Amanda Babington, Remi Dubois and Birgit Bornauw at the 2019 Musette conference in Rouen

Meeting one’s heros

Here I am meeting Remi Dubois, one of the three musketeers of the Musette renaissance. I am not one to be cowed by a person’s success or prestige. In fact I often make sure I speak to ‘those at the top’ because I know that they can welcome some ‘normal’ conversation (albeit often about a niche subject!). But meeting M. Dubois carried emotional baggage too. I knew that he had been close to Jean-Christophe Maillard, whose death left so many people bereft of a gentle giant of a man and musician, and who had been responsible for allowing me to begin my Musette journey. I also knew that I would have to speak in French – a language not unfamiliar to me, but in which I can find it hard to express subtleties of sentiments.

However, I needn’t have worried. M. Dubois was infinitely patient with my stuttering French and not only ‘overlooked’ the fact that I was holding a Musette made by someone other than him, but instead told me in some detail about the background of the model (a Chédeville instrument) on which it is based. Such humble sharing of knowledge is something to aspire to, and indeed was a particular hallmark of the colloquium. Perhaps it was the fact that everyone there was drawn by their shared love or admiration of the instrument. Or perhaps the knowledge that we are a small community of researchers, players, makers and enthusiasts draws us closer. In any event, I feel very privileged to have met my fellow Musette enthusiasts and I look forward to the next colloquium in a few years’ time.

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