Blog, Musicians' Diary, Sound & Video

From an old intense land

Our latest video experience, let us know in the comments on the video if you like it 😉 you’ll also find some interesting reference links on the description section under the video, but first enjoy all of the magical beautiful images from Brittany !

Notre dernière expérimentation en vidéo, avec des sous-titres en français. Vous trouverez plein de liens vers en barre d’info sur YouTube pour en savoir plus, mais avant, appréciez les magnifiques images filmées en Bretagne.

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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 !


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.


   – 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.


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<


   – 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 🙂 )


   – 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

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.


Beltain Fire discount campaign on astrakan download