David Evans – Communication Breakdown: Debussy, Banville and the Trouble with Serenades

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 11th, 2010

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre at Royal Holloway University of London (HARC)

Event Date: Friday 11 June, 2010 - 10am-6pm

The Boardroom, 2 Gower Street, London


Unsettling Scores: A Study Day on French Musico-Poetics from Banville to Duras

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David Evans (St Andrews):
Communication Breakdown: Debussy, Banville and the Trouble with Serenades

It is a commonplace of art song criticism to imagine the poem and the setting as completing each other, creating a harmonious whole. What can we say, though, of poems which deal with the failure of both music and poetry? In this paper I will examine Debussy’s settings of Theodore de Banville’s ‘Pierrot’ and ‘Serenade’, arguing that Debussy forces us to confront the tension between the materiality of art’s formal mechanisms and our belief in the transcendent beauty of the artwork. With reference to recent research on musico-poetics, I suggest that Debussy’s settings represent a crisis in post-Romantic poetry and music whereby the arts no longer mutually support each other, but rather, call each other, and themselves, constantly into question.

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Florent Albrecht – La notion d’impressionisme à la l’épreuve de la poétique: evaluation des enjeux littéraires à la lumière de la musique et de la peinture.

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 11th, 2010

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre at Royal Holloway University of London (HARC)

Event Date: Friday 11 June, 2010 - 10am-6pm

The Boardroom, 2 Gower Street, London


Unsettling Scores: A Study Day on French Musico-Poetics from Banville to Duras

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Florent Albrecht (Paris-Sorbonne):
La notion d’impressionisme à la l’épreuve de la poétique: evaluation des enjeux littéraires à la lumière de la musique et de la peinture.

Les Frères Goncourt ont tenté d’inscrire au grand tableau noir des courants et écoles littéraires “l’impressionnisme”. Pourtant, il n’y a jamais eu de fortune littéraire ni de véritable école impressionniste. Comment expliquer cela? A la lumière des autres arts, il s’agit de tenter de comprendre la raison de cette défaite littéraire, et d’en étudier les tenants et aboutissants, surtout en matière de poésie : le “vague” verlainien renvoie-t-il à de l’impressionnisme sans nom?

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Miriam Heywood – Searching in silence: Proust’s musical hypertext

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 11th, 2010

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre at Royal Holloway University of London (HARC)

Event Date: Friday 11 June, 2010 - 10am-6pm

The Boardroom, 2 Gower Street, London


Unsettling Scores: A Study Day on French Musico-Poetics from Banville to Duras

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Miriam Heywood (UCL): Searching in silence: Proust’s musical hypertext

Music has long dominated discussions of Proust’s treatment of sound in A la recherche du temps perdu, due in part to its privileged thematic and discursive role in the novel. But what exactly is the nature of Proust’s ‘musicality’ and to what extent can music be transposed into literary expression? To answer these two questions I begin by investigating the anagrammatic quality of Proust’s prose in relation to Genette’s discussion of hypertextuality (one of five kinds of transtextuality set out in Palimpsestes: la littérature au second degré (1982)). In altering the terms of Genette’s conception of hypertextuality (which he describes as the imitation or transformation of a text by another text – such as parody or pastiche) I consider the extent to which the imitation and transformation of music as a formal hypertext is implemented in A la recherche.

Jean Milly suggests that the mot-thèmes distributed in Proust’s sentences, which he considers in relation to musicality, are linked to underlying signifieds that are distinct from the signification of the words and sentences themselves. More importantly, he pointedly refrains from offering any fixed interpretations of these specific signifieds. It is exactly this aspect of the anagram as unhinged from the signifying system of natural language that also underscores the hypertextual possibilities of Proust’s sentences, for it is on the imitation of music and not the use of music as a textual device or agent of meaning that the notion of formal hypertextuality depends. However, Adam Piette argues that Proust’s anagrammatic offerings are, on the contrary, musical ‘memory-signals’ that signify the ‘deep dramas’ of Proust’s prose. My paper will consider the implications of each of these arguments, which reflect divergent understandings of the relationship between music and literature, and of Proust’s novel at the most fundamental level. My argument coincides with both Jean-Jacques Nattiez and Peter Dayan who insist that the resistance to interpretation is the necessary criterion for the expression of music in literature. And it is through Proust’s refusal to offer the reader the treasure of artistic transcendence – that we, along with the narrator, have been searching for throughout the entire novel – that the musical hypertext is sustained and strengthened.

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Jennifer Rushworth – Proust’s programme notes to Vinteuil’s music: À la recherche in the light of the nineteenth-century debate over absolute and programme music

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 11th, 2010

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre at Royal Holloway University of London (HARC)

Event Date: Friday 11 June, 2010 - 10am-6pm

The Boardroom, 2 Gower Street, London


Unsettling Scores: A Study Day on French Musico-Poetics from Banville to Duras

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Jennifer Rushworth (Oxford):
Proust’s programme notes to Vinteuil’s music: À la recherche in the light of the nineteenth-century debate over absolute and programme music

Several extended similes interspersed throughout Proust’s novel imply the author’s dismissive attitude towards programme notes, an opinion which is shared by Debussy for instance and can be seen as a reaction against composers such as Liszt and Berlioz. However, Bowie is right to highlight that in the novel, descriptions of Vinteuil’s music are “stated in the empurpled language that a programme-note writer might use to endow abstract music with an accessible content of images” (Proust among the stars 1998: 78). This prompts the question whether putting music into words inevitably calls for attribution of meaning through narrative and imagery. Yet while programme music would seem to be an ideal musical form for writers to attach themselves to, absolute music is also itself a peculiarly literary concept associated especially with German Romantic philosophers and French Symbolist poets. While literature needs music (as a source of inspiration and idealised subject matter), music also needs literature to give it “general meaning” (Dayan, Music writing literature 2006: 95). Proust is in the paradoxical position of admiring the purity of Beethoven’s symphonies and late string quartets, and the orchestral interludes of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, yet also of justifying such preferences in terms of extra-musical ideas (titles, epigraphs, narrative), as well as relying in A la recherche on a programmatic style of musical depiction.

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Áine Larkin – Playing on the Nerves: Performances Musical and Sexual in Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 11th, 2010

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre at Royal Holloway University of London (HARC)

Event Date: Friday 11 June, 2010 - 10am-6pm

The Boardroom, 2 Gower Street, London


Unsettling Scores: A Study Day on French Musico-Poetics from Banville to Duras

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Áine Larkin (UCL/RHUL):
Playing on the Nerves: Performances Musical and Sexual in Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu

In Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu (1913-1927), music plays a significant and recurrent role as a model for transient art providing an auditory parallel for the kind of writing in which the protagonist wishes to engage. Musical performance conveys truths to the protagonist Marcel about the fleeting nature of time and the fugitive mutability of characters, relationships, and more specifically, their sexualities. Based on a close reading of key passages featuring performances on the pianola, piano, and violin, as well as one manqué, my paper will explore how musical instruments and their manipulation are appropriated for communicating information about sexuality which proves germane to the realisation of Marcel’s creative literary vocation. Musical instruments are shown to constitute a link between mundane lived reality and the life of the imagination in Proust’s novel in which performance dissolves the boundaries between these two aspects of the protagonist’s experience.

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Claire Launchbury – Douleurs exquises: Tears, Telephones and Music transgressed in Duras, La Musica deuxième and Cocteau/Poulenc La Voix humaine

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 11th, 2010

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre at Royal Holloway University of London (HARC)

Event Date: Friday 11 June, 2010 - 10am-6pm

The Boardroom, 2 Gower Street, London


Unsettling Scores: A Study Day on French Musico-Poetics from Banville to Duras

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Claire Launchbury (RHUL):

Douleurs exquises: Tears, Telephones and Music transgressed in Duras, La Musica deuxième and Cocteau/Poulenc La Voix humaine

By exploring the thresholds of love and separation, the voice and the gaze, and, indeed, of text and music via the symbolic intrusion of the telephone, this paper assesses the critical, clinical and musical implications of narratives of exquisite, yet profound suffering. In Poulenc’s setting of Cocteau’s play, La Voix humaine (1958), Elle is linked to her former lover in one last phone call. Echoing the truth of her lies, the telephone itself becomes a metonym for the absent lover as her voice is disembodied in the suicidal stranglehold of the telephone wire; pushed to the ultimate limits of her strength by the one diegetic intrusion of music in the opera. Music is then discussed as operating as an exorbitant metaphor for unutterable suffering in Marguerite Duras’s La Musica deuxième (1985), where a couple are reunited three years after their separation for their final divorce hearing. While it is realised, in spite of the interruptions of telephone calls from new lovers, that this end is merely a beginning, the resistance to resolution and the resonance of elliptically unsaid emotion presents a challenge to clinical discourses themselves famously reluctant to engage with music.

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Unsettling Scores: A Study Day on French Musico-Poetics from Banville to Duras – programme page

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 11th, 2010

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre at Royal Holloway University of London (HARC)

and the School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Royal Holloway University of London

Event Date: Friday 11 June, 2010 - 10am-6pm

The Boardroom, 2 Gower Street, London

Unsettling Scores: A Study Day on French Musico-Poetics from Banville to Duras

Organised by Dr Claire Launchbury (e-mail)

Abstract: Encounters with music and the musical in French cultural practice are marked by their difficulty. Music is found to be an impenetrable, mysterious, and evasive art that confounds meaning in its multiplicity and subsequent resistance to firm conclusion. By highlighting problems such as listening, particularly in terms of entendre which carries with it a sense of understanding, we ask what music might be heard to encode; how we might fail to account for it with wrong metaphors, or how music transfigures meaning in a way that is impossible to render due justice in discourse. The study day brings together a selection of papers that each in their own way work in a theoretical field of words and music studies outlined particularly in the work of Jankélévitch, Lawrence Kramer, Peter Dayan and Malcolm Bowie to explore the different perspectives on the boundaries between textual practices and their engagement with music in French literary culture.

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Introduction : Claire Launchbury and Ahuvia Kahane .
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Peter Dayan (Edinburgh) - Stravinsky, Oedipus, Satie, and the ‘Cocteau Complex(AUDIO HERE)
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Claire Launchbury (RHUL)

Douleurs Exquises :Tears, Telephones and Music transgressed in Cocteau/Poulenc, La Voix humaine, and Duras, La Musica deuxième” (AUDIO HERE)

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Laura Anderson (RHUL)
Synchronising Le Sang d’un Poète: Cocteau’s first cinematic-musical engagement

(AUDIO NOT AVAILABLE)

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Áine Larkin (RHUL/UCL) - Playing on the Nerves: Performances Musical and Sexual in Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu’ (AUDIO HERE)
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Jennifer Rushworth (Worcester College, Oxford).
Proust’s programme notes to Vinteuil’s music: A la recherche in the light of the nineteenth-century debate over absolute and programme music (AUDIO HERE)
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Miriam Heywood (UCL) - Searching in silence: Proust’s musical hypertext (AUDIO HERE)
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Florent Albrecht (Paris-Sorbonne)
La notion d’impressionnisme à l’épreuve de la poétique : évaluation des enjeux littéraires à la lumière de la musique et de la peinture (AUDIO HERE)
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David Evans (St Andrews) - Communication Breakdown: Debussy, Banville and the Trouble with Serenades (AUDIO HERE)
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Round Table : Chair Peter Dayan
Respondents : Timothy Mathew (UCL) .
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Peter Dayan – Stravinsky, Satie and the ‘Cocteau Complex’

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 11th, 2010

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre at Royal Holloway University of London (HARC)

Event Date: Friday 11 June, 2010 - 10am-6pm

The Boardroom, 2 Gower Street, London


Unsettling Scores: A Study Day on French Musico-Poetics from Banville to Duras

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Peter Dayan (Edinburgh) : Stravinsky, Satie and the ‘Cocteau Complex’

Satie and Stravinsky each produced one major work in collaboration with Cocteau: Satie’s Parade (1917), and Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex (1927). There are curious similarities between the two composers’ experience of working with Cocteau. Both accepted Cocteau’s idea of introducing extra-musical sounds into their work, then, after the work’s performance and publication, expressed their dislike of those sounds – but did not try to have them removed from the work. My contention is that the composers’ difficulty with Cocteau’s sounds is explained by a fundamental difference between Cocteau’s aesthetic principles, and those of the two composers; and a paradox inherent in the composers’ own aesthetics explains their inability to get rid of those sounds.

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