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Music and the Elusive RevolutionCultural Politics and Political Culture in France, 1968-1981$
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Eric Drott

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520268968

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520268968.001.0001

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Genre and Musical Representations of May

Genre and Musical Representations of May

(p.70) Chapter 2 Genre and Musical Representations of May
Music and the Elusive Revolution

Eric Drott

University of California Press

The uses ascribed to music during May and the après-mai period varied not only across musical and political formations, but also from one musical genre to another. This chapter examines this topic in detail and provides a framework for understanding how genre mediates political expression. The norms, ideologies, and discourses that govern different genres play a decisive role in determining what can or cannot be said through music, what uses a song can or cannot afford. Of particular importance is the correlation of genre and identity, inasmuch as the political agency imputed to a given social group conditions what functions will be attributed to the music(s) associated with this group. To flesh out this thesis, the chapter examines how the events of May were represented in different types of popular song. By examining songs drawn from the genres of the literary chanson (Léo Ferré's “L'été 68”), the revolutionary chanson (Dominique Grange's “Les nouveaux partisans”), and contemporary French pop music (Evariste's “La révolution”), it is shown how the conventions governing subject matter, rhetoric, imagery, and musical style in each influenced their depictions of May '68.

Keywords:   music, May 1968, political expression, genre, identity, popular song

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