Fred Pellerin is Nicolas Pellerin‘s brother (see below). Fred is a conteur, but he is also a singer and a musician.
In this song, Fred Pellerin is a truck driver, un camionneur, who talks to his wife who wants to remodel the kitchen of their home. She doesn’t like her kitchen’s melamine counter. I suppose she wants something real, which could be wood. Beautiful wood counters are available in Quebec.
We suspect that our camionneur, truck driver, does not have the means to refurbish his house. He sleeps in his truck. This could be an older Quebec, but truck drivers are everywhere.
Everything changed after 1960. Maurice Duplessis died and Jean Lesage, a Liberal, became premier of Quebec. When I returned to Quebec in 2002, the province was no longer the same. Most changes reflected a wish to be maîtres chez soi (masters in our own house). Quebec did not sign the Constitution of 1982.
More and more Canadians are being vaccinated, but those who would not wear a mask do not want to be vaccinated. Some have been infected and variants have appeared. The police is protecting locations where the government is vaccinating people. The police is well trained. Persons living in my building wear a mask. Several are medical doctors.
I am still alone and I feel somewhat fragile. For instance, I cannot handle discussing the Royals. I have therefore edited my comments. One cannot tell what is going on. It’s too complicated. All I can say is that Prince Harry loved the military. He has suffered a loss.
The post I published on 16 February 2021 was shortened. Therefore, the title of the song Les Voix du Nord performedwas not explained. Moreover, we were not in a studio listening to the recording of a song. We could not hear the words clearly, which was unfortunate.
The song is entitled October 1837. It does not tell a story, but it refers to historical events. The Rebellions of 1837-1838 are its main event. In 1837-1838, the citizens of Upper Canada and Lower Canada rebelled against the Crown. Their leaders were William Lyon Mackenzie, in Upper Canada, and Louis-Joseph Papineau, a Seigneur, in Lower Canada. I suspect that French-speaking Canadians being a conquered people, the dynamics of the Rebellions were not the same in both Canadas. The Rebellion was more serious in the largely Francophone Lower Canada than in Anglophone Upper Canada. More patriotes than patriots were hanged or deported to penal colonies. Both leaders fled their respective Canada. The song that expresses the profound grief of exiled patriotes is Antoine Gérin-Lajoie‘s Un Canadien errant.
With the help of American volunteers, a second rebellion was launched in November 1838, but it too was poorly organized and quickly put down, followed by further looting and devastation in the countryside. The two uprisings [in Lower Canada] left 325 people dead, all of them rebels except for 27 British soldiers. Nearly 100 rebels were also captured. After the second uprising failed, Papineau departed the US for exile in Paris.
However, both Canadas wanted a more responsible government, or more self-rule, which was achieved in 1848. No sooner were the two Canadas united by virtue of the Act of Union, proclaimed on 10 February 1841, than its Prime Ministers, Robert Baldwyn and Sir Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine, designed a government that could accommodate English-speaking Canadians and French-speaking Canadians. In 1848, a United Canada was granted a responsible government and, contrary to Lord Durham‘s recommendations, French continued to be spoken in the Assembly and in Canada. Lord Durham investigated the Rebellions.
Le Grand Dérangement
But one can also hear the words, le grand dérangement, the great upheaval. The great upheaval is usually associated with the deportation of Acadians beginning in 1755. Families were not exiled together, except accidentally. Members of the same family were separated and put aboard ships that sailed in various directions, including England. In 1847, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published Évangéline, a Tale of Acadie, commemorating the deportation of Acadians. There may not have been an Évangéline, except Longfellow’s character, but there were Évangélines, betrothed women who were separated from their future husband, or vice versa. For Acadians, Évangéline is real, un réel absolu.
October 1838 also refers to the October Crisis of 1970 when members of the Front de libération du Québec, the FLQ, kidnapped British diplomat James Cross, on 5 October 1970, and Pierre Laporte on 10 October 1970. Pierre Laporte was Deputy Premier of Quebec. Then Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau declared the War Measures Act, on 15 October. The deployment of the Armed Forces was criticized by civil libertarians. Civil liberties had been suspended. On 17 October, Pierre Laporte was executed,but James Cross was not harmed. He was detained for 59 days by the Front de libération du Québec (the FLQ). The FLQ ceased to be active after the October Crisis.
Sadly, James Cross died of Covid-19 on 6 January 2021. He was 99. My condolences to his family and friends.
I have been looking for French Canadian folklore and traditional music. These sites do not appear immediately. In 1960, the French-language CBC, Radio-Canada or Ici Radio Canada, had yet to reach the West coast. Moreover, I was far from Quebec for forty years and had been trained to be a concert pianist, meaning I was learning Bach’s Preludes and Fugues. There was very little time left to learn folklore, and I wasn’t hearing any music from Quebec on the radio.
Les Voix du Vent are also known as Le Vent du Nord. Le Vent du Nord plays Celtic music. However, I am featuring a French song that tells a story.
The story is about a servant girl who wanted to be as beautiful as her mistress (as in master). She went to the pharmacist, l’apothicaire, to purchase makeup, du fard. He prepared a powder and told her not to look at herself in a mirror after applying the fard. The next day, le lendemain, she met her cavalier, a boyfriend, or a man she wished to attract. He told her that her face was black, black as a chimney. She was barbouillée (smeared). She returned to the apothecary, who explained that he had sold her coal. Servants should not try to look like their mistresses.
Above is Louis-Claude Daquin’s “Le Coucou” (The Cuckoo). Les Grands Hurleurs’ “Coucou” is an arrangement of Louis-Claude Daquin‘s “Coucou.” Daquin’s “Coucou” is not folklore, but it borders on traditional music and music we call “classical.” Daquin composed several Noëls, Christmas Carols. Christmas Carols are not looked upon as “folklore,” but they are traditional music. Christians sing Carols on Christmas Day and during the Christmas period. For Christians, Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, but it is also on or near the Winter solstice, the day of the longest night. Today is Candlemas(La Chandeleur), a festival oflightsand currently Groundhog Day (le Jour de la Marmotte).
Feasts are celebrated according to a natural calendar. This begins with the degree of light and darkness: two solstices, and in the middle of the two solstices (Christmas and la Saint-Jean) are the Vernal equinox of Spring and the Autumnal equinox (Michaelmas). And to return to traditional music, it is associated with feasts that are celebrated according to the above-mentioned natural calendar. Noëls are performed during the Christmas season.
In earlier posts, I wrote about the Celtic influence on Quebec music. For instance, Quebecers play reels. I also featured legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin playing with the late Jean Carignan, Quebec’s most prominent fiddler, in his days. We also heard an old French song, Le Navire de Bayonne, interpreted by La Nef and Les Charbonniers de l’enfer. A characteristic of La Nef and Les Charbonniers de l’enfer is enhanced rhythm. Groups may use podorythmie, a form of step dancing.
La Nef is a Montreal ensemble founded in 1991. The Charbonniers de l’enfer was founded in 1994. My last post featured soprano Meredith Hall and La Nef, interpreting Robert Burns‘ My Love is a Red, Red Rose. Robert Burns drew his inspiration from traditional music. The current répertoire of Quebec ensembles includes not only the traditional music of Quebec but also that of other cultures. Under la Nef.com (fr) or lanefeng.com (en), you will find a list of the music La Nef has recorded and possibly the music itself.
The music embedded below features both La Nef and Les Charbonniers de l’enfer. Meredith Hall is the group’s soprano.