Musicians’ Diary


Our thoughts, our creative steps, our everyday questioning about being musicians, emerging ideas & projects… and basically anything we want to share !

Musicians' Diary

Some more pictures…


As a band, you never get enough [nice] pictures… and we took a chance to shoot a couple more while in Brittany 2 weeks ago. The shooting place is located is in our village Plougras, in an abandoned settlement, one of the buildings hosting the ghost of an old (bad & terrific) local Lord. A local pub is also opened there during the week-ends.

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It seems that we most definitely get back to that place when we need pictures or videos, the rainy road on the “Kan Al Lagouterion” video was indeed the road between our house and this hamlet!

Our inspiration came from this kind of pictures, from wood workers in Central Brittany…

Picture source: http://www.goudal.net/~afe/sabotier.html
Picture source: http://drebeta.wordpress.com/2007/09/30/metiers-dantan-2/

And also…

Martha “Calamity” Jane Canary 1852-1903

More on Calamity Jane >here<

Musicians' Diary

5 facts & Numbers about Breton Language


5 facts about Breton language
5 facts about Breton language

   – 1 – Breton is… a language

Which means, from a linguistic point of view, it is a language, with its own own specific grammar, syntax and vocabulary, and not a dialect derived from French. Of course, it contains many words derived from French, just like French also has some words from Breton.

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   – 2 – Breton is a Celtic Language

Where French is a Latin language, Breton is from the Celtic branch of Indo-European languages, and is related to Welsh and Cornish (‘P’ Celtic languages) as well as to Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx (to a certain extend…).

When we look at old Cornish grammars (the last person speaking fluently the language is said to have died in 1777 – although there are groups of “neo-Cornish-speakers”), it really is very similar to modern Breton.

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Celtic languages family
Celtic languages family

   – 3 – Breton is a written language

Just because it is not an official language ( it is the only spoken Celtic language that isn’t recognised as an official or regional language), it is not taught in most schools doesn’t mean it can not be written. And indeed it has been written for centuries, The Leyde Manuscript (790) being a well-know example of old Breton.

Leyde Manuscript – Image source >http://goo.gl/niMXm<

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   – 4 – About 200000 people speak Breton

Last official survey in 2007 indicates that 206000 people in Brittany speak Breton (out of the 4,3 Million inhabitants in the province). In 1999, 61% of them were over 60 years.

More recent sources >here< (in French, but numbers are quite easy to understand 🙂 )

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   – 5 – 14 709 children get education in Breton at school

In 2012-13, 14 709 pupils (from age 3-18) get to study in Breton, within 3 systems:

  • Diwan: private schools with 100% teaching in Breton (except French and foreign languages)
  • Div-Yezh: public bilingual school system
  • Dihun: private bilingual school system

In 2011 it represented 1,62% of the total number of Breton pupils.

Astrakan world music album on band camp

Musicians' Diary

yeah! We’re in fRoots magazine!


We’ve been hardly focusing on music recently, due to all the events that are happening right now in Turkey. We’ll try to tell you soon a few personal feelings from “the inside”. In the meantime, we are proud, really really proud to read this review about our album in fRoots current issue.
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SIMONE ALVES & YANN GOURVIL Astrakan Project Carga 015

Sometimes I get hoist by my own prejudices and preconceived ideas. So it was that I glanced at the back of this album, noted the legend “A colourful and delicate oriental shine over wild Celtic music”, and the dread vision of Loreeena Newage materialised. And so it festered unplayed in the ‘oh f*** do I really have to listen to this?’ pile on my desk for several weeks, until we were just about to go press with this issue.

Don’t do that at home. Should a copy of this CD appear in your letterbox, hopefully because this review may have alerted you to it, seize it and put it in your player straight away. You will not be disappointed.

For ‘Celtic’, do not read ‘wifty-wafty-synthy-twee’, but instead gloriously full-throated, truly inspiring Breton singing and melodies from Simone Alves. For ‘a colourful and delicate oriental shine’, read ‘roaring, intricate, fiery, imaginative accompaniments’ from multi-instrumentalist Yann Gourvil on oud, electric saz (or baglama as the Turks call it), violin and programmed percussion.

Indeed, for ‘oriental’, don’t read ‘Far East’ as we Brits tend to use it, but ‘from the Eastern reaches of the Mediterranean’. It’s the sort of production that wouldn’t sound out of place on the better contemporary Turkish roots records – it turns out that they’ve lived and studied in Istanbul for the past few years – and it’s obviously a close relative to what Kristi Stassinopoulou & Stathis Kalyviotis did with Greekadelia. In fact I’d christen it Breton-Turkadelia if I hadn’t run out of credit in the ‘name a genre a day’ fund.

When I hit them up for a copy of the biog that this maltreated review copy had obviously got separated from, I found that they were involved in one of the sainted Erik Marchand’s inspiring projects that included Ross Daly, Thierry ‘Titi’ Robin and Keyvan Chemirani. That makes complete sense, and they are justifiably spoken of in the same breath as those iconic names. And if that doesn’t get you people who know about that sort of thing reaching for your credit cards, I don’t know what will.

A truly fabulous, spirit-raising album.
astrakanproject.com

Ian Anderson
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Really, if you hadn’t heard about our music already, doesn’t it feel like you would love to straight away?
astrakan breton world music on facebook
Musicians' Diary

What our music could have been like. If…


If we were born Turkish or from some Balkan village, being musicians could have been like that:

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Traditionally, at least if we refer to the last century, musicians had a rôle to play within Breton society. They were the ones present at weddings, for baptism ceremonies, to celebrate harvests, big fairs, departures to the army any major social events, even for elections.

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Breton wedding around Vannes Area in 1906
Image source >here<

Nowadays, it is more than unusual for people to hire traditional musicians for a wedding. There are meaningful exceptions. But I haven’t heard of any musicians making a living out of wedding playings like it can be in Turkey, or like it used to be in Brittany too. Unless they are DJ’s, or maybe a retro-cover-band?

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Breton wedding music
Image source >here<

Although we sing the same songs and tunes, as well as dances as singers used to about 60 years ago, we can’t really say we make the same music. We play for concerts, we play for festivals, we play for videos, we play for recordings. But in most of cases, even in Brittany, we play for people that don’t understand our language.

But… it’s only up to us to find & invent our own Tradition.

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Until the next generation will take over.

§ Simone

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Astrakan world music album on band camp

Musicians' Diary

Portuguese interview + French review…


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A short review from our album in the Belgian magazine Le Canard Folk (for printed May edition… It’s rather positive ! Says something like:

“warmth, fullness, richness, energy, […] fusion seems perfectly natural after the first surprising impression”

Canard folk mai 2013 album du mois

While in Portugal, I made this interview for the radio show Terra Pura, Portuguese readers may listen to it >here<, others can check out I really do speak Portuguese!

Hopeful, this nice impressions will lead us to some live shows?

§ Simone

 

astrakan breton world music on facebook

Musicians' Diary

Beltain Fire


Tonight and tomorrow, it’s Celtic festival Beltain (or Beltan, Beltane, “tan” in Breton meaning “Fire”), on the years wheel, it’s on the opposite of Samhain, and together they are the major celebrations where the borders between worlds are thinner, so thin that it gets easy to travel from one world to another.

It’s a great period to ask about your future too, and we’ll do some Tarot reading to know if we’ll manage to get some tour dates, some (nice) reviews or even some festivals appearances? 🙂

We’re taking advantage of all the strong energies surrounding these days to offer you a 50% discount on our digital album edition, valid for 50 hours only, meaning, running until may the 2nd, 2 pm (GMT+2)

How? One click on this link : http://astrakanproject.bandcamp.com/album/astrakan-project-digital-edition and use code “beltain” to get your discount.

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Beltain Fire discount campaign on astrakan download

Musicians' Diary

Yes, this is the band… yes, the 2 of us…


A couple of days ago, I was digging into “old” paper work from the band, and I found this:

semaine de la francophonie istanbul saint joseph   .

This is the very first program where I and Yann appeared only the 2 of us, and it was in March 2011. When we initiated the project in June 2009 in Istanbul, we recorded a few tunes together, with the purpose of then finding extra musicians to play with in Istanbul. Then from January 2010 on, we started to rehearse and make little shows around Istanbul with one or two percussionists, Ali Dojran (on the right) and Volga Tunca.

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astrakan project live with percussions
2011 – Seyr-î Mesel, Beygolu, Istanbul

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We loved the music we were making together, but none of us being full time musician, which means, all of us having jobs, it was indeed not so easy to organise. We accepted this particular 1st show without knowing none of our percussionists would be available. Then, when we realised it, we really wondered what to do… “how can we play only the two of us? Shall we not cancel?”… but not for too long, we started to practice again the two of us, adapting some songs, making changes so that they’d keep some interest still, working on new ones.

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world music band  .

Our little son was born shortly after, and by the time we started recording, there were two options: either record together at home, either try to record with percussions, which would have meant extra rehearsals, extra-transportation in the city, extra-recording time, all these extras to be translated into time AND money… and we feared that with the limited free time we had it would have taken years. Obviously we chose the first one! But it is rather interesting for us to notice how our music evolved just because we constantly adapted to the conditions we had.

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if the door is closed try the next one.

We still think it could be nice to record a part of our repertoire with loads of different and powerful percussions, it’s a project we still have in mind, but we prefer to wait for the right time and conditions to make it happen.

§ Simone

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