Session Two, Fiddler Matt Brown and David Boulanger

(Recap) Recently the Susquehanna Folk Music Society received funding
from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation which allowed us to conduct an
international project with our partner the Societe Pour La Promotion De Danse
Traditionnelle Quebecoise. This project brought together a musician from the
Mid-Atlantic area with a musician from the province of Quebec for an intensive
residency during which they compared the traditional music of their respective
regions.(further information available on the July 30 Folkmama post)

Following are notes from the second session, which occurred
on the afternoon of August 12, 2011 with Appalachian fiddler Matt Brown and
Quebecoise fiddler David Boulanger.

Notes on Quebecoise
Culture; Foot Tapping

Our afternoon session featured fiddle tunes from Quebecwith David taking the teaching position. I missed the
teaching of the first fiddle tune, but came in just in time to hear David
giving Matt a foot tapping lesson. Foot tapping is very characteristic of the
Quebecoise style and is done most often by the fiddler or guitar player,
although sometimes by an accordion player. Rather than simply tapping the foot to
keep the beat or add percussive emphasis, foot tapping in the Quebecoise style
is done continuously throughout the piece. Gilles told us that its origins go
back to when the fiddler played on top of the kitchen table during kitchen
parties. They often played solo, so the fiddle would provide the melody and the
foot tapping would provide the rhythm.

This lively Quebecoise foot percussion is known as
“podorythmie.” To be heard over a room full of dancers, the foot tappers usually
use a board and hard soled shoes. (sometimes with taps) Podorythmie doesn’t
involve stomping, and the shoes and boards are designed to carry the sound
without much effort from the tapper. The tapper can tap with the entire flat of
his feet, with the front half of his foot or with just the heel.

La rachoudine (Irish
Wedding) Cross A (AEAE)

The second piece that David taught he learned from the
playing of Édouard Richard called La
Rachoudine or “Irish Wedding”. It’s a very complex type of crooked tune done in
3/2 time called a Brandie. This particular one is done in AEAE tuning. Brandies
are possibility related to English hornpipes and are used for the Quebecoise contra
dancing or step dancing. Like all Quebecoise music, there is an important
accent on the back beat.

Fort Worden GDAE

The third piece
David learned from the playing of Yvon Mimeault, an older fiddler living in
Gaspésie who we had had a chance to meet in the afternoon. It was a piece in
GDAE tuning called “Fort Worden” that Mimeault had learned from his father who
had learned it from an itinerant fiddler. Mimeault never learned the name of
the piece, and the name he gave it at the Festival of American Fiddle tunes at
Fort Worden because it was one of his students’ favorites.

Befeau de l’enfer (The Beadle from Hell) G minor

David finished with
a piece called Befeau de l’enfer (or in english The Beadle from Hell) a piece
in G minor named after the man who rings the bell in the church. The story that
Giles told us about this tune was that the beadle was caught by the priest
playing his fiddle during Lent. The priest told him to put his fiddle in the
stove, but as it wasn’t lit he was able to get it out later to play!

David learned this piece from the playing of Henry Landry.


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