Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Music of Quebec
Being a modern cosmopolitan society, today, all types of music can be found in the Canadian province of Quebec. What is specific to Quebec though are traditional songs, a unique variety of celtic music, legions of excellent jazz musicians, a culture of classical music, and a love of foreign rhythms that can be observed every Sunday on the Mount Royal in Montreal. The ten Amerindian peoples and the Inuit of Quebec also have their own traditional music.
Under French rule, what is now Quebec was called le Canada and was the most developed colony of New France. After many generations of French settlers born in Canada, the colonists began to identity to their home country and call themselves les Canadiens (the Canadians) to make a distinction with les Français (the French), those who were native of France. A similar socio-cultural phenomenon occurred in Acadia, and numerous other European colonies in America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
The Canadiens inherited a rich tradition of songs and dances from northern France, namely the regions of Ile-de-France, Picardie, Normandy, Poitou, and Britanny. These regions are there to explain the celtic connection that Quebec still shares today with Britanny, Ireland, Scotland and the Maritimes.
Somehow, it seems as though the original French settlers had forgotten to bring instruments when they emigrated to Canada in the 16th, 17th, and 18th century. This seems to be the reason why the French Canadians began to make music by beating the rhythm with their feet, spoons , forks and knives.
As time went by, the French Canadians began to develop their own music and incorporated and transformed the styles of music played by the settlers from Great Britain after the Conquest. (100 of these songs were collected by Ernest Gagnon for an 1865 compilation, one of the first such collection to be published in Canada.)
Perhaps the most remarkable phenomenon in the popular music of that century was the career of La Bolduc, who became extremely popular singing satirical and sometimes racy songs based on the Quebec and Irish folk traditions, and who also was expert in the wordless vocalization known as turlutte .
By the 1960s, radio and television had begun to help disseminate French folk songs, especially after the 1967 foundation of the Centennial Collection of Canadian Folk Songs , including recordings of Quebec performers like Yves Albert and Jacques Labrecque , as well as Acadian Edith Butler .
The most popular song writers and singers of this period were Gilles Vigneault and Félix Leclerc, who brought more influences, especially from English Canada, to the music of French singing stars like Jacques Brel. Leclerc, from Ile d'Orléans , and Vigneault, from Natashquan in the north of Quebec, became heroes for a new generation of Quebec youth. It was Vigneault's "Mon pays" which became a rallying anthem for Quebec nationalism after a 1965 performance by Monique Leyrac , and established a tradition of Quebec artists supporting Quebec's independence movement. Many artists openly endorsed it, notably Raymond Lévesque , Pauline Julien and Paul Piché.
In the 1960s, the French Canadians of Quebec were beginning to self-identity as Québécois (Quebecers). See the Quiet Revolution. Another important nationalist performer during this period was Georges Dor, who enjoyed international success with his recording of his own composition, "La complainte de la Manic" ("The Ballad of Manicouagan"). Popular artists of the 70s included Harmonium, Offenbach, Plume Latraverse and Beau Dommage.
In 1974, Vigneault and Leclerc played on the Plains of Abraham with Robert Charlebois, who used made heavy use of Quebec French in his rock and roll fusions. The 70s also saw roots performers like La Bottine Souriante gain critical and commercial acclaim within Quebec. Jim Corcoran and Bertrand Gosselin released La tête en gigue , an influential album that helped bring Quebec roots to crossover audiences across Canada, the United States and Europe.
In addition to his musical career, Corcoran currently hosts a weekly show on CBC Radio One, which airs francophone music from Quebec for English audiences across Canada.
More recent Quebec performers include Danielle Martineau , Michel Faubert , Richard Desjardins , Daniel Boucher, Les Cowboys Fringants, Les Colocs, Daniel Bélanger , Laurence Jalbert , Jean Leloup, Dan Bigras , Isabelle Boulay and Dubmatique.
The tensions between Quebec and English Canada have, at times, played out on Quebec's music scene as well. In 1991, Céline Dion won the Félix award for Best Anglophone Artist for her English-language debut, Unison, but refused it as she did not view herself as an anglophone artist. After the controversy caused by this incident, Dion has been careful not to clearly declare herself as either federalist or sovereignist.
Quebec has also produced a number of significant anglophone artists, including Sam Roberts, Bran Van 3000, Deja Voodoo, Voivod, The Dears, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Me Mom & Morgentaler . In addition, some Quebec artists, including Dion, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Lara Fabian, Jacynthe and Grimskunk , frequently record both English and French material.
Some famous Jazz musicians from Quebec are Oscar Peterson, Oliver Jones , Charles Biddle Karen Young , and Michel Donato . Montreal's International Jazz Festival attracts huge crowds of visitors each summer, half of which come from abroad. For the rest of the year, there is an Off festival that organizes Jazz shows in bars all over Montreal.
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