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Morbihan (Department, France): Cultural flags

Last modified: 2010-11-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: morbihan | bagad | lann-bihoue |
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Bagad de Lann-Bihoué

The Base Aéronavale (B.A.N, Navy Air Force base). of Lann-Bihoué is located on the municipality of Quéven, west of Lorient. The bagad was founded in August 1952 and officialized on 11 September 1956 by a Decree of the Minister of National Defense.

In 1969, the Ministery announced the suppression of the bagad but had to withdraw due to unanimous protest.

The bagad of Lann-Bihoue is a military band but it plays in several civil festivals, such as the famous Interceltic festival in Lorient or the Celtic Night in Paris, as well as international festivals.

A bagad (plural bagadou) is a Breton music band. Bagadou were created recently on the model of the Scottish pipe bands. The first informal bagad was constituted in 1947 in the 71st Infantry Regiment, stationed in Dinan (Ille-et-Vilaine), when several pipers met during their compulsory service. The first civil bagad was created in 1949 by railwaymen in Carhaix (Finistère). Since then, more than 100 bagadou have been formed.

A bagad is conducted by the penn soner (chief piper) and is made of three sections:

  • biniou braz, highland bagpipes, conducted by the penn biniouaer;
  • bombardou, bombards, conducted by the penn talabarder;
  • taboulinou skeltz, snare drums, and toumperezh (percussions), conducted by the penn tabouliner.

Guest musicians (guitarists, bassists, accordionists) and singers may appear on some pieces played by bagadou.

Every year, musical contests allow the bagadou to be ranked into five musical categories according to their musical skills. There are currently twelve bagadou in the first category. The final of the bagad championship usually takes place in the Moustoir Stadium of Lorient (also the place of the renowned Inter-Celtic Festival) and is one of the main cultural events in Brittany.

The bagadou played a major role in the recent revival of Breton cultural traditions. Song and music were traditional arts in Brittany but their transmission was mostly oral. Types of songs and dances are different according to the different regions. Fortunately, a few amateur musicologists have been gathering those songs since the end of the XIXth century. Legendary singers, such as the Goadec sisters, could have been recorded before their death.

The repertoire of the bagadou is extremely wide and several of them gained international recognition. The most famous of them is probably Bagad Kemper, located in Quimper (Finistère), who won 15 times the bagad championship. During the contests, bagadou have to play traditional songs but must also create new ones. Bagad Kemper and its three successive penn soner, Hervé Le Meur, Erwan Ropars and Jean-Louis Hénaff have enlarged the Breton repertoire by creating pieces based for instance on Bulgarian and Greek dances, as well as an adaptation of Changes by the defunct rock band Yes. Johnny Clegg asked Bagad Kemper to join his musicians to record Emotional Allegiance.
The bagad Men Ha Tan, conducted by Pierrick Tanguy, made two records with the jazz bassist Henri Texier (Doué Lann, a kind of musical picture of the small port of Dollan) and the Senegalese master drummer Youssou N'Dour (Dakar), respectively.

Each bagad has its specific costume, often black and white. Bagadou can play during street parades, and march in such cases behind the Breton flag or their own.

The Bagad de Lann-Bihoué has a complicated flag with a different obverse and reverse.
The obverse is blue with a golden emblem including an anchor and wings, which represents the Base Aéronavale. B.A.N. (for Base Aeronavale) and LANN-BIHOUE are written in white above and below the emblem, respectively, on an imaginary circle. Near the hoist there is a white vertical stripe charged with black ermine spots, which refer to Brittany.
I have not been able to see the reverse of the flag very clearly. It seems to be blue and white, with black ermine spots placed horizontally and golden stars.

A picture of the standard-bearer Eric Lacouture (21 September 2001) can be seen on the NetMarine website, as well as pictures taken during performances in Japan.

Ivan Sache, 15 July 2003