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son et lumière

n. An outdoor show consisting of special lighting effects projected onto a building, accompanied by music or narration.

Son et lumière (show)

Son et lumière (French, lit. "sound and light"), or a sound and light show, is a form of nighttime entertainment that is usually presented in an outdoor venue of historic significance.

Special lighting effects are projected onto the façade of a building or ruin and synchronized with recorded or live narration and music to dramatize the history of the place. The invention of the concept is credited to Paul Robert-Houdin, who was the curator of the Château de Chambord in France, which hosted the world's first son et lumière in 1952. Another was established in the early 1960s at the site of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

This nighttime medium naturally lends itself to ecclesiastical buildings, stately homes and ruins, and has rapidly become very popular in France where about 50 annual productions take place, principally in the Loire Valley, at the Palace of Versailles and at Les Invalides in Paris.

The format usually involves no active participation by actors but a recorded narrative of the history of the building concerned by one or a cast of voices. To this is added music or sound effects as appropriate, all of which is synchronised to lighting and/or projection effects which provide the visual dimension. Pyrotechnic effects are occasionally included for added spectacle.

A relatively recent variation is that, rather than the music and narration coming through a concert-like sound system, they may use headsets, such as in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's "Lights of Liberty". This allows an audience to move through a historic district as the show proceeds.

Son et lumière

Son et lumière may refer to:

  • Son et lumière (show), a sound and light show
  • "Son et Lumiere" (song), song by The Mars Volta on the album De-Loused in the Comatorium
  • Son et lumière (composition), symphonic poem by Steven Stucky
  • Son et Lumière (company), French television production company responsible for the series Engrenages, shown in English as Spiral