Danse ce soir! Book

This tunebook by Laurie Hart and Greg Sandell was published by Mel Bay Publications in 2001. A collection of 122 traditional and composed tunes by a wide variety of québécois players and composers, it is the broadest and most informative collection of québécois repertoire available to date.

The table of contents includes the list of tune titles. The text, in both French and English, gives extensive background information about the repertoire and history of instrumental dance music in Québec, an analysis of the fiddle, accordion, guitar and piano style, and biographies of the musicians. Also included is historical, stylistic and discographic information for each tune. Tunes are carefully transcribed complete with ornaments and guitar/piano chords.

The book includes maps, photos, discography, bibliography, indexes, resources, and an extensive discussion of piano accompaniment, including three full piano transcriptions. Appropriate for the beginner or accomplished player on any instrument, for the folklorist and musicologist, and for the listener or dancer who wants to learn more about the beautiful and varied traditional music of Québec.

A companion CD is also available.
"An incredible piece of scholarship and functionality.” -- Charlie, California

“This ground-breaking effort presents an extensive and captivating introduction to the wonderful world of québécois fiddle and accordion music...a thoughtful and carefully-researched collection...Never before has such a comprehensive book been compiled....a grand tour de force." -- David Papazian, review in Fiddler Magazine, Fall 2001.

"The book is wonderful. I found the introduction and notes preceding the tunes as interesting as the tunes themselves. It is an impressive, thorough piece of work. We are looking forward to many hours of tunes from the book, especially the crooked ones." Margaret Matthews, pianist

“To us the book is a gold mine -- we're the only band around here to have picked up on French-Canadian music, and dancers are coming to anticipate it when we play. Probably our greatest delight has been the entire new landscape of chord progressions like those in
Carnaval.”   Chuck and Katrina Weber

“You did an amazing job.  We have been reading, listening, & playing everything.  The selection of tunes is great, the transcriptions are accurate (and I am notoriously picky about transcriptions) and the background information is just enough and really well chosen/well written. The stylistic information, discography, chords and piano accompaniments are a big help too.  It's as thorough as you could have been in one volume but still well balanced and clear.  We've collected everything we could lay our hands on about Quebecois music since the mid-1980s and this is the best book anyone has done yet.  Our most sincere congratulations/felicitations on your accomplishment!” -- Faith Kaufman, fiddler

"You did a really good job writing about our Québec music. You have all my thanks for this wonderful work. An external view always helps identify particularities." -- Michel, Ontario

"This was a wonderful Christmas as I received both the book and the CD. It is evident that both were a labour of love. The book is amazing and especially generous. There is certainly enough to keep one going for many long winter evenings in anticipation of a wonderful summer. Between the disc and the book, one begins to understand why and how this music can be so magical." -- Jean-Jacques, Ontario
Review from Strings magazine, May/June 2002:
Labor of Love: Authoritative new book/CD combo spotlights French-Canadian traditional music
by Paul Kotapish

From the frontier fusions of the Athabascan fiddlers to the pure Scottish strains heard in the Maritime Provinces, Canada is home to some of North America's most intriguing folk-violin traditions. Quebec boasts a particularly fecund fiddle heritage rich with distinctive rhythms, unique phrasing, challenging bowing, and lots of deliriously "crooked" tunes.

Despite thousands of 78 rpm commercial recordings of traditional music and a small-but-steady stream of new CDs by revival bands in the province, the Quebecois repertoire has been poorly documented in print, and the music has survived in the traditional manner—passed down from musician to musician. Outside the region, the music has been limited to a small coterie of devoted enthusiasts, including a burgeoning group of admirers south of the border. This splendid new volume was a ten-year labor of love by Yankee fiddler Laurie Hart and pianist Greg Sandell, and it goes a long way towards documenting this worthy tradition.

The 122 transcriptions provide a core repertoire derived from many of the most significant practitioners of the tradition—mostly fiddlers and accordionists. The historic role of instrumental folk music in Quebec is the accompaniment of dancing, and the repertoire comprises reels, six-huits (equivalent to jigs in the Irish or Scottish traditions), galopes, marches, gigues, clogs, valses, and valse-clogs. Each form is well represented in the collection, and there are detailed notes about the quirks and characteristics of each rhythm. The extensive introduction also includes notes on the history of the region and its music, and player-oriented information about typical modes, idiomatic ornamentation, syncopation, bowing, and other matters of style.

The authors organized the book by players, and each section begins with a brief biography of the source musician followed by several tunes associated with that player. There are specific notes on the provenance of each tune, as well as some handy style tips and accompaniment details, including suggested chords for accompanying each tune. Unlike the rudimentary backup styles found in many folk-dance traditions, accompaniment in Quebec is a relatively sophisticated affair, and Hart and Sandell have included a useful primer on the typical sequences, harmonies, substitutions, and voicings employed by pianists and guitarists in the region. The book also provides contact information for organizations, festivals, and music camps that feature Quebecois music, as well as an extensive discography and a brief bibliography.

A companion CD featuring the playing of Hart and Sandell presents a selection of 32 tunes in a variety of settings, with fiddle and accordion taking turns on the lead voices, sometimes unaccompanied, other times with piano, guitar, or the spirited clogging associated with fiddling in Quebec providing the pulsating backup. The CD is nice listening, and it brings the details of the printed page to life as real music.

In all, an excellent introduction for those new to the tradition, and an essential resource for anyone already smitten with the bounce and swing of Quebecois music.