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Tant est mignonne ma pensee 3v · Anonymous

Appearance in the five chansonniers:

*Copenhagen f. 24v »Tant est mignonne ma pensee« 1v [3v] Only S PDF · Facsimile

*Dijon ff. 19v-20 »Tant est mignonne ma pensee« 3v PDFFacsimile (Phot. 42-43)

*Laborde ff. 36v-37 »Tant est mignonne ma pensee« 3v PDF · Facsimile

*Nivelle ff. 73v-74 »Tant est mignonne ma pensee« 3v PDF · Facsimile

*Wolfenbüttel ff. 50v-51 »Tant est mignonne ma pensee« 3v PDF · Facsimile

- The four versions in a convenient PDF package

Other musical sources:

Cop 1848 p. 146 »Tant est mignone ma pensee« 3v

Editions: Droz 1927 no. 16 (Dijon); Jeppesen 1927 no. 19 (Dijon); Gutiérrez-Denhoff 1988 no. 41 (Wolfenbüttel - slightly faulty).

Text: Rondeau quatrain; full text in Copenhagen, Dijon, Laborde, Nivelle, and Wolfenbüttel; also found in Jardin 1501 f. 83v (no. 233), Berlin 78.B.17 ff. 146-146v (no. 412), ed.: Löpelmann 1923, p. 270; after Copenhagen, Dijon and Laborde:

Tant est mignonne ma pensee
et gente plus qu’on ne sçait femme (1)
qu’i est tout cler que c’est la dame (2)
qui de nulle autre n’est passee.

Ma joye est morte et trespassee
se bref ne la voi, sur mon ame!

Tant est mignonne ma pensee
et gente plus qu’on ne sçait femme

En valeur est tant essaulcee
que sien, vueil’ ou non, je me clame (3)
et n’ay pas peur que nul m’en blame,
car sur toutes est avancee.

Tant est mignonne ma pensee
et gente plus qu’on ne sçait femme
qu’i est tout cler que c’est la dame
qui de nulle autre n’est passee.

So sweet is she I think of
and gentle more than any other woman,
that it is quite clear that she is the lady
who is not surpassed by anyone.

My joy is dead and gone
if I do not see her soon, by my soul!

So sweet is she I think of
and gentle more than any other woman,

Her renown is so exalted
that I will claim that I am hers, whatever she wants or not,
and I am not afraid that anyone will blame me for that,
because she comes before everybody else.

.So sweet is she I think of
and gentle more than any other woman,
that it is quite clear that she is the lady
who is not surpassed by anyone.

1) Nivelle, line 2, “... plus que on scet ...” and Wolfenbüttel, “... plus que ne sçay ...”
2) Nivelle and Wolfenbüttel, line 3, “qu’il est ...”
3) Nivelle and Wolfenbüttel, line 10 “... veuille ou non ...”; and Copenhagen, Dijon and Laborde, “... vueil’ ou nom ...”.
I addition some further differences in spelling.

Evaluation of the sources:

This short rondeau is found in all five related chansonniers, copied by the Dijon scribe into Copenhagen and Dijon, by the main scribes into Laborde and Wolfenbüttel, and the second Nivelle scribe added it to Nivelle. We know of only one more source, which is more than two generations younger than these, namely the French MS in Copenhagen, The Royal Library, Ny Kgl. Saml. 1848 2°, where it in Lyons in 1520 was copied as part of a series of retrospective courtly and popular chansons along with among others Morton’s »Le souvenir de vous me tue« and Ockeghem’s »D’ung aultre aymer«. [1]

The versions in Copenhagen and Dijon were identical and copied from the same exemplar as far as we can judge from the incomplete music in Copenhagen (the folio containing the tenor and contratenor is missing); the only differences in the superius parts concern the use of coloration (b. 3.3) and a writing error in Dijon (b. 7.1). The other versions are very close to it: In Wolfenbüttel we only find differences in coloration (S b. 3.3; T bb. 3.3 and 15.3) and in the use of a dotted figure (S b. 5.1-2); Nivelle shows a few more differences in the use of coloration (S bb. 3.3, 20.1 and 22.1; T bb. 14.1 and b. 15.3; C b. 14.3) and has a different placement of the dotted figure in the superius in b. 22, which softens the dissonances at the cost of parallel octaves with the contratenor.  This detail is also found in the version copied by the Laborde scribe. His exemplar had contained a few more divergent details such as dotted figures (S bb. 4.2 and 5.1-2 (as in Wolfenbüttel)), note values (S b. 11; T bb. 8.3-9.1; C b. 4), ligatures (C bb. 4, 6.1-2 and 11.3-12.1), embellishment (S b. 22.2-3), and of course differences in coloration, which was at the discretion of the scribes (S b. 3.3; T b. 15.3; C b. 14).

Moreover, the Laborde scribe’s exemplar probably did not have the text further than the incipits below the voices. That is what he copied. When the Dijon scribe later worked on the chansonnier he found the unfinished song and supplied the poem from his own exemplar, complete with the characteristic error in line 10 “vueil’ ou nom”.

The Nivelle version was copied by the second scribe whose music hand is very different from the Dijon scribe’s, while the hand who wrote the text is nearly indistinguishable from his. However, this hand writes out in full the elided syllables as for example “que on” in line 2 and does not make the Dijon scribe’s repeated mistake in line 10 with “nom” in stead of “vueille ou non”.

The much later, hasty version in Copenhagen 1848 is except for a quite corrupt refrain text and a few writing errors nearly identical to the version in Wolfenbüttel. It confirms the slight rondeau’s attraction which pawed the way for it into all five chansonniers and ensured it a long life in the French repertory.

Comments on text and music:

It is rather cocky poem sung by a lover who declares that he belongs to the admired lady whatever she wants him or not. The musical setting gives it an irresistible, happy tone. The music is quite simple, and it is nearly impossible to explain its charm. The duet between superius and tenor starts with an ear catching imitation, proceeds declamatory to the middle cadence, and the third line (starting the second section) is simply a series of sequences down and up again, while the end in the tenor is a repetitive march from the fifth to the final. The contratenor fills out above and below the tenor. On paper the chanson has nothing to recommend it, but it is charming and delicious to perform. It must be a question of timing and a happy balance of its components. Modern ears will agree with the scribes of the five chansonniers: This little song was and is a must.

PWCH June 2009

1) See further P. Woetmann Christoffersen, French Music in the Early Sixteenth Century. Studies in the music collection of a copyist of Lyons. The manuscript Ny kgl. Samling 1848 2° in the Royal Library, Copenhagen I-III. Copenhagen 1994, Vol. I, pp. 70-72 and 129, and Vol. II, pp. 86-96.