The Chanson Musical Tradition: Background information when reading The Melody

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The Melody

by Jim Crace

The Melody by Jim Crace X
The Melody by Jim Crace
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  • Published:
    Jun 2018, 240 pages

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Dean Muscat
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The Chanson Musical Tradition

This article relates to The Melody

French singer Edith Piaf
Alfred Busi, the protagonist of The Melody, is described by author Jim Crace as being a singer in the European chanson tradition. This lyrically-drive musical form originated in medieval France as the chanson de geste ("song of heroic deeds"), epic poems recounting the glorious tales of famous heroes set to music. The songs employed basic monophonic melodies, meaning the music would consist of a single melody unaccompanied by harmony or chords. Over the next few centuries the chanson form continued to develop to incorporate more complex musical techniques and lyrics that moved away from the epics to the subject of courtly love.

The modern version of the chanson emerged between the 1880s and the end of World War II with the chanson réaliste style. Born in the Parisian cafés and cabarets within the Montmartre district (chiefly in the Moulin Rouge and Le Chat Noir theaters) this form of chanson was influenced by literary realism and naturalism. These movements were ...

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