Blog, Music, Sound & Video

Erwanig ar Skolan · gwerz [ traditional mythological breton song ]

Our project on the mysterious “protest song” collab is making progress, we’re almost done with the vocals and we’ll start the real editing phase tomorrow. In the meantime, and to keep you happy, we created this small music/art/video piece.

Notre projet de vidéo collaborative pour notre mystérieuse “protest song” avance, on termine les voix demain, et on attaque le gros du montage vidéo dans la foulée. En attendant, et sans aucune annonce on vous a préparé ce petit projet qui mêle musique/vidéo/art.

This song is one of the many variations on the same theme (Skolvan’s curse after his death, and his return to Earth to ask his mother for forgiveness). Researches suggest that Skolan would be Merlin, and the curse an allegory of the power fight between Christianity over the ancient pagan and Druidic traditions. Similar verses are found in Welsh, Scottish and Irish variations. We included the lyrics in the video with basic French and English translations. Let us know how you enjoy them, and if you do, subscribe and share !

The skies, clouds and small lakes on the video were all filmed along February 2021 in different areas of our village Plougras.

Cette chanson est une des nombreuses variations sur le thème de Skolvan (ou le merci de l’âme), Skolvan revient après sa mort demander le pardon de sa mère pour ses forfaits. Skolvan pourrait être Merlin lui aussi maudit, et symboliser les luttes de pouvoir entre l’église chrétienne et l’ancienne religion druidique. Nous avons ajouté le texte dans les sous-titres, avec les traductions (libres) en anglais et en français.On a tous les deux eu beaucoup de plaisir à préparer ce projet. S’il vous touche et vous parle, n’hésitez pas à le partager (et surtout à vous abonner à notre chaîne YouTube!)

Les nuages, ciel et étangs ont tous été filmés au cours du mois de février 2021 sur notre commune (Plougras).

Golden skies / Neñvoù aour · original artwork by Simone Alves

The large original artwork is available for sale (mixed media on canvas, included collage, watercolours, acrylics, and natural pigments from ashes.). The edges are painted, so it can be hung as such without framing. Size: 73*100 cm (about 28.74*39.37 inches)

Price: 450€ in Simone’s online art shop

Le tableau original est disponible, il s’agit d’une œuvre mixed-media sur toile, qui inclue du collage, des peintures et encres aquarelles, des acryliques, des pigments naturels issus de plusieurs teintes de cendres, etc. Les bords sont peints, la toile peut être accrochée telle quelle même sans encadrement. Dimensions : 73*100cm.

Prix: 450€ à retrouver dans la boutique en ligne de Simone ici

I’m not that tall but it really is a *big* beautiful piece !
Blog, Music, Musicians' Diary, Sound & Video

Koçari – Turkish folk song and goodbye to Dniper river

Along our travels we certainly heard plenty of songs, and we started recording some of them that we entend to release as video projects for now. This one is in Turkish, from the Black Sea area close to Georgia, and actually the version we worked from initially was from the Georgian artist Lela Tsurtsumia.

Depuis le temps que nous voyageons pour écouter des chansons, il nous prend parfois l’envie de les enregistrer aussi, de se les approprier. Nous en avons plusieurs en cours, que nous allons pour le moment sortir sous forme de projets vidéos. Cette première chanson vient de la Mer Noire, à l’Est et pas très loin de la Géorgie, et elle est en Turc. La première version que nous avons entendu était celle de l’artiste géorgienne Lela Tsurtsumia.

The video expresses our love for summer in the Dnieper islands and is a celebration of its peaceful beauty and presence. We heard after the video was finished of a similar tradition at solstice time of crown flowers sent to the river – but it is *almost* a coincidence that our video is similar 😉 We’ll tell you more about it very soon in our next vlog.

Le vidéo est un ode à notre amour pour la beauté majestueuse du Dniepr et de ses îles au cœur de la ville de Kiev, que nous nous apprêtons à quitter. C’est lorsque nous l’avons terminée que l’on nous parlé de la tradition du Solstice d’été (Kupala) au cours de laquelle les jeunes filles confient leur couronne de fleurs au fleuve. C’est une coïncidence un peu magique, et on vous la raconte en détail très vite 🙂

This song is at the moment not available for sale or for download, but here are other ways to support our artistic explorations :

Ce titre n’est ni en vente ni téléchargeable, mais voici d’autres moyens de soutenir nos explorations musicales :

To donate and support our project any amount small or big can make a huge difference to us.

Music shop


Music, Sound & Video

Collaborative video project is out !

Here is the mysterious project we’ve been working on / le project mystère enfin révélé:

PdF with lyrics / PdF avec le texte :

Contact :

Deadline 17/05/2020

Details, background and instructions in English

Détails, petites anecdotes et instructions en français :

Hag e Brezhoneg

Music, Musicians' Diary, Pics on Tour, Sound & Video

Recording/mixing another (irish folk) band ?

A few weeks ago, time had come for us to go to the east of France and get our prize from the Jotinette contest, which actually was a perfect excuse for us to go and meet musicians from this area ! Not only we met them and had great time there, we even recorded a demo for one of their bands called Hop Corner. They play traditionnal Irish folk music.

I thought it could be quite a challenge as well as a valuable experience to record and mix a band in an extremely acoustic setup (fiddle, irish flute, bouzouki/guitar), which is somehow far opposite from what I am used to do with Astrakan Project…

The recording studio, actually a nice room dedicated to music ! Look at this gorgeous wooden floor.

The recording was made “live”, with stage microphones, actually what was available in the house !

Sam & Zsófi, actually the landlords of this amazing house !

Julien & Sam.

It was actually a nice and extremely friendly recording session, followed by a couple of days mixing / mastering…

And this is what it sounds like, we hope you will like it as much as we do !

You can hear their full 5-track demo from their website, and it really worth it :

…and follow/like them on Facebook ! 😉


The right gavotte tempo !

Today, as I was working on a “gavotte” tune, that I hadn’t listened to for ages, I grabbed my fiddle and quickly recorded a couple of rounds of the tune. Then, I found an original recording in my database…

…and pasted it in my DAW in order to check if my tempo was right… And this is what I get !


The upper track is my fiddle recording, the lower one the original singer recording. Can you see how my tempo is exactly the same ??? Unfortunately, you won’t get a chance to hear my recording right now…but at least, you can see the tempo is right !! 😉


Music, Musicians' Diary

Breton music workshop

We had a nice session with La Contrebande, a nice folk band from the east of France. As they would like to add breton dances to their repertoire, we had a nice workshop about those deep rooted breton dances called “gavotte” and “plinn”…




There were actually many fiddlers there…


Simone and I are looking forward to hear the breton sets they will shorlty set up !

You can listen to their band there :

And here is their Facebook page :



{very} Special Bundles for Album B Release

For the release of our album B, we have created some cool bundles…

Special bundle for album release with bonus fest-noz vintage recording

They are 9 of these bundles specially made for Art and Astrakan lovers, each with a little original artwork created for the album booklet, which means, each of them is unique, and it’s of course a super limited edition that will each include:

  • The album of course!
  • A link to download the full album
  • One of the last copies available of or EP Torkad – Kofrig ar Sorserez… released in 2005! 100% acoustic, and it includes the very first version of “Sell ouzh ar Stered” (with different lyrics Adam hag Eva)
  • An original piece of artwork used to create the album booklet. Sizes differ a bit (and price also because it depends on the postage costs). They are all on very good quality watercolour paper and include various styles of mixed-media depending on each piece. (pleased note that it isn’t framed to keep the cost of postage reasonable)
  • Some personal notes regarding the song linked with the art-work and hand-written lyrics
  • A post-card with some of Simone’s Artwork print
  • Shipping anywhere in the world + nice and safe packaging

Here they are…

1 – Sell ouzh ar Stered (Look at the Stars)

Astrakan Project B album - special bundle for release - AW01 Sell ouzh ar Stered
Sell ouzh ar Stered (Look at The Stars) Approx size 15.5*15.3 cm (6.10*6 in) 

Sorry… already sold !


2 – En Anv Doue ma Mamm

Astrakan Project B album - special bundle for release - AW02 En Anv Doue ma Mamm
En Anv Doue ma Mamm – approx size 15*16.5 cm (5.90*6.5 in)

Bundle price : 45€

Paypal Bouton

3 – Gwerz Inês

Astrakan Project B album - special bundle for release - AW03 Gwerz Inês
Gwerz Inês – approx size 21.5*21 cm (8.46*8.25 in)

Bundle price : 55€

Paypal Bouton

4 – Sekrejoù ar C’Hloareg

Astrakan Project B album - special bundle for release - AW04 sekrejou ar chloareg
Sekrejoù ar c’hloareg – approx size 15*15.5 cm ( 5.90*6.10 in)

Sorry… already sold !

5 – Gwerz an Yougoslavi

Astrakan Project B album - special bundle for release - AW05 Gwerz an Yougoslavi
Gwerz an Yougoslavi Approx size 14.5*15 cm ( 5.7*5.9 in ) 

Bundle price : 45€

Paypal Bouton

6 – Seizh Bloaz

Astrakan Project B album - special bundle for release - AW06 Seizh Bloaz
Seizh Bloaz – approx size 15*15.2 cm (5.90*6 in)

Bundle price : 45€

Paypal Bouton

7- My beloved has died

Astrakan Project B album - special bundle for release - AW07 My beloved has died
My beloved has died – approx size 15*15.2 cm (5.90*6 in)

Bundle price : 45€

Paypal Bouton

 8 – Ar c’hased Arc’hant

Astrakan Project B album - special bundle for release - AW08 ar c'hased arc'hant
Ar c’hased arc’hant – approx size 15*15.2 cm (5.90*6 in)

Bundle price : 45€

Paypal Bouton

9 – Ar Plac’h Yaouank ag an Oriant

- special bundle for release - AW09 ar plac'h yaouank ag an oriant
Ar plac’h yaouank ag an Oriant – approx size 15.5*14.8 cm ( 6.10*5.8 in)

Bundle price : 45€

Paypal Bouton

Music, Sound & Video

The forbidden 3rd

Most breton tunes cannot be played on a piano. Why ? Because they have “commas” (as it is often the case in oriental musiv for example). See the fret setup of a guitar below :


Fret spacing is regular, whereas if you take a look at a turkish saz :


Fret spacing is not regular, which enables to play notes with the so-called “commas”, and that cannot be played on a piano for instance (see this older issue for further details : Bağlama’s pitch). In other words, a third can be slightly higher than the minor, but much lower than the major, which means its pitch is somewhere inbetween…

Ok, now what happens if you play a tune on the turkish saz with a high third degree as we commonly have in breton music, together with a guitar ?? If you play a grid with a usual minor third, it may sound like this :

Well, I think it sounds a little bit weird, or even out of tune since a third with two different pitches gets played simultaneously… And especially, Simone doesn’t like to sing when I play this kind of chords !

So, I made a grid, trying to find “3rdless” chords, in order to avoid this “forbidden third”, this is what it sounds like :

I do think it sounds better, but you may find it’s even worse than in the first attempt ! If so, please let me know ! :))



What the hell is the time signature ?

We have already been talking about rhythm, here for example. Let’s go further with rhythm with this song sample that Simone quickly recorded a couple of days ago :

According to me, most parts time signature is 5/8. But what about the middle part ? Any suggestion would be warmly welcome ! You can also here Simone clapping her hands, this might be the right clue to find the answer !


Music, Musicians' Diary, Sound & Video

Same tune before / after

When arranging a traditional tune, the result can have extremely different flavours depending on :

– Your mood when you were composing…
– The instruments you chose to play the tune…
– Where you are, what your environment is…

Here is an example of a traditional breton tune arranged in two different manners. I made the first sample about two weeks ago before we moved out of Istanbul.

You can mostly hear guitar and turkish saz “Bağlama”. I made the second sample this week, two days after we had settled in Northern Greece…

I used ‘ud and derbuka. I really like the second one !! 🙂