Auvergne Diffusion Downloads!

 

I bought this.

On December 1, something happened over at Auvergne Diffusion that, frankly, I had completely given up hope would ever happen. They made downloads of recordings from their vast, glorious catalogue available for the first time. It being my birthday on December 2, I struck with alacrity. At around five euros per recording (OMFG, the Euro is so low!) and the fact that PayPal handles the conversion, I don’t know how AuvDif could have made it easier. Goodbye, shipping and handling.

As a first offering, AuvDif offered nine recordings by Les Brayauds – a collective featuring the brothers Didier and Eric Champion – and one by Komred, a quintet led by the fabulous Etienne Loic, a master bourrée-ist who I’ve featured about before.

And this.


For someone interested in the beauties of old – obscure, archaic music forms – I am a complete non-aesthete when it comes to recorded sound. Vinyl – meh. CDs, other physical media? No, I don’t feel the need to “own the physical object.” Storage challenges don’t improve my quality of life. I want to hear this music! I am voracious, I get it! The soundtrack for this life of mine. Thank you, Auvergne Diffusion. You have improved my quality of life.
 
 
 
And this, too!

 

Five Great Bourrées

A conversation over at Mel.Net has gotten me thinking about my favorite bourrées. These are sort of the reels of the Bal Folk world in that they are uniquely foundational to the dance and music culture. So, here are five bourrées that knock my socks off.

Frédéric Paris, Bourrée de St Pierre / Le fendeur (from Carnet de Bal)

St. Pierre is a thing of beauty — so simple — but then the vielle a roue (played by Patrick Bouffard) starts droning and you almost physically feel like you’re taking flight. Carnet de Bal is one of the most influential recordings amongst the accordéonaire junta — still transports me every time.

Marcel Plane, La Planette (from L’accordéon En Auvergne)

An archival, anthology recording put out in the US on Sylex records. This particular recording is, I believe, from 1931. The music was very different then … not folk, not archival, but contemporary. And very speedy! I’ve been working at this tune for a while. Almost there.

Patrick Bouffard Trio, Revenant De Paris/Les Timides (from Revenant de Paris)

The second tune is the star of this set. You’ll know you’ve gotten there when you suddenly feel like celebrating a victory. Bouffard’s trio (with Cyril Roche on accordion) is one of the most energetic units on the planet. The counter melodies are mind-boggling … also something I’m trying to learn how to do.

Breton Dance Field Recordings (and other places)


The An Dro snakes through! Pic by Chris Ryall

UPDATE: I’ve gotten some push back on this post from folks (great stuff in the comment section), essentially saying that some of these videos are not exemplars of their regional styles, but are just examples of dances done at the Big Bal. I think that’s fair, but still think it’s interesting to see these as documentations of what’s going on at the Big Bal, especially for those of us who would have a hard time ever making it there.

Following up from the post of French Dance Field Recordings, here is the second half of Chris Ryall’s amazing collection of videos, or dance as he found it in the wild. Chris writes, “Breton dance is often done in lines, traditionally snaking around the floor intertwining and ‘meeting people.'” Here is the repository:

Breton

Rond St. Vincent – a very simple village dance that has become a standard
An Dro (An Dro = “the turn”)
Another An Dro – Wild at the end!
Tricot (mixed An Dro and Hanter Dro)
Plinn (Simple, very peasant, gets wild improv from musicians)
Another Plinn
Suite Plinn (Same rhythm. Couples dance with fast and slow parts)
“Standard” Gavotte” (Danced as a suite with varying speeds)
Gavotte de l’Aven (small valley in the Cornouaille with it’s own “dreamy sway” style – this is just part of a “suite gavotte”

Le Ridée (aka Laridé)

Other Regional Dances from France

Auvergne (and other mountain areas): Rigaudon
Basque Country: Fandango
Basque Country: La Saute

Gascony: Gascon Rondo – done in pairs in a big circle
Alsace: asymmetric waltzes (5/8, 8/8, 11/8)


And two imports


Swedish Polska

Another Swedish Polska

Untold quantities of gratitude to Chris for this work and for permission to put this together here. Thank you, sir!

French Dance Field Recordings (Part 1)


Part Two is here.

Melodeonist Chris Ryall spent August of 2013 at Fête Embraud (La Chavanée) and Grand Bal de l’Europe St. Gervais. He shot a lot of video. He writes:

“The collection was intended to inform some of the … shall we say, ‘different’ … versions of these dance rhythms heard in UK pub sessions. The general focus on the dancers and their movement is intentional. If your play of a melody ‘informs the feet’ … it is probably about right!”

Some of the videos are posted on Facebook (possibly requiring Flash); others are on YouTube. The first batch of videos presented here focus on French dances. Breton dances will be featured in the next post.

French Dance Videos

Basic French Waltz (played faster and smoother than English waltz)

Scottiche (note “skip”)
Another Scottiche (delightfully light – Accordzéâm)

Mazurka current “Bal” style (generally 9/8)
Another Mazurka — Accordzéâm – great accordion solo

Mazurka Morvan style “simple, straight 3/4)


Circassian Circle – same as UK – sometimes even to the same tunes!
Another Circassian Circle

Medley of Various Dances (Lucas Thebaut says this set was made up = non Trad)


Bourrées
Bourrée du Centre – Grande Bourbonnaise (the main line bourrée, 4/4 rhythm)
Bourrée d’Auvergne (fast 3/8 rhythm) Auvergne = Massif Central
Another Bourrée d’Auvergne (fast bourrée with variation – St. Gervais BIG dance!!)
Yet Another Bourrée d’Auvergne (Komred, with the great Etienne Loic on accordion, at Embraud — watch those feet!)
Bourree de Morvan (simpler, 3/8) Morvan is the hilly part of Burgundy
Fast 3/8 circle bourrée – duo Thebault are from Charantes, so “Poitou” style?

In Praise of AMTA Cassettes

At a rehearsal last week over at a friend’s place I spotted a cassette sitting on top of his formidable array of stereo equipment. It had a familiar look. The red italic lettering. The black bar at top and bottom. The name of the performers in white, just above the smallest text, the title, in quotation marks. There’s the circular stamp: MUSIQUE EN AUVERGNE. And the stylized AMTA logo.

This particular cassette was by La Jimbr’tée, and called Virage. The cover shows five men and one woman, an array of vielle, accordéon, and pipes.

Seeing the cassette there, I was cast into a fugue state. I was thrilled. These were the cassettes that changed everything.

I believe I have mentioned before, the role that AMTA cassettes have played in my musical life. The AMTA — Agences des Musiques des Territoires d’Auvergne — is an especially effective regional cultural organization that somehow managed to export its music to Amherst, Massachusetts, which is where the Button Box was located at the time.

In 1998, I traveled to the Button Box to pick up my first box — a red Hohner Corso (G/C) tuned very wet — and saw a bunch of these black/red/AMTA cassettes on the shelf. I picked up Frédéric Paris’s, Carnet de Bal, and Jacque Lavergne’s, Cadences d’Auvergne. After getting home, I called the store back and asked them to send  a few others, including the hardcore Bal Auvergnat duo of Guy Letur and Pierre Ladonne on chromatic button accordéon and cabrette.

All of my copies of these cassettes have either broken, melted, or disintegrated into iron dust. (All the more amazing that my friend’s were in great shape). My cassettes had lived in my car, mostly, which is never ideal for a music delivery medium. A good number of them I’ve managed to find in digital form. But that doesn’t change the magic of that discovery at the Button Box. The sheer abundance of discovery. The amount of this music suddenly to hand, this joyous, amazing music.

I’d love to hear how you discovered this music. What early finds inspired you? Feel free to add your story to the comments.

In the meantime, thank you AMTA!

Video from Embraud

Time again for the summer festivals in France. Jackdiatonique (denizen of mel.net) posted a ton of videos from his travels. Including these three of an impromptu group playing some very Auvergnat bourrées. Note the instrumentation: cabrette, diatonic accordéon, chromatic accordéon, and two banjos! Note also the foot action going on! Great stuff. Thank you, Jack.

UPDATE: The diatoniste below is Etienne Loic, whose info can be found at the AMTA site. (h/t Chris Ryall).

Go to Jack’s YouTube to watch the rest.

Tribute: Le Cotillon Vert

I am obsessed with this tune, a scottish/valse called “Le Cotillon Vert.” Here I am in my kitchen taking a crack at it.

The scottish/valse is exactly what’s on the tin. You dance the A section as a scottish (medium tempo, 4/4 dance), then you switch to a waltz for the B section. Then back to a scottish. Then waltz. Et deliriums cetera. The trick — and it is tricky — is that the ones of the scottish have to be the same distance apart as the ones of the waltz. So, the 1-2-3-4 of the scottish has to fill the same amount of time as the 1-2-3 of the waltz. Got it?

“Le Cotillon Vert” is a bedeviling ear-worm of a tune. A bog norm standard that I found in Sylvain Piron’s tradfrance. Here’s the sheet music:

(UPDATE: And here is a link to diatojo’s tab of the tune.)
And here is Sylvain’s recording, a bit scratchy, maybe, played on his Castagnari Giordy:
Sylvain Piron, “Le Cotillon Vert”

You can hear that it’s a bedeviling ear-worm of a tune! A few weeks ago I was listening to cabrette player Dominique Paris, and heard the same tune, though under the title, “Dis-moi Donc Suzon.” Here it is as part of a set of scottish/valses.
Dominique Paris, “Dis-moi Donc Suzon – Pendant la Messe (scottishs-valses)”

UPDATE: Jim Besser, over at concertina.net, posted this version because I’d asked if anyone had done a concertina version. Thank you, Jim!

Jac Lavergne: Musikadansé 3

This video features amazing playing from diatonist Jac Lavergne, in duet with cabrette player, Sandrine Lagreulet. Nearly a year and half ago, I wrote a tribute to Jac Lavergne, box player and guiding spirit of the Compagnie Léon Larchet. Among his many projects are the Musikadansé duets with Langreulet, filled with “bourrées d’Auvergne, Cercle circassien, scottish, valse, marche, mazurka ou encore polka.” A stunning video, just thrilling! A clinic for any box player who wants to play with a devastating left hand and a rock solid rhythm.