To accompany my Dreamhounds of Paris game sessions, I created a playlist on Rdio. (Search for “Dreamhounds of Paris” should the link betray us.) If that happens to be your streaming music service of choice, you can use it as is. Otherwise, these notes can help you recreate it elsewhere.
The playlist contains:
Kiki de Montparnasse, Kiki Chanté: You can choose to play Kiki, free-spirited chanteuse, artist’s model, and embodiment of the Bohemian life in 20s and 30s Paris, as a player character. If you do, this is what you would sound like, singing at the Jockey-Club.
Josephine Baker, The Very Best Of: The music of expatriate African-American songstress, actress and dancer Baker typifies the swank and style of the period. The surrealists admire her embodiment of superior non-Western values, not to mention her overtly sexual persona. They’re likely too skint to afford admission to her shows.
Mistinguett, Du Caf’ Conc’ au Music Hall: Another example of popular music the surrealists might hear in the backgrounds of their waking adventures. By the Dreamhounds period this singer and actress is already a huge star. Follow this embed-disabled YouTube link to see her in a movie musical from 1936. Note the suspiciously surrealist design of the staircase she comes down. Does it imply an undiscovered non-Euclidean connection between her and your PC surrealists?
Quintet of the Hot Club of France, Le Jazz Hot! Nightclub music from the band co-helmed by guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli. They fused the rhythms of Reinhardt’s Roma heritage to the African-American music of New Orleans and beyond to create so-called “gypsy jazz”, the period’s distinguishing popular sound. (The G-word is the standard term at this time, many decades before the effort to treat it as a slur.)
Erik Satie, Piano Works. The most surreal of the French classical composers of the time, you’ll recognize his haunting piano melodies from use in countless movie soundtracks. He helped Man Ray make the famous anti-sculpture Cadeau, an iron with nails protruding from it.
Francis Poulenc, Les mamelles de Tirésias. A comic opera version of a play by surrealist precursor Guillaime Apollinaire. The word “surrealism” first appears in Apollinaire’s preface to his play, and is later appropriated by movement leader Andrė Breton.
Le Groupe des Six: Selected Works 1915-1945. The Groupe des Six, or Les Six, reigned as Paris’ main avant garde classical composers during the Dreamhounds period. The surrealists included Poulenc, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, George Auric, Germaine Tailleferre and Louis Durey. Because Les Six were heavily promoted by their arch-nemesis Jean Cocteau, the surrealists mostly disdained them. Some potential PCs, like Tristan Tzara, brave Breton’s heckling to collaborate with them anyway.