French chanson

French chanson What is French chanson? In an article published by L’Express in March 2010, in anticipation of that year’s Victoires de la musique ceremony,1 the journalist Gilles Médioni addresses this question. His answer suggests there is more to chanson than just the broad idea of ‘words set to music’ that the term can sometimes signify: C’est à la fois des rimes riches, de la poésie musicale, une vision du monde. Et son contraire: du vent, du rien, du toi + moi. Mais c’est bien sous le même terme générique que se rassemblent les artistes. Protéiforme, la chanson française se démarque des autres (italienne, espagnole, anglo-saxonne…) parce qu’elle évoque des thèmes souvent inattendus. Et le champ des possibles est illimité.2His definition resonates with a broader, well-established discourse about chanson that is the product of media texts, critical commentaries, album reviews, music-industry material, and fan contributions. Taken as a whole, this discourse suggests that there is a more specific meaning to the term chanson than simply ‘popular song’ or ‘words set to music’, for it stresses that it is a particular genre with its own set of ‘rules’.3 It holds that chanson is a quality, crafted, and even artistic form of popular music; that it is a ‘literary genre, a form of poetry set to music, with claims for high-cultural status’; possesses ‘educational and enlightening qualities and [is] able to improve its audience, thus making art available to the masses’; that it represents the feelings and world view of its listeners through the persona of the singer-songwriter; and that it constitutes ‘a universal cultural product, appealing to all (within France at least)’.4 The elements of this discourse that can be seen in the extract from Médioni include: the reference to the genre as poetry; its ineffable richness; the particular world view it offers; its indefinable, immeasurable qualities suggested by Médioni's words ‘rien’ and ‘vent’; and the unexpected themes that it explores. The lack of further definition or more precise explanation of these ideas is also characteristic of the discourse, and points to the multiple meanings that the term chanson can embody. This multiplicity, or indeed polymorphousness, of the genre has been highlighted by scholars of chanson. David Looseley has analysed the ‘promiscuous use’ of the term chanson,5 and Peter Hawkins has observed: Chanson is not just a popular variety of poetry, not just a commercial product of the mass media industry, not just a reflection of popular taste, nor even a variety of folk-song. […] Precisely because of its ambiguous, hybrid status, and despite its apparent naturalness, chanson is a deceptive and elusive phenomenon. This elusiveness is of course part of the fascination, and one of the main reasons for writing about it.6Here, Hawkins highlights various significant elements of chanson discourse that govern how the genre is perceived and received. These in turn have informed the various approaches to the study of chanson that have been adopted by scholars. Indeed, critical studies of French chanson have developed considerably in recent decades and one of the strengths of the field is the diversity of approaches adopted. Chanson has been variously analysed as: poetry or, more broadly, text; a popular music product; an artefact that contributes to, and through which to read, the cultural history of France; a means by which to examine the country’s contemporary socio-cultural context; and a lens through which to explore the French socio-political landscape. The present essay discusses these diverse approaches as a means of tracking the development of chanson studies in an academic context, from the emergence of the first scholarly works in the late 1960s to the present day. It will also argue that the methodologies and disciplinary contexts that inform chanson studies can offer a broader model for modern languages research in the twenty-first century, at a time when there is increasing engagement with multidisciplinary and transnational approaches. Given that the aim here is to trace the development of chanson as a field of scholarly enquiry, this essay will concentrate essentially on publications about chanson produced in an academic context. Publications about chanson in the form of encyclopaedia entries and biographies, or written by journalists or fans, will not be our main focus. This is, among other things, because an overview of these types of publications already exists. Peter Hawkins’s 1993 essay ‘How Do You Write about Chanson?’7 and my own work on chanson in the 1960s and 1970s,8 for example, trace the evolution of writing about chanson in non-academic contexts, from the 1950s through to the present. The present essay aims to complement existing work on chanson by charting the development of the genre as a subject for academic study. It considers the frameworks through which chanson has been read and the methodologies that have informed the critical analysis of the genre. A key preoccupation of scholars involved in chanson studies is the study of the lyrical component. Such scholarship often reads song lyrics as examples of poetry, and thus seeks to identify the literary qualities of the language and, by extension, of chanson as a genre. In scholarly terms, such a strategy validates chanson as an object of serious academic enquiry and legitimizes the genre as a popular cultural form with high-cultural potential. The first publications of this type to appear include Bruno Hongre and Paul Lidsky’s contribution to the ‘Profil d’une œuvre’ series on Jacques Brel, published in 1976,9 and Lucienne Cantaloube-Ferrieu’s Chanson et poésie des années 30 aux années 60 (1981).10 More recent studies include those by Ian Pickup (a 1997 chapter devoted to the literary criticism of chanson),11 and Sara Poole, who has published volumes that analyse the literary qualities of the lyrics of Georges Brassens (2000) and Jacques Brel (2004).12 Joël July’s Esthétique de la chanson française (2007) and Dimitris Papanikolaou’s Singing Poets: Literature and Popular Music in France and Greece (2007) again privilege the poetic analysis of song lyrics.13 This points to what Barbara Lebrun has termed ‘the prevalence of a literary tradition’ in the field of French popular music studies,14 and particularly in work focusing on chanson. The lyrics of Brassens have notably constituted the case study for literary-historical studies such as that by Louis Auld (1996), which traces the influence of the medieval period and the troubadours in particular on the singer-songwriter’s œuvre.15 One by-product of this approach has been the use of chanson as a pedagogical tool for the teaching of the French language. This was discernible in some of the first academic pieces to appear on the genre, in which the study of chanson was welcomed as an opportunity to promote student engagement with the linguistic richness of ‘literary’ texts.16 Linked to the aim of establishing the literariness of chanson is that of analysing the linguistic features of specific songs that recur in the body of work of particular songwriters, notably Brassens. Work in this area includes Linda Hantrais’s 1976 two-volume publication Le Vocabulaire de Georges Brassens, and, more recently, articles on Brassens’s use of the passé simple, rhyme, and poetic devices associated with the weather.17 The detailed literary and linguistic analysis of chanson is certainly important for the appreciation of the technical qualities and richness of the songwriting in question (Hawkins points this out with particular reference to Brassens).18 Yet such approaches do not always acknowledge the interaction of the lyric with the music, instrumentation, or performance, nor of the song and the songwriter with the relevant socio-cultural, -historical, and -political context. They can thus remain limited in their delineation of the potential broader relevance of chanson to other disciplines or fields of experience. A notable exception here is Jeandillou, who reads Brassens’s rhyme schemes as scored by his music and diction, and analyses the duality of the poetic form in popular song. Jeandillou’s study constitutes a significant step forward in developing the literary and linguistic critique approach in chanson studies, since it introduces multidisciplinary aspects that draw on musicology and performance studies. This evolution in approach has continued and has resulted in the publication of works that have begun to embrace a wider range of disciplinary methodologies and frameworks for the analysis of chanson. Stéphane Hirschi’s research is a useful case in point. While his focus has been primarily on the literariness of chanson, on which he has published widely, it has led more specifically to the establishment of cantologie as a key critical framework.19 Although cantologie recognizes chanson as a literary genre, it also draws on sociology and ultimately argues that chanson should be the subject of research in its own right, without necessarily referring to its relationship to poetry or literature. Some of the first conferences on chanson to be held in France were the result of this significant theoretical development. These include ‘La Chanson en lumière’, held 24–27 April 1996 at the Université de Valenciennes, and ‘Les Frontières improbables de la chanson’, held 1–4 March 2000, again at Valenciennes. There is also now a ‘Cantologie’ book series, with Hirschi as editor. Established in 2003 and published by Les Belles Lettres and Presses universitaires de Valenciennes, the series is the first attempt to publish critical readings of chanson within the French academy and thus constitutes another notable advance in the development of chanson studies. Although literariness in chanson persists as one of the key themes of scholarship, recent research on the genre also seeks to push beyond any simplistic conceptualization of chanson as an alternative form of literature and poetry. As scholars have sought to engage with the contexts within which chanson operates, the socio-historical/cultural/political element has been increasingly stressed. Louis-Jean Calvet’s Chanson et société (1981) was an early landmark here: his volume focused on the musical and socio-historical context of chanson by examining the ways in which lyrics, performance, voice, music, and staging interact to produce meaning in the context of chanson.20 Jacques Béreaud’s 1988 article on post-1968 chanson then engaged with the impact of politics and the events of May 1968 in particular on the genre.21 However, it is Peter Hawkins’s seminal 2000 monograph on chanson that, while approaching chanson through an engagement with the literariness of the genre, offers the outstanding example of the turn in chanson studies that embraces the contexts within which chanson is produced.22 Hawkins blends an analysis of lyrics with a reading of music, performance, star status, and gender in a way that showcases the richness of chanson as a source for comment on the popular cultural landscape of twentieth-century France. In his subsequent work devoted to Léo Ferré, Hawkins has continued to blend methodologies from the perspective of chanson studies, introducing, for example, elements of Bourdieusian analysis, modernism, and postmodernism as a way of reading the singer-songwriter’s career and relationship to cultural movements in twentieth-century France.23 Following Hawkins’s work, many of the studies that seek to open up our understanding of chanson and of the shifting contexts within which it operates have been published since 2000. Indeed, many have been carried out by scholars working in an English-language environment, and who adopt a cultural-studies-based approach to French popular music more broadly. David Looseley deserves a special mention here. His is a pioneering voice in chanson studies and his work considers the genre from a wider perspective that specifically interrogates the socio-cultural/historical dimension of chanson. His 2003 monograph, Popular Music in Contemporary France: Authenticity, Politics, Debate, is a fundamental text for anyone studying chanson. The volume examines the interactions of chanson with other forms of popular music and culture in France from the 1960s to 2000, in a bid to understand the complex value systems and cultural hierarchies at work within the popular music industry in contemporary France. It thus delineates the potential of chanson and popular music more broadly to reveal something of the nature of French culture and society. Significant recent work in the field has continued to explore chanson and its relationship to French culture, society, history, and/or politics. The interaction of chanson with other genres of popular music in France was one of the topics considered in the first edited volume on French popular music to be published in English: Hugh Dauncey and Steve Cannon’s Popular Music in France from Chanson to Techno: Culture, Identity and Society.24 There have also been works that explore these interactions from a historical perspective: Larry Portis’s volume on the social history of popular music in France and, more recently, Jonathyne Briggs’s cultural history of popular music in France from 1958 to 1980 both place chanson against the historical context of other genres of French popular music since 1945, in order to trace the impact of music on French life and identity.25 Chris Tinker adopts a more specifically socio-cultural perspective on chanson in his 2005 monograph, which examines the links between songwriting and the broader personal and social experiences of Brassens and Brel (and to a lesser extent Ferré).26 As far as chanson studies are concerned, Tinker has also published on the relationship between the music industry and Ferré, the industry and Serge Gainsbourg, anti-nationalism and chanson, and chanson and music journalism.27 These publications all foreground the way in which chanson interacts with French popular culture, literature, and society of the post-1945 period. Such interactions are also the focus of Kim Harrison’s unpublished doctoral work on the art–commerce paradox inherent in much of the constitutive discourse of chanson, and Adeline Cordier’s analysis of the Brel–Brassens–Ferré triumvirate as a myth and social signifier of French ideals and identities in the post-war period.28 In the context of the socio-cultural placement of chanson in scholarly work, it is also important to mention Barbara Lebrun’s monograph, Protest Music in France: Production, Identity and Audiences; although not primarily about chanson itself, the volume is an example of the potential expansion of the field of chanson studies to achieve a globally more representative and inclusive analysis of French popular music. By focusing on rock and protest music, Lebrun challenges the cultural hierarchy that is often discernible within chanson discourse, which legitimates the study of chanson as an art form, encourages the permanence of a literary approach in its analysis, and requires other forms such as variétés or rock to be stigmatized or downgraded due to their perceived commercialism. Her study demonstrates in particular the complex cultural value systems and discourses that pervade French society and that popular music, including chanson, is able to reveal and explicate. Lebrun has subsequently developed this element of chanson studies further in her work on twenty-first-century chanson.29 Another important volume that seeks to further broaden the approach to the study of chanson is the collective volume Stereo: Comparative Perspectives on the Sociological Study of Popular Music in France and Britain (2011).30 This collection includes leading scholars in popular music studies in both Britain and France, and it tellingly illuminates the different ways in which scholars from the two countries analyse the phenomenon. Although chanson does not feature as a central preoccupation, the presentation of critical frameworks through which to analyse French popular music from a specifically French perspective helps to introduce new and innovative approaches to the field of chanson studies. In the Introduction to the collection, Dauncey and Le Guern observe: French research on popular culture in general and popular music in particular has often suffered from a kind of double disqualification both by an academic and intellectual system which has traditionally favoured ‘élite’ cultural forms and practices, and by the perceived backwardness and simplicity of French conceptualizations and research methods compared with those […] of British and American specialists.31The volume as a whole provides key insights into the differences of approach to chanson studies in Britain and France, from the point of view of development, methodology, and even subject matter. The French contributors write about popular music in general, and not on chanson specifically, for their research interests lie broadly within the areas of sociology, cultural studies, musicology, and cultural policy. Significantly, the fact that chanson does not feature as a genre in its own right illustrates that, as far as research into French popular music in France is concerned, chanson is not as privileged a genre as might be expected. Indeed, the establishment of the journal Volume! La Revue des musiques populaires in 2002 demonstrates that chanson features alongside articles (for example) about the Beatles, metal music, and the alternative music press, illustrating the multidisciplinary approach to research in popular music in France that has come to characterize the field in recent years. Yet the French and the French-language context have also seen an evolution of methodological approaches to the study of chanson itself, specifically since 2000. While it is clear that the literary tradition, which privileges and encourages the analysis of chanson as a poetic form, is still influential, Lebrun has pointed out that, since 2000, ‘a number of French sociologists have started to focus on popular music from a combined perspective, privileging for instance cultural policy, the practices of musicians, or those of audiences’.32 Although chanson itself has not tended to be the primary area of concern of this body of work, there are notable examples of scholars whose work on chanson specifically has benefited from the broader study of popular music in France from an academic perspective. Cécile Prévost-Thomas, for example, is the author of a range of articles that explore chanson from the point of view of gender and sociology.33 Joël July has published on the place of contemporary chanson alongside other musical genres such as variétés, rock, and rap,34 and his 2016 edited volume Chanson: du collectif à l’intime brings together a series of essays that examine the listener’s perception of chanson through an analysis of lyrics, music, and voice.35 Olivier Bourderionnet’s monograph Swing Troubadours: Brassens, Vian, Gainsbourg. Les Trente Glorieuses en 33 tours analyses the relationship of chanson to jazz and thus seeks to reconfigure the canon of French popular singer-songwriters.36 Stéphane Chaudier and Perle Abbrugiati are also active in the area of chanson studies and have staged key research events on chanson. In this context, Abbrugiati’s particular contribution to the field ought to be underlined. She has organized a series of colloquia and study days, including the ‘Chanson: les ondes du monde’ workshop that took place on 1–2 June 2015 at the Université d’Aix–Marseille.37 This international event brought together colleagues from across France, as well as specialists in popular music and chanson from Italy, the UK, and Austria; its aim was ‘la création d’un réseau interdisciplinaire et international de recherche pour une étude croisée de la chanson, comprise comme un objet polymorphe (elle réunit texte, musique, art scénique, elle est un objet de culture populaire, passant de pays à pays)’.38 A network was subsequently set up at Aix–Marseille to study chanson française in its broadest context (including its presence and representation in countries outside of France). The interdisciplinary character of this initiative demonstrates the expansion that chanson studies in France has enjoyed in recent years. As the workshop materials explain, this is ‘un champ de recherche qui peut être exploité pendant de nombreuses années’, with the potential for further international collaborations and projects.39 The potential of chanson as a research case-study to straddle disciplinary and methodological boundaries is one of the strengths of the field that has become even more apparent in recent years. Looseley’s 2015 monograph on Édith Piaf is a case in point. While this study clearly builds on Looseley’s previous work on chanson, he explicitly seeks to provide a cultural history of the singer that also engages with star studies and gender studies, by way of ‘critically analysing [her] legend: its origins, evolution, contradictions and cultural significance’, taking into consideration her international standing, and reading her as a lieu de mémoire that functions as ‘a vector of national cultural memory’ in France.40 Although the volume is aimed at a non-academic audience, it is nevertheless essential reading for scholars given its significant contribution in the areas of star studies, cultural history, French studies, and memory studies in general. This coming together of disciplines and methodologies also demonstrates the ways in which the field of chanson studies is able to contribute to scholarly debates beyond French studies. Such methodological hybridity characterizes Barbara Lebrun’s 2013 edited volume on chanson and performance, which explores the physicality of chanson through an analysis of the body and voice of its proponents.41 This analysis brings chanson studies into contact with, among others, theories of stardom, performance, performativity, gender, and identity. My own work on chanson examines its relationship to the Italian singer-songwriter genre, the canzone d’autore, and interrogates notions of influence and cultural translation.42 These publications illustrate the ways in which chanson studies also interact with a wide range of disciplines, including: star studies, gender studies, performance studies, intermediality, transnationality, and cultural translation. It is this potential for multidisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity that will influence the shape and nature of chanson studies in the future. This essay has stressed the contribution that research on chanson makes to broader debates in the French context regarding cultural discourse, notions of cultural hierarchy, and the problematic nature of popular cultural forms. In particular, the research considered here illustrates more broadly the way in which work on chanson sheds light on the ‘Frenchness’ of the form, speaking to our understanding of French identity and contributing to the ongoing debate regarding what indeed it means to ‘be French’. For the future, however, research on chanson appears to be further expanding these questions and the debates that they generate. Multidisciplinarity has emerged as a strength of chanson studies. Indeed, research in chanson both prefigured and also mirrored the increased interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity that arts and humanities research witnessed more generally in the late 1990s and during the 2000s. In the context of French studies today, chanson is thus a key field for further developments in these areas. But is this where the future lies? Can chanson also embrace the turn towards the transnational and the transcultural that is beginning to mark languages research? It is certainly the case that the diversity of methodologies and disciplinary contexts that has informed chanson studies thus far brings a degree of flexibility and an awareness of the need to situate chanson within wider contexts. Current research in chanson is doing precisely this. As well as developing further the multidisciplinary nature of chanson studies, and thereby widening the boundaries of the field, future research will need to engage with chanson’s presence and cultural impact around the globe, positioning chanson studies firmly within an exciting transnational context. Footnotes 1 This is the annual ceremony at which the French Ministry of Culture presents the Victoire awards to recognize outstanding achievement in the popular music industry. 2 Gilles Médioni, ‘C’est quoi une chanson française?’, L’Express, 5 March 2010 <http://www.lexpress.fr/culture/musique/c-est-quoi-une-chanson-francaise_853099.html > [accessed 11 September 2017]. 3 The notion of ‘genre rules’ within popular music was defined by musicologist Franco Fabbri and refers to the ‘types of rules that contribute to the definition of a [musical] genre’ that are a product of the constitutive discourse of the genre, and which then affect the ways in which both the musical genre and its rules are accepted by various communities. See Franco Fabbri, ‘A Theory of Musical Genres: Two Applications’, in Popular Music Perspectives: Papers from the First International Conference on Popular Music Research, Amsterdam, June 1981, ed. by David Horn and Philip Tagg (Gothenburg: International Association for the Study of Popular Music, 1982), pp. 52–81 (p. 52), and online at < http://www.francofabbri.net/files/Testi_per_Studenti/ffabbri81a.pdf > [accessed 11 September 2017]. 4 Rachel Haworth, From the ‘Chanson française’ to the ‘Canzone d’autore’ in the 1960s and 1970s: Authenticity, Authority, Influence (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2015), pp. 45–46. 5 David Looseley, Popular Music in Contemporary France: Authenticity, Politics, Debate (Oxford: Berg, 2003), p. 81. 6 Peter Hawkins, Chanson: The French Singer-Songwriter from Aristide Bruant to the Present Day (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000), p. 4. 7 Peter Hawkins, ‘How Do You Write about Chanson?’, French Cultural Studies, 4 (1993), 69–79. 8 Haworth, From the ‘Chanson française’ to the ‘Canzone d’autore’, in particular Chapter 1, ‘Thinking the chanson française and the canzone d’autore’ (pp. 9–24), and Chapter 2, ‘Writing about chanson in the 1950s and 1960s’ (pp. 25–46). 9 Bruno Hongre and Paul Lidsky, Jacques Brel: chansons (Paris: Hatier, 1976). 10 Lucienne Cantaloube-Ferrieu, Chanson et poésie des années 30 aux années 60 (Paris: Nizet, 1981). 11 Ian Pickup, ‘La Chanson française et la critique littéraire’, in Aspects de la critique: colloque des universités de Birmingham et de Besançon, ed. by Ian Pickup and Philippe Baron (Besançon: Annales littéraires de l’Université de Franche-Comté, 1997), pp. 137–50. 12 Sara Poole, Brassens: Chansons (London: Grant & Cutler, 2000) and Brel and Chanson: A Critical Appreciation (Dallas: University Press of America, 2004). 13 Joël July, Esthétique de la chanson française (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2007); Dimitris Papanikolaou, Singing Poets: Literature and Popular Music in France and Greece (Oxford: Legenda, 2007). 14 Barbara Lebrun, Protest Music in France: Production, Identity and Audiences (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009), p. 3. 15 Louis Auld, ‘“L’Humble”: Medieval Echoes in the Chansons of Georges Brassens’, Studies in Medievalism, 6 (1996), 183–98. 16 See, for example, Marie Naudin, ‘La Chanson française contemporaine’, French Review, 40 (1967), 785–94. 17 Linda Hantrais, Le Vocabulaire de Georges Brassens, 2 vols (Paris: Klincksieck, 1976); Anne-Rosine Delbart, ‘“Ainsi que des bossus tous deux nous rigolâmes”: le passé simple dans les chansons de Georges Brassens’, Revue de linguistique romane, 60 (1996), 485–512; Jean-François Jeandillou, ‘Le Chant des rimes’, Français moderne: revue de linguistique française, 69 (2001), 161–82; Gabriel Jacobs, ‘The Elemental Brassens’, Romance Studies, 17 (1999), 15–30. 18 Hawkins, Chanson, p. 13. 19 A full list of Stéphane Hirschi’s publications is available at < http://www.univ-valenciennes.fr/CALHISTE/membres/hirschi_stephane#publications > [accessed 11 September 2017]. For the purposes of this état présent, the following publications by Hirschi are of particular note: Chanson: l’art de fixer l’air du temps — de Béranger à Mano Solo (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2008), a monograph that focuses on the writing process; La Chanson française depuis 1980: de Goldman à Stromae, entre vinyles et MP3 (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2016), a monograph that looks at various ways in which the genre has developed since 1980; ‘Chanson: métaphysique d’un genre’, Nouvelle Revue française, 601 (2012), no pag., an article that provides a critical introduction to chanson; and ‘Esthétique de la chanson depuis 1980: un petit traité’, Revue critique de fixxion française contemporaine [online], 0.5 (2012), 181–242 <http://www.revue-critique-de-fixxion-francaise-contemporaine.org/rcffc/article/view/fx05.18 > [accessed 11 September 2017], an article that critically examines the evolution of chanson since 1980. 20 Louis-Jean Calvet, Chanson et société (Paris: Payot, 1981). 21 Jacques Béreaud, ‘La Chanson française depuis mai 1968’, The French Review, 62 (1988), 229–41. 22 Hawkins, Chanson. As the author of the first academic article on chanson to be published in English (‘How Do You Write about Chanson?’), Hawkins has also offered scholars an overview of the types of non-academic volumes in existence about chanson, tracing further potential avenues for future research. 23 Peter Hawkins, ‘Léo Ferré: Modernism, Postmodernism and the Avant-Garde in Popular Chanson’, French Cultural Studies, 16 (2005), 169–78, and ‘The Career of Léo Ferré: A Bourdieusian Analysis’, Volume, 2 (2003), no pag. <https://volume.revues.org/2250 > [accessed 11 September 2017]. 24 Popular Music in France from Chanson to Techno: Culture, Identity and Society, ed. by Hugh Dauncey and Steve Cannon (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003). 25 Larry Portis, French Frenzies: A Social History of Popular Music in France (College Station, TX: Virtualbookworm.com, 2004); Jonathyne Briggs, Sounds French: Globalization, Cultural Communities, and Pop Music, 1958–1980 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). 26 Chris Tinker, Georges Brassens and Jacques Brel: Personal and Social Narratives in Post-War Chanson (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2005). 27 Chris Tinker, ‘A Singer-Songwriter’s View of the French Record Industry: The Case of Leo Ferré’, Popular Music, 21 (2002), 147–57; ‘Serge Gainsbourg and le défi americain’, Modern and Contemporary France, 10 (2002), 187–96; ‘Anti-nationalism in Postwar French Chanson’, National Identities, 4 (2002), 133–43; ‘The Myth and Beyond: Shaping Chanson in Les Inrockuptibles (2007–2011)’, Revue critique de fixxion française contemporaine [online], 0.5 (2012), 89–96 <http://www.revue-critique-de-fixxion-francaise-contemporaine.org/rcffc/article/view/fx05.08 > [accessed 11 September 2017]. 28 Kim Harrison, ‘The Self-Conscious Chanson: Creative Responses to the Art versus Commerce Debate’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Leeds, 2005); Adeline Cordier, Post-War French Popular Music: Cultural Identity and the Brel–Brassens–Ferré Myth (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2014). 29 Barbara Lebrun, ‘Beyond Brassens: Twenty-First-Century Chanson and the New Generation of Singer-Songwriters’, Modern and Contemporary France, 22 (2014), 159–75. 30 Stereo: Comparative Perspectives on the Sociological Study of Popular Music in France and Britain, ed. by Hugh Dauncey and Philippe Le Guern (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011). 31 Hugh Dauncey and Philippe Le Guern, ‘Top of the Pops, or Gilbert and Maritie Carpentier? Ways of Doing and Thinking Popular Music in Britain and France’, in Stereo, ed. by Dauncey and Le Guern., pp. 1–9 (p. 3). 32 Lebrun, Protest Music in France, p. 3. Lebrun quotes Le Guern’s chapter, ‘The Study of Popular Music between Sociology and Aesthetics: A Survey of Current Research in France’ (in Popular Music in France from Chanson to Techno, ed. by Dauncey and Cannon, pp. 7–26), in which a survey of this work is provided. 33 The publications of Cécile Prévost-Thomas relevant to this état présent include ‘Les Temporalités de la chanson francophone contemporaine’, Cahiers internationaux de sociologie, 113 (2002), 331–46, and ‘Note de synthèse bibliographique: les nouvelles perspectives en sociologie de la musique’, L’Année sociologique, 60 (2010), 403–17. 34 Joël July, ‘Chanson française contemporaine: état des lieux communs’, Revue critique de fixxion française contemporaine [online], 0.5 (2012), 7–31 <http://www.revue-critique-de-fixxion-francaise-contemporaine.org/rcffc/article/view/fx05.02 > [accessed 11 September 2017]. 35 Chanson: du collectif à l’intime, ed. by Joël July (Aix-en-Provence: Presses universitaires de Provence, 2016). 36 Olivier Bourderionnet, Swing Troubadours: Brassens, Vian, Gainsbourg. Les Trente Glorieuses en 33 tours (Birmingham, AL: Summa Publications, 2011). 37 The workshop programme can be accessed at: <http://caer.univ-amu.fr/2015/05/25/workshop-chanson-les-ondes-du-monde-2 > [accessed 11 September 2017]. 38 Joël July, ‘Bilan du Workshop pluridisciplinaire: “Chanson. Les ondes du monde”’, email to the author, 8 July 2015. Cited with permission. 39 Joël July, ‘Bilan du Workshop pluridisciplinaire: “Chanson. Les ondes du monde”’, email to the author, 8 July 2015. 40 David Looseley, Édith Piaf: A Cultural History (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015), pp. 21 and 29. 41 Chanson et performance: mise en scène du corps dans la chanson française et francophone, ed. by Barbara Lebrun (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2013). 42 Haworth, From the ‘Chanson française’ to the ‘Canzone d’autore’. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for French Studies. All rights reserved. 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French chanson

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Oxford University Press
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© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for French Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com
ISSN
0016-1128
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1468-2931
D.O.I.
10.1093/fs/knx244
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Abstract

What is French chanson? In an article published by L’Express in March 2010, in anticipation of that year’s Victoires de la musique ceremony,1 the journalist Gilles Médioni addresses this question. His answer suggests there is more to chanson than just the broad idea of ‘words set to music’ that the term can sometimes signify: C’est à la fois des rimes riches, de la poésie musicale, une vision du monde. Et son contraire: du vent, du rien, du toi + moi. Mais c’est bien sous le même terme générique que se rassemblent les artistes. Protéiforme, la chanson française se démarque des autres (italienne, espagnole, anglo-saxonne…) parce qu’elle évoque des thèmes souvent inattendus. Et le champ des possibles est illimité.2His definition resonates with a broader, well-established discourse about chanson that is the product of media texts, critical commentaries, album reviews, music-industry material, and fan contributions. Taken as a whole, this discourse suggests that there is a more specific meaning to the term chanson than simply ‘popular song’ or ‘words set to music’, for it stresses that it is a particular genre with its own set of ‘rules’.3 It holds that chanson is a quality, crafted, and even artistic form of popular music; that it is a ‘literary genre, a form of poetry set to music, with claims for high-cultural status’; possesses ‘educational and enlightening qualities and [is] able to improve its audience, thus making art available to the masses’; that it represents the feelings and world view of its listeners through the persona of the singer-songwriter; and that it constitutes ‘a universal cultural product, appealing to all (within France at least)’.4 The elements of this discourse that can be seen in the extract from Médioni include: the reference to the genre as poetry; its ineffable richness; the particular world view it offers; its indefinable, immeasurable qualities suggested by Médioni's words ‘rien’ and ‘vent’; and the unexpected themes that it explores. The lack of further definition or more precise explanation of these ideas is also characteristic of the discourse, and points to the multiple meanings that the term chanson can embody. This multiplicity, or indeed polymorphousness, of the genre has been highlighted by scholars of chanson. David Looseley has analysed the ‘promiscuous use’ of the term chanson,5 and Peter Hawkins has observed: Chanson is not just a popular variety of poetry, not just a commercial product of the mass media industry, not just a reflection of popular taste, nor even a variety of folk-song. […] Precisely because of its ambiguous, hybrid status, and despite its apparent naturalness, chanson is a deceptive and elusive phenomenon. This elusiveness is of course part of the fascination, and one of the main reasons for writing about it.6Here, Hawkins highlights various significant elements of chanson discourse that govern how the genre is perceived and received. These in turn have informed the various approaches to the study of chanson that have been adopted by scholars. Indeed, critical studies of French chanson have developed considerably in recent decades and one of the strengths of the field is the diversity of approaches adopted. Chanson has been variously analysed as: poetry or, more broadly, text; a popular music product; an artefact that contributes to, and through which to read, the cultural history of France; a means by which to examine the country’s contemporary socio-cultural context; and a lens through which to explore the French socio-political landscape. The present essay discusses these diverse approaches as a means of tracking the development of chanson studies in an academic context, from the emergence of the first scholarly works in the late 1960s to the present day. It will also argue that the methodologies and disciplinary contexts that inform chanson studies can offer a broader model for modern languages research in the twenty-first century, at a time when there is increasing engagement with multidisciplinary and transnational approaches. Given that the aim here is to trace the development of chanson as a field of scholarly enquiry, this essay will concentrate essentially on publications about chanson produced in an academic context. Publications about chanson in the form of encyclopaedia entries and biographies, or written by journalists or fans, will not be our main focus. This is, among other things, because an overview of these types of publications already exists. Peter Hawkins’s 1993 essay ‘How Do You Write about Chanson?’7 and my own work on chanson in the 1960s and 1970s,8 for example, trace the evolution of writing about chanson in non-academic contexts, from the 1950s through to the present. The present essay aims to complement existing work on chanson by charting the development of the genre as a subject for academic study. It considers the frameworks through which chanson has been read and the methodologies that have informed the critical analysis of the genre. A key preoccupation of scholars involved in chanson studies is the study of the lyrical component. Such scholarship often reads song lyrics as examples of poetry, and thus seeks to identify the literary qualities of the language and, by extension, of chanson as a genre. In scholarly terms, such a strategy validates chanson as an object of serious academic enquiry and legitimizes the genre as a popular cultural form with high-cultural potential. The first publications of this type to appear include Bruno Hongre and Paul Lidsky’s contribution to the ‘Profil d’une œuvre’ series on Jacques Brel, published in 1976,9 and Lucienne Cantaloube-Ferrieu’s Chanson et poésie des années 30 aux années 60 (1981).10 More recent studies include those by Ian Pickup (a 1997 chapter devoted to the literary criticism of chanson),11 and Sara Poole, who has published volumes that analyse the literary qualities of the lyrics of Georges Brassens (2000) and Jacques Brel (2004).12 Joël July’s Esthétique de la chanson française (2007) and Dimitris Papanikolaou’s Singing Poets: Literature and Popular Music in France and Greece (2007) again privilege the poetic analysis of song lyrics.13 This points to what Barbara Lebrun has termed ‘the prevalence of a literary tradition’ in the field of French popular music studies,14 and particularly in work focusing on chanson. The lyrics of Brassens have notably constituted the case study for literary-historical studies such as that by Louis Auld (1996), which traces the influence of the medieval period and the troubadours in particular on the singer-songwriter’s œuvre.15 One by-product of this approach has been the use of chanson as a pedagogical tool for the teaching of the French language. This was discernible in some of the first academic pieces to appear on the genre, in which the study of chanson was welcomed as an opportunity to promote student engagement with the linguistic richness of ‘literary’ texts.16 Linked to the aim of establishing the literariness of chanson is that of analysing the linguistic features of specific songs that recur in the body of work of particular songwriters, notably Brassens. Work in this area includes Linda Hantrais’s 1976 two-volume publication Le Vocabulaire de Georges Brassens, and, more recently, articles on Brassens’s use of the passé simple, rhyme, and poetic devices associated with the weather.17 The detailed literary and linguistic analysis of chanson is certainly important for the appreciation of the technical qualities and richness of the songwriting in question (Hawkins points this out with particular reference to Brassens).18 Yet such approaches do not always acknowledge the interaction of the lyric with the music, instrumentation, or performance, nor of the song and the songwriter with the relevant socio-cultural, -historical, and -political context. They can thus remain limited in their delineation of the potential broader relevance of chanson to other disciplines or fields of experience. A notable exception here is Jeandillou, who reads Brassens’s rhyme schemes as scored by his music and diction, and analyses the duality of the poetic form in popular song. Jeandillou’s study constitutes a significant step forward in developing the literary and linguistic critique approach in chanson studies, since it introduces multidisciplinary aspects that draw on musicology and performance studies. This evolution in approach has continued and has resulted in the publication of works that have begun to embrace a wider range of disciplinary methodologies and frameworks for the analysis of chanson. Stéphane Hirschi’s research is a useful case in point. While his focus has been primarily on the literariness of chanson, on which he has published widely, it has led more specifically to the establishment of cantologie as a key critical framework.19 Although cantologie recognizes chanson as a literary genre, it also draws on sociology and ultimately argues that chanson should be the subject of research in its own right, without necessarily referring to its relationship to poetry or literature. Some of the first conferences on chanson to be held in France were the result of this significant theoretical development. These include ‘La Chanson en lumière’, held 24–27 April 1996 at the Université de Valenciennes, and ‘Les Frontières improbables de la chanson’, held 1–4 March 2000, again at Valenciennes. There is also now a ‘Cantologie’ book series, with Hirschi as editor. Established in 2003 and published by Les Belles Lettres and Presses universitaires de Valenciennes, the series is the first attempt to publish critical readings of chanson within the French academy and thus constitutes another notable advance in the development of chanson studies. Although literariness in chanson persists as one of the key themes of scholarship, recent research on the genre also seeks to push beyond any simplistic conceptualization of chanson as an alternative form of literature and poetry. As scholars have sought to engage with the contexts within which chanson operates, the socio-historical/cultural/political element has been increasingly stressed. Louis-Jean Calvet’s Chanson et société (1981) was an early landmark here: his volume focused on the musical and socio-historical context of chanson by examining the ways in which lyrics, performance, voice, music, and staging interact to produce meaning in the context of chanson.20 Jacques Béreaud’s 1988 article on post-1968 chanson then engaged with the impact of politics and the events of May 1968 in particular on the genre.21 However, it is Peter Hawkins’s seminal 2000 monograph on chanson that, while approaching chanson through an engagement with the literariness of the genre, offers the outstanding example of the turn in chanson studies that embraces the contexts within which chanson is produced.22 Hawkins blends an analysis of lyrics with a reading of music, performance, star status, and gender in a way that showcases the richness of chanson as a source for comment on the popular cultural landscape of twentieth-century France. In his subsequent work devoted to Léo Ferré, Hawkins has continued to blend methodologies from the perspective of chanson studies, introducing, for example, elements of Bourdieusian analysis, modernism, and postmodernism as a way of reading the singer-songwriter’s career and relationship to cultural movements in twentieth-century France.23 Following Hawkins’s work, many of the studies that seek to open up our understanding of chanson and of the shifting contexts within which it operates have been published since 2000. Indeed, many have been carried out by scholars working in an English-language environment, and who adopt a cultural-studies-based approach to French popular music more broadly. David Looseley deserves a special mention here. His is a pioneering voice in chanson studies and his work considers the genre from a wider perspective that specifically interrogates the socio-cultural/historical dimension of chanson. His 2003 monograph, Popular Music in Contemporary France: Authenticity, Politics, Debate, is a fundamental text for anyone studying chanson. The volume examines the interactions of chanson with other forms of popular music and culture in France from the 1960s to 2000, in a bid to understand the complex value systems and cultural hierarchies at work within the popular music industry in contemporary France. It thus delineates the potential of chanson and popular music more broadly to reveal something of the nature of French culture and society. Significant recent work in the field has continued to explore chanson and its relationship to French culture, society, history, and/or politics. The interaction of chanson with other genres of popular music in France was one of the topics considered in the first edited volume on French popular music to be published in English: Hugh Dauncey and Steve Cannon’s Popular Music in France from Chanson to Techno: Culture, Identity and Society.24 There have also been works that explore these interactions from a historical perspective: Larry Portis’s volume on the social history of popular music in France and, more recently, Jonathyne Briggs’s cultural history of popular music in France from 1958 to 1980 both place chanson against the historical context of other genres of French popular music since 1945, in order to trace the impact of music on French life and identity.25 Chris Tinker adopts a more specifically socio-cultural perspective on chanson in his 2005 monograph, which examines the links between songwriting and the broader personal and social experiences of Brassens and Brel (and to a lesser extent Ferré).26 As far as chanson studies are concerned, Tinker has also published on the relationship between the music industry and Ferré, the industry and Serge Gainsbourg, anti-nationalism and chanson, and chanson and music journalism.27 These publications all foreground the way in which chanson interacts with French popular culture, literature, and society of the post-1945 period. Such interactions are also the focus of Kim Harrison’s unpublished doctoral work on the art–commerce paradox inherent in much of the constitutive discourse of chanson, and Adeline Cordier’s analysis of the Brel–Brassens–Ferré triumvirate as a myth and social signifier of French ideals and identities in the post-war period.28 In the context of the socio-cultural placement of chanson in scholarly work, it is also important to mention Barbara Lebrun’s monograph, Protest Music in France: Production, Identity and Audiences; although not primarily about chanson itself, the volume is an example of the potential expansion of the field of chanson studies to achieve a globally more representative and inclusive analysis of French popular music. By focusing on rock and protest music, Lebrun challenges the cultural hierarchy that is often discernible within chanson discourse, which legitimates the study of chanson as an art form, encourages the permanence of a literary approach in its analysis, and requires other forms such as variétés or rock to be stigmatized or downgraded due to their perceived commercialism. Her study demonstrates in particular the complex cultural value systems and discourses that pervade French society and that popular music, including chanson, is able to reveal and explicate. Lebrun has subsequently developed this element of chanson studies further in her work on twenty-first-century chanson.29 Another important volume that seeks to further broaden the approach to the study of chanson is the collective volume Stereo: Comparative Perspectives on the Sociological Study of Popular Music in France and Britain (2011).30 This collection includes leading scholars in popular music studies in both Britain and France, and it tellingly illuminates the different ways in which scholars from the two countries analyse the phenomenon. Although chanson does not feature as a central preoccupation, the presentation of critical frameworks through which to analyse French popular music from a specifically French perspective helps to introduce new and innovative approaches to the field of chanson studies. In the Introduction to the collection, Dauncey and Le Guern observe: French research on popular culture in general and popular music in particular has often suffered from a kind of double disqualification both by an academic and intellectual system which has traditionally favoured ‘élite’ cultural forms and practices, and by the perceived backwardness and simplicity of French conceptualizations and research methods compared with those […] of British and American specialists.31The volume as a whole provides key insights into the differences of approach to chanson studies in Britain and France, from the point of view of development, methodology, and even subject matter. The French contributors write about popular music in general, and not on chanson specifically, for their research interests lie broadly within the areas of sociology, cultural studies, musicology, and cultural policy. Significantly, the fact that chanson does not feature as a genre in its own right illustrates that, as far as research into French popular music in France is concerned, chanson is not as privileged a genre as might be expected. Indeed, the establishment of the journal Volume! La Revue des musiques populaires in 2002 demonstrates that chanson features alongside articles (for example) about the Beatles, metal music, and the alternative music press, illustrating the multidisciplinary approach to research in popular music in France that has come to characterize the field in recent years. Yet the French and the French-language context have also seen an evolution of methodological approaches to the study of chanson itself, specifically since 2000. While it is clear that the literary tradition, which privileges and encourages the analysis of chanson as a poetic form, is still influential, Lebrun has pointed out that, since 2000, ‘a number of French sociologists have started to focus on popular music from a combined perspective, privileging for instance cultural policy, the practices of musicians, or those of audiences’.32 Although chanson itself has not tended to be the primary area of concern of this body of work, there are notable examples of scholars whose work on chanson specifically has benefited from the broader study of popular music in France from an academic perspective. Cécile Prévost-Thomas, for example, is the author of a range of articles that explore chanson from the point of view of gender and sociology.33 Joël July has published on the place of contemporary chanson alongside other musical genres such as variétés, rock, and rap,34 and his 2016 edited volume Chanson: du collectif à l’intime brings together a series of essays that examine the listener’s perception of chanson through an analysis of lyrics, music, and voice.35 Olivier Bourderionnet’s monograph Swing Troubadours: Brassens, Vian, Gainsbourg. Les Trente Glorieuses en 33 tours analyses the relationship of chanson to jazz and thus seeks to reconfigure the canon of French popular singer-songwriters.36 Stéphane Chaudier and Perle Abbrugiati are also active in the area of chanson studies and have staged key research events on chanson. In this context, Abbrugiati’s particular contribution to the field ought to be underlined. She has organized a series of colloquia and study days, including the ‘Chanson: les ondes du monde’ workshop that took place on 1–2 June 2015 at the Université d’Aix–Marseille.37 This international event brought together colleagues from across France, as well as specialists in popular music and chanson from Italy, the UK, and Austria; its aim was ‘la création d’un réseau interdisciplinaire et international de recherche pour une étude croisée de la chanson, comprise comme un objet polymorphe (elle réunit texte, musique, art scénique, elle est un objet de culture populaire, passant de pays à pays)’.38 A network was subsequently set up at Aix–Marseille to study chanson française in its broadest context (including its presence and representation in countries outside of France). The interdisciplinary character of this initiative demonstrates the expansion that chanson studies in France has enjoyed in recent years. As the workshop materials explain, this is ‘un champ de recherche qui peut être exploité pendant de nombreuses années’, with the potential for further international collaborations and projects.39 The potential of chanson as a research case-study to straddle disciplinary and methodological boundaries is one of the strengths of the field that has become even more apparent in recent years. Looseley’s 2015 monograph on Édith Piaf is a case in point. While this study clearly builds on Looseley’s previous work on chanson, he explicitly seeks to provide a cultural history of the singer that also engages with star studies and gender studies, by way of ‘critically analysing [her] legend: its origins, evolution, contradictions and cultural significance’, taking into consideration her international standing, and reading her as a lieu de mémoire that functions as ‘a vector of national cultural memory’ in France.40 Although the volume is aimed at a non-academic audience, it is nevertheless essential reading for scholars given its significant contribution in the areas of star studies, cultural history, French studies, and memory studies in general. This coming together of disciplines and methodologies also demonstrates the ways in which the field of chanson studies is able to contribute to scholarly debates beyond French studies. Such methodological hybridity characterizes Barbara Lebrun’s 2013 edited volume on chanson and performance, which explores the physicality of chanson through an analysis of the body and voice of its proponents.41 This analysis brings chanson studies into contact with, among others, theories of stardom, performance, performativity, gender, and identity. My own work on chanson examines its relationship to the Italian singer-songwriter genre, the canzone d’autore, and interrogates notions of influence and cultural translation.42 These publications illustrate the ways in which chanson studies also interact with a wide range of disciplines, including: star studies, gender studies, performance studies, intermediality, transnationality, and cultural translation. It is this potential for multidisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity that will influence the shape and nature of chanson studies in the future. This essay has stressed the contribution that research on chanson makes to broader debates in the French context regarding cultural discourse, notions of cultural hierarchy, and the problematic nature of popular cultural forms. In particular, the research considered here illustrates more broadly the way in which work on chanson sheds light on the ‘Frenchness’ of the form, speaking to our understanding of French identity and contributing to the ongoing debate regarding what indeed it means to ‘be French’. For the future, however, research on chanson appears to be further expanding these questions and the debates that they generate. Multidisciplinarity has emerged as a strength of chanson studies. Indeed, research in chanson both prefigured and also mirrored the increased interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity that arts and humanities research witnessed more generally in the late 1990s and during the 2000s. In the context of French studies today, chanson is thus a key field for further developments in these areas. But is this where the future lies? Can chanson also embrace the turn towards the transnational and the transcultural that is beginning to mark languages research? It is certainly the case that the diversity of methodologies and disciplinary contexts that has informed chanson studies thus far brings a degree of flexibility and an awareness of the need to situate chanson within wider contexts. Current research in chanson is doing precisely this. As well as developing further the multidisciplinary nature of chanson studies, and thereby widening the boundaries of the field, future research will need to engage with chanson’s presence and cultural impact around the globe, positioning chanson studies firmly within an exciting transnational context. Footnotes 1 This is the annual ceremony at which the French Ministry of Culture presents the Victoire awards to recognize outstanding achievement in the popular music industry. 2 Gilles Médioni, ‘C’est quoi une chanson française?’, L’Express, 5 March 2010 <http://www.lexpress.fr/culture/musique/c-est-quoi-une-chanson-francaise_853099.html > [accessed 11 September 2017]. 3 The notion of ‘genre rules’ within popular music was defined by musicologist Franco Fabbri and refers to the ‘types of rules that contribute to the definition of a [musical] genre’ that are a product of the constitutive discourse of the genre, and which then affect the ways in which both the musical genre and its rules are accepted by various communities. See Franco Fabbri, ‘A Theory of Musical Genres: Two Applications’, in Popular Music Perspectives: Papers from the First International Conference on Popular Music Research, Amsterdam, June 1981, ed. by David Horn and Philip Tagg (Gothenburg: International Association for the Study of Popular Music, 1982), pp. 52–81 (p. 52), and online at < http://www.francofabbri.net/files/Testi_per_Studenti/ffabbri81a.pdf > [accessed 11 September 2017]. 4 Rachel Haworth, From the ‘Chanson française’ to the ‘Canzone d’autore’ in the 1960s and 1970s: Authenticity, Authority, Influence (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2015), pp. 45–46. 5 David Looseley, Popular Music in Contemporary France: Authenticity, Politics, Debate (Oxford: Berg, 2003), p. 81. 6 Peter Hawkins, Chanson: The French Singer-Songwriter from Aristide Bruant to the Present Day (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000), p. 4. 7 Peter Hawkins, ‘How Do You Write about Chanson?’, French Cultural Studies, 4 (1993), 69–79. 8 Haworth, From the ‘Chanson française’ to the ‘Canzone d’autore’, in particular Chapter 1, ‘Thinking the chanson française and the canzone d’autore’ (pp. 9–24), and Chapter 2, ‘Writing about chanson in the 1950s and 1960s’ (pp. 25–46). 9 Bruno Hongre and Paul Lidsky, Jacques Brel: chansons (Paris: Hatier, 1976). 10 Lucienne Cantaloube-Ferrieu, Chanson et poésie des années 30 aux années 60 (Paris: Nizet, 1981). 11 Ian Pickup, ‘La Chanson française et la critique littéraire’, in Aspects de la critique: colloque des universités de Birmingham et de Besançon, ed. by Ian Pickup and Philippe Baron (Besançon: Annales littéraires de l’Université de Franche-Comté, 1997), pp. 137–50. 12 Sara Poole, Brassens: Chansons (London: Grant & Cutler, 2000) and Brel and Chanson: A Critical Appreciation (Dallas: University Press of America, 2004). 13 Joël July, Esthétique de la chanson française (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2007); Dimitris Papanikolaou, Singing Poets: Literature and Popular Music in France and Greece (Oxford: Legenda, 2007). 14 Barbara Lebrun, Protest Music in France: Production, Identity and Audiences (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009), p. 3. 15 Louis Auld, ‘“L’Humble”: Medieval Echoes in the Chansons of Georges Brassens’, Studies in Medievalism, 6 (1996), 183–98. 16 See, for example, Marie Naudin, ‘La Chanson française contemporaine’, French Review, 40 (1967), 785–94. 17 Linda Hantrais, Le Vocabulaire de Georges Brassens, 2 vols (Paris: Klincksieck, 1976); Anne-Rosine Delbart, ‘“Ainsi que des bossus tous deux nous rigolâmes”: le passé simple dans les chansons de Georges Brassens’, Revue de linguistique romane, 60 (1996), 485–512; Jean-François Jeandillou, ‘Le Chant des rimes’, Français moderne: revue de linguistique française, 69 (2001), 161–82; Gabriel Jacobs, ‘The Elemental Brassens’, Romance Studies, 17 (1999), 15–30. 18 Hawkins, Chanson, p. 13. 19 A full list of Stéphane Hirschi’s publications is available at < http://www.univ-valenciennes.fr/CALHISTE/membres/hirschi_stephane#publications > [accessed 11 September 2017]. For the purposes of this état présent, the following publications by Hirschi are of particular note: Chanson: l’art de fixer l’air du temps — de Béranger à Mano Solo (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2008), a monograph that focuses on the writing process; La Chanson française depuis 1980: de Goldman à Stromae, entre vinyles et MP3 (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2016), a monograph that looks at various ways in which the genre has developed since 1980; ‘Chanson: métaphysique d’un genre’, Nouvelle Revue française, 601 (2012), no pag., an article that provides a critical introduction to chanson; and ‘Esthétique de la chanson depuis 1980: un petit traité’, Revue critique de fixxion française contemporaine [online], 0.5 (2012), 181–242 <http://www.revue-critique-de-fixxion-francaise-contemporaine.org/rcffc/article/view/fx05.18 > [accessed 11 September 2017], an article that critically examines the evolution of chanson since 1980. 20 Louis-Jean Calvet, Chanson et société (Paris: Payot, 1981). 21 Jacques Béreaud, ‘La Chanson française depuis mai 1968’, The French Review, 62 (1988), 229–41. 22 Hawkins, Chanson. As the author of the first academic article on chanson to be published in English (‘How Do You Write about Chanson?’), Hawkins has also offered scholars an overview of the types of non-academic volumes in existence about chanson, tracing further potential avenues for future research. 23 Peter Hawkins, ‘Léo Ferré: Modernism, Postmodernism and the Avant-Garde in Popular Chanson’, French Cultural Studies, 16 (2005), 169–78, and ‘The Career of Léo Ferré: A Bourdieusian Analysis’, Volume, 2 (2003), no pag. <https://volume.revues.org/2250 > [accessed 11 September 2017]. 24 Popular Music in France from Chanson to Techno: Culture, Identity and Society, ed. by Hugh Dauncey and Steve Cannon (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003). 25 Larry Portis, French Frenzies: A Social History of Popular Music in France (College Station, TX: Virtualbookworm.com, 2004); Jonathyne Briggs, Sounds French: Globalization, Cultural Communities, and Pop Music, 1958–1980 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). 26 Chris Tinker, Georges Brassens and Jacques Brel: Personal and Social Narratives in Post-War Chanson (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2005). 27 Chris Tinker, ‘A Singer-Songwriter’s View of the French Record Industry: The Case of Leo Ferré’, Popular Music, 21 (2002), 147–57; ‘Serge Gainsbourg and le défi americain’, Modern and Contemporary France, 10 (2002), 187–96; ‘Anti-nationalism in Postwar French Chanson’, National Identities, 4 (2002), 133–43; ‘The Myth and Beyond: Shaping Chanson in Les Inrockuptibles (2007–2011)’, Revue critique de fixxion française contemporaine [online], 0.5 (2012), 89–96 <http://www.revue-critique-de-fixxion-francaise-contemporaine.org/rcffc/article/view/fx05.08 > [accessed 11 September 2017]. 28 Kim Harrison, ‘The Self-Conscious Chanson: Creative Responses to the Art versus Commerce Debate’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Leeds, 2005); Adeline Cordier, Post-War French Popular Music: Cultural Identity and the Brel–Brassens–Ferré Myth (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2014). 29 Barbara Lebrun, ‘Beyond Brassens: Twenty-First-Century Chanson and the New Generation of Singer-Songwriters’, Modern and Contemporary France, 22 (2014), 159–75. 30 Stereo: Comparative Perspectives on the Sociological Study of Popular Music in France and Britain, ed. by Hugh Dauncey and Philippe Le Guern (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011). 31 Hugh Dauncey and Philippe Le Guern, ‘Top of the Pops, or Gilbert and Maritie Carpentier? Ways of Doing and Thinking Popular Music in Britain and France’, in Stereo, ed. by Dauncey and Le Guern., pp. 1–9 (p. 3). 32 Lebrun, Protest Music in France, p. 3. Lebrun quotes Le Guern’s chapter, ‘The Study of Popular Music between Sociology and Aesthetics: A Survey of Current Research in France’ (in Popular Music in France from Chanson to Techno, ed. by Dauncey and Cannon, pp. 7–26), in which a survey of this work is provided. 33 The publications of Cécile Prévost-Thomas relevant to this état présent include ‘Les Temporalités de la chanson francophone contemporaine’, Cahiers internationaux de sociologie, 113 (2002), 331–46, and ‘Note de synthèse bibliographique: les nouvelles perspectives en sociologie de la musique’, L’Année sociologique, 60 (2010), 403–17. 34 Joël July, ‘Chanson française contemporaine: état des lieux communs’, Revue critique de fixxion française contemporaine [online], 0.5 (2012), 7–31 <http://www.revue-critique-de-fixxion-francaise-contemporaine.org/rcffc/article/view/fx05.02 > [accessed 11 September 2017]. 35 Chanson: du collectif à l’intime, ed. by Joël July (Aix-en-Provence: Presses universitaires de Provence, 2016). 36 Olivier Bourderionnet, Swing Troubadours: Brassens, Vian, Gainsbourg. Les Trente Glorieuses en 33 tours (Birmingham, AL: Summa Publications, 2011). 37 The workshop programme can be accessed at: <http://caer.univ-amu.fr/2015/05/25/workshop-chanson-les-ondes-du-monde-2 > [accessed 11 September 2017]. 38 Joël July, ‘Bilan du Workshop pluridisciplinaire: “Chanson. Les ondes du monde”’, email to the author, 8 July 2015. Cited with permission. 39 Joël July, ‘Bilan du Workshop pluridisciplinaire: “Chanson. Les ondes du monde”’, email to the author, 8 July 2015. 40 David Looseley, Édith Piaf: A Cultural History (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015), pp. 21 and 29. 41 Chanson et performance: mise en scène du corps dans la chanson française et francophone, ed. by Barbara Lebrun (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2013). 42 Haworth, From the ‘Chanson française’ to the ‘Canzone d’autore’. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for French Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com

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French StudiesOxford University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2018

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