This website is the home the digital critical edition of Jean-Benjamin de Laborde’s long-forgotten illustrated songbook Choix de Chansons (1773).
Funded by the Australian Research Council, this project brings together a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the Australian National University, the University of Sydney, the Sorbonne and the Voltaire Foundation, working across the disciplines of art history (Christina Clarke, Mark Ledbury and Robert Wellington), musicology (Erin Helyard), French literature (Nicholas Cronk), and digital humanities (Glenn Roe).
The team is exploring the interrelation and interactivity of images, music, and text in the Choix de Chansons and similar cultural objects in the eighteenth century more generally. By reconceiving the illustrated songbook as a multimedia digital interface for sharing and linking deep disciplinary knowledge, this project provides a fascinating glimpse into the sounds, sensibilities, and social mores of late-eighteenth-century France.
You can explore our content-rich digital critical edition Choix de Chansons in a variety of ways. Browse by ‘Song Sets‘ to explore the image, music, and text associated with each of the 100 illustrations and musical scores originally published in the 1773 edition.
Each ‘Song Set‘ has been numbered for this digital edition according to the volume and sequence of the first edition. Each volume of the original publication had twenty-five sets, so the first song set from the first volume is numbered S.1.01, the last in the last volume is numbered S.4.25.
In each of the ‘Song Set‘ browse pages you can play musical recordings of the songs, and sound recordings of spoken period diction used by tenor Paul McMahon and soprano Amy Moore to learn the songs. You can also find links to high-resolution images both of the prints from the 1773 publication, and the preparatory sketches for those prints held in the Bibliothèque Condé at the Château de Chantilly.
There are many other ways to navigate the content in this edition. Browse by ‘Contributor‘ or ‘Role‘ to explore by the artists, writers, and composers who contributed directly or indirectly in the original edition. Browse by ‘Tag Index‘ or ‘Tag Cloud‘ to search by meta-tags associated with the iconography of the engravings from the original edition. You can browse by ‘Bindings & Bookplates‘ to see how various copies of the book were presented in the eighteenth century. Browse by ‘Front Matter‘ to see the frontispieces and titles pages from each of the four volumes of Choix de Chansons. Finally, you can flip through see each of the original volumes when you browse by the ‘Cover to Cover‘ tab.
If you have anything that you would like to add, we welcome your contributions to our edition!