By: Yanik Gosselin
It’s hard to believe that we’re already in mid-August, which means that I’ll soon finish my time with CAPRAC. In September, I’m heading to Montreal to continue my studies in music and I cannot wait to start this new adventure! Approaching this new chapter, I often catch myself thinking about the summer that has just passed and the summers of my childhood. Summer was always the occasion to spend time with the family, go visit relatives and enjoy the cottage. Our multiple road trips always included our favourite music! This week, I invite you to take a trip with me as I recount the music that has accompanied me so far. (Click on the names of the artists or songs to discover some of my favourite songs).
At the age when I was still sitting in a car seat, I remember very well the music we listened to in the car; Carmen Campagne, Marie-Soleil and Disney movie soundtracks such as The Lion King and Tarzan always got the party started! Movie soundtracks made me discover and appreciate musicals, this multidisciplinary genre that had a great impact during my early training years.
During my teenage years, I discovered the rock music of the 70s and 80s thanks to the video games Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Very quickly, I became interested in groups and artists who integrated certain theatricality in their performances. A concert becomes a choreographed show for artists like Kiss, Alice Cooper and Meatloaf.
I remember very well when my world turned on itself: when I discovered The Beatles! I knew some of the well-known songs (“I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Yellow Submarine,” “Let It Be,” etc.), but it was the song “I Am the Walrus” that caught my attention. The absurd lyrics, the complex music, the unconventional instrumentation and the psychedelic music video made something I had never seen or heard before! I wanted to understand everything, so I started reading a lot about their story, their discography and obviously the innovations they brought to popular music! This curiosity led me to other groups that were innovative in their musical explorations, their compositions, artists who incorporated theatricality to their music and who followed the tradition of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (i.e. concept albums in which a theme or story connects all the songs). Groups and artists such as Queen, The Who, Pink Floyd, Harmonium, Supertramp, Genesis, David Bowie and Elton John kept me curious and inspired!
I don’t remember exactly how my curiosity for classical music came about, but I know that the complex orchestrations and compositions of bands like the previously mentioned showed me that their music was greatly inspired by the classical tradition (for example, John Lennon was inspired by a Beethoven piano sonata for the song “Because”). In addition, I remember being speechless when I learned that the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven composed the majority of his works, including his magnificent last symphony, while he was deaf. How is it possible for a musician to compose without his hearing? That’s another question I asked myself!
At that point in my life, the little I knew about classical music, I had learned from Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse! (Anecdote: my mom says she listened to a lot of classical music while she was pregnant for me.) My passion about music and my desire to learn more about music history and music theory convinced me to pursue my studies in music at the University of Ottawa. In my classes, I learned new repertoire and was able to make connections with the music I already knew. I quickly realized that classical music is much more accessible than our popular culture makes us believe.
I found opera quite accessible because it is the genre at the source of musical theatre and rock-opera albums. There are even examples of musicals that are directly inspired by an opera. Among others, Aida by Elton John and Tim Rice is also an opera by Giuseppe Verdi and Rent is a modern adaptation of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème. Also, some 20th century composers such as Leonard Bernstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim blur the boundaries between opera and musicals. Although the majority of the repertoire is a few hundred years old, it is impossible to listen to works such as Franz Schubert’s “Erlkönig”, Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet “The Joke” and remain indifferent. Music, no matter the time, genre, country of origin or language, remains timeless when it communicates sincere and human emotions.
By discovering more links between music genres, I cannot help but appreciate more music that I already know and I constantly want to discover more! I invite you to always keep the curiosity that pushed you towards your artistic discipline of choice and dare to discover new things and make links. Art, in all its forms of expression, can never be fully understood or mastered, so we must always continue to learn!
Finally, if you need inspiration for the playlist that will go with your next road trip, I invite you to discover these musicians from the Prescott & Russell region who thrive in their art: Gabrielle Goulet, Louis Racine et les Pourquoi Pas et les Pourquoi Pas, Marc-Antoine Joly, Mélissa Ouimet, North Easton, Prospect Nelson, Les Rats d'Swompe and Véronic DiCaire. Enjoy your listening!