder I like it–and so naturally I was determined to learn it. Bonus points to me for figuring out that I could practically whistle the whole thing from memory, which helped a lot in figuring out how to play it.
And I’m here to tell you, when you’re a session newbie facing a room full of musicians WAY more familiar with the material than you are, and the phrase “you’ll have to teach it to us” gets winged at you, that’s SCARY. Maybe only slightly less scary than “HEY ANNA! Get up and play this for us, will you?” However, that scary was leavened with a generous dose of AWESOME. Particularly when I was able to point people at thesession.org’s writeup of the tune!
Also notable: recognizing Réjean Brunet’s “Maison de Glacé” and being able to jump in on it, even though I had title server failure and only confirmed later that OH RIGHT I actually knew that tune.
(Yes, folks, I’m apparently slurping up All The Slow Tunes By the Brunets. There are worse ways to be spending my musical time. ;D )
So that was three whole tunes I was able to more or less play along with. And there was a fourth tune I recognized by ear once they hit the B part; I’d heard the session group play that one before. I could even sorta kinda pick up on the B part, though the A part was harder for me to parse. I asked about that one and was informed it was called Hommage à Edmond Parizeau. Not long after that, another fun-sounding one called Reel Ti-Mé was played–though I have to stop myself from thinking of that one as Reel Timmain. Which is what I get for being an Elfquest fan!
And now I have two more identified tunes to add to the list of Things Played in Local Session. I have homework to do!
Many many thanks to the Legers for giving me a ride home, and to our hostess Pascale, who gave me guidance on how to get to her place by bus (even though I had to leave work late and THEN had bus fail that wound up getting me there half an hour late)! A lovely little evening of music all around!
It has amused me for a while now that in the vast repertoire of tunes available to Irish musicians, several of them have vaguely SF/F-nal names, like “King of the Fairies”, “Queen of the Fairies”, and “The Elven Cloak”.
That last one in particular, though, got me thinking of Nethack thanks to my propensity for playing Elf characters. Which, of course, led me to wonder about other hypothetical Nethack-themed Irish tune names! Such as:
The Surly Shopkeeper
Farewell to My Pet Cat
Gold in the Bag of Holding
The Cursed Loadstone Lament
The Polymorph Trap Jig (this one would definitely change keys AND time signatures between the A part, the B part, and the C part)