French born I have migrated to Australia in 1989 and set to music 72 poems from French Literature in the years 1994-2004 without realising many had already been set to music by such musicians as Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré, Charles Gounod or Henri Duparc.
I just wanted to sing French Art Songs but not in the XIX century style; I was inspired by the French poetry set to music by popular song-writers such as Georges Brassens or music-writers such as Joseph Kosma ("Autumn Leaves" on a poem by Jacques Prévert). I had discovered the Oxford Book of French Verses where I found many poems that I loved.
My perspective, which is in the tradition of the minstrels and troubadours of old, is that the singer and the music are to serve the poem –as the poem is also serving a higher perspective. Not been a musician, properly speaking, I could not do the reverse –using the poem for my own musical creativity.
The melodies I offer are simple and, to my ears and my heart, serve well the poems in their humility. They are like folk-songs in their simplicity and naïvety, except often for their rhythm or metric structure: their flexible signature adapts to the poem, at times offering composite patterns of 5/4, 15/8, 7/4, 11/4 or even 13/4.
Many of them have been sung by Jacques Pottier, former tenor from Paris Opera, and are also available on YouTube, iTunes, Amazonmp3 and other online digital music stores.
Recently, in 2012, I found a young talented musician in Melbourne to arrange my songs: Ashley Meliki Shoup for piano arrangements (and, for a few other orchestrations, Angel Wong). Thanks to this contribution I am so happy to share my melodies with better clothes. I hope to give singers as much enjoyment and appreciation for French poetry as I have.