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