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Music History Around the World: France!

September 26, 2018
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Ah, oui! Today we are going to talk about the beautiful, the historical, the posh country of France. Let me tell you, I’m excited. I love France.

So, we know that ballet grew out of this place, as did fashion and fancy food. However, have we thought about the music?

You may not have known that a lot of organ music has come out of France, but the earliest known transcripts of organ music in France are from the medieval ages of the 10th century. The Magnus Liber is known to have come out the Notre Dame School in the Paris (that’s one of the oldest books of organ theory).

As it was everywhere, music used to be made mostly for religious purposes. However, France lead in the humanist movement in the 14th century, and secular music and art was popularized and spread throughout Europe. Sooo, music started getting more creative! People called Troubadours would be travelling musicians, performing satirical and entertaining ancient poems with music. The first song written with lyrics in French was “La Carillon de Vendôme,” from the 15th century.

During the Renaissance, political unrest in France caused French musicians to move further East, which also facilitated the spread of french music to the rest of Europe. The French chanson spread to Italy as the canzona. The importance of music was beginning to be highlighted by the founding of music schools, most popularly the Burgundy School.

When Calvinism began to spread, music became very simple. However, French opera began to blossom, with composers like Beaujoyeux and Rameau becoming icons of the era.

Today, France produces an eclectic variety of music, from electric dance music writers like Stromae taking the world by storm and even the eerie sounds of the children’s song “Dominique” being echoed through the popular TV Series “American Horror Story,” the French effects upon music still follow us around the world. Vive la France!


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