Music

Blog, Musicians' Diary

List of Breton music essentials you’ve been waiting for!


Have you ever dream of a list of Breton music to listen to? Essentials that you could be introduced to ? Fascinated by breton fest-noz music and not knowing where to start from?

We’ve had the request quite often, and since we’re catching-up on all we postponed during Inês album recording and release, here it is: a WIP list of breton music that we like and that has influenced us. You can find the list on this section of tour web-site that we plan on up-dating regularly, as well as books recommended for artists, online ressources and links to the gear we use for music and video. But, without further due, let’s get in to the world of fest-noz and breton music: 

Fest-noz & modern breton music

From late XXc – 80’s and 90’s power!

From 00’s on

  • Karma – fest-noz, fest-noz by the Diwan generation.
  • Plantec – a band around two brothers, and in the beginning quite influenced by Ar Re Yaouank, then experimented also with some live electro.

Experimental, world, cross-over, others

  • Bugel Koar – Ar solier, with the singer Marthe Vassalo. A very interesting project, with a lot of gwerz (breton type of lament) from Trégor (and we love gwerz from Trégor!). N’ebaon the second album by the duet is also really good. (and more likely to be available)
  • Any album by/with Erik Marchand worth it! His collaboration with the french oud player Thierry Titi Robin in the 80’s: chants du centre Bretagne and An Tri Breur deeply and profoundly inspired and nourished our musical experiences. He’s also famous for his fusion world music with musicians from the Balkans. Our favorite ever is Pruna (although Unu, daou, tri easily available or Dor are totally worth it). Another favorite of ours is his collab with the french indie musician Rodolphe Burger which resulted in the unexpected album Before Bach.
  • Norkst and Kreiz Breizh Akademi. It sounds weird to add an album in which we personally performed, but when it was released in 2005, it was quite a unique project, both artistic and pedagogic, upon an idea from Erik Marchand. The project still goes on with several albums released by different KBA bands, but Norkst being the very first one, it certainly would be the one to listen to as it opened the road to all the later ones. (let us know if you’d like us to elaborate on the project!)
  • Au Café Breton by Rolland Becker and Regis Huiban. A project around breton music as played in the 20’s 30’s and influenced by Parisian accordion musette style (it has influenced a few fest-noz bands like Le Bour / Bodros )
  • Jacques Pellen – Celtic Procession. A project that started in the 90’s, with loads of versions, guests, etc, but generally with a jazz flavour.

Gwerz, kan ha diskan and a-capella albums

  • Tradition Chantée En Bretagne – Les Sources Du Barzaz Breiz Aujourd’Hui . More specialised, this is a collection of gatherings from the XXth century from songs that were previously to be found on the XIXc book “Barzaz Breizh”. Raw a-capella singing, but a treasure if you fancy authentic traditional style. The booklet is quite thick and very useful and contains all the lyrics with french translations.
  • Kan ha Diskan by Loeiz Roparz. A collection of kan ha diskan with several singers and Loeiz Roparz, known to be the “inventor” of fest-noz in its actual form.
  • Kan ha Diskan – Yann-Fañch Kemener. Kan ha diskan from Yann-Fañch Kemener with most of big names from the breton kan ha diskan scene, both old and new scene: Erik Marchand, Annie Ebrel, Patrick Marie, Valentine Colleter, Claudine Flohic, Marcel Guilloux, Ifig Troadeg. A must have!
  • Fest-Noz en Poher. Not very often available, but pay close attention to the name and picture, so far there isn’t any re-edit, but if it at some point would show up on the second hand market, be quick! Simone has practically learned all the basics from Kan ha Diskan with this excellent very traditional album. Features gavotte from Annie Ebrel with Noluen Le Buhez (excellent and brilliant energy!), from Fustec/Le Corre and Les Frères Dilasser – both huge favorites and role models for kan ha diskan when Yann was a child (and also probably the only recording available from the Dilasser Brothers).

Enjoy, and let us know in the comment section if you have any request or suggestion!

Links are amazon affiliated, if you decide to buy any of these based on our recommendations, please, do use our links, you will pay the exact same price, but we’ll receive a little percentage that can help us producing more music and share more useful links.

Also, this list is based on our personal musical journey, on what made a difference to us, and also on our personal tastes! This ain’t meant to be a chart, or any “ultimate” listing! Get inspired, enjoy our story sharing, but create your own story and connection with breton music.

Blog, Musicians' Diary, Sound & Video

On the (music) road. A long (emotional) road.


We’ve arrived in Greece after 2 weeks travel across the Balkan region (mostly Serbia and North Macedonia) that we miss so much. It had been 2 years since we hadn’t been around, and it really feels like we’re reunited with an ambiance that is deeply part of who we are – or rather have become.

 

We are very happy we had the plan to travel once the album would be released. We did some little promo before our departure, and thanks to the Internet (and easy cheap sim cards!), we can easily manage the rest of it for when we’ll be back to France early November.

Our happiness comes also from a more relaxed way from our behalf to deal with the album release. It’s a true fact that with the experience, we get better at it. And I’m not necessarily referring to the contacts, or the sequence of what needs to be done. That’s the easiest part in a way.

I’m here rather referring to the emotional part of the release, how having a limited audience in a niche style affects what we can do at release time. Basically, despite of the nice support we got during the crowdfunding campaign, we didn’t have huge crowds waiting for Inês album. Also, we got amazing feedback from some media, but also plenty of no replies from radios we’ve worked with previously. From people too. Some sales in the first week, though nothing exceptional.

Honestly, it can be an artist’heart’s killer! But as I said, we now plan for it, and planning for what we most love in the world *travelling* certainly smooths all the mixed feelings we experience. And don’t get us wrong! We do enjoy every bit of this amazing project, all is part of the game, it’s just music after-all, isn’t it? And as years pass by we do improve at staying motivated and grateful no matter what.

http://www.astrakanproject.bandcamp.com/album/in-s

§ Simone.

 

 

 

Music, Sound & Video

Within the Circle – our new EP is out !


Here are 4 new studio tracks you may download for free! (but you can donate bellow 🙂  

Just one click on the cover… 

within the circle astrakan project world music celtic EP cover artwork

>Within the Circle – Astrakan Project<

If you want other formats than mp3, FLAC , ALAC & so, you can go to our >Bandcamp page< and download it from there.

What are those new songs about? Hear them first, tell us what they inspire you, in the meantime we’ll make a small video with a lot of insights about this new recording.

And, once you’ve enjoyed them, shared them, heard them many times, you may support us in many ways…

  • Send us love messages >here<
  • Sign in to our newsletter (generally we send … maybe 6 to 7 a year?) >mailing-list<
  • Become fan on >facebook< 
  • And if you really think our music deserves it, make a little donation using PayPal.
    • How much ? Any little amount will help.
    • What will we use it for ? Pay for our music & video equipments and software, for Internet hosting fees, put money asside to release our next album…
    • How with Paypal? Just one click on the button and you enter the amount you wish…

    btn_donateCC_LG

DIY Album, Musicians' Diary

Using loops on stage : Trying to find the right balance


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As we use a computer with pre-recorded loops on stage (this post), we realised that we needed (and that we still need !) to find the right balance between those two following extreme situations:

  • A : The computer only provides very simple loops such as a drone or a basic beat.
  • B : The computer provides the full set of missing instruments so that we play the songs as they can be heard from the album. B-statement in our minds is this :

I must say that when I had started loop programming, we were first very close to the A-statement. Later on, as I was thinking that my programming skills and experience were increasing, we got very close to the B-statement…

The kind of music we would like to play on stage is somewhere in-between. A-statement may not be sufficient since we are in most cases only two musicians on stage (Voice and stringed instrument, except when we have guests), whereas B gives the feeling that we are not really playing but that the laptop is playing for us. Some would call this “Karaoke” !

DSC_0257
Our laptop, footswitch and instruments

So, we’re going back to A, but not as close as in the beginning, loops mostly consisting in drones and light rhythms. We do hope we’re on the way to find the right balance !

[ yann ]

DIY Album

All about money.


We setted up the release day for… the day after tomorrow, which means, within 2 days. In a way, we’ll be happy to be Sunday !

As we already mentioned, after long discussions, we decided to sell it for 12 euros (that’s about $15.50), including shipping costs… But what is “a” right price ?

The question is more complex than it looks at first sight. When we searched around the web, some advices were not to sell it for more than established artists. We’re not established artists. When we refer to French albums’ prices, it doesn’t seem to function that way, at least for physical CDs. Music produced by small labels tend to be much more expensive (too expensive? we’re talking about at least 20€ / $25) than mainstream records.

Where does the value of the music we play come from ? Is it about the value we think it has ? Is it about the value other people would give to it ?

show me the money - how much should we sell our diy album ?
Show me the money

We’re not planning to really earn any money directly from the sales, even if we hope our music would spread enough to get more venues. Still, we have to get at least a part of the money we invested to get it manufactured, and anyone can guess that for small quantities like ours, it gets the price per CD much higher. We’re far from talking about refunding the rest of the material, not mentioning any salary.

show me the money - how much should we sell our diy album ? 12
XII

So far, we questioned as many people as we could about the price, and although we didn’t get any “that’s really too expensive for a self-produced album”. We could have chosen a “pay what you want” option. We could. Maybe we don’t feel yet confident enough in the value people would give to our music ? In a way we also consider that people are not only “buying” a CD from us, they’re supporting our project on a much longer term.

If you really think “that’s really too expensive”, let us know why…

§ Simone

DIY Album, Sound & Video

2 weeks left…


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Only two weeks left before the actual release. We’ve almost made our mind to sell the album online via Bandcamp. It has many advantages, including that those following us rather via facebook will also be able to get it directly from there.

We’re right now preparing a fun promotional video, which will include a small contest

In the meantime, here’s a taste of what it will sound like :

It’s called “tri martolod an oriant”, based on traditional tune and lyrics from Brittany, quite famous under the title “tri martolod yaouank” (3 young sailors). Share it, comment it, give feedback…

DIY Album

A quick up-date


Our dead-line to send the album to the factory was August, the 15th… and we’re quite happy as we are realizing we’ll be able to make it on time.

A small tour within what we’ve been busy with lately ? We’re done with anything recording-related, but there’s still some work to be done.

Yann is mainly spending his days mixing and mastering. We bought some (cheap) monitoring speakers, ans luckily our small village in Brittany is far more quite than Istanbul.

home masterizing an album
listening again and again
mastering with Live
mastering with Live

Then we’re regularly making copies to listen to it there and there, in the car, at friends place, on bad and good sound systems – this help us to check out the sound quality, but also to fine-tune arrangements.

album's master
n.3 ? We’re at least at n.5 right now…

While listening, we’re also trying to get the final tracks’ order, and it’s not an easy task. Of course, we do love any of the tunes that we recorded. But we love them for may different reasons. Some of them because of the tune, other might be because of the particular moment we started to play it… Not all these reasons are very “musical” ones. For labelled artists, an artistic director or some professional like that could help or advice. In our case we really need to step back and be as neutral as we can towards our music – but on the other hand we keep control on our work.

which kind of track to open a music album
which will be the first track?

And at the same time, I’m working on the cover, checking the printing margins, colours, contrast, but also the content and spelling. I’m quite happy as all this is also on its way.

editing a music album cover
very colourful, isn’t it?

But as always, fine-tuning may take more time than expected, so… we’re trying to keep focused!

Musicians' Diary

Clarinet in Kosovo


Live music places in Kosovo
Live music in Kosovo

A bar ? A hotel ? Nope, this is the kind of places we search for live music in Kosovo. Along road M2 between Pristine and Ferizai, you may find many of them, they sometimes have a sign “live music”.

Here’s a very short video, the sound is terrific, but it shall give you an idea of the place.

The clarinettist is Rexhe Baba, when we first met in 2007, we were really impressed by his style, his freedom to ignore the rules… and his craziness !

Such places, as far as we know, are opened at night everyday, without entrance fee, drinks are more expensive than in standard cafes but still affordable. They hire a couple of singers, at least 2, sometimes up to 5 or 6, that will perform one after each other with the same band. The band can be very “cheap” and consist of a single synthesizer player, but we look for places with at least 3 or 4 musicians, although, synthesizer is the base.

On the video, you can see a bank note (50 Euros !!!) hold with the clarinet, it’s a way to request a particular song and to dedicate it to someone. The singer is holding the piece of paper with the message and will read it between two songs. Of course, more famous musicians/singers will get more requests. At the end of the evening, the money is then divided between everyone on stage.

Musicians' Diary

On the Road(s)


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We’ve been travelling back to Brittany during the last days, a great road-trip, a good and inspirational break before we jump back into the album – we have great hopes we can finish it and send it to the factory by mid-august.

In the meantime, here are some pics from our trip that we’re happy to share with you…

In Northern Greece, not very far from Kavala, we met an amazing lyra player.

Lyra Player Northern Greece
Playing at the Sunset

We generally speaking love Lyras, Yann was really pleased to give it a try.

Yann playing Lyra
Not quite easy as it looks…

We also travelled threw Kosovo…

Strange music Place in Kosovo
Somewhere in Kosovo

What’s this ? A live music place… of course we did some videos, give us a couple of days to pick up one and you’ll have an idea of the crazy sound from Kosovo.

We also searched for last CD’s releases in the Balkans, here is our favourite CD dealer from Priština’s market.

Music Shop in Pristina Market
Priština’s Market

And also in Montenegro, here in the small town of Berane.

Music Shop in Montenegro
We love Music Shops !
Music Shop in Montenegro
And to meet great people.

Thanks to her kindness we discovered Gusle, a traditional string instrument from Montenegro with a really amazing and deep sound. And… it’s a single string instrument! We’ll try to find some samples very soon.

Musicians' Diary

What kind of music do you play ?


Such an usual question, and such a hard one to answer ! Like most of bands, we really would love to have a simple answer to that question. And somehow we’ll have to find it very soon if we want our album to get some exposure at the right places.

World music…

Generally, when talking about “world music”, what is referred to is some kind of western pop music with elements from culture from around the world.

But… we don’t really think we’re making pop music. When we work on a new song, we do compose a lot of new tunes, but they still have the structure, the scale, the style of some sung in Brittany for decades. So ?

Do we borrow elements from other traditions ? We do, for sure, not that we think “well, let’s give it a latin taste, it’s trendy”. It’s more about the fact that we do travel, meet other musicians, go to concerts here and there, and of course, we’ll get some influence.

Clarinet and drum players, Brittany, 1912
Clarinet and drum players, Brittany, 1912 [image source]
… vs traditional music

Our roots are without any doubt for us in Central Brittany.  But can we really say it’s traditional music from Brittany knowing that if you go there you’re very likely to hear a very different music from what we’re playing ? Isn’t traditional music what is recognised as such by a social group ? Would it mean we can’t claim our music to be “traditional music from central Brittany” despite of all the lyrics we’re using being from there ?

What kind of music do we play then ? We’ll try to come up with an answer !

Some links :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_music (English)

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musiques_du_monde (French)