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Early Modern Parisian Soundscapes

Research Project

"I was taught a song which made me laugh [...]. I hear them in the streets"

"On m'a appris une chanson qui m'a fait rire [...]. Je les entends dans les rues"

(Marquise de Sévigné, 24 November 1678)


This project is devoted to the 30-volume collection of 17th- and 18th-century songs and poems, preserved in an 18th-century manuscript and known as the Chansonnier Maurepas, now held in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Very little critical attention has been paid to this extraordinary collection, which contains some pieces published elsewhere but consists mainly of unpublished street songs. Song sheets would be sold and distributed in Paris, largely on the Pont-Neuf and in bars, usually containing just the words but almost always accompanied by the name of a popular tune of the day to which the words would be sung. The song sheets allowed Parisian inhabitants the chance to hear the latest news or gossip which normally would not be accessible to them. It is our intention to document and transcribe these song-sheets and to track down the music to as many of the songs as possible, both producing musical scores for these songs and recording them in collaboration with 'Badinage', a professional period-instrument ensemble. This site contains both the texts and performances of many pieces and is the starting point of a larger project devoted to Parisian Soundscapes. 

The director of the project, Nicholas Hammond, has published a book relating to the website: news about it and reviews of it can be found here.

To read the texts of the songs, and to listen to the songs themselves, click on Chansonnier Maurepas above or here. To find translations, musical scores, and to discover performances and the story behind some songs, click on "Songs and their Stories" at the top of this page, or here. We would love to hear your reaction to the songs and the site itself, so do contact us at


"The Pont-Neuf wrote this couplet"

"Le Pont-Neuf a fait ce couplet"

(Marquise de Sévigné, 18 September 1676)


The establishment of this site has been enabled by the generosity of the Cambridge Humanities Research Grants and the British Academy Small Grants.