French Music Culture

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French Music: The Past
French Music, Musicians, and composers have both influenced and been influenced by the world with mass quantities of styles of genres. Among the earliest of these styles are those of the Church. The earliest French influence on western music is found in the plainsong of the Christian Church. It is believed that Gregorian chant as it is known today is an 8th- or 9th-century Gallican interpretation of Roman chant, but it is difficult to distinguish the Gallican work from its Roman basis. It has been said that the basic theory of the trope (an outburst in a preexistent hymn) is Gallican and that the surviving body of medieval tropes and sequences had a French influence. The French were not just popular for their Church influences; they were also popular for the varieties that they introduced later on. Amongst the later Middle Ages, France led in the development of European music in all its forms. Some of the earliest manuscripts containing organum (the earliest form of polyphony, multiple melodies,) are found from the 10th century in Chartres, Montpellier, Fleury, Tours, and other French cities. Especially important was the group of musicians active during the 10th and 11th centuries at the Abbey of St. Martial in Limoges where the “Swan Sequence” was composed. In the late 12th century a brilliant group of composers emerged who were associated with the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. The most notable of these were Leonin and Perotin. From this group came some of the earliest motets as well as a number of theoretical treatises on music. The next centuries in French music was a bit more lyrical thanks to the troubadours because in France, the medieval period consisted mostly of the songs of the troubadours and trouveres, poet-musicians who flourished from the late 11th until the 13th century. Among them was the famous Adam de la Halle who was famous for his poetic debates. They created such musical forms as the lai and the...
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