Pour changier l'air ne pour fuir les lieux 3v · Convert, P.
Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:
Editions: Jeppesen 1927 no. 2 (Copenhagen), Goldberg 1997 p. 467 (Laborde - faulty; it is in fact copied from Jeppesen 1927)
Text: Rondeau cinquain, full text in all three sources; also found in the text MSS Berlin 78.B.17 ff. 185v-186 (ed. Löpelmann 1923 p. 362), Paris 1722 f. 12, and in the print Jardin 1501 f. 97v.
Pour changier l'air ne pour fuir les lieux, (1)
Car actaint suis d'un dart delicieux
pour changier l'air ne pour fouir les lieux,
Ha, ma dame, par ung don gracieulx
Pour changier l'air ne pour fouir les lieux,
Neither by a change of air nor by fleeing my obligations,
For I have been hit by a delicious arrow,
neither by a change of air nor by fleeing my obligations,
Alas, my lady, by a gracious gift
Neither by a change of air nor by fleeing my obligations,
1) In the first line Copenhagen has “fouir les lieux”, and in line 2 “aux dieulx”; Laborde writes the first words of the poem as “Pour changer” and the start of the 2nd line as “pour autre veoir”.
2) Laborde reads “os cieulx”.
Evaluation of the sources:
The version in Copenhagen is without any errors apart from the fact that the scribe has been indecisive in the matter of mensuration. In the contratenor he has written the sign for tempus imperfectum diminutum – as in the other two sources –, while he in the tenor very clearly has indicated tempus perfectum.
All three versions of this song were copied by the Dijon scribe and most probable after the same exemplar. As remarked in connection with several other chansons the Dijon scribe did think about what he was copying and in several cases changed his mind on details. The small and in performances insignificant differences between the three sources seem to tell a story about such editorial changes:
The Dijon copy is probably the first one he made. Except for a copying error in the tenor (the rhythm in bar 26), a more extended use of coloration in the lower voices (T b. 15 and C bb. 13, 16, and 24), and a non-dotted phrasing of the superius in bar 10.1, which is also found in Laborde, the only real variants in relation to the Copenhagen version come in bars 43-44. Placed at the beginning of bar 43 he has carefully inserted a sharp on the c’-line affecting the next semibrevis. This c’-sharp sounds all right in performance, but feels a bit out of place in the musical development, which avoids any hints of cadences from b. 38 and until the final cadence. In Copenhagen he has moved the same accidental slightly downwards so it now affects the following b changing it into mi. It should have been a fa (b-flat) because it comes after an a-mi in b. 42 – the singer now has to mutate from mi to re on this a. This passage is really difficult to perform whether the sharp is meant to affect the b or the c’, because the tenor sounds an f at the same time, and the contratenor also has to raise its low B-flat. In Laborde he has simply omitted the sharp. At bar 44.1 Dijon has a decorative figure of four minimae (which also seems a bit misplaced, especially following the c’-sharp, see the transcription), which in Copenhagen and Laborde is reduced to two notes in a dotted figure.
Laborde shows yet another distribution of the use of coloration in dotted figures (in relation to Copenhagen in S b. 24, T bb. 21 and 26, and C bb. 46-47) – these details seem to be completely at the discretion of this copyist –, and it has some writing errors (bb. 14 (T), 16 (C), and 22 (S)), and the scribe has moved the signum in the T (bb. 27-28), which affects the performance of the partial repetitions. The real variants are again found in the final phrase of the song: As mentioned above he this time omits the accidental affecting bar 43 in the superius and gives the simple version of the continuation in bar 44.1. In the contratenor he omits a small decorative figure in bar 44.2 (goes straight on to the d) and combines the repeated ds in bb. 45-46 into one dotted semibrevis. At the other hand the tenor has been smoothed out by inserting pairs of semiminimae in bb. 46 and 48.
In Copenhagen we find a better spacing of the music, less use of coloration, and fewer decorative figures in the final phrase. It looks as if this version represents the Dijon scribe’s final thoughts on the chanson – maybe this status provoked the slightly affected spellings in the first two lines of text, a practice he soon tired of. His source for the song was probably some rather sketchy sheets of music made for everyday use, which did not live up to his standards of production. It did have an accidental before bar 43, but it was not clearly positioned, and the final phrase probably did show many decorative figures (fitting the style of the chanson), but it also included some errors, which made the parts impossible to fit together in performance. Every time he copied the music he had to reconstruct a workable edition of the chanson. And he succeeded. All three versions are fully functional and convey the musical ideas of the song perfectly.
When making the revision for the Copenhagen Chansonnier the Dijon scribe probably realized that the cut signature is misleading in this song. It ought to have been notated in tempus imperfectum as all cadential movement is on the semibrevis level. His indication of tempus perfectum in the tenor was probably not a random writing error. It is an error, but it slipped in following a careful consideration of the character of the music. The tenor is in fact the only one of the three parts, which directly can be read in tempus perfectum, and with a meaningful musical phrasing.
The Dijon scribe ascribed the song to a composer in Laborde, P. Convert, whose name he did not care to mention in his own productions, Dijon and Copenhagen. Convert was probably a musician in the Dijon scribe’s circle of acquaintances, a composer he valued and attached importance on presenting in the best possible way. It is easy to presume that the exemplar he worked from originated with the composer.
Comments on text and music:
The setting of this widely circulated love poem is rather conventional, but effective in its clear-cut declamatory motifs dissolving into rhythmically active continuations. A sure hand has formed especially the endings of the three middle lines of text, which smoothly bring the music forward or lead to the repetition. The imitations between the core parts with the low-lying contratenor coming in as a pseudo-participant may reveal a composer well aware of style of the Busnoys generation, even if he in terms of age belonged to an older generation. The Dijon scribe added two further chansons by Convert to the Copenhagen Chansonnier (see no. 4 »Ma plus, ma mignonne, m'amye« and no. 7 »Se mieulx ne vient, d'amours peu me contente«).
PWCH June 2008