Baudelaire Song Project

The Baudelaire Song Project researches all the song settings of poems by famous French poet Charles Baudelaire from the nineteenth century to the present day.


We are building a pioneering digital dataset which brings together for the first time both pop music and classical music settings of Baudelaire's verse and prose poetry, totalling 200+ poem texts, and well over 1000 songs. Working with the French originals and translations of the poems into different languages, with music scores and audio formats, the project team has developed a new way to analyse song. Our digital approach means we will produce rich, comparative data across the whole dataset, meaning we 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? Are there certain types of musical genres which are more suited to Baudelaire's poetry than others?

Hosted by the University of Birmingham (UK), working with the Digital Humanities Institute at the University of Sheffield (UK), and the University Toulouse – Jean Jaurès (France), the Baudelaire Song Project is generously funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 2015–2019.

Project team

External resources


  • Pioneering dataset (pilot in 2017, final release in 2019)
  • International conference in 2019

Key publications include: a monograph by PI Prof. Helen Abbott Baudelaire in Song 1880–1930 (Oxford University Press, 2017), a co-authored Baudelaire and Debussy book by PI Prof. Helen Abbott and CI Dr Mylène Dubiau (in progress), a monograph by RA Dr Caroline Ardrey on popular music settings (in progress), and a number of peer-reviewed articles in French and English in journals such as Comparative Critical Studies, Digital Humanities Quarterly, and Nineteenth-Century French Studies.


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