Journal of Romance Studies

Composing Baudelaire for contemporary times

Towards a ‘thick method’ of song analysis via Nicolas Chevereau’s Cinq poèmes de Baudelaire (2016)

Journal of Romance Studies (2021), 21, (3), 323–350.

Abstract

Sustained interactions with a poet’s work by musicians produce interpretative gaps. Through analysis of contemporary settings of five Baudelaire poems by Nicolas Chevereau, this article proposes a ‘thick method’ of song analysis which accounts for words and music as a conjoined ‘work’ and as a song ‘event’, using a systematic approach underpinned by digital tools including Excel, Sonic Visualiser, and Voyant. A consistent framework for song analysis enables us to rove around inside songs, and to draw in materials from outside the song. A highly individualized response to Baudelaire poems that are less commonly set to music, as in the case of Chevereau’s 2016 Cinq poèmes de Baudelaire, reveals significant common ground in terms of multi-perspective approaches that are now possible with intermedial works. Chevereau’s settings of Baudelaire shine important light on a series of complex sensory events which open up the poetic landscape to fresh interrogation and new interpretations.

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Works cited

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Details

Author details

Abbott, Helen