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
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 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.
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!