University of Birmingham to launch online database of musical works inspired by French poet Charles Baudelaire

The new database will contain over 1,600 songs in 25 different languages, and 40 different musical styles, from death metal to classical mélodie.

The University of Birmingham will be unveiling an online database of musical works inspired by the 19th Century French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867).

The showcase event, which will be held at the University of Birmingham Brussels Office on 15th March 2019, will officially launch the online database to the public, present digital methods for song analysis, and a theoretical perspective on song as a networked product.

The event will discuss around the theme ‘Baudelaire and music in the digital age,’ ending with a concert by Belgian band Exsangue.

The project, which started in 2015 and will end later this year, has researched all the song settings available to date of the 200+ poems written by the leading nineteenth-century French author who died over 150 years ago. The new database will contain over 1,600 songs in 25 different languages, and 40 different musical styles, from death metal to classical mélodie.

The project team, led by Professor Helen Abbott at the University of Birmingham, has discovered how far Baudelaire’s poetry has travelled beyond nineteenth-century Paris, and what has happened to it along the way. 

Professor Helen Abbott, the project lead says: “Baudelaire’s poetry changed the course of modern literature in France, Europe, and beyond. Now, for the first time, we can see how it shaped the course of modern music too. The Baudelaire Song Project has collected over 1,600 song which means we can use this dataset can answer questions such as: What are the performance trends in singing Baudelaire's poems? Which poems are never or rarely set to music, and why? How do composers and songwriters handle the challenges of setting French verse metre and are there certain types of musical genres which are more suited to Baudelaire's poetry than others?”

The database is also intended for musicians looking for song ideas, for researchers interested in relations between poetry and music and for French teachers looking for new material to work on, and for anyone interested in French poetry and music.

The event will consist of opening presentations and the launch of the database of Baudelaire Song Project led by the University of Birmingham's Professor Helen Abbott, Dr Caroline Ardrey, Dr Nina Rolland and Dr Mylène Dubiau from the Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès.

Topics to be discussed on the day will consist of 'Reception of Baudelaire’s poetry,' 'Word and Music Studies' 'Digital Humanities' and 'Teaching Baudelaire’, ending with a virtual exhibition and a live performance by Exsangue, a Belgian French-speaking female-fronted band, which plays acoustic music with lyrics based on Charles Baudelaire’s poetry.

Ends:

For media to attend the event or for information and interviews, please contact: Hasan Salim Patel, Communications Manager (Arts, Law and Social Sciences) on +44 (0) 121 415 8134 or contact the press office out of hours on +44 (0) 7789 921 165

Note for Editors:

The Baudelaire Song Project is based at the University of Birmingham, in collaboration with the Université Toulouse–Jean Jaurès (France) and the University of Sheffield Digital Humanities Institute, and has been generously funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council 2015–2019.

The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.