Les Char­bon­niers de l’En­fer - ‘Chan­sons A Capella’

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS -

There is some­thing about a cap­pella singing that re­moves the shack­les of the mod­ern world. It’s lib­er­at­ing in all sorts of ways. It con­nects us to our an­cient past. Hu­mans sang out their feel­ings long be­fore they were able to speak their thoughts.

While we’ve be­come adept at block­ing out the spo­ken word, we tend to tune in when someone strikes up a song. If the speak­ers of the house could im­part of­fi­cial in­for­ma­tion through song, we might ac­tu­ally lis­ten.

Singing is so ba­sic to hu­mans, its ori­gins are lost in time and most likely pre­date the de­vel­op­ment of spo­ken lan­guage. It al­lows us the op­por­tu­nity to say what we can’t speak and to feel what we are un­able to ex­plain. Mu­sic has a tight con­nec­tion to our hearts and souls. It’s in­nate, and the voice is the orig­i­nal mu­si­cal in­stru­ment.

Group singing seems to sum­mon feel­ings of to­geth­er­ness. There is some­thing re­as­sur­ing about voices min­gling to­gether in song. Sud­denly we are not so alone any­more.

Les Char­bon­niers de l’En­fer are the col­liers from hell and they are highly skilled at min­ing for gold. There is a rich tra­di­tion of folk mu­sic and a capella singing in their city of Que­bec. All man­ner of threads com­bine to form the rich ta­pes­try of their sound. In­flu­ences from the mu­si­cal re­gions of north­ern France such as Pi­cardy, Nor­mandy and Brit­tany are the back­bone. Scot­tish and Ir­ish traces are ev­i­dent too. Im­mi­grants from Ire­land in the 19th cen­tury may not have brought much in the way of pos­ses­sions, but they weren’t short of a few songs.

So their ar­range­ments are per­me­ated with all sorts of colour. One of the most charm­ing el­e­ments is the oc­ca­sional ad­di­tion of danc­ing feet to the mix. It’s the sweet­est com­bi­na­tion. Voices soar­ing and swoop­ing high in the air to the sound of shuf­fling feet down be­low. Beauty etched in the sky and on the ground.

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