Québécois tune database – Identitairs Québécois

In the first session, I mentioned several resources where one may go to learn tunes.  I should probably mention that different methods of learning tunes will result in varying level of benefit to you.

Hierarchy of tune acquisition:

  • Brain transplant from professional Québécois musician or ethnomusicologist
    Pros: encyclopaedic knowledge of tunes, incredible and authentic playing technique, knowledge of idiomatic French language
    Cons: technically unfeasible (currently), no longer able to easily get favorite beers, complete loss of awareness of your actual family/life/career, hostility from Québécois music community for stealing brain of favorite musician
  • Be raised by actual Québécois musician
    Pros: raised in the idiom, constant access to tune lists and technique of parent and their musician friends
    Cons: lack of sleep due to kitchen parties
  • Lessons/sessions from/with accomplished Québécois musician
    Pros: access to tune lists/technique of skilled musician
    Cons: lessons will cost, not the same level of immersion as is available with own live-in musician
  • Concerts/dances by performing Québécois musicians
    Pros: Hear tunes played at the highest level of artistry
    Cons: Cost, ephemeral/transient/fleeting experience
  • Recordings
    Pros: ability to repeatedly listen to a tune, ability to slow down music to find out WTHDTJDT (What The Heck Did They Just Do There?) using tools like The Amazing Slow Downer
    Cons: limited ability to learn the art of variation
  • Sheet music/ABC’s
    Pros: A portable, archival representation of the sense of a particular tune, a guide from where a tune may start
    Cons: The skeleton of a tune as represented in notation lacks most/all of the stylistic elements that make a tune quintessentially Québécois.

Identitairs home pageIdentitairs Québécois bills itself as “A Web site dedicated to french-canadian traditional music” and does a fine job providing history, tune transcriptions and performance/recording excerpts of a variety of French-Canadian tunes so that you may discover and start learning some tunes in a way that works best for you.

On the right side of each page are an icon for English versions of the site, a contact email address and a search utility, allowing you to search for tunes, performers, and composers.  Left side navigation gives you link to some helpful historical information and linked lists of instruments, performers old and new, and other interesting links and references.  There is also a handy New Stuff / Nouveaux ajouts link that will list new additions to the site.

L'histoire de mon vieux coq (English)Once you follow links into a tune, you will find links to sheet music/transcriptions, midi files, performance excerpt, and other tunes associated with the composer/performer.

The sheet music transcriptions are of varying quality, and as with any folk music tradition, provide only the barest of skeletons upon which you are encouraged to take the broadest of liberties.  The performance excerpts at the bottom of the page are usually quite good and are drawn from hotshot young performers as well as archive recordings by the grand old names of the tradition.

I find Identitairs Québécois to be worth a look, if you are trying to find tunes to go with a name, or other tunes in the repertoire of a performer you particularly like, or just want to do a little hunting for new gems to bring to the session.  Have fun!

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