Street Cries in the City
Street cries had long defined the ambiance of Paris in the nineteenth century. From the Middle Ages through to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, street cries were used by hawkers to publicize announcements or news and to sell merchandise of all kinds. Each trade had a distinctive cry, a combination of words and a characteristic tune, such that buyers could identify each peddler by a sound marker. The peddling sounds of the streets constituted shared memories that evoked childhood and fostered a sense of place for Parisians. A nostalgic longing for better days combined with the antiquarian's interest in Old Paris also motivated efforts to document and preserve traces of sounds perceived as having survived through the ages, but now at risk of disappearing. This chapter traces street criers' functions as noisemakers, place-makers, and “sound souvenirs,” in the musical, graphic, and textual traditions of the Cris de Paris.
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