Comments for The Magic Tent. A Celebration of French Language Popular Music

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Produced by Charles Spira, Jonathan Ehrens

Other pieces by Charles Spira

Summary: Prepare to be dazzled by the Music, Voices and Artists in this Whirlwind Tour of French Language Popular Music. This program was specially created for English Speaking Audiences. A great selection for Bastille Day, July 14.

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Perfectly engaging tour of French chanson

I listened on an overcast, late-spring day, which put me into a Parisian mindset. On any day, though, I would have thoroughly enjoyed Charles' survey of French music. I had heard of many of the artists, and heard their work, but I never had context - who was contemporary with whom, who influenced whom. This piece is great for structuring my understanding of the music, presenting the artists in loose time sequence and drawing connections of influence among them. I enjoyed hearing stylistic shifts across artists and over time. I'd like a piece like this for many music traditions worldwide.

Charles' writing is simple, clear, and interesting - a great combination that made it much easier to remember what I was hearing. The production quality is high. Nothing fancy, just professionally done, and a reminder that simplicity can work well. The piece does start to feel rather long after 40 minutes or so - Charles himself acknowledges there's a lot of music to go through. It might be worth breaking it up by decade, even at risk of losing the stylistic comparisons over time.

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This piece provided a very cursory introduction to some artists of French chanson. I would have liked a little more discussion of what are the common characteristics of French chanson, (something about instrumentation, perhaps?) and I would have liked to hear at least one or two songs in full.

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Harmony of music and voice lifts the spirit

I am moved by this most human music. The emphasis is expression in a beautiful way, not to be loud or shock and there is no repetition of a backbeat. French chanson takes you to a better world.