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Sounds of the MetropolisThe 19th Century Popular Music Revolution in London, New York, Paris and Vienna$
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Derek B. Scott

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195309461

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195309461.001.0001

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No Smoke without Water

No Smoke without Water

The Incoherent Message of Montmartre Cabaret

(p.196) 8 No Smoke without Water
Sounds of the Metropolis

Derek B. Scott

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates the music of the artistic cabarets of Montmartre, especially the Chat Noir, and finds a contradictory character in its reception. Aristide Bruant's chansons, for example, have been regarded as a mouthpiece for the Parisian underclass, but evidence shows they also served as entertainment for the affluent who enjoyed “slumming” in Montmartre. The chapter argues for an interpretation of the chansons modernes that locates their meaning and value in the context of debates about the modern, the popular, and the avant-garde. They need to be understood as part of a new type of artistic cabaret that engaged with the contradictions and complexities of modernity, and spread quickly throughout Europe (to Barcelona, Munich, Berlin, and Vienna).

Keywords:   avant-garde, Aristide Bruant, chanson, Chat Noir, modernity, Paris

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