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FR359 Popular Music in Contemporary France

Module Code: FR359
Module Name: Popular Music in Contemporary France
Module Coordinator: TBC
Not running 2018-19
Module Credits: 15

Module Description

This module offers an introduction to the history, forms and meanings of popular music in contemporary France. It begins with a brief theoretical introduction to studying pop music and will subsequently be divided into two parts. In the first half of the module, we will look at the craft of the French popular song as it has evolved from music-hall stars like Edith Piaf, through protest singers of the 1960s to postmodern pop icons like Serge Gainsbourg and Mylène Farmer for whom image and persona are often as important as music and lyrics. The second part of the module will cover a variety of different genres in French pop music, looking at rap, world music and techno and asking how changes in popular musical culture have reflected developments in French society during this period. We will also consider the impact of pop music upon governmental and media discourses by looking at cultural policy and French music radio.

  • This module offers an introduction to the history, forms and meanings of popular music in contemporary France.
  • The module will begin with a brief theoretical introduction to studying pop music and will subsequently be divided into two parts.
  • In the first half of the module, we will look at the craft of the French popular song as it has evolved from music-hall stars like Edith Piaf, through protest singers of the 1960s to postmodern pop icons like Serge Gainsbourg and Mylène Farmer for whom image and persona are often as important as music and lyrics.
  • The second part of the module will cover a variety of different genres in French pop music, looking at rap, world music and techno and asking how changes in popular musical culture have reflected developments in French society during this period.
  • We will also consider the impact of pop music upon governmental and media discourses by looking at cultural policy and French music radio.

Seminars will involve the cultural analysis of lyrics, songs, albums, videos, radio programmes, music journalism and web sites. No formal musical education is required to study this module, although an interest in pop music would certainly help!

Outline syllabus
  1. Introduction: Studying popular music
  2. History of French chanson: Edith Piaf
  3. Post-war chanson: Brassens and Brel
  4. The postmodern pop star: Serge Gainsbourg
  5. Sound and image, music and video: Mylène Farmer
  6. Reading week
  7. World music and/in France
  8. Hip hop in France
  9. Techno in France
  10. Popular music radio in France