Electronic music clearly existed before techno, house, raves, and French Touch started to emerge. Even though 1989 in France marked the start of a movement that profoundly changed the music world and remains one of pop culture’s last great adventures, many musicians, including French artists, had started experimenting with the very first electronic instruments before this pivotal year. These pioneers were involved in art music and avant-garde pop-rock and never really broke out of these traditions. The development of house and techno music, the two main subsets of electronic music, and the “DJ culture” that emerged at the end of the 1980s, makes up a comprehensive and relatively homogenous movement that we refer to today by a catch-all term—the “electro scene.” While this field is undeniably complex and diverse, its borders can nevertheless be defined. This is why our exploration of the “French Wave,” France’s rich culture of electronic music, starts with the year the very first raves were held. That being said, even if just by citing their names, we must recognize the remarkable pioneers of French electronic
music, the field in which they worked. Pierre Schaeffer, whose conducted research into musique concrète and electro-acoustic music as early as the 1950s, is one such example as well as his student Pierre Henry, whose Messe pour le Temps Présent was doubtless the first piece of dance music composed with electronic instruments. Jean-Jacques Perry, the inventor of the Ondioline, one of the earliest electronic instruments, wrote countless jingles and sound effects that introduced an entire generation to these new sounds. Didier Marouani, who founded the group Space in 1977, also achieved international success with his electronic hits like “Magic Fly” and the theme song for the famous sci-fi show Temps X. Marouani was extremely popular in the former Soviet Union, so much so that in 1987 his Space Opera was specifically brought to the Mir space station so the Russians could send it into space as a salute to the cosmos. Finally, we can’t forget Jean-Michel Jarre, another student of Pierre Schaeffer, who popularized synthesized music through the worldwide success of his concept album, Oxygène. No doubt Jarre was French Touch music’s very first hero.