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The Traditional Repertoire: A Well-Kept Treasure

Consisting of reels and waltzes, the region’s traditional repertoire of accordion music encompasses a wealth of sublime and vibrant dance tunes. Like their counterparts elsewhere in Quebec, Montmagny’s accordionists play a mix of widely known tunes (like “St. Anne’s Reel” and “The Farmer’s Reel”) and local pieces.

Black and white promotional photograph of the Gais Compagnons, taken in front of a false backdrop. The band members are all wearing suits and bow ties.

The Gais Compagnons, second half of the 20th century

The unique personality associated with traditional accordion music played in Montmagny was shaped by early greats like Joseph and Marcel Messervier. Joseph Messervier’s own style incorporated elements borrowed from Alfred Montmarquette and Théodore Duguay.

Sepia photograph showing the husband and wife duo of Yvette Coulombe (guitar) and Ulric Coulombe (accordion). Seated on chairs, the musicians are playing at a family dance party.

Ulric Lacombe (accordion) performing with his wife (guitar), mid-20th century

Marcel Messervier and other local musicians of the same era were influenced by 1960s American rock ’n’ roll. They integrated its rhythms into their own compositions, much to the delight of audiences. As dancers would say at the time, the music had more “swing.”

Listen as accordionist Raynald Ouellet talks about the sharing of knowledge among musicians:

Interview with Raynald Ouellet. Subtitles available (EN and FR). Watch the interview with transcript (EN).