Entre musique et lettres : vers une méthodologie numérique pour l’analyse de la mise en musique des poésies de Charles Baudelaire

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This article is based upon the work of The Baudelaire Song Project, a digital research project, launched in 2015, which aims to catalogue and to analyse all the song settings of the poems of Charles Baudelaire. The Project seeks both to increase awareness of the many musical works based on the verse poems collected in Les Fleurs du Mal and the prose poems in Petits Poèmes en prose, and, crucially, to establish a new digital methodology for analysing song settings of poetry, which accords equal weight to text and to music. The article begins with a brief outline of the Project, placing the emphasis on the way in which “distant readings” of song settings can pave the way for more detailed digital analyses at corpus level. It details how the methodology can be applied in order to study the interpretative decisions made by composers and songwriters when they set a poetic text to music, making use of Sonic Visualiser. The second part of the study shows the methodology in action, applying it to two song settings of Baudelaire’s poem, “La Mort des amants”, the first composed by Claude Debussy in 1887, and the second performed by the popular contemporary singer Babx, which appears on his 2015 album, Cristal automatique. The article will present the results of this analysis, before concluding by considering ways to develop the methodology further and identifying future possibilities for using digital techniques for studying song settings of literary texts.


Translated title of the contributionBetween music and letters: towards a digital methodology for analysing song settings of Charles Baudelaire's poetry.
Original languageFrench
JournalDigital Humanities Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018