November 2017

New book! Baudelaire in Song 1880-1930 was published by Oxford University Press. The book examines a key 50-year period in France and Europe to see how and why Baudelaire’s poetry has been set to musc. The author, project director Prof. Helen Abbott, sets out for the first time how our innovative data model enables us to deepen our knowledge and understanding of poetic songs as flexible networks.


September 2017

Dr Nina Rolland joined the project team as our new Research Associate (our previous RA Dr Caroline Ardrey was promoted to Senior Research Associate, and remains on the project team).


July/August 2017

Undergraduate researcher Zoe Lumsden joined the project team to work on song genre + function/purpose of text-setting in English/German setttings of Baudelaire.


February–September 2017

Dr Caroline Potter joined the project team as Consultant specialist on 20th-century settings of Baudelaire, notably in British and French contexts and ‘new music’ in the classical genre, including aleatoric settings or settings for live performers + tape.


September 2016

On 1 September 2016, the Baudelaire Song Project moved to the University of Birmingham (UK). We are delighted to be working from this new “home”, whilst continuing to collaborate with HRI Digital at the University of Sheffield.


July/August 2016

Undergraduate researcher Matthew McNicholl joined the project team to work on Baudelaire translations used in song contexts, with specific focus on a critique of Clive Scott’s Translating Baudelaire method in light of digital analysis tools such as Voyant and Sonic Visualiser.


November 2015

BSP advisory group_20Nov15On 20 November 2015, the Baudelaire Song Project held its first Advisory Board meeting, welcoming colleagues from Edinburgh, Oxford, and Toulouse, to discuss the latest developments in the project design, data input, and analysis tools and techniques. The day was rounded off by a vin d’honneur in the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield, welcoming members of staff from across the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

The Progress Reports from each of the team members showed quite how much we have achieved already, including

  • database entry system established and tested
  • 350+ songs entered into databas
  • SonicVisualiser annotation layers established
  • media interviews on BBC Radio and local press
  • workshops and lecture-recitals with Association Toulouse Mélodie Française
  • study days at Oxford Lieder Festival
  • academic conferences in Glasgow and Princeton


PRESS RELEASE September 2015

September 2015

Immediate release

University of Sheffield begins new research to discover how a 19th century poet has influenced generations of pop, rock, rap and classical music.

The University of Sheffield has begun a four year project to investigate the influence of 19th century poet Charles Baudelaire’s effect on contemporary music. The Baudelaire Song Project aims to draw together all the song settings of Baudelaire’s poetry for the very first time and explore how his famous verses have been expressed through all musical genres from rap and rock to pop and electronica.

Baudelaire has influenced generations of musicians, song writers and music lovers for decades; from 60’s pop with Serge Gainsborough and The Rolling Stones, to 1970’s Glamrock with David Bowie and to 1980’s Rock with The Cure.

The aim of the project is to develop new methods for the analysis of poem and song using digital analytical tools. The poems will be marked against the songs in a digital archive, comparing not just the poem and the music but also musical trends against poetic text.

An online resource published at the end of project which will provide users with a comprehensive, searchable database of Baudelaire poems and song settings, this will be a valuable tool for musicians, music scholars and the public across the world. Any singer or teacher interested in Baudelaire will be able to find a song setting for performance and songwriters can search a Baudelaire text and create a whole new song setting to his poems.

Many of the tagged poems made available through the online archive will be accompanied by audio recordings of the songs, especially for those rare settings which have gone unnoticed by singers and performers alike, making new materials available to the wider public.

Workshops and public concerts will also form part of the project which will take place over the next four years working with Oxford Lieder, Toulouse Mélodie-Française, and Sheffield Sing!

Director of the project Dr Helen Abbott from the School of Languages and Cultures at the University of Sheffield said;

“People are already getting in touch with us via Twitter to share their own songs based on Baudelaire lyrics. We already know quite a lot about the classical music settings by famous composers such as Debussy, but it’s all the other types of music that use Baudelaire’s poetry which are starting to produce really exciting results for us. We’ve had a French rap group contact us, an American theatre collective, and an Italian composer. Baudelaire’s reach is enormous, and we’re trying to capture that for the first time. It means we can reveal what actually happens to a famous poet’s words when they are picked up by musicians – all sorts of weird and wonderful things can happen!”

Charles Baudelaire is one of the most compelling poets of the nineteenth century. Baudelaire is distinctive in French literature also in that his skills as a prose writer virtually equal his ability as a poet. His body of work includes a novella, influential translations of the American writer Edgar Allan Poe, highly perceptive criticism of contemporary art, provocative journal entries, and critical essays on a variety of subjects. Baudelaire’s work has had a tremendous influence on modernism, and his relatively slim production of poetry in particular has had a significant impact on later poets. More than a talent of nineteenth-century France, Baudelaire is one of the major figures in the literary history of the world.


Notes to Editors;

Funding for the project Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

A video interview with Dr Helen Abbott and photos are available here

Dr Abbott’s Biography

Twitter @BaudelaireProj


The project is led by Dr Helen Abbott from the School of Languages and Cultures (Principal Investigator) and Dr Mylène Dubiau from the Department of Music, Université de Toulouse II-Jean Jaurès (Co Investigator) in partnership with colleagues from HRI Digital.

For interviews, images and further information contact The Baudelaire Song Project Publicity Officer Philip Strafford 0781 653 8202, 0114 222 6906.

To read other news releases about the University of Sheffield, visit




In October 2015, the Baudelaire Song Project team will be working with award-winning arts organisation Oxford Lieder on their packed 2015 festival Singing Words: poets and their songs. Check out the Oxford Lieder website for details of exciting events related to our work, and don’t miss key events on 16 October 2015 and 25 October 2015 in which Dr Helen Abbott (Project Director) will be speaking about setting poetry to music – and the challenges of translating poetry for song.

Watch this space for more news and events coming soon!