HomeLight and music - appropriations, metaphors and analogies

HomeLight and music - appropriations, metaphors and analogies

Light and music - appropriations, metaphors and analogies

Lumière et musique

Appropriations, métaphores et analogies

*  *  *

Published on Wednesday, January 31, 2018


La littérature, la philosophie, les études religieuses, l’histoire des sciences et l'histoire de l’art se sont penchées depuis longtemps sur le phénomène de la lumière, qui est aussi devenue un matériau de création (Light art, László Moholy-Nagy, Dan Flavin, James Turrell, etc.). La lumière joue aussi, chez certains compositeurs, un rôle important (Liszt, Wagner, Mahler, Scriabine, etc.). Si des travaux ont été consacrés aux questions de couleurs et de synesthésie, la lumière n’a pourtant pas en elle-même fait l’objet d’une réflexion particulière et synthétique dans le domaine musical. Il s’agira d’étudier, à travers différentes périodes, les liens entre lumière et musique, mais aussi ce que véhicule la référence à la lumière son rapport à d’autres disciplines.



In 1865, Liszt wanted to compose a “supernatural light” (“lumière surnaturelle”) to represent the calming of the storm in Das Wunder (The Miracle) from his oratorio Christus. Light is an important feature in his music as well as in the music of some of his contemporaries or followers such as Wagner, Mahler, Scriabin, Schoenberg, or Messiaen. With lyrics or purely instrumental music, totally or partially devoted to light, their works appropriate or express light in an Aesthetical, symbolical, or religious way, and with particular compositional tools.

Art history has long studied this phenomenon that has become in itself a creative material (Light art, László Moholy-Nagy, Dan Flavin, James Turrell, etc.). Literature, philosophy, religious studies and science history have also been interested in light. Yet Music history, analysis and aesthetics seem to be outdone, for many studies have been devoted to colors and synesthesia, but very little or none to light in itself.

One of the main intentions of the conference is to question the relation between music and light through appropriations, metaphors, and analogies with other arts, sciences and the disciplines quoted above. On the one hand it will be about studying the links between light and music, an art that a priori does not manipulate it directly, on the other hand what does the reference to light carry through the ages. Eventually it will focus on the relation to other artistic disciplines.

Possible topics for proposals include:

  1. The vocabulary of light (the words of light in music and vice-versa: chromaticism, waves, colors, spectrum, harmony of colors, coloristic harmonies, etc.);
  2. Light, The Sublime and Transfiguration (metaphysics, spirituality, and religion);
  3. Music and technological facilities (use of external elements in association to light);
  4. Persistence of light in music writing (evolution of the presence of light in music through the ages from the point of view of Aesthetics and Theory);
  5. Light and Dramaturgy (coup de théâtre, staging history and technique);
  6. Light and Tone (instrument making, instrumentation, orchestration, harmony, etc.)

Submission Guidelines

Proposals should be submitted in English or French for 20-minutes length papers to nicolas.dufetel@cnrs.fr

before March, 31st 2018

They will include:

  • A title;
  • A 250-word abstract;
  • Bibliographical references (10 max.);
  • A 250-word biography of the author.

Venue : Paris, Fondation Singer-Polignac (https://www.singer-polignac.org/) 

Scientific Committee

  • Jean-Pierre Bartoli (Paris Sorbonne-IReMus)
  • Nicolas Dufetel (CNRS-IReMus) 
  • Florence Gétreau (CNRS-IReMus)
  • Philippe Hamou (Université Paris Nanterre)
  • Arnaud Mayrargue (Université Paris Diderot-SPHERE)
  • Anne Piéjus (CNRS-IReMus)

Organization committee

  • Jean-Pierre Bartoli, Sorbonne-IReMus
  • Nicolas Dufetel, CNRS-IReMus
  • Katia-Sofía Hakim, Sorbonne-IReMus
  • Florence Gétreau, CNRS-IReMus

The Conference is supported by the IReMus (Institut de recherche en musicologie –  CNRS-Sorbonne Université-Bibliothèque nationale de France-Ministère de la culture et de la communication), the Fondation Singer-Polignac, and Sorbonne Université.


  • Saturday, March 31, 2018


  • Nicolas Dufetel
    courriel : dufetel [dot] nicolas [at] wanadoo [dot] fr

Information source

  • Nicolas Dufetel
    courriel : dufetel [dot] nicolas [at] wanadoo [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Light and music - appropriations, metaphors and analogies », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, January 31, 2018, https://calenda.org/431253

Archive this announcement

  • Google Agenda
  • iCal
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search