When we think of France we think of romance. This is something the French do perfectly and it is reflected in their musical stylings throughout many time periods. An iconic romance song is “Parlez-Moi d’Amour” by Lucienne Boyer, literally translated as “Speak to me of Love”. The song is featured in the recent movie, ‘Midnight in Paris’.
During the classical period of French music, artists including Claude Balbastre, Chelard, and Jacques Duphly were well known and recognized. This period of music lasted from 1750 to 1820, which was around the time famous composer Beethoven died. Music during the classic area tended to be soft and light and had a nice clear texture, unlike its predecessor the Baroque period which was louder and dramatic.
Traditional or folk music was common in the early twentieth century but had a revival in France during the fifties and sixties. One of the most popular traditional music stars being band Perlinpinpin who formed in 1974. Traditional French music has become increasingly popular today due to tourism. They focus on very early twentieth century style music and often use a Piano Accordion.
The accordion has European roots which is likely the reason it was so popular in French music. The typical style of an accordion features either a piano (keyboard) or buttons (diatonic and chromatic) at one end and pallets at the other end known as reeds. The simultaneous extension and compression alongside the playing of piano keys or the buttons is what makes the accordion’s unique sound. Famous French accordionists include Marcel Azzola, Gerard Barreaux and more recently, Serge Gainsbourg.
Pop music became very popular in France during the 1960s, it is heavily influenced by American rock and roll and popular artists include AaRON. Gerard Lenorman and Eddy Mitchel. In France people do also listen to English pop music songs but the laws in France state that at least 40% of pop music played on the radio must be by French artists, which is likely why they are so popular.