|Music of Quebec|
|Timeline • Samples|
|Media and performance|
|Nationalistic and patriotic songs|
|National anthem||O Canada|
|Related worldwide music|
Being a modern cosmopolitan society, today, all types of music can be found in the Canadian province of Quebec. What is specific to Quebec though are traditional songs, a unique variety of Celtic music, legions of excellent jazz musicians, a culture of classical music, and a love of foreign rhythms that can be observed in summer every Sunday on Mount Royal in Montreal. The First Nations and the Inuit of Quebec also have their own traditional music.
Under French rule, what is now Quebec was called le Canada and was the most developed colony of New France. After some generations of French settlers being born in Canada, the colonists began to identify with their home country and call themselves les Canadiens (the Canadians) as distinct from les Français (the French), those native to France. A similar socio-cultural phenomenon occurred in Acadia, and numerous other European colonies in America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
The Canadiens inherited a rich tradition of songs and dances from northern France, namely the regions of Île-de-France, Picardy, Normandy, Poitou, and Brittany. Influence from these regions, and the Irish immigration to Quebec of the 19th century may explain the Celtic connection that Quebec still shares with Brittany, Ireland, Scotland and the Maritimes.
As time went by, the French Canadians began to develop their own music, and also incorporated and transformed the styles of music played by the settlers from Great Britain, in particular the Scots, after the Conquest. (One hundred of these songs were collected by Ernest Gagnon for an 1865 compilation, one of the first such collections to be published in Canada.)
Perhaps the most remarkable phenomenon in the popular music of that century was the career of La Bolduc, who became extremely popular singing satirical and sometimes racy songs based on the Quebec and Irish folk traditions, and who also was expert in the wordless vocalization known as turlutte.
By the 1960s, radio and television had begun to help disseminate French folk songs, especially after the 1967 foundation of the Centennial Collection of Canadian Folk Songs, including recordings of Quebec performers like Yves Albert and Jacques Labrecque, as well as Acadian Edith Butler.
The most popular song writers and singers of this period were Gilles Vigneault, Leonard Cohen, and Félix Leclerc, who brought more influences, to the music of France-based singing stars like Jacques Brel. Leclerc, from La Tuque, and Vigneault, from Natashquan in the north of Quebec, became heroes for a new generation of Quebec youth. It was Vigneault's "Mon pays", (My Country), which became a rallying anthem for Quebec nationalism after a 1965 performance by Monique Leyrac, and established a tradition of Quebec artists supporting Quebec's independence movement. Many artists openly endorsed it, notably Raymond Lévesque, Pauline Julien and Paul Piché.
In the 1960s, the French Canadians of Quebec were beginning to self-identify as Québécois (Quebecers). See the Quiet Revolution. Another important nationalist performer during this period was Georges Dor, who enjoyed international success with his recording of his own composition, "La complainte de la Manic" ("The Ballad of Manicouagan"); other popular singers of the time include Claude Gauthier and Clemence Desrochers. Popular artists of the 70s included Harmonium, Offenbach, Plume Latraverse, Garolou and Beau Dommage, as well as Michel Rivard.
Progressive rock and fusion jazz band Maneige was founded in Quebec in 1972 by Alain Bergeron and Jérôme Langlois. The band was one of the Quebec progressive rock scene's longest running and most consistent bands. In 1974, Vigneault and Leclerc played on the Plains of Abraham with Robert Charlebois, who made heavy use of Quebec French in his rock and roll fusions. The 70s also saw roots performers like La Bottine Souriante gain critical and commercial acclaim within Quebec. Jim Corcoran and Bertrand Gosselin released La tête en gigue, an influential album that helped bring Quebec roots to crossover audiences across Canada, the United States and Europe. In addition to his musical career, Corcoran currently hosts a weekly show on CBC Radio One, which airs Francophone music from Quebec for English audiences across Canada. The early 1980s saw the formation of francophone Synthpop/New wave music groups such as Nudimension that became involved in the genesis of music video and MTV culture.
More recent Quebec performers include Richard Desjardins, Daniel Boucher, Marie-Chantal Toupin, Éric Lapointe, Vilain Pingouin, Mes Aïeux, Les Trois Accords, Kaïn, Dumas, La Chicane, Les Colocs, Mélanie Renaud, Cindy Daniel, Daniel Bélanger, Paul Cargnello, Laurence Jalbert, Rudy Caya, Jean Leloup, Celine Dion, Les Stups, La Chicane, Dan Bigras, and Isabelle Boulay. Some bands, such as Les Cowboys Fringants have known success in Europe (primarily in France) while Karkwa, Vulgaires Machins and Malajube are also recognized elsewhere in Canada.
The metal scene is represented primarily by Sword, Voivod and death metal bands Cryptopsy, Kataklysm, Martyr, Neuraxis, Gorguts, Quo Vadis, Despised Icon, Ex Deo, Blackguard, Beneath the Massacre, Augury and many others. The Quebec black metal scene has also gotten some attention in recent years, including bands like Akitsa, Spirit of the Forest, Forteresse, Chasse-Galerie, Monarque and Nefastus Dies.
In 2003, TVA began to broadcast Star Académie, a Québécois version of a French reality music competition, several new artists including Marie-Élaine Thibert, Marie-Mai, Émily Bégin and Stéphanie Lapointe became well-known music artists after their passage in the reality show.
The tensions between Quebec and English Canada have, at times, played out on Quebec's music scene as well. In 1991, Céline Dion won the Félix award for Best Anglophone Artist for her English-language debut, Unison, but refused it as she did not view herself as an Anglophone artist. After the controversy caused by this incident, Dion has been careful not to clearly declare herself as either federalist or sovereigntist.
Quebec has also produced a number of significant Anglophone artists, including Arcade Fire, Patrick Watson (musician), The Dears, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Riverbeds, Stars, The Stills, The Unicorns, Wolf Parade, Rufus Wainwright, Sam Roberts, Paul Cargnello, We Are Wolves, The New Cities, Chromeo, Simple Plan and the infamous spoken-word musical career of William Shatner. In addition, some Quebec artists also included from the 1960s to the 1980s Lewis Furey, Leonard Cohen, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Men Without Hats, Norman Iceberg, Rational Youth, Corey Hart, Julie Masse, Martine St. Clair, Nuance, Marjo, Offenbach, The Box, Gino Vannelli, Luba, Jacynthe, France Joli, Sass Jordan and Grimskunk, who have frequently recorded both English and French material.
The Montreal International Jazz Festival has been hosted by the city since 1980 and is now the largest jazz festival in the world, attracting huge crowds of visitors each summer, half of which come from outside the country. For the rest of the year, there is an Off festival that organizes jazz shows in bars all over Montreal.
The early part of the 20th century saw growth in opera, and the foundation of the Montreal Opera Company in 1910, and opera singers became popular.
André Gagnon, Angèle Dubeau, Louis Lortie, Alain Lefèvre, Alain Trudel, Alexandre Da Costa, Marc-André Hamelin, Nathalie Choquette and Richard Verreau are top classical musicians from Québec at the present.
André Mathieu is among the most renowned composers from the province. He has been compared to a ‘little Canadian Mozart’, and Rachmaninov pronounced him, "a genius, more so than I am". His works became the official music of the Summer Olympics of 1976. Other famous composers are Claude Champagne, Calixa Lavallée and Pierre Mercure, among others.
Quebec and France
Both nations have influenced each other in terms of music styles. In the last few years, Quebec singers have been taking the French stage quite extensively. Quebec singers that have performed in France included: Céline Dion, Garou, Anthony Kavanagh (a stand up comedian), Isabelle Boulay, Bruno Pelletier, Lynda Lemay and many others.
Roch Voisine and Natasha St-Pier are two artists who also perform in France and are often mistaken for Quebecers. They are actually from New Brunswick and are of Acadian heritage, like Daniel Lavoie who is from Manitoba.
Few musicals were made or adapted by Quebec artists. Among them, Luc Plamondon has had the brightest career as a song writer, writing for the big ones (Céline Dion, Garou). The main musicals 'made in Quebec' : Starmania, La Légende de Jimmy, Notre-Dame-de-Paris, Chicago (adapted into French), "Demain matin, Montréal m'attend", Dracula.
Le Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil has always developed its own musical pieces to go along with various acrobatic tricks. The music aspect of the shows is essential as it sets a mood to every single performance and links one number to another.