Start

Related sources
   Copenhagen
   Dijon
   Laborde
   Leuven
   Nivelle
   Wolfenbüttel

Other sources
   Music
   Text

Compositions
   
by first line
   by composer

Bibliography

Abbreviations

Papers and notes

General Index of music editions
   
by first line
   by composer

 

Editions and papers
on this site:

Complete Works of Gilles Mureau

Amiens MS 162 D

Uppsala MS 76a

Homepage
Peter Woetmann Christoffersen


Papers on

Basiron’s chansons
Busnoys & scibes PDF
Caulaincourt
Chansons in Fa-clefs
Chansoner på nettet
Fede, Works
Dulot’s Ave Maria
Open access 15th c.
MS Florence 2794

 

 
Se mieulx ne vient, d'amours peu me contente 3v · Convert, P.

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Copenhagen ff. 6v-7 »Se mieulx ne vient, d'amours peu me contente« 3v PDF · Facsimile

*Dijon ff. 76v-77 »Se mieulx ne vient, d'amours peu me contente« 3v PDF · Facsimile

*Laborde ff. 19v-20 »Se mieulx ne vient, d'amours peu me contente« 3v P Convert PDF · Facsimile

*Leuven ff. 29v-31 »Se mieulx ne vient, d'amours peu me contente« 3v PDF · Facsimile

*Nivelle ff. 76v-77 »Se mieulx ne vient d’amours peu me contente« 3v PDF · Facsimile

*Wolfenbüttel ff. 3v-4 »Se mieulx ne vient, d'amours peu me contente« 3v PDF · Facsimile

Other sources:

Sevilla 5-1-43 ff. 63v-64 »Se mieulx ne vient, d'amours peu me contente« 3v

Use of material and citation: see Fallows 1999 pp. 364-365.

Editions: Jeppesen 1927 no. 7 (Copenhagen); Carpentras 1972, Vol. 1, p. 147 (Copenhagen); Gutiérrez-Denhoff 1988 no. 3 (Wolfenbüttel).

Text: Rondeau cinquain, full text in all six related sources. The poem (probably not by Guillaume Crétin (ca. 1460-1525)) is also found in Berlin 78.B.17 f. 146 (ed.: Löpelmann 1923 p. 269), Lille 402 no. 395 (ed.: Françon 1938 p. 508), Paris 2335 f. 81v “Cre”, and in the print Jardin 1501 f. 72.

After Copenhagen and Dijon:

Se mieulx ne vient, d’amours peu me contente;
une j’en sers qu’est assez souffisante (1)
pour contenter ung grant duc ou ung roy;
je l’aime bien, mais non pas elle moi; (2)
ja n’est besoing que de ce je me vente. (3)

Combien qu’elle est adroicte, belle et gente, (4)
de m’en louer pour ceste heure presente, (5)
pardonnez moi; car je n’y voi de quoy. (6)

Se mieulx ne vient, d’amours peu me contente;
une j’en sers qu’est assez souffisante
pour contenter ung grant duc ou ung roy;

Quant je lui dix de mon vouloir l'entente,
et cueur et corps et biens je lui presente, (7)
pour tout cela remede je n’y voi;
deliberé je suis, savez de quoy? (8)
De lui quicter et le jeu et l’actente. (9)

Se mieulx ne vient, d’amours peu me contente;
une j’en sers qu’est assez souffisante
pour contenter ung grant duc ou ung roy;
je l’aime bien, mais non pas elle moi;
ja n’est besoing que de ce je me vente.

If it doesn’t get any better, I’m not content with love.
I serve a woman who is fully capable
of satisfying a grand duke or a king.
I really love her, but she not me.
There is no reason that I should be proud of that.

How lively, beautiful and gentle she may ever be,
so excuse me from being delighted at this moment,
for I see nothing of it.

If it doesn’t get any better, I’m not content with love.
I serve a woman who is fully capable
of satisfying a grand duke or a king.

When I tell her of my whishes and longing
and offer her my heart and body and all my goods,
for all this I receive no remedy.
I have decided – do you know what? –
to quit her and the game and the waiting.

If it doesn’t get any better, I’m not content with love.
I serve a woman who is fully capable
of satisfying a grand duke or a king.
I really love her, but she not me.
There is no reason that I should be proud of that.

Minor differences in spelling appear in the sources. The more important textual variants are:
1) Laborde, line 2, “... qui est bien souffisante”
2) Laborde, line 4, “... et non pas ...”, Leuven, “... mays elle non pas moy”
3) Leuven, line 5, “... de cela me vante”
4) Laborde, line 6, “... est advenant, belle ...”; Wolfenbüttel, “... qu’el soit bien faicte, droitte et gente”
5) Leuven and Nivelle, line 7, “...louer quant a l’heure presente”; Wolfenbüttel, the word “heure” is missing
6) Wolfenbüttel,line 8, “Ja n’est besoing ...” (corruption, repeat from refrain line 5)
7) Laborde, line 13, “et corps et biens et cuer ...”
8) Leuven, line 15, “deliberé suis ...”; Laborde,“deliberé suis, et savez vous de quoy?”
9) Laborde, line 16, “... et l’entente”

The poem was also set by Loyset Compere and Alexander Agricola.

Evaluation of the sources:

Unlike the other two chansons ascribed to Convert (see »Pour changier l'air« and »Ma plus, ma mignonne«), which we only know from the Dijon scribe’s hand, this rondeau has been transmitted in all six related chansonniers by five different scribes, namely besides the Dijon scribe in Copenhagen and Dijon by the original Laborde scribe, the Leuven and Wolfenbüttel scribes, and as a later addition to the Nivelle Chansonnier entered by the hand Nivelle B.

Copenhagen and Dijon were copied after the same exemplar, Copenhagen without any errors, and Dijon with two insignificant variations in orthography and a single misreading of the exemplar (in C bb. 19-20).

As indicated by the textual differences (see above) these five versions of the chanson probably were copied from different exemplars. They transmit exactly the same idea of the chanson, but differ on details that might be of lesser importance in performances. All agree on the imitation motif as presented by the contratenor at the start: syncopation followed by a dotted note and two fusae - very fast and elegant. But what about the continuation accompanying the next entry? Is it here best to use the dotted figure with fusae again or a calmer descent with a minima and two semiminimae (in the last instance creating a momentary harsh dissonance)? The five versions offer different solutions to these questions – and to corresponding questions about the use of fusae in other places (bb. 11 and 19). Leuven and Nivelle are rather consistent in placing fusae against semiminimae, the Dijon scribe uses as many fusae as possible, the Laborde scribe uses semiminimae in both voices in bar 2 and thereby obliterates the dissonance where it is easiest to hear, and Wolfenbüttel obtains the same by using fusae in both voices. These differences may be easier to detect in writing than to hear in a performance. Singers probably would follow the lead from the first presentation of the motif and adopt this singer’s rhythmic interpretation. However, the revision of the music by the Dijon scribe may be a result of experiences from performances, as we have seen in other cases.

We find another interesting revision, which probably was a result of the chanson being performed. The contratenor line is difficult to sing in Laborde bb. 7-8. The singer would have either to raise the fs in b. 7 or to flatten the b – or sing a tritone. In all other sources the last two notes in b. 7 have been replaced by a syncopated figure taking the b up to c’ making the phrase much easier to sing. The only error in the music in Nivelle appears exactly in this spot. Maybe the scribe was copying a clumsy correction in his exemplar? Leuven also has some unique variants, which all may have been created by the copyist: In b. 5.1-2 he replaced a dotted figure in the upper voice with a semibrevis, and in the tenor b. 6.1 he did the same. In the last case he had written a semibrevis and a minima b-g, but soon realized that this would not fit the other voices, and he just erased the minima. In the contratenor he reversed the rhythmical values of the last three notes in b. 11 and thereby created a more dissonant drive towards the middle cadence.

Much of the appeal of the chanson depends on its turning from Mixolydian in cantus durum towards cantus molle around the middle of the rondeau – whether indicated by accidentals or not. The Laborde scribe’s placement of a flat in the tenor’s key signature from the start of the chanson seems rather counterproductive; maybe he observed a flat in the exemplar’s tenor part (in b. 11) and put it in at the beginning of the part (with unforeseen consequences) just like he did in the contratenor, where he established a key signature of one flat from b. 11 (starting at the beginning of the 3rd staff). The Leuven scribe too put in a flat in the key signature of the tenor part at the beginning of the second part of the song (bb. 14-18.1 – in the first staff on f. 31). This also seems a bit early; it would have been better placed at the start of the next staff. In the contratenor he did establish like the Laborde scribe a key signature of one flat in the second section (from b. 14).

In Laborde the name “P Convert” has been hastily written above the superius on f. 19v. Jane Alden identifies it as an addition made by the same hand as completed the index (Index-Scribe II), which the Dijon scribe had made in a separate gathering at the start of the MS (cf. Alden 1999 pp. 78-81). On ff. 74v-76 the Dijon scribe himself identified Convert as the author of the two chansons, which he entered on these pages. I have no basis for doubting Alden’s identification of the hands, but judging from the photographic reproductions of the relevant pages it could just as well be the Dijon scribe who in hurried writing added the name of the composer when browsing the work of the Laborde scribe. At the same instance he could have decided to supplement the MS with the two other chansons by Convert, which he had in his own collection of exemplars.

Comments on text and music:

The text has tentatively been ascribed to the famous poet Guillaume Crétin (see Fallows 1999 p. 365). He lived between ca. 1460 and 1525, so he was probably too young to be author of this vigorous and quite angry, ‘anti-courtly’ denouncement of the lady and the whole game of love, which apparently was quite popular at the beginning of the 1460s in this musical setting. It was copied into all six ‘Loire Valley’ chansonniers from different exemplars, which probably had been in circulation for some time, and the setting was so well known that none of the copyists found it necessary to add the composer’s name in the first instance.

The popularity of both poem and music lived on for generations. The poem appears in several text collections, some from the 16th century. The music found its way into the somewhat later Colombina Chansonnier (Sevilla 5-I-43 ff. 63v-64; Naples? 1480s?), the chanson’s tenor and superius were used as material for masses by Weerbecke (Finscher & Dömling 1975, p. 285 “Officium papale”) and Carpentras (Carpentras 1972, Vol. 1, p. 1), and it was reworked by two of the leading chanson composers of the next generation, Alexander Agricola (a fantastic, extended fantasy on the superius tune, cf. Agricola 1970, Vol. 5, pp. 32-34) and Loyset Compere (a setting inspired by the opening motif and a réponse »Se pis ne vient, d’amours je me contente«, Compere 1972, Vol. 5, pp. 49-51) – see further Alden 2010, pp. 215-220.

The only reason for connecting this chanson with the very little known P. Convert is then the added name in Laborde. There is, however, no reason to doubt the ascription by the “Index-Scribe II” in Laborde. The chanson had been in circulation for some time before finding its way into the five related chansonniers, but it has many traits in common with in particular »Ma plus, ma mignonne«: The composer’s sure handling of the layout of the chanson and of the characteristic oscillation between major chords on F and G in Mixolydian mode and the gradual sliding into the sound world of cantus mollis – probably as a response to the text. The strongly profiled superius covers again only the narrow range of an octave, and after the memorable opening imitation it floats over the lower voices, which  occupy the same range an octave below. The rondeau is fast, funny and elegant (especially in the Dijon scribe’s version), and it exhibits similar small problems, which scribes or performers had to solve, concerning rhythmical figures and accidentals as the two other chansons by Convert. And – most important – the three chansons, which we can connect with Convert’s name, are placed close together in the Dijon scribe’s two chansonniers (Copenhagen nos. 2, 4 and 7; Dijon nos. 65, 67 and 70) – at least he would probably agree with the “Index Scribe II”.

PWCH July 2008, revised May 2017