Brittany music holidays

Brittany Music at La Gacilly

This was a sunny day in late November 2012 at La Gacilly. This is an old town devoted almost equally to the Yves Rocher HQ and its business. This has financed craft businesses, and the preservation of its Breton Heritage.

Traditional Music Line up

The bare minimum band is a bombarde player plus bagpipe. Normally more bombardes are added as blowing a bombarde requires strength and effort. For this reason a minimum of two is required for continuity. Flutes, drums , chalumeaux (a traditional kind of clarinet), and saxophones are added. Full marching bands are seen at Festivals, the most famous of which is the Interceltique at Lorient in July.

Brittany music and the bombarde

Undoubtedly the bombarde and bagpipes are central to Brittany music. The bombarde is fiendishly difficult to play as its double reed requires a lot of “puff” and control by the lips. On the other hand, others say that it is fiendishly difficult to listen to. It resembles the sackbut and was brought back to France by the Crusaders.

Fest Noz, Fest deiz, and Noces Bretonnes

These three kinds of entertainment all feature traditioanl Brittany music. A fest noz will usually feature a band, some music, dancing, some onlookers and lots of communal food and drink. An entrance fee (quite low) covers your supper. Fest deiz is less interesting for the summer visitor as it often takes the form of a “stage” or instructional event. The noce bretonne is the summit of these entertainments with more lavish food and entertainment. There’s usually one every year at Augan, and Arzal. The meal will run to several courses – in the case of Augan when we went – 17. These events are well advertised in Ouest France (the local newspaper) July and August holiday guides and also on various “What’s on ?” websites.

La Gacilly

Is built on the side of a hill in black slate. Originally a market town it has always punched above its weight, and still does so today.

Getting there and back

Distance from La Ruelmain is 20 miles



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