This avenue of research studies the interactions between court and town, between Paris and beyond, in order to understand the evolutions of the various musical genres (e.g. opera, sacred and instrumental music). It looks at the core model and how it circulated, examining local responses to the model (acceptance, adoption or rejection). The dissemination of a repertoire was essentially linked to the movement of musicians, composers and performers. A professional move from one institution or place to another helped spread musical practices. Moreover, for a period marked by a fixed determinedly French musical style, the research also looks into the role of foreign influences, and the spread of French music outside national borders.
The Centre and beyond
With an absolutist regime, by definition in France the court was its nerve centre. Its location changed over the centuries: first in the heart of Paris, then in Versailles at the instigation of Louis xiv in 1682 where it remained until the Revolution, only briefly returning to Paris during the Regency of Philippe II Duc d’Orléans. An examination of the relationship between court and town in this context sheds fresh light on the practice of the various musical genres (e.g. opera, sacred and instrumental music). As such, an analysis of the exchanges between Paris and the provinces, notably vis-a-vis its institutions (e.g. provincial opera houses mirroring the Académie Royale de Musique), will shed light on how the core model was circulated and local responses to it (acceptance, adoption or rejection).
Frontiers and transfers
In an era marked by the designation of a specific French model of music, it is necessary to look at the possible impact of foreign interference, and the spread of French music beyond its frontiers. There was considerable exchange between France and other parts of Europe, although the most marked confrontation was undoubtedly that of Italian music. France and the rest of Europe were dominated by the Italian style throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. This draws the research in the opposite direction: although French music was unable to export its macrostructures (operas and motets) in their entirety, it is interesting to note the French musical sources which were popular abroad, and the people who were in a position to take them abroad and introduce them to new audiences.
People and places
The issue of territory is intrinsically linked to the movement of people. Musicians, composers and performers formed an interwoven fabric. Professional migration from one institution or place to another helped spread musical practices, reviving, influencing or replacing those that existed. A map of the music venues in major French towns provides details of their precise location and audience profiles, shedding light on their status in the cultural life of the time.