French Language Blog

French Music – Jazz Manouche Posted by on Feb 24, 2016 in Culture, Music

When people think of French music, they often think of one of the more famous chanteurs (singers) like Edith Piaf or Jacques Brel.

But what else is there?

Le jazz is one of the most famous styles de musique (styles of music) in the world.  It made its way from New Orleans all the way to Orléans, but une fois en France (once in France), le jazz underwent an interesting transformation.

Le jazz became le jazz manouche, un style de musique pioneered by Django Reinhardt in the 1930s that mixes le jazz with le musette (traditional French dance music) and the music of the Romani people, or as they are often called, les tziganes (gypsies).

Le musette is un style de musique I had heard before, but did not know the name.

Écoutez cette chanson courte (listen to this short song) and get a taste of le musette and see if you recognize le style:

The first time I heard someone say jazz manouche, my response was:

Qu’est-ce que c’est « manouche » ?
What is “manouche”?

I quickly learned that manouche is a word for gypsy and le jazz manouche is called gypsy jazz in English.

I also met one of my best friends here in France by talking to le guitariste d’un groupe de jazz manouche (the guitarist of a gypsy jazz group) after a concert. I recently interviewed him for a future article! Keep your eyes out for it!

Le jazz manouche generally features la guitare sèche, le violon et la contrebasse (acoustic guitar, violin, and double bass), but it’s not uncommon to hear l’accordéon et la clarinette aussi (the accordion and the clarinet as well).

Take a listen to one of Django Reinhardt’s most famous songs, and dive into la musique française:

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.


  1. Bonnie:

    La guitare seche — je l’aime! Mais, c’est le violon, n’est-ce pas? Ou le violen, c’est peut-être différent — comme en anglais “violin” vs. “fiddle” ? Merci pour votre blog!

    • John Bauer:

      @Bonnie En fait, c’était une faute de ma part ! Merci d’avoir lassé ce commentaire Bonnie !

  2. Cariganane:

    Ce film est à propos de la vie de Django et les gens qui jouent le jazz manouche moderne.
    Je le recommande.