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Un Petit Café à Paris

Un Petit Café à Paris

Jeremy Bell

Un Petit Café à Paris is a fast and engaging piece for young band.  The piece tries to the capture the atmosphere of a small Parisian café and the very recognizable music style of the Bal-musette, which can often be heard throughout the streets of Paris. The musette, which is also known as the cabrette, is a small goatskin bagpipe that was brought to Paris by Auvergnat immigrants, who came to the great city looking for work and subsequently opened small dance halls known as bal musettes.  Although these dance halls featured bourrées, polkas, and mazurkas from the Auvergnat region, the most popular style was the waltz.  In the 1900s, the accordion began to take the place of the musette in dance halls and eventually became a staple in the ensembles that performed there, much like the one in the video below.

The valse-musette has an extremely characteristic sound that is so evocative of French music, especially Paris.  Although valse-musettes are normally written in minor keys and carry a tone of underlying sadness, I wanted to write a valse-musette that was happier like the theme Married Life from the movie UP.  This provided me with a wonderful opportunity to explore and expand my harmonic language by making use of secondary dominants and diminished chords to give the piece that distinct “Parisian” sound and move through different key centers.  What resulted is a fun and energetic piece that I thoroughly enjoyed writing and orchestrating and would make a fantastic addition to any concert repertoire.

Un Petit Café à Paris is available at J.W. Pepper and is published by C.L. Barnhouse.

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