“Sounds and Scents Turn in the Evening Air”: Sense and Synaesthesia in Popular Song Settings of Baudelaire’s Evening Harmony

  • Caroline ArdreyEmail author
Part of the Pop Music, Culture and Identity book series (PMCI)


This chapter examines the way in which the night is performed and transformed in two “popular” settings of Charles Baudelaire’s poem “Harmonie du soir”, first published in 1857. Taking as a starting point the qualities associated with the musical nocturne, as outlined in Franz Liszt’s 1859 preface to John Field’s Nocturnes, the chapter argues that the principal qualities of the form provide a useful lens through which to read interart approaches to performing the night. Exploring the varied aspects of the night presented in Baudelaire’s poem, and examining ways in which these have been transformed through musical settings of “Harmonie du soir” by Ruth White (in English) and Nawel Ben Kraïem (in French), the chapter seeks to demonstrate how engagement with the artistic possibilities of the night has evolved in popular music, mediated through poetry.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Modern LanguagesUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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