Song Viewers: How to use them?

The song viewers offer a visualisation of song structures in order to give an overview of how composers re-work poems as songs. It aims to show in a succinct and interactive way the changes wrought upon poetic texts when they are set to music.

The song viewers display the poetic text, the chronological development of the song, and the music scores if they are available. The audio files are not integrated to the song viewers, however you can find them on our Spotify playlists.

The navigation in the song viewer follows two parallel paths: the original poem and the chronological development of the song. Use the orange ‘Position’ cursor to navigate within the song. A marker shows where you are in the song when ‘Position’ is slid. The relevant line in the poem and translation is brought into view in the Urtext box, in the translation box, and in the ‘Phrase’ box when you slide the ‘Position’ slider. The ‘Phrase’ box also highlights which word is being looked at.

The song is visualised through 4 main elements: the poem lines (short horizontal lines at the top), the stanzas (long horizontal lines), the waveform (corresponding to vocal and instrumental audio parts together), and words (vertical lines at the bottom). The poem lines, stanzas, and words all follow a rainbow colour code showing the chronological development of the song (blue being near the start of the song and red/purple near the end). This rainbow colour code allows us to match the position of the words within lines and stanzas (for example, a vertical dark blue line is a word appearing in the dark blue part of the poetic lines and of the stanzas). Lines in grey are lines that have not been set to music and were omitted by the composer. Light grey sticks in the vertical line section for words correspond to rests in the vocal melody.

The horizontal lines for poetic lines and stanzas have different lengths showing the different sung duration of the poetic lines and stanzas. Similarly, the vertical lines have different heights showing the sung duration of words. The durations of words, lines, and stanzas have been extracted from the open source software Sonic Visualiser, which allows us to annotate audio files.

The Time, Stanza:Line, and Word boxes at the bottom give extra information on where you are in the song. Here again, the Time box corresponds to the audio file analysis on Sonic Visualiser.

The song viewers help to see how the structure of the poem has been changed into music: if lines and stanzas have been omitted, if words have been repeated (particularly with the Word box at the bottom), and which words of the poem have a longer sung duration (which can also be examined against the waveform to see the emphasis on words and music). The song viewers are also helpful to compare several song settings of the same poem (see the songs viewers for ‘L’Invitation au voyage’):

  • Henri Duparc, ‘L’Invitation au voyage’
  • Léo Ferré, ‘L’Invitation au voyage’
  • Nârâyana, ‘L’Invitation au voyage’