French Music

French music, term for the music within the French national territory, depending on its respective extent.

In a broader sense, the term also includes the music of Gaul and, in part, that of the Carolingian period.

French music has a rich treasure trove of the oldest folk songs. Songs of the Celtic indigenous people and the Bretons, however, have left just as little traces as the subsequent, now Romance, psalmodying melody, which led to the first great hymns in the 8th and 9th centuries. French music as a whole has always been closely related to Italian and German music, which influenced each other.

Middle Ages and Renaissance

Art music developed in France, as in other countries, on the basis of the music of the Christian liturgy, which in France had its own tradition different from the Roman one (Gallican liturgy). It was not until the time of Pippin the Younger that the Roman liturgy and Gregorian chant were introduced in France. Its maintenance was the main task of the singing schools, such as those in Metz, which had been founded in Rome, and those in Tours, which had been founded in England. The oldest textbooks on regular polyphony date from the 9th century, the oldest musical monuments are the organa of the school of Saint-Martial in Limoges (12th century), where the mass was also held in the 10th centuryexperienced a first bloom. The art of organa reached its climax around 1200 with the masters Leonin (us) and Perotin (us), who created an early form of polyphony, at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (Notre Dame School). The 13th century genre of the motet emerged from the Organum by placing various texts under the individual voices. In connection with this, the modal notation developed into the mensural notation of the later so-called Ars antiqua. A related genus that also occurred outside of the liturgy was the conductus. In addition to polyphony, the secular unanimous music of the Provencal troubadours and the northern French trouvères, which reached its peak in the 13th century, was of importance. A. de la Halle laid the foundation for the secular folk singspiel (“Robin et Marion”, 1283) and composed the first polyphonic secular songs.

Paris remained the musical center in the 14th century. However, the focus now shifted to secular music, which in the era of Ars nova produced not only ballads, rondeaus and virelais but also a flourishing of secular motet art and the refinement of the mensural notation. The oldest monuments of this time are the musical interludes for the “Roman de Fauvel”. Apart from the treatise that gave the epoch its name, little has survived from the motet master P. de Vitry . He developed the isorhythmically structured structure of the motet in the highest refinement. From 1321 the music theorist and astronomer J. de Muris taught in Paris. The most important composer of the 14th century, G. de Machaut , was a poet and musician at the same time. His works, which were recorded in collective manuscripts that he himself supervised, are characteristic of the court culture of the 14th century in France. In addition to secular music, he also created the first coherent setting of the Ordinarium Missae, including a four-part mass, which was probably written for the coronation of Charles V (1364).

The 15th century was marked by the amalgamation of Italian and English ideas with French tradition and the shift in emphasis to the north-east of the French cultural area, where the composers of the Franco-Flemish school (Franco-Flemish music) in the 15th and 16th centuries created the Shaped music. G. Dufay thus contributed to consolidating the mass as a cyclical form. His contemporary G. Binchois is v. a. to be highlighted as a master of the art of chanson, which has clear French characteristics in its elegance and lively rhythm. The end of the 15th century brought a high point in the new polyphonic compositional style, particularly in vocal music revolutionized. According to J. Ockeghem, who tried to unify the various voices in the mass and to fuse them into a choral sound that displaced the traditional split sound, J. Desprez , who in his masses and especially in his motets, did not know the expressive content of the text in a previous one Manner as the most famous musician of the time. In addition, also L. Compère, P. de la Rue, A. Brumel and J. Mouton should be emphasized.

After 1525 the chanson became a field of compositional experimentation and the central genre of the 16th century; the polyphonic sentence style was changed to meet the requirements for text comprehensibility. Important masters are C. Janequin and C. de Sermisy. In the work of O. di Lasso all specific national styles of European music are united; some of his compositions (chansons, masses and motets) are in the French and Flemish tradition. After 1550, various endeavors led to the development of a new harmonic style, which resulted in an increasing regression of the polyphonic setting. Contributed to this development in addition to C. Goudimel with his psalm settings, among others. C. Le Jeune and J. Arcadeltcontribute.

French Music

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