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France

France

Geography & Topography

Capital: Paris

Area: 675 417 km2

Population: 65 436 552

Language: French

Religion: Catholic, Judaism, Islam…

Currency: Euro

History

France is the second largest country in Europe (after Russia) and has a population of about 65 million people.  Paris is the capital city of France and its historic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum have become popular tourist attractions. The french Republic is still a rather young state, it was created after the french revolution in 1789. Before that, France was a Monarchy with a series of kings such as Charlemagne, Louis XIV and many more, the last king to reign France was Louis XVI. France had an important role in the international scene during the 20th century because of its involvement in both World Wars and because it was, along with the Benelux countries and west Germany, the founder of Europe as we know it today.

Performing Arts

The music of France dates all the way back to the Middle Ages, however its Golden Age is considered to have happened in the 17th Century with French Classical music. It later had a revival in the 19th and 20th Century with opera. These days, many of the musical events and institutions in France are dedicated to classical music and operas. There are also plenty of other styles of music coming from France, such as punk, rock, pop and electronic music. In recent times electronic duos Daft Punk, Justice and Air also reached worldwide popularity and contributed to the reputation of modern electronic music in the world.

The most recognizable instruments in traditional French music are:

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A street-performer playing the accordion in France

Piano Accordion: The piano accordion was invented in Europe in the 1800s and has become the most well known type of accordion in Western countries. Corsica and Auvergne are two of the regions in France that preserve folk and traditional French music, which uses the piano accordion as its main instrument.

culturalinfusion/soundinfusion-hurdyGurdy

Hurdy Gurdy, also known as the wheel fiddle

Hurdy Gurdy (Viella a Roue): The hurdy gurdy (also known as a wheel fiddle) is a stringed musical instrument that produces a sound when the player turns a rosined wheel so it rubs against the strings. The wheel functions much like a violin bow, and single notes played on the instrument sound similar to a violin. Melodies are played on a keyboard that presses tangents (small wedges usually made of wood) against one or more of the strings to change their pitch.

 

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A man playing the french horn

French Horn: This instrument was originally developed in Germany then evolved into the form we know it as today in France, which is why we call it the French horn. French horns have two sets of coiled tubing which the musician switches between by working a valve with their left thumb. One set of tubing gives a mellow, rich, deep tone whilst the other makes a higher, brighter sound.

Dance

Dance in France is a form of entertainment that helps people reconnect with the cultural heritage of the region. Similarly to many other European countries, styles of dance vary according to the region. Most of the dances date back from the middle ages.

Some of the french traditional dances include:

Bourrée: The Bourrée is originally from the french Auvergne region fromn the 17th century but it has become very popular in the UK and other surrounding countries.  A Bourrée starts on the last beat of a bar which creates a quarter-bar anacrusis. Johann Mattheson wrote of the Bourrée, “its distinguishing feature resides in contentment and a pleasant demeanor, at the same time it is somewhat carefree and relaxed, a little indolent and easygoing, though not disagreeable”.

Java: The Java dance is one of the most popular of the Musette repertoire. It dates back from the 1930’s  when accordion players in the streets of Paris developed something less codified and  formal than the original Waltz for the people with a strong working class background. It is a fast paced Waltz like dance where a man a woman are to be very close, making little steps. The man commonly has his hands on the woman’s bottom while she has her hands around his neck.

 

 

 

Some interesting facts:

  • France is the most popular tourist destination in the world.
  • The French invented photography, films, the hot air balloon, the submarine and the ambulance service.
  • French language is spoken by 270 million people worldwide (almost as much as the population of the USA), of which 120 million are native or fluent. There are less than 60 million of White Caucasian native speakers of standard French worldwide.
  • France has one of the world’s longest life expectancies.
  • The oldest evidence of life in France traces back 1,800,000 years ago.

French community in Australia:

More information on the French community: