“And most of all, sing! Sing those beautiful songs from our sweet France […] and do not forget to shed a small tear of gratitude for our Canadian friends who have so preciously conserved them.” — Olivier Messiaen
“So that the village may become a country, one must denounce the picturesque and find the bottom of things.” — Pierre Perrault
In 1918, anthropologist Marius Barbeau arrives on his bicycle in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts and Tourelle, two small and remote villages on the north shore of the Gaspésie peninsula, equipped with a phonograph and a crate filled with wax cylinders. Within just a few weeks, Barbeau collects from a handful of villagers, mostly residing in the secluded part area of Tourelle, almost 800 hundred folksongs, many of them dating back from as far as Middle Ages France.
An acousmatic documentary in two parts preceded by a musical prelude, Littorale tells the story of Barbeau’s visit in the area and of the people who preserved this imposing heritage until just recently. Based on an alloy of acousmatic music and documentary techniques, the piece traces back this repertoire’s evolution from the last century until now, as a strong interest towards those folksongs and tales arises from the impetus of local cultural and political authorities.
Informants (in order of appearance): J.-Augustin Saint-Laurent, Gaétan Pelletier, Benoît Thériault, Nathalie Synnett, Simon Landry, Daniel DeShaime, Micheline Pelletier. Special thanks to the Canadian Museum of History, to the Fonds de recherche du Québec — Société et culture (FRQSC) and to the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (CRSH).
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