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mheu, Historical Museum of the Urban Environment

Voulez Ouyr les Cris de Paris (Hear the Cries of Paris)

Clément Janequin

c. 1530
© Harmonia Mundi

View this work in the exhibition The Street

The work

Voulez Ouyr les Cris de Paris is the name of a song for four voices without accompaniment, released in 1530. Following a short intro during which the singers ask the listener if he wishes to "ouyr les cris de Paris" (hear the cries of Paris), Janequin introduces some 40 shouts from traders and traveling salesmen.

Many of these cries aim to hawk vegetables such as lettuce, sorrel, spinach, rutabaga and turnips while others peddle matches, hoops and candles. The song ends with a short coda inviting the listener to hear more: "If you want to hear more, get out and wander!"

The artist

A priest and composer born circa 1485 in Châtellerault, Clément Janequin began his career in music as a singing teacher to local choirboys.

Ronsard claimed he studied with Josquin des Prés. Although he was ordained as a priest in 1523, he made a name for himself more through his profane music (La Bataille de Marignan, La Chasse, Le Chant des Oiseaux).

Janequin composed over 250 songs and mastered the art of polyphonic singing, which paved the way for descriptive music. Clément Janequin moved often, wherever the mood took him, finally settling in Paris, where he worked as composer to the king. He died in 1558.