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Organs of the Soul:

Sonic Networks in Eighteenth-Century Paris

Rebecca Geoffroy-Schwinden, Author

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A mid-century newsworthy chanson

The Chanson nouvelle qui distingue les Noms des Généraux de France provides an ideal example of music's role in spreading news to the semi-literate in eighteenth-century France.  Although some historians have argued that public opinion did not play a role in French politics until the French Revolution, these songs indicate a desire to spread positive sentiment about the army and its commanders through the French kingdom in mid-eighteenth-century France.

"What devolution today,
in France and in all countries!
A grand number of crowned heads
are at war this year;
Our French, good warriors,
Go out to gather Laurels.

We have good Generals
Who support until their fall;
Marching like songs of Mars,
Without fear of perils or hazards..."

The song goes on to name generals in Louis' army and the troops these generals command.  Later it notes "This year the King of France has a good eight hundred thousand men on foot, divided into three army corps, which will be well-commanded..."

The chansonniers indicates the air or tune to which the new song should be sung:  "Elle sera soufflée..."  In reality, only the lyrics were new and set to pre-existing melodies.  Printed music in chansonniers was rare at this time.

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