Jean Carignan

Ti-Jean Carignan, Le Violoneux, Totem P.R.O.M. TO-9221, 1977

Jean Carignan, violon; Gilles Losier, piano & Chef d’orchestre; Marcel Carignan, violon; Rodolphe Carignan, violon; Joanna Astic, violon; Yvon Cuillerrier, violon; Denis Coté, accordéon; Carol Landry, flûte; Aldor Morin, mouth music; Chris Rawling, guitar; Val Puljic, bass; Roland Landry, drums; Michel Cartier, spoons; Lionel Boudreau, bones

Produced by Normand Bouchard & Michel Cartier; Mixed by Gilles Losier; Engineer: Guy Charbonneau; Recorded at Filtroson

Tracks: Pot-pourri de marche et de gigues; Découpez le velours (Trim the Velvet), La guénille & Les cinq jumelles, reels; Air lent, marche et reel; Pot-pourri de reels: Paddy On The Turnpike, Fisher’s Hornpipe, Alley Crocker Reel & Lord MacDonald reel; La Ronfleuse Gobeil Reel; Reel De L’enfant; Pot-pourri de gigues; La Valse Imitation; La Gigue du Chasseur Au Renard (Fox Hunter’s Jig), Slip Jig; Marche de Sir Wilfred Laurier; Reels de Sherbrooke & Le Talblier du Maçon (Mason’s Apron)

Jean Carignan naquit le 7 dècembre 1916 à Levis. À cause de ses nombreuses difficultés financièrs, la famile Carignan déménageait constamment, mais on peut quand même distinguer des périodes dans la vie de Jean qui l’ont musicalement influencé.

1921-1026: c’est la période où, encore enfant, Jean subit l’influence de son père. Celui-ci était alors un violoneux très en demande, surtout pour les soirées de danse.

1926-1930: c’est la rencontre et l’apprentissage avec Joseph Allard; Jean apprit de celui-ci presque tout son répertoire québecois.

1931-1936: Dues influences vont se juxtaposer durant cette période. La primière est l’arrivée, via les disques et la radio, des mélodies des Coleman, Kimmel, Skinner, etc. Ces grands artists vont complètement changer le style de Jean et ajouter considèrablement à son répertoire. C’est aussi pour Jean son engagement dans les “Cornhuskers”, un orchestre de danses carrées sous la direction de Georges Wade; Jean va y apprendre le style canadien-anglais.

1939-1954: C’est la période de la Salle St-André. Celle-ci fut durant ces années la principale salle de danse de Montréal où se dansaient les sets canadiens.

Depuis Jean Carignan enregistra plusieurs long-jeux, donna de nombreaux concerts tant en Amèrique qu’en Europe, fut soliste dans la Troupe des Feux-Follets (1964-1968), fut décoré de l’Ordre du Canada, etc.

Old Time Fiddle Tunes played by Jean Carignan, Folkways Records FG 3531 - 1968

Jean Carignan, fiddle; Marcel Roy, piano; Danny MacDougal, 2nd violin; Pete Seager, banjo

Produced by Moses Asche

Tracks: Traveler's Reel - Reel du voyageur; Medley & Haste To The Wedding; Michael Coleman Medley; Carpenter's Reel - Reel de l'Ouvrier; Winnipeg Reel; Medley G. Scott Skinner; Indian Reel; Fisher's Hornpipe; Blacksmith's Reel - Reel du Forgeron; Reel of the Hanged One - Reel du pendu; Bonny Kate; Bank; Medley & Lord MacDonald's Reel; The Snoring Mrs. Gobeil - La Ronfleuse gobeil; Pidgeon in the Gate; The Connaught Mans Ramblers; The White Post - Le Poteau blanc

French Canadian Fiddle Songs, Legacy LEG 120, 1970s

Tracks: Devil’s Dream; Mason’s Apron; Irish Medley; Bagpipe on Violin; Lord Gordon’s Reel; Van Dam’s Hornpipe; Bonnie Kate; Bird In The Tree; Hangman’s Reel; Gaspé Reel; La Rossignol; G Scott Skinner Medley; La Gonfleuse Gorbeil; Irish Jig Medley; Porteau Blanc; La Bastringue

Jean (“Johnny”) Carignan began to play the violin at four and quickly excelled in every technique his father (and teacher) could show him. At seven he was a highly respected citizen of the little township in Eastern Quebec where he spent his early childhood, for a gifted “violoneux” who both knew the traditional tunes beloved by his people and showed creative inventiveness and dazzling techniques in his playing of them, was quickly admired. It proved to be a lucrative field: church meetings, country fairs, dances, and political rallies provided him with a steady income and a growing number of fans.

The Carignans moved to Montreal when Jean was twelve, and the young musician felt a certain reluctance towards playing his music in the streets of a big, and largely English-speaking city. Apprenticeship in a “respectable” trade seemed the answer, and Jean found himself in a shoemaker shop earning fifty cents a day. He often jokes about this period, for he claims he was as loyal a Canadian as one can be, having sewn boots for hundreds of members of the royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s postcard heroes. In 1933 his lunch-hour tunes soon brought him to the attention of Canada’s most important country band, George Wade’s Corn Huskers, and he found himself touring Canada and earning $60 weekly until 1938 when the group disbanded. Jean became a taxi driver, which he is today, for despite countless radio, television and concert appearances on several continents, he feels it provides him with the security he requires as a father and grandfather.

His inimitable skills have won him acclaim from the most sophisticated of musicians. A recent coffee house appearance found the entire string section of a major symphony orchestra in the audience. Royalty has arranged for command performances. American “hootenanny” shows have acknowledged his talent. And most meaningful of all to Jean, Pete Seeger has invited him to share the stage with him on several occasions.

Jean views the “folk scene,” and his part in it, with amazement. His own music - the traditional tunes of Irish, French and Scottish origin which were transported to Canada with its first settlers - is rapidly accepted by American audiences, whose roots are similar. He sticks closely to this music, and its universality makes instant friends. “What I don’t understand,” he says, “is this pattern of young artists singing in many languages about many lands. How can they understand the needs and hopes of people of other cultures?”

Jean Carignan, in spite of his travels and occupation, has managed to retain his identity as a “Canadien”. Growth of the coffee house movement in his native Quebec paralleled, by chance, the development of a strong nationalist philosophy among his people. English-speaking Canadians, almost overnight, were forced into an awareness of an ancient and extremely rich culture which they had almost pushed into oblivion with the superimposition of an Anglo business environment. Learning to speak French, and learning to understand French personality, is now the hobby of most English-speaking people in Eastern Canada. Jean Carignan, with his integrity as an artist and his superb talent as a musician, offered the best possible bridge to fill the gap between two peoples at cultural loggerheads. The result has been sudden fame in Canada, amusing to him in that the stages at Carnegie Hall and the Newport Folk Festival have always resounded with applause for his music for many years.

Jean Carignan, Philo Records FI 2001, 1973

Jean Carignan, fiddle; Gilles Losier, piano

Produced by: David Green & Phil Hresko; Recorded at Earth Audio Techniques Inc., North Ferrisburg, Vermont

Tracks: Cape Breton Medley: George I. Taylor Strathspey - The Marquis of Huntley Strathspey - Dowd’s Favorite Reel - A Tribute to Michael Coleman; Medley of Straight Jigs; Snoring Gobeil; J. Scott Skinner Medley: Laird O’Thrums Strathspey - Gavin McMullin Reel - Laird O’Drumblair Strathspey - Gladstone Reel; Bird In The Tree Medley: The Kerryman’s Daughter - The Bird In The Tree - Billy In The Lowground; Reel of the Blindman Medley: Reel of the Blindman - Canadian Reel - Mrs Reneau’s Reel; Jackson’s Medley; Fiddle Tuned Like A Viola; Banks Medley: Arthur Seat - Eugene Stratton - Banks Hornpipe; Pat Sweeney’s Medley; Joyous Waltz; Tarbolton Reel Medley; American Polka; Magic Flute; Crowley’s Reels; Cape Breton Medley

Jean Carignan will tell you he fiddles “in three languages:” Irish, Scottish and French Canadian. He is a man devoted to his music. If he is not talking about Joseph Allard, Michael Coleman, or J. Scott Skinner (all brilliant traditional fiddlers whose music Jean has studied), he is raving about Jascha Heifetz, Yehudi Menuhin, or Joseph Szigeti.

Jean’s love for music dictates the careful way in which he approaches everything that he plays. Every note and bowing must be right for each tune. Jean says: “If there had been money, if I had had the master teacher, perhaps I’d be a concert violinist today.” But Jean knows that because of his skills he has been able to maintain and enhance musical traditions hundreds of years old.

Gilles Losier accompanies Jean Carignan on the piano, backing each tune in the appropriate traditional style. Gilles was born in 1936 in Tracadie, a rural village in New Brunswick. Partially blind since birth, he has always loved music. At the Halifax School for the Blind, he studied classical music and learned the trade of piano tuning. At age thirteen he began his professional career in music, playing with a band at a local dance hall. In recent years he has been a member of a Montreal rock band. Although Gilles plays many different types of music, he has always enjoyed playing the traditional music of Canada - music he has known since his youth.

This is the first recording Jean has made in over a decade. The story of Jean’s life and a detailed discussion of his music can be found on the insert inside this jacket.

Phil Hresko

(From the Liner Insert)
Jean Carignan was born December 7, 1916, in Lévis, Quebec. He was the first-born child of a bricklayer and a farmer’s daughter. Jean’s father played fiddle in the French Canadian style. He would hide his fiddle under his bed so that his children would not bother it and break strings. But Jean would crawl under the bed to seize the fiddle and, putting it over his shoulder so his small arms could reach the strings, he would try to play, first on one string and then on another. Jean’s family was poor, and by the age of five, Jean was playing on the streets collecting money in his cap.

Jean remembers that when he was about four or five years old, a diphtheria epidemic spread through the Eastern Townships of Quebec. At one point in the ordeal, a doctor made final pronouncements over him. Jean was left an only child for a time, his three sisters dying in the epidemic and his brother having died earlier of meningitis. (Today Jean has five brothers and three sisters. Jean has recorded with his twin brothers Marcel and Rudolf.)

At about age seven, Jean went to visit his grandmother in Sherbrooke, Quebec, for a few months. He remembers collecting deposit bottles to trade for cash and begging money from his relatives in order to buy his first record, Indian Reel Medley, played by Joseph Allard. Jean had heard this record in a store and knew he had to have it. Allard (who died in his seventies just after World War II) was one of the most renowned and finest French Canadian fiddlers ever to record. During his lifetime, Allard recorded over one hundred and twenty-five 78s - some under the name Maxime Toupin.

Jean’s family moved frequently around Quebec as his father sought work. When Jean was about ten, the family settled in Montreal. Jean continued playing on the streets to help support them. During this period, while playing for a wedding celebration, in a field, Jean met his idol, Joseph Allard. Jean became Joseph Allard’s pupil for the next four years. Allard made Jean practice for several hours each day and would say, “Why go to school? The fiddle is your education. Learn this and you will never starve.” After four years Jean had mastered Allard’s repertoire.

Jean had an insatiable need for music. If he was not in the back of a concert hall or in a record shop listening, he would be in the streets playing his fiddle. One day, a man who stepdanced in the park to Jean’s playing, bought a record he thought Jean might like to hear. It was a record of Michael Coleman. Coleman’s complicated Sligo style of Irish fiddling was different from anything Jean had heard before. Jean thought it was the most beautiful thing he had ever heard, but it seemed impossible that anyone could play like that. Jean took the record home, and when his father heard Coleman’s music, he said to his son: “That’s impossible! You’ll never equal that.” But six months later Jean could play the medley perfectly. Thus Jean began to learn tunes from the records of the great Irish and Scottish fiddlers of his day.

Jean’s playing on the streets and in barbershops, saloons and firestations, earned a substantial amount of money for his family. However, this was a hazardous occupation, for it was illegal. Jean was arrested quite often. One afternoon he was arrested eleven times. The chief of police requested that he play for all the officers in the station house. Each gave him a dollar in exchange for the promise that he would give up playing in the streets. After this experience, Jean decided to apprentice himself to a shoemaker. He was about eleven or twelve.

As an apprentice, Jean earned a meager twenty-five cents a day. The nails and needles were hard on his fingers. But he played his fiddle every day during his lunch break. By chance, an Englishman stopped his car at a stop sign in front of the shop at just the right time to overhear one of these “concerts”. this Englishman was George Wade, leader and caller in Canada’s most important country dance band of that day, The Corn Huskers. Mr Wade, who did not speak French, asked the shoemaker to speak to the boy’s father for him. Together, Mr Wade, Jean’s father, and Jean came to an agreement whereby Jean, “the Kid Fiddler,” began to tour Canada from about 1931 to 1936 making the high wage of thirty-six dollars a week. Jean was the only French-speaking person in the twelve-man ensemble. For a time he was very lonely, until he learned English. During that period, the Corn Huskers made many 78 records and made hundreds of radio broadcasts throughout Quebec. In 1936 Jean decided to leave the group and settle in Montreal. Life on the road had become too much of a strain. Jean married in 1939 and in subsequent years became the father of three daughters.

From 1936 until 1954, Jean earned his living playing at St. André’s Dance Hall on Ste. Catherine Street in Montreal. During this period, Jean would take occasional breaks from his job and find work in textile factories and other places. After the dance hall closed in the early 1950s, Jean spent two years playing in Bob Hill’s Dance Band in towns around Montreal. In 1956, Jean bought his own taxi cab.

Jean still lives in Montreal and owns and drives a taxi. During the last fifteen years, Jean has played at many of the major folk festivals and concert halls in North America, and he has toured Europe and Japan. Jean has also been chosen to represent Canada at many international cultural events and he has played for Queen Elizabeth on several occasions. today, Jean frequently takes time out from driving his taxi to give concerts in Montreal and Eastern Canada.

In the past, Jean has recorded with London, Folkways and Electra. This is the first record he has made in over a decade, and it includes many tunes Jean has not recorded before, as well as new arrangements of tunes he recorded as a young man.

Phil Hresko, North Williston, Vermont, May, 1973

Jean Carignan rend hommage à Joseph Allard:Philo Records FI 2012, 1976

Jean Carignan, fiddle/violon; Gilles Losier, piano & arrangements

Tunes: Reel de port neuf / Clog Double; Cotillion à huit / Quadrille de Beauharnois; L'American et l'Ecossais; Reel indien / reel des chantiers; Sans som / Reel des ouvriers; Reel des oignons / Reel de mon maton; Reel aux cheveux blancs / Reel de condonnier; Quadrille Sir Wilfred Laurier; Reel de Chateauguay / Reel du pôteau blanc; Moneymusk / Reel du ti pit; Reel de l'enfant / Reel du goglu; Gigues en D; Reel en G / Reel du semeur; Reel à Thanfant / Reel du cultivateur; Reel en F / Jacques Cartier; Reel de montagne / Reel du voyageur

Jean Carignan jouait dans une noce et n'avait que neuf ans lorsqu'il recontra Joseph Allard pour la premièr fois. Celui-ci l'écoutait attentivement et vint s'enquérir de son nom. Quand on demanda à Jean s'il connaissait cet homme, il répondit par la négative. Les gens lui expliquèrent alors qui était cet homme et dès le lendemain notre jeune joueur de violon, trop gêne pour aller se présenter, attendait patiemment assis sur le trottoir, devant une humble maison de Ville St-Pierre, la sortie de Monsieur Allard. Au milieu de l'avant-midi, en sortant de chez-loi, il reconnut Jean et l'invita à entrer.

Aller écouter son nouvel ami devint très vite beaucoup plus important que l'école. Au cours des années qui suivirent Monsieur allard enseigna à Jean tout son répertoire, soit quelques centaines d'airs traditionnels hérités de son père et de son grand-père ainsi qu'une soixantaine de sompositions de son cru. C'est donc en vertu de la plus grande loi de la tradition, celle de la transmission orale, que Jean jetait les bases de son art.

Lewiston, Maine, 1926: Joseph Allard se classe deuxième dans un concours de violoneux après avoir gagné le premier prix de celui organise par 'La Presse' et qui le rendait éligible à la compétition de la Nouvelle-Angleterre. Ce concours fût pour Monsieur Allard le tremplin d'une renommée internationale, renommée qui dure encore, et qui en a fait, en son temps, un des violoneux canadiens-français les plus reputés.

Joseph Allard mourut en 1947 après une vie de très grande pauvreté matérielle n'ayant d'équivalent en contrepartie que la richesse de sa musique.

...Gilles Losier et Mary Calder d'après Jean Carignan

Jean Carignan was nine years old when he and Joseph Allard first met at a wedding where Jean was playing with his father. Allard listened attentively to Jean and asked him his name, but said nothing else. When Allard had left, someone asked Jean if he knew who the man was. On learning that the man was Joseph Allard, Jean asked where he lived and, shy about approaching him, the next morning found Jean seated on the sidewalk across from Allard's house in Ville St-Pierre. In the middle of the morning Allard came out and recognizing Jean invited him to come inside. This was to be the beginning of a friendship that lasted until Allard's death in 1947.

Jean often skipped school in order to spend time with his new friend and teacher. It was during this period that Jean Carignan absorbed virtually the entire repertoire of Joseph Allard, a repertoire comprising hundreds of traditional tunes and around sixty original compositions. It was in the same aural manner in which Allard, his father, and his grandfather, none of whom could read or write music, learned these many tunes, that Jean learned them. To this day he has not forgotten them.

In 1926, Allard took part in a fiddler's contest in Lewiston, Maine in which he is believed to have placed second. His eligibility to participate in this contest was established by his placing first in a contest in Montreal just before sponsored by La Presse, a Montreal paper. It was undoubtedly the contest in Lewiston that made Allard such a widely known and respected fiddler. This reputation as one of Canada's best fiddlers lasted until his death. In spite of a substantial recording career, Joseph Allard spent most of his life as a poor man, his only real wealth being the legacy of music left to his friend and student Jean Carignan. told to Gilles Losier and Mary Calder by Jean Carignan

Plays the music of – joue la musique de Coleman, Morrison & Skinner, Philo Records FI 2018, 1977

Jean Carignan, fiddle/violon; Gilles Losier, piano & arrangements

Engineered by Charles Eller; Notes by Gilles Losier & Mary Calder; Special thanks to Joanne Astic for the use of her fiddle

Tunes: Skinner Reels; Hornpipe Set; Irish Clogs; Bavarian Waltzes; Coleman Irish Hornpipes; Kimmel Straight Jigs; Coleman Reels; Pigeon on the Gate; Slip Jigs; Paddy Ryan’s Dream; New Brunswick Reels;  Lord Gordon; Jim Morrison Reels; Strathspeys and Reels; Two Reels of Derrane

What I love about Jean Carignan is that, in his hands, the violin is not, as with me and most of my literate colleagues, a studied and learned instrument serving the interpretation of musical scores from our five hundred years of European civilization – but a universal folk-instrment with a creative vitality, a dynamic expression of its own, released by materly hands however unschooled – music, hands and violin, born of and driven by the dancing feet and beating hearts of Scotland, Ireland and Quebec, and shaped by Jean Carignan’s own lively, inventive intelligence.

Yehudi Menuhin
January 3, 1978

Skinner’s Reels: A reel in A major called the Hurricane, played by James Scott Skinner from the Harp and Claymore collection but presently found in the Scottish Violinist.

Hornpipe Set: A medley of hornpipes in D major. The first, called Murhey’s Hornpipe, can be found in a book called Irish Traditional Fiddle Music, Vol. 1-3. The second is called Sligo Fancy.

Irish Clogs: A medley of clogs in G major and F major. The first is called The Forth Brig. This piece was composed by Skinner as a hornpipe but is played in Quebec as a clog. The second clog is from the playing of Percy Scott.

Bavarian Waltzes: A medley of German walzes in D major learned from the recordings of Kimmel, and probably of Bavarian extraction. These waltzes were particularly suited to the range of the diatonic acordion (which is originally a German instrument) and were aranged for violin by Jean.

Kimmel Straight Jigs: A medley of straight jigs in Bm and D major that Jean learned from an old recording of John G. Kimmel, a diatonic accordion player. We have no other information cfoncerning titles on the recording, but Tom Anderson of Shetland says that the second tune is an ld Scots tune called the Braes of Banff, played in a different style. Kimmel often took fiddle tnes and re-arranged them for accordion.

Coleman Reels: Two reels played in Em, probably Irish.

Pigeon on the Gate: In Em, this is a well-known piece played by Michael Coleman, followed by the Donegal Reel in the key of D.

Slip Jigs: The fist in this pair of slip jigs is in Am and is called the Arragh Mountains, and the second is called Father Burke’s, in the key of G. Father Burke’s is found on an Irish recording, Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann #CL-6, of the playing of Paddy O’Brien and Seamus Connolly on acordions accompanied by Charlie Lennon on piano.

Paddy Ryan’s Dream: In Am, Paddy Ryan’s Dream by Coleman followed by an old Irish Reel in the key of G major.

New Brunswick Reels: A pair of reels in G major and D major. The first is an old Acadian reel from the playing of Pius Boudreau of new Brunswick and is probably of Scottish extraction. The second is a reel of Irish extraction played in Quebec.

Lord Gordon: n D major, the Lord Gordon Reel as played by Michael Coleman.

Jim Morrison Reels: Two reels by Jim Morrison in C major and Dm.

Strathspeys and Reels: From the playing of Nathanial Gow, Lady Elizabeth Lindsay Strathspey in the key of B flat, found in Kerr’s Second Collection of Merry Melodies for the violin. The second strathspey is from the playing of Neil Gow, Lady Charlotte Campbell’s Strathspey in G major. Ca’ Hawkie Through the Water or Lord Elphinston is a traditonal strathspey in the key of C and Am, but played as a reel on this recording.

Two Reels of Derrane: Two reels entitled Peter Seeney’s Dream and Flowers of the Flock originally from the playing of Joe Derrane, an excellent accordionist like Kimmel. Derrane recorded it for Coply Records around 1907 or 1908. Philo gratefully acknowledges Radio Canada International for use of their recording of this tune.

Musiciens Traditioinnels Québécois – Jean Carignan – de Ti-Jean… le violoneux à Jean Carignan, Patrimoine PAT 19001, Vol. 1 et 2, 1977

Jean Carignan, violon

Production: Jacques Labrecque; Enregistrement: Studio Marko

Les tunes: Reel des p’tites mères; Reel Kébec; La Grondeuse; Gigue à Ti-Jean; Reel du diable; Reel de L’enfent; Reel de Rimouski; Comptez pas les tours; Secrets des fées; Violon Magique; Paul Jones Queue D’Bleu; Cornemuse à Ti-Jean (Carignan); Reel du pendu; Pousse pas; Lèv’ton jupon; Ramasse tes bourrures; Tire la langue; La Saint-Jean

Jean Carignan… Et si c’était une légende?

Ti-Jean Carignan… c’est le nom qui restera. Avant mème que le souvenir, avant mème que la Mémoire et l’Histoire le consacre. Ti-Jean Carignan … au delà des sarcasmes et de la méconnaissance d’une collectivité dérancinée, acculturée. Ti-Jean Carignan vie les U.S.A. Ti-Jean Carignan … vignt ans après … Ti-Jean Carignan … aujourd’hui symble, parmi tant d’autres, de nos Consciences élitiques qui n’ont jamais fait l’apprentissage du souvenir; symbole aussi de notre ressouvenir … et de notre ressourcement. Ti-Jean Carignan, fils de l’oubli, fils d’une époque où l’histoire était la création des historiens, où la musique … c’était celle des autres.

Ti-Jean Carignan pourtant fils de maçon … et de fille d’habitant. Pourtant fils de violoneux “pour fair danser”. Ti-Jean Carignan … fils échu d’une tradition pourtant surhumaine!

Assis dans un taxi. Montéal. Quelque part dans les années 60. Par hasard. C’est lui. Lui, le violoneux, le chauffeur de taxi … et qui tricote. Lui, l’exilé, l’oublié dans son propre pays. J’écoutais déjà sa musique: des disques venus des États! J’avais seize, dix-sept et dix-huit ans et j’aimais ça, moi, “La Grondeuse” à Jean-Paul et “La Ronfleuse” à Ti-Jean. Mais à une époque où le violoneux n’était pas encore un héros, “violoner”, écouter “violoner” tenait de l’hérésie culturelle.

Viscéralement habité par la musique, Jean Carignan … l’enfant, don’t la rue, les parcs, les tavernes, les postes de police, les casernes de pompiers … et les abords du Sanctuaire du Cap-de-la-Madeleine lui offrent ses premières scènes, relève le défi de la vie, relève le défi d’un pays. “Ta vie, c’est ton violon” lui répète constamment son premier maître, Joseph Allard … une autre victime de la Conscience. “C’est impossible! Tu ne seras jamais capable de jouer comme ça” lui disait son père, quand, Jean Carignan, l’enfant, s’attaque à l’oeuvre de l’irlandais Coleman.

Et il y arrivera … parce que le choix s’impose: c’est un vie entière à faire ou le piège du fatalisme paternel, séculaire. Vivre pour ne pas mourir avant le temps!

Ti-Jean Carignan … architecte d’avenires. Candidats à la légende. Son violon, c’est son soutil … à lui. Sa musique, son matériau. Et il en a charrier des notes et des archets … envers et contre tous. Jusqu’à aujourd’hui. Jusqu’à nous. Jusqu’à fabricants de héros: ces mêmes Consciences qui n’ont jamais fait l’apprentissage du souvenir, ces distributeurs en gros d’insignes, de médailles, d’honneurs à bon marché et de paperasses honorifiques.

“C’est trop tard” dit Jean Carignan avec amertume. Et il a raison … Et il a raison Jeaqn Carignan, le musicien, qui devient sourd parce qu’il demeure au Québec. On a tous compris trop tard, que le génie ça existait aussi chez-nous. Qu’on ne peut pas toujours et tout le temps vivre en bénissant la misère. Jean Carignan, musicien, aura été n des artisans de cette découverte collective. Plus qu’une musique à jamais étiquetée, gravée, conservée, c’est l’image d’une détermination contre l’aliénation pour l’autonomie qui fait de Ti-Jean Carigna, Jean Carignan. Un homme don’t le dstin comment s’élever en “montant son violon en velle” et fair du “Reel du pendu” un concerto. Précurseur à part entière du “montage en veille” collectif. Quelle belle symphonie cela fera quand nous auronstous désacordé nos violons de la même façon!

Jean Carignan musicien … sourd, Jean Carignan chauffeur de taxi … couvert de médailles, Jean Carignan maestro sans Maîtres. Et c’est ça aussi le sens du légendaire, vouloir le pouvoir et posséder la puissance de l’exercer. S’accorder su l’air du “Money Musk: our du “Reel du pendu” et fair danser les “marioinnettes” … et le Québec!

Jean Trudel
Québec, septembre, 1978

Notes Historiques

Le “reel”

Le “reel” est la forme musicale traditionnelle la plus connue et la plus répandue, non suelement au Québec mais à toute l’Amérique du Nord.

L’origine du mot “reel” prête à la plus grande confusion. Historiquement il désigne d’abord un type de danse et ensuite une forme musical servant de support à cete danse tout aussi bien qu’aux “country dances” anglaises, quadrilles français et québécois, set carrés, gigues, cotillons ou ‘square dances’. Il désigne aussi une danse, une figure ou un pas de danse … ou encore tout simplement un titre de mélodie.

Au sens où nous l’employons le mot ‘reel’ signifie dévider, bobiner, tournoyer, aller en zig-zag, en farandole, etc C’est là signification même du verbe anglais ‘to reel’. Sur le plan musical il est facile de comprendre après avoir vu un violoneux manier son archet, pourquois il appelle sa pièce un ‘reel’.

Au Québec le terme ‘reel’, comme en Écosse et en Irlande, signifie aussi une danse ou une figure de danse mais il fait référence surtout à des pièces instrumentales qui peuvent servir … à n’importe quelle danse. Le plus connu de tous. ‘Le reel Sainte-Anne’ …

La gigue

Si historiquement il faut voir le berceau du ‘reel’ en Écosse c’est du côté de l’Irlande qu’il faut se tourner pour la gigue, bien qu’au XVIe siècle on fasse souvent référence à la ‘Scotch Jig’.

Certains auteurs pensent que c’est en France qu’il faut chercher l’origine de la gigue mais lorsque cette danse y apparait au XVIIe siècle le mot qui la nomme est une traduction de ‘jig’ lequel serait lui-même une traduction de l’Italien ‘giga’ ou ‘gige’.

Au XIIe et XIIIe siècles le trouvère et le troubadour s’accompagnaient souvent d’un instrument appelé ‘giga’ ou ‘gigue’, … dans le langage populaire on dirqa de quelqu’un qui a de grandes james qu’il a de ‘grandes gigues’ … le mot en viendra … à désigner une danse … exécutée avec les jambes et les pieds seulement laissant immobile la partie supérieure du corps.

Le violoneux

Ils song tous justement des créatures. Combien d’airs ont-ilscomposés en l’honneur d’un d’un tel ou à l’occasion de tel ou tel évènement? Il ne sera jamais possible de le savoir. Ces mélodies et ces rythmes se mêlent à ceux du répertoire que la tradition a gardés. Cependant chacun, et c’est là un caractère de la personnalité du violoneux, s’ennorgueillit toujours d’être le seul à jouer telle ou telle pièce.

Le violonneux est un homme fier, conscient et même jaloux du trésor qu’il a entre les mains, plutôt entre les deux oreilles. Ce qui ne l’empêche pas d’être de ce type d’homme avec qui la communication est la plus simple et la plus authentique qui soit.

Chacun a son ‘style’ certains se définissent comme des joueurs à ‘deux dièses’, d’autres à ‘bémol’ ou à ‘deux bémols’ mais tous ont leur marque de fabrique: une manière spéciale de ‘monter’ (accorder) l’instrument ou ce petit quelque chose dans le coup d’archet…

Source de vie

La musique, dans un Québec  traditionnel, est l’élémentle plus positif et le plus dynamique de la vie sociale. Ce n’est donc pas pour rien qu’il soit le seul à vivre encore, à n’être pas encore du ‘folklore’ (dans le sens péjoratif du mot).

Un fait est intéressant à constater: c’est celui de la grande vigueur que connait actuellement la musique traditionnelle. Plusieurs rqaisons expliquent ce fait: la grande vogue qui existe depuis quelques années pour tout ce qui touche à l’histoire et au patrimoine … il y a aussi la peur de l’assimilation qui nous fiat réagir; … Mais une seule est fondamentale: la musique est un langage don’t tout organisme humain a besoin parce qu’il est vivant et que la musique est au centre de toute vie, par le rythme. Lorsque la musique disparat c’est la vie qui disparait avec. Cela est vrai aussie d’une collectivité.

Jean Rudel, musicologue, 1977

Miracle des diables

Demain, l’histoire de la musique traditionnelle, de la musique dansée, trépignée et sautée sur un fond d’éciats de rire; demain, cette histoire ayant connu Jean Carignan ne s’écrira plus sans lui. À la lettre ‘C’ du dictionnaire des grands musiciens ayant eu l’art de se construire eux-mêmes, on pourra parler des ingrédients qui ont fait son succès et sa force, mais aussi sa peine et sa misère: ‘La talent, richesse des humbles ajouté au feu, à la passion qui ne s’éteignirent pas et la culte du parfait ont fait de Jean Carignan un violoneux respecté.’ Voilà ce que, au nom Carignan l’on devrait pouvoir lire un jour…

À cette époque, le monde aura accompli un grand pas et admis qu’au Québec, l’homme que l’on désigne du nom de violoneux n’est pas un artiste de village mais un être symbolisant aux yeux d’une nation, le rythme sur lequel son coeur, ses pieds et ses mains aiment battre la mesure.

Mais, pourquoi ne dit-on pas violoniste lorsque l’on parle d’un homme sachant manier l’archet mieux qu’un diable? Le violoneux est peut-être bien le diable lui-même! Jean Carignan racontait dans une entrevue enregistrée en 1958 comment digne fils d’un père musicien, il avait, un jour, cédé aux charmes entraints de la musique: ‘J’ai touché mon premier violon à quatre ans et demi’, disait-il. ‘J’ai commencé  à jouer des sets de campagne à Sherbrooke. Je jouais rien que sur une corde parce que le violon était trop gros!’

Miracle des diables, le violon a rapetissé pendant que Jeaqn Carignan grandissait et que ses goigts cherchaient une nouvelle corde, en cassant quelque-unes, bien sûr, mais surtout, tirant d’elles des sons qui déjà faisaient danser les foules.

À l’âge de sept ans, Jean Carignan était musicien. Après l’avoir entendu jouer à Trois-Rivières, un professeur de violon tenta de conclure un marché avec Carignan père: ‘Quand il m’a vu jouer à l’Aréna, il demanda à mon père de me laisser partir avec lui. Il voulait me prendre pour me garder. J’vas vous le r’donner quand yaura quinze ans.’ Mais le diable veillait encore et toujours … le marché mourut sur les lèvres du père qui ne croyait pas que le violon pouvait faire manger un homme aussi bien que le métier de cordonnier!

Et Jean Carignan n’almant pas voir les souliers par-dessous fit l’impossible pour les voir par-dessus. Admirateur des grands musiciens, travailleur acharné, il a depuis longtemps donné ses lettres de noblesse au mot violonneux. Le petit cordonnier voulant nous faire danser et user nos chaussures poursuit encore inlassablement les rythmes qui sous ses doigts sont autant d’hymnes à la joie de vivre!

Hélène-Andrée Bizier

Valses, Reels et Gigues: avec Ti-Jean... le violoneux et Phillipe Bruneau à la accordéon, London MB 32 - 1950s

Jean Carignan, violon; Phillipe Bruneau, accordion

Tracks: Quiens ben ta blonde; Et Pis ta soeur; Reel "Lève ta patte"; L'entrainante; Reel du rapide danseur; Gigue la Pitoune; Reel des Cèdres; P'tit Calumet; Reel du gros pin; La Bulbute

Jean Carignan
& L’Orchestre des Grands Ballets Canadiens

Hang Man’s Reel – Fête Carignan, McGill University Records 80010, 1981

Jean Carignan, violon; Gilles Losier, piano; Ken MacKenzie, pipes; L’Orchestre des Grands Ballets Canadiens

Executive Producer: Paul Pedersen; Recording Producer: Donald Steven; Engineer: Wieslaw Woszczyk; Recorded at McGill University Recording Studios, Montreal, Quebec

Tunes: Hangman’s Reel Ballet Music: Reel du pendu; Paddy Ryan’s Dream; Crowley’s Reel; Straight Jig Medley; Ronfleuse gobeil; Magic Flute; Scottish Air; Banks Medley; La Valse joyeuse; American Polka; Highland Dances: Strathspey/The Rose / Among The Heather; Cape Breton Medley; Dark Girl Dressed in Blue Reel / Farewell to Whiskey; Carignan’s Reel / Jackie roach Medley; Will Ye No Come Back Again – slow air / Tulchan Lodge strathspey / Heilan’ Donalt Kissed Kitty; Sligo Maid Medley; Un Canadien errant

The music for Hangman’s Reel ad its origin in 1976 as part of an orchestral suite written especially for Jean Carignan by Donald Patriquin. This suite came to the attention of Brian MacDonald, then artistic director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. He commissioned Mr. Patriquin to score the music for a new ballet which, under the title of Suite Carignan, was premiered at Montreal’s Place des Arts in 1978 as a series of divertisements in nineteenth century costume. A revised version of the ballet was completed in the summer of 1980.

The plot of Hangman’s Reel arises out of Quebec folklore. A handsome stranger, accused of an unknown crime, is about to be hanged. A villager hands him an out-of-tune violin and though not a fiddler, he manages to play a melody by means of a clever tuning. He so captivates his would-be hangman that he is spared the fateful noose. In the opening Reel du pendu one encounters Jean Carignan’s incredible bowing technique in an exuberant display of virtuosity.

Suppose the legend were true! It is only one step further to imagine that the hero enchants a pretty girl and that there would be a great deal of dancing to celebrate such a turn of fortune. Paddy Ryan’s Dream becomes an invitation to the dance led by the prettiest girl, catching all present into its jumpy rhythms and asymmetrical formations. In Crowley’s Reel the inevitable flirtation begins with Scottish dancing, the girl always just out of reach of the boy. The following Straight Jig Medley, for four couples, is based on a tune which Mr. Carignan learned from a 1912 cylinder recording of the famous American fiddler J.J. Kimmel and is here cast into three sections. In the meddle slow section the previous fast melody is taken at a quarter of its former tempo and given lush orchestral accompaniment with a solo cello countermelody playing against the violin. In the third section the four couples lead us finally into the  fast bouncy variations on Way Down upon the Swanee river, an old stage trick, well known to veteran fiddlers. Ronfleuse gobeil becomes a solo for the fleet-of-foot hero; Magic Flute, a classical variation on pointe for the girl. The haunting melody of the Scottish Air gives way to three orchestral variations before it returns. It is a duet for young lovers, very much in the nineteenth century mold. La Valse joyeuse, written by Quebec fiddler Willi Ringuette in the 1930s, suggesting a midsummer concert, perhaps on a boardwalk, is a display piece for the feisty men. Once again a well-known tune is heard, superimposed this time over the repeat of the final section. The celebration continues at increasing speed in the American Polka, with elements of danse carée alluded to frequently. A cadenza is now heard, consisting of two Scottish dances. The first is for fiddle and bagpipe drone; the second, a bagpipe solo. This leads into the finale, the Cape Breton Medley, where some of the flying leaps first seen in Paddy Ryan’s Dream are performed by the entire company of dancers. Our hero wins freedom and the girl, all with an out-of-tune fiddle, in a bare thirty minutes. The celebration is complete!

B.M./ D.P.

Jean Carignan, born in Levis, Quebec in 1916, was playing diddle on the streets at the age of five to help support his family. At eleven he was apprenticed to a shoemaker, but continued to practice the fiddle on his own. In 1931 he was invited to play with George Wade’s Cornuskers. From 1936 to 1954 he played at Saint Andre’s Dance Hall. N 1956 he bought a taxi, which he drove until recently. He has had other jobs as well; one left him with industrial deafness which is increasing to this day. Recently, he has been able to devote himself full time to his music. He has given concerts to appreciative audiences in Canada and abroad. He is a Member of the Order of Canada and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree by McGill University in 1977.

Carignan follows in a long line of great folk fiddlers. He has been influenced by the Scotish fiddler J. Scott Skinner and the Irish fiddler Michael Coleman. He studied with the Quebec fiddler Joseph Allard for four years. He has also mastered virtuoso violin techniques; he is especially noted for his use of the bow, which gives his music great energy and drive. Indeed, Mr. Carignan has substantially advanced the art of fiddling and given traditional music new life.

Donald Patriquin, a graduate of Bishop’s University, Mcgill University and the University of Toronto, studied composition with Istvan Anhalt and John Weinzweig. He is on staff at the Faculty of Music of McGill University where he teaches Theory, Analysis, and Arranging. His compositions include a piano concerto, masses, a number of choral and string works, music for theatre, and many Canadian folksong settings. He has a particular attraction to folk music, elements of which enter many of his musical creations. Mr. Patriquin was first associated with Jean Carignan in 1976 when he wrote Fantasy for Fiddle, which was recorded by the McGill Chamber Orchestra with Mr. Carignan as soloist.

Gigue À Deux, CBC Canada International - RCI 621

Jean Carignan, fiddle/violon; Gilles Losier, piano & arrangements

Produced by Monique Grenier; Engineer: André Deslauriers & Michel de Passillé; Documentation and texts: Carmelle Bégin

Tunes: Deux Reels; The Hurricane; The Cuckoo's Nest/ The Laders / Trim The Velvet; Reel de Pius Boudreau / Reel du forgeron; Paddy Ryan's Dream; Petter Seeny's Dream; Reel du pendu; Pot-pourri de reels; Blue-Eyed Lassie; Gigue à deux; Reel des cinq Jumelles; Reel du caribou; The Forth Brig; Reel; Valse-Clog

Side A

1. Deux Reels: These two reels (in D Major), learned from his father, have no title.

Traditional violin music is mostly dance music and for 'folk' dancing, the reel is the most popular form of music in Quebec and in Canada. Of Irish and Scottish origin, the reel is generally composed of two musical phrases of eight bars each, played in a lively manner, on a binary rhythm.

2. The Hurricane: A reel by Scottish violinist James Scott Skinner, published in The Scottish Violinist (1938). Skinner (1834-1929) composed close to 600 pieces for violin, several of them inspired by the Scottish traditional repertoire. His strathspeys, reels and hornpipes have gradually entered the oral tradition with such tunes as Laird O'Dumbaird or Angus Campbell. The strathspey is notable for its slow tempo and uses a rhythmic figure called "scotch snap" consisting of one short beat and one long one.

3. The Cuckoo's Nest: A Hornpipe published in the francis O'Neill Collection, The Dance Music of Ireland: 1000 Gems (1907), and bearing No. 1734. Formerly intended for group dancing, the hornpipe is generally known today as a sailor's dance, a solo performed most often to the tune of The Sailor's Hornpipe.

4. The Laders - Trim The Velvet: The first of these two reels is published in One Thousand Fiddle Tunes (M.M. Cole, Chicago 1940), and the second in the O'Neill Collection, No. 1320. They are played here in the manner of Michael Coleman, the famous Irish fiddler who emigrated to the United States and whose version was heard by Jean Carignan on a 78 rpm disc.

5. Reel de Pius Boudreau - Reel du Forgeron: "Ti-Jean", as he is often affectionately called, learned the first of these reels from Pius Boudreau, a fiddler from New Brunswick. The Reel du Forgeron is a traditional reel from Quebec; its execution recalls the blows on the anvil by the blacksmith.

6. Paddy Ryan's Dream: Irish reel published in the O'Neill Collection No. 1382. This reel and the untitled on which follows are among the most difficult in the Irish repertory to perform. Jean Carignan's version here is based on a recording by Michael Coleman.

7. Peter Seeny's Dream or Flowers of the Frock: Published in the O'Neill Collection, No. 1238.

8. Reel du pendu: There is a legend attached to this traditional Quebec reel: a man, who was about to be hanged, got his freedom by challenging his jailers into letting him play the violin. To ridicule him, they gave him a badly tuned violin. However, the prisoner produced such an extraordinary melody from it that he was immediately granted his freedom. Played with a violin using the 'scordatura (A-E-A-C sharp) matching the out-of-tune violin of the legend, this traditional reel is played as arranged by Jean Carignan. At a fantastic rhythm, flying spiccati and left hand pizzacati succeed one another while the whole reel is accompanied by Ti-Jean's stamping feet.

Side B

1. Pot-Pourri de reels: learned from his father.

2. Blue-Eyed Lassie or l'Américain et l'Ecossais: This pot-pourri is made up of two reels. The title of the first one is unknown but the second one is published in the collection One Thousand Fiddle Tunes. In the course of studying instrumental traditional music, we come across a number of untitled pieces while others bear several titles.

3. Gigue à deux or Third Part of a set of Quadrilles: These are the titles used to identify this tune in the Massicotte Collection deposited in Ottawa at the Canadian Centre for Folk Culture Studies under Nos. 1508 and 1534.

4. Reel des Cinq Jumelles: Reel in five parts composed by J. O. LaMadeleine, a Quebec fiddler, for the famous Dionne quintuplets born in Ontario in 1934.

5. Reel du Caribou: Pot-pourri of Quebec traditional reels.

6. The Forth Brig: Hornpipe by J.S. Skinner published in The Scottish Violinist. It is followed by a second hornpipe whose title is unknown.

7. Reel: This untitled reel is probably of Irish origin. Accordion to Jean Carignan, it likely belongs to the O'Neill Collection.

8. Valse-Clog: Not only a fiddler, Jean Carignan has developed a natural talent for dancing through contact with traditional dancers like Ti-Oui Aquin who, according to Carignan, "Could dance a clog holding a glass on his head without spilling a single drop." The Valse-Clog is a solo dance. It is believed to come from Britain, and it combines the ternary rhythm of the waltz with melodic and rhythmic elements peculiar to the clog such as endings of phrases in descending triplets.

Songs And Dances of Quebec, Folkways Records FW 6951 - 1956

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