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Comment suis je de vostre cueur 3v · Delahaye

Appearance in the five chansonniers:

*Copenhagen ff. 0v-1 »Comment suige de vostre cueur« 3v PDF · Facsimile

*Dijon ff. 60v-61 »Comment suige de vostre cueur« 3v PDF · Facsimile (Phot. 124-125)

*Nivelle ff. 32v-33 »Comment suis je de vostre cueur« 3v Delahaye PDF · Facsimile

– All three versions combined in one PDF package

Editions: Jeppesen 1927 no. 1 (Copenhagen); Alden 2001 no. 4 (Nivelle).

Text: Rondeau quatrain, full text in all three sources:

Comment suis je de vostre cueur
qui m'a donné d'amy le nom?
Luy souvient il plus de moy non?
Ce croy je par mon createur.

Dictez moy par vostre doulceur:
Ne suis je plus vostre mignon?

Comment suis je de vostre cueur,
qui m'a donné d'amy le nom?

Je suis son loyal serviteur
n'aultre rien ne luy vueil si non
qu'en ce point nous entretenon
pour estre de ma joie asseur.

Comment suis je de vostre cueur
qui m'a donné d'amy le nom?
Luy souvient il plus de moy non?
Ce croy je par mon createur.

How is my standing in your heart,
which has named me as its friend?
Does it still remember me?
I believe so, by my creator.

Tell me, by your sweetness:
Am I no more your sweetheart?

How is my standing in your heart,
which has named me as its friend?

I am its loyal servant
and want nothing from it except
that we settle this point
in order to ensure my joy (my life):

How is my standing in your heart,
which has named me as its friend?
Does it still remember me?
I believe so, by my creator.

Except for some differences in spelling (the version of Nivelle is shown above) the sources have the same version of the poem; only in line 12 Copenhagen and Dijon have: “… de ma vie asseur.“

Evaluation of the sources:

The most important difference between the sources is the scribes’ use of key signatures. Nivelle has a flat in both tenor and contratenor, and a flat before f” in the superius. This last flat clearly indicates that the high (fictive – ficta or falsa) hexachord on c” is to be used, that the tone e” consequently ought not be flattened. The Dijon scribe who copied the other two versions used only one flat in each: In Dijon in the contratenor and in Copenhagen in the tenor. Smaller differences between Nivelle and Dijon/Copenhagen involving the melodic decoration and rhythmic shape of the parts occur at bb. 6 (S and C), 10 (C), 16 (T), 18 (S), and 22 (S). They confirm along with the variations in orthography (“Comment suige ...” instead of “Comment suis je ...”) that the Dijon/Copenhagen version was copied from an exemplar not closely related to Nivelle. The chanson appears in Nivelle as part of a series of four chansons (ff. 29v-33), which all (rather unusual) are attributed to the same composer. The model for Nivelle’s version probably originated near the circles in which Delahaye worked. Moreover, Nivelle contains all known works (seven chansons) by this composer and is the only source mentioning his name. [1]

The key signatures in Dijon/Copenhagen may reflect an uncertainty on the part of the scribe about the interpretation of the setting of the chanson’s third line (bb. 14-19) – at the start of the second section of the rondeau. Here the structural duet in superius and tenor twice leads to Phrygian cadences on A (at b. 16.3 and b. 19.1) during which tenor and superius exchange function. In both cadence movements the contratenor correctly resolves the diminished fifths in relation to superius (b. 16.2) and tenor (b. 18.3) into a third below the cadence note A, thus making the cadences imperfect. Even if Tinctoris explicitly forbids this procedure, it is very often found in the music of the Busnoys generation to which Delahaye evidently belongs. [2] In Dijon the scribe only put a flat in the contratenor. He thereby left it to the performers to decide the interpretation of this line, possibly by executing the cadences on A with B-naturals and G- and F-sharps and making the fifths below in the contratenor perfect. But then they would run into other problems involving melodic tritones from F to B-natural. The Dijon version is not the best starting point for a performance, but performers presumably reached the same solution as the present editor after repeated tryouts.

In the Copenhagen version, which does not show any writing errors at all and seems to be the more careful and considered version of the song, the same scribe has changed his mind. Now the flat has moved to the tenor clearly indicating what is expected in most cases. We don’t know which signatures his exemplar had, but it is certainly possible that the scribe decided this correction himself – maybe after trying to sing or think through the chanson. It would not be a problem to omit the flat in the contratenor, as nobody in their right mind would sing B-naturals here. Nivelle Chansonnier, gives us flats in both low voices, and the copyist repeats the flat before the high b’ in the tenor in b. 15.3; there can be no doubt that the flats in the tenor are intended.

See also Delahaye's “Puisqu’il convient que le depart se face”.

Comments on text and music:

The music interprets the poet’s worry about his standing in a love relation by keeping rather close to the meaning of the text. The address of the first line is expressed relatively calmly in imitation between tenor and superius in a regular triple meter, while already the continuation in the next line becomes uneasy: The triple measure is displaced in bb. 7-8 by the early entrance of the next phrase (b. 7.3) and by hurrying the cadential resolution to the 3rd beat in the measure (bb. 8.3, 9.3 etc.), and the imitation is reversed to a sort of antiphonal plea in superius and tenor (Please, please remember that it has named me as friend!); at the line’s climax on “amy” in b. 11 the regular meter has been entirely obliterated. The second part of the refrain seems to reinstate the regular meter, but the tenor’s anxious exclamation “Does it still remember me?” in its highest range again stresses the flexibility of the tempus perfectum. The fourth line brings back a sobering order and confidence by short passages in double meter before the final melisma on “createur”. The first part of the refrain is centred on D – Hypodorian and Dorian in the upper parts without any use of B-flats – ending imperfectly on the fifth scale degree. The contrasting third line introduces the B-flats in tenor and superius in connection with the repeated Phrygian cadence movement to A; both times made imperfect by the contratenor, which also contribute to the high tension by the preparatory dissonant diminished fifths. The fourth line (bb. 19 ff) seems to refer back to the second line by its shortened imitation motive and return of the restricted ranges of the upper parts – this line in Copenhagen can be sung without any use of flats.

The tenor is probably the leading voice in this chanson. It has the most interesting declamation of the text, and the extremes of its range define the important contrast at the beginning of the rondeau refrain’s second section. Remark also its leap of a fifth upward in the highly irregular medial cadence, which underscores the question of the poem. The expressive rondeau is a bit dense in its counterpoint, and maybe the composer is overdoing the constant exchange of structural functions in the upper parts.

PWCH March 2008

[1] See Jane Alden (ed.), Johannes Delahaye. Chansons in Loire Valley Sources. Paris 2001 (Alden 2001). See also Jane Alden, ‘Reading the Loire Valley Chansonniers’, Acta Musicologica 79 (2007) pp. 1-32 (Alden 2007), pp. 17-18. Return

[2] See Peter W. Urquhart, ‘False Concords in Busnoys’ in Paula Higgins (ed.), Antoine Busnoys. Method, Meaning, and Context in Late Medieval Music. Oxford 1999, pp. 361-87, and Margaret Bent, ‘On False Concords in Late Fifteenth-Century Music: Yet Another Look at Tinctoris’ in Anne-Emmanuelle Ceulemans & Bonnie J. Blackburn (eds.), Théorie et analyse musicales 1450-1650. Actes du colloque international Louvain-la-Neuve, 23-25 septembre 1999 (Musicologica Neolovaniensia Studia 9) Louvain-la-Neuve 2001, pp. 65-118. Return