Scholars working on French keyboard music from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries have been strongly aware of the close connection between music and language. By mapping linguistic ideas to musical thoughts, this study identifies the origins of this connection and traces how stylistic changes and performance attitudes were influenced by linguistic concepts. During the seventeenth century, in both musical and linguistic realms, an awareness of a certain weakness in existing language led to attempts to purify it. From the 1650s, the desire for logic, clarity, and order also shaped the development of French keyboard music and propelled the rationalization of usage in music. This development paralleled, to a certain extent, the codification of the French language. In both cases, such classification was, however, only partial. By resorting to the notion of le bon goût, musicians silently confessed to the greater variety that took place in practical music-making when compared to theoretical rules. An enriched understanding of le bon goût within a broader cultural context refines our approach to performing this music.
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