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Happy and humming

Jon Henley

PARIS: They may be livid with their leaders, pained by their place in the world and fearful of the future, but the French are still happy enough to hum.

An opinion poll just published found 83 per cent of the adult population sings or hums to itself "often or very often."

The poll, by TNS-Sofres for the musicians' rights group Sacem, found women slightly more likely to hum than men.

The parents of young children are the most likely social group to make with a melody, while hardly a note will trouble the vocal cords of single Frenchmen over 65. Particularly, for some reason, if they are farmers.

Where exactly do they warble? Given their longstanding love affair with the automobile, 19 per cent love to let rip in the car, and just 13 per cent in the bath.

Parisians are more likely to sing sweetly to themselves than rural types, apartment living encouraging the exercise.

Some 74 per cent say music is the art form they could least do without, a long way ahead of literature, cinema, painting, dance and theatre. Musical taste also depends upon political persuasion. France's conscientious and ever-optimistic far Left are by some way the most musical: 90 per cent say they sing daily.

And while revolutionary communists like Latin American rhythms, Trotskyists prefer rap or R&B, and the Greens adore the blues, Communists prefer martial music. Voters for President Jacques Chirac are devotees of light opera — a form that is not as popular in France as it once was.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

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