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International Music Resources by Country: France

International Music Resources offers an array of online and physical resources both freely available and/or offered by the George F. DeVine Music Library. The information included in these guides may serve as a starting point for the study and research of

Paris, France cityscape

Citation (1)

Map of France

France map

Citation (2)

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music

            Read about France Music


Music of France

Anton Rubinstein, Sonatas for Violin and Piano Album Art

French Music for Violin and Cello Album Art

Musique pour le Roi: French Lute Music of the Baroque Album Art

Facts in Brief

France flag


Capital: Paris

Official Language: French

Location: The French Republic is situated in Western Europe. It is bounded to the north by the English Channel (la Manche), to the east by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea, Andorra, Monaco, and Spain, and to the west by the Atlantic Ocean. 

Area:  543,940 sq km (210,016 sq miles)

Current Population: 64,897,954

Climate: In the north the climate is temperate, with warm summers and cool winters. The climate in the south of the country is Mediterranean, with mild winters and warm, dry summers.

Money: Euro

Main Religion: Christianity

Citation (3)

French Music

Traditional Music

The majority of traditional songs are monodic and performed as solos.

Themes of traditional songs draw on historical events, tales, legends, miracles and drama. A number of songs in traditional repertories deal with the state of mind of a bashful or rejected lover, or a fiancé(e) still ecstatically happy or already disappointed. These themes often mingle with local anecdotes, praise of nature, humorous or dramatic situations, and religious subjects. The melodies are very often constructed on timbres, existing tunes not linked to a single text but used to accompany a number of songs.

The musical structure of songs is generally simple; a single melody is repeated for each stanza, and the refrain is sung to the same musical phrase; it is unusual for the refrain to be sung to a different musical phrase from that of the couplets. Parlando-like sections may also be introduced into songs. Sometimes the melodies even contain imitations of animal noises or of the sounds of certain instruments.

Apart from recitatives in free rhythm, song rhythms are usually the same as the metre of the texts, and the rhythms of dance-songs match the steps of the dance. Most songs are usually syllabic. Melismatic settings have most often been reserved for sacred performance. In all cases, rhythms or styles of utterance are linked to the context of performance, so that the same tune can be used to accompany a lament or a bourrée.

Citation (3)

Streaming Video: JVC Video Anthology of World Music-France

Streaming Video: French Musical Plays

Composer Highlight: Claude Debussy

portrait of Claude Debussy

1826 - 1918

French composer. One of the most important musicians of his time, his harmonic innovations had a profound influence on generations of composers. He made a decisive move away from Wagnerism in his only complete opera Pelléas et Mélisande, and in his works for piano and for orchestra he created new genres and revealed a range of timbre and colour which indicated a highly original musical aesthetic.

Debussy’s inventions bear equally on harmony, rhythm, texture and form, and might be summarized as a lifelong quest to banish blatancy of musical expression. His harmony inseparably binds modality and tonality. Although French music had never lost its variety of modes, Debussy extended and revitalized their range and tonal potential, developing the explorations of Chabrier and Russian composers and the different modal languages of Asian music.

Lesure, F., & Howat, R.  Debussy, (Achille-)Claude. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 7 Jun. 2023.


(1): "Paris Panorama" by "Debarshi Bhaumik"

(2): Country Map (France), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 21 July 2021 from

(3): Country Flag (France), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 21 July 2021 from