Music in French: a melodic journey through French cultural evolution and global influence

  • Georges Brassens
  • Barbara
  • Jean-Jacques Goldman
  • Juliette Gréco
Music (la musique) from France in the world
  • Middle Ages
  • Let’s start in the Middle Ages with the folk songs sung by minstrels, jugglers and troubadours. We find the same type of melodies in, for example, Breton music today. Two traditional musical instruments are used: the bombard and the bagpipes. The sounds produced by those instruments are very characteristics.

  • Baroque and Classical period
  • A well-known French composer of the Baroque era is Jean-Baptiste Lully.
    Classical music emerges with composers such as Jean-Philippe Rameau and François Couperin.
    The opera develops with the works of Rousseau and Gluck.

  • Romantic period
  • Hector Berlioz innovates by using different musical processes in his works.
    Lyrical music flourishes with the operas Carmen by Georges Bizet and Faust by Charles Gounot.

  • Early 20th century
  • The harmonies in music become more complex with Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.

  • 1930s-1940s
  • The musette is born at that moment.
    Gypsy jazz knows its letters of nobility with Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France.

  • Contemporary music from the 60s to today
    • The French variety was born with artists like Françoise Hardy and Serge Gainsbourg.
    • Rock with the band Téléphone in the 80s.
    • Electronic music and techno with Daft Punk in the 90s.
    • The more modern French variety with artists like Zaz and Stromae.

  • Daft Punk
  • They have made French electronic music known worldwide. They have a style of their own.

  • David Guetta
  • David Guetta is a DJ and producer. It is known all over the planet. He has collaborated with many international artists.

  • Stromae
  • He became world famous thanks to his song ‘Alors on danse’. He mixes pop, hip-hop and electro.

  • Christine and the Queens
  • She mixes pop, R&B and electronic music. She distracts herself from other artists by her dance performances.

  • Charlotte Gainsbourg
  • She is the daughter of the famous Serge Gainsbourg. She is an actress and singer, and has collaborated with famous artists.

  • Orelsan
  • He writes his texts and he raps. He is very well known in France and outside.

  • Aya Nakamura
  • She is known all over the planet for her title ‘Djadja’. She mixes African, Caribbean and French influences in her music.

    Who is your favorite French artist? What is your favorite song or music from this artist? Tell us in the comments. I’ll correct your French.

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  • Pop music (la musique) from France
    Do you know who sings
    Quand la musique est bonne?
    What the songs are about?
  • Lyrics rich in metaphors and images. Some people sometimes see poetry in it. The pictorial expressions are used to make the listener feel emotions.

  • The theme of relationships is very important: romanticism, disappointment in love. The palette of love feelings is described in many ways.

  • Societal themes are also very frequent. Singers denounce political decisions, for example, in their songs. Injustice and revolt are themes that come up a lot.

  • Many of the songs question the meaning of life or address other philosophical themes.

  • Nostalgia for a past time (childhood) or a lost love.

  • Scenes from everyday life, describing the details of life in the city or in the countryside. The listener recognizes himself and this creates a connection with the singer.

  • Melodies
  • Some melodies are simple, others more elaborate. They are, in general, structured and are easily retained.

  • Some elements that characterize folk melodies are found in French chanson. This creates a traditional side that reinforces the authentic character of the song.

  • There is a certain variety of genre (the realistic song, the cabaret song, the poetic song). It’s a rich repertoire.
  • Trends
  • The artists mix genres: pop, hip-hop, R&B, electronic music and others. There is a lot of diversity.

  • The sounds produced in the past (the 80s and 90s) are becoming fashionable again. We see this in the arrangements, the vintage sounds or the visuel in the clips.

  • Contemporary songs deal with identity, relationships, mental health and life experiences.

  • Artists
  • Christine and the Queens (Héloïse Letissier)
  • She is very well known in the French and international pop scene. She is known for her androgynous style and her dynamic dance scenes.

  • Angèle
  • She mixes pop, French chanson and hip-hop. She is known for her singular voice.

  • Aya Nakamura
  • She mixes French and the Lingala language. She brings an afrobeat style to the French pop scene. She is known for her unnic style.

    The influence of electronic music
  • Electronic sounds are increasingly present: the use of synthesizers, electronic beats and other more contemporary sounds.

  • Collaborations are made between pop artists and electronic music DJs, They create well-known pieces that merge genres. It can be remixes of pop songs or original creations.

  • The electronic effects, the loops of melodies and the various sound manipulations, enrich and modernize the sounds produced in French pop.

  • To remember
    I give you here a list of very famous French singers that I love. They are a very good choice to immerse yourself in the language.

  • Geroges Brassens
  • Léo Ferré
  • Jacques Brel
  • Barbara
  • Jean-Jacques Goldman
  • Michel Sardou
  • Johnny Hallyday
  • Alain Souchon
  • Laurent Voulzy
  • Claude Nougaro
  • Films and music from France
  • Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001)
  • He composed the soundtrack for this film. It is still very well known today and appreciated by many people. There are joyful melodies, others melancholic, played on the accordion, piano and violin. This gives a characteristic atmosphere to the film.

    Well-known pieces are:
    • La valse d’Amélie
    • Comptine d’un autre été

    He is a Frenchman who has had several awards. He has made the music for French and foreign films.
    The music for ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (2014) won Oscars.
    He also composed the soundtrack for the French film De battre mon cœur s’est arrêté (2005)
    He collaborated with the director François Ozon.

    He made the soundtracks for the films:
    • Sous le sable (2000)
    • 8 femmes (2002)

    His music often contributes to the atmosphere and aesthetics of Ozon’s films.
  • Cultural identity
  • The composers borrow elements of traditional French music:
    • the accordion
    • the French song
    • gypsy jazz
    • to create a context and an atmosphere.
  • Amplifying emotions
  • Give more emotions to the characters and accompany the narration. The music composed can be dramatic, joyful, melancholic.

  • Varied music
  • French composers explore different styles:
    • classical music
    • electronics
    • folks
    • etc.
    • This contributes to the uniqueness of French films.
    • How is it used in advertisements?
    • What impact does this have on the brand image?
    • What is the influence in the world of French advertising?
  • Elegance and romanticism
  • Songs with texts evoking elegance and romanticism. To associate the product with positive in the minds of consumers.

  • The link with culture
  • Make the link between the brand and the culture via the songs. Advertising is perceived as more authentic and the product can therefore stand out more in the minds of consumers.

  • To make people feel emotions
  • French songs are chosen to arouse specific emotions in the consumer: nostalgia, joy, melancholy or love. This, of course, to influence the purchase decision.
  • Give the image of the positive product
  • French music to create positive associations. They add elements of French tradition to the brand, so it can be perceived as more attractive.

  • A unique place on the market
  • Putting French songs in advertisements allows the brand to be perceived as unique on the world market. Stand out by associating elements of French culture with the image of the brand.

  • A melody associated with the brand
  • A typical song that represents the brand, which constitutes its sonic identity. This makes it easier to remember it in the long term.
  • We love French music
  • It participates in the fame of France in the world. It is perceived as refined and prestigious.

  • French artists compose for brands
  • Brands call on famous artists to create advertisements.

    What is your favorite movie music? Tell us in the comments. I’ll correct your French.

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  • French classical music (la musique classique) is good for the brain
  • Learn more vocabulary
  • Students can learn new words, idiomatic expressions and uncommon sentence structures. That while having fun listening to songs.

  • Having a better pronunciation
  • Listening and singing songs to improve pronunciation and talk easily.

  • Immerse yourself in the culture
  • The texts allow us to better understand the social and historical context of France. It also makes it easier to learn the language without studying grammar.

  • Long-term memory
  • The simple melodies make it easier to remember the lyrics, so to integrate the language in the long term. With music, learning is a pleasure and it is more effective.

  • Several styles and several eras
  • The student is exposed to various musical styles and texts from different eras. He then learns different linguistic nuances and deepens his knowledge of the language.

  • Improve hearing
  • This improves the ability to understand French in different contexts, because you have to get used to the different voices of the singers.
  • Stimulation of cognitive activity in a general way
  • An improving memory
  • A better concentration
  • A better understanding of the language
  • Feeling emotions of well-being
  • Promotes motor coordination through rythm and dance

  • Exercise
    Do you listen to French songs? How does this help you improve the language? Share your experience in the comments (in French) to help others. I will correct if necessary.

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  • FAQ for music from France, classical music, etc.