Turlutte acadienne montréalaise
SSA choir; Publisher ID: S-481
Also available for TTB and SAB
Submitted by Kathryn Hylton
Repertoire and Resources Chair for Upper Voices
“I love traditional music and I also love participating in the culturally rich music French-Canada has to offer. From my family and community, I learned to value our musical cultural heritage as a living art… because it was fun and interactive and something to be shared with others.” - Marie-Claire Saindon, Moving Beyond the French-Canadian Canon: One Composer’s Mission to Retain Elements of the Traditional in Contemporary Composition
Franco-Ontarian composer Marie-Claire Saindon’s piece Turlutte acadienne montréalaise brings elements of the French-Canadian folk music tradition into the choral setting in an approachable and authentic way. At the request of the commissioning choir, Adleisia (with whom the composer had sung years earlier), Saindon built the piece on a traditional Acadian and Québécois musical practice called “turlutte” (or “mouth-reel”), in which distinct syllables are used to imitate an instrumental reel. While mouth-reels are popular throughout the world, this particular reel uses a unique “ts” syllable, which sounds like a hi-hat cymbal hit and provides many opportunities for syncopation. These vocalizations are then accompanied by rhythmic foot stomping known as podorythmie (which the composer suggests could be replaced by traditional percussion instruments like wooden spoons). The piece uses Saindon’s original melody, though it is often mistaken for an arrangement of a pre-existing folk tune due to its faithfulness to the folk style.
Turlutte acadienne montréalaise opens with the choir singing the first phrase of the reel in unison. With each new phrase, the vocal parts divide out to add a wonderful color and harmonic support for the tune. Once the percussive foot taps begin, the supporting vocal lines likewise begin to build in rhythmic interest and intensity until all parts sing the reel together in energetic, joyful triadic harmony. The piece comes to a close when the melody, once again supported harmonically by long notes, is sung one final time by the sopranos.
Saindon’s eclectic musical experiences, including playing the fiddle with folk musicians on a historical steam train, studying film scoring, and singing with a professional upper voice choir give her a unique voice as an artist, and especially as a composer of upper voice music. Please visit her website to explore more of Marie-Claire Saindon’s choral music including compositions for high voice, mixed, low voice, and children’s/youth choirs: https://www.marieclairesaindon.com/