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French art song. The unaccompanied chanson for a single voice part, composed by the troubadours and later the trouvères, first appeared in the 12th century. Accompanied chansons, with parts for one or more instruments, were written in the 14th–15th centuries by Guillaume de Machaut and others in the strict formes fixes (fixed forms). About 1,500 chansons for several voices began to be written by Josquin des Prez and his contemporaries. In recent centuries the term has often been used for any cabaret-style French song.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on chanson, visit Britannica.com.