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Quant vous me ferez plus de bien 3v · Busnoys, Antoine

Appearance in the five chansonniers:

*Copenhagen ff. 29v-30 »Quant vous me ferez plus de bien« 3v PDF - Facsimile

*Dijon ff. 118v-119 »Quant vous me ferez plus de bien« 3v Busnoys PDF · Facsimile

*Nivelle ff. 18v-19 »Quant vous me ferez plus de bien« 3v PDF · Facsimile

Edition: Jeppesen 1927 no. 24 (Copenhagen).

Text: Rondeau quatrain; full text in all three sources; also in London 380 f. 247, ed.: Wallis 1929, p. 130, Paris 1719 f. 92v (no. 290), Paris 1722 f. 43 (no. 170), Berlin 78.B.17 f. 141v (no. 392). ed.: Löpelmann 1923, p. 259. After Dijon:

Quant vous me ferez plus de bien
que ne me faictes a ceste heure,
alors serez de moi tant seure
qu’on ne sçaroit dire combien.

Mon cueur est vostre, non pas mien,
et le sera, je vous asseure,

quant vous me ferez plus de bien
que ne me faictes a ceste heure.

Congnoistre pouez assez bien
qu’a vous servir tousjours labeure
et prie à Dieu que bref je meure
ou cas que je vous faille en rien.

Quant vous me ferez plus de bien
que ne me faictes a ceste heure,
alors serez de moi tant seure
qu’on ne sçaroit dire combien.

If you will be good to me
more than you are at this hour,
then you could be so sure of me
that no one could say how much.

My heart is yours, not mine,
and will stay so I assure you,

if you will be good to me
more than you are at this hour.

You must indeed recognize
that I always labor to serve you
and pray to God that I at once shall die
in the case that I fail you in anything.

If you will be good to me
more than you are at this hour,
then you could be so sure of me
that no one could say how much.

There are a few differences of spelling in the sources.

Evaluation of the sources:

The Dijon scribe copied identical versions of Busnoys’ “Quant vous” into Dijon and Copenhagen (a small writing error in Copenhagen’s tenor in bar 20 notwithstanding). The Nivelle version is very close to the Copenhagen/Dijon version with only minor differences in text, cadential embellishment (S bb. 11.3 and 17.2-3), coloration (S b. 10), and a melodic detail (C b. 7.3). The Nivelle version could easily have been copied from the exemplar used by the Dijon scribe.

The different scribes do not agree in their use of key signatures: The Copenhagen/Dijon version has a signature of one flat in the contratenor, an indication absent in the contratenor of the Nivelle version. However, a signature of one flat is introduced in the Nivelle tenor part’s second staff, seemingly misplaced, but which would have been well-placed at the beginning of the third staff. The Nivelle scribe’s exemplar could well have had the typical combination of an upper voice with no signature and two lower voices each with a one flat signature. Maybe the Nivelle scribe realized that the rondeau builds on the contrast of a first section with natural Bs drifting toward A and a second section with flattened Bs moving toward the final D. Consequently, he might have decided to omit the key signatures completely, as the b-flats of the second section automatically will be generated be the common rules for singing polyphony. Then the flat in the tenor’s 2nd staff could simply be a slip of concentration.

See also the comments on »Soudainement mon cueur a pris«.

Comments on text and music:

The rondeau text makes an appeal to the admired lady that she ought to be more accommodating towards her lover. This theme seems to continue the story of a sudden falling in love in Busnoys’ bergerette »Soudainement mon cueur a pris« which is placed just before “Quant vous” in Copenhagen and just after it in Dijon. The music in triple time of “Quant vous”, even more elegant than the double-time “Soudainement”, likewise seems related; perhaps “Quant vous” can be heard as a condensed version of the musical thoughts in “Soudainement” – or vise versa. Their resemblances can be summarized as follows:

- The Dorian mode on D with its characteristic fluctuation of B-natural and B-flat.

- The same ranges and relationships between the voices (»Quant vous« is placed one tone lower than “Soudainement”).

- The opening motive in the superius with an upbeat and the movement d’-f’ and the closing gestures delineating the tonespace between d’ and b’-flat in rhythmically related formulations (see “Soudainement” bb. 41-44, and “Quant vous” bb. 20-23).

- The use of imitation al unisono between superius and tenor at the emotional climaxes of the poems (see “Soudainement” bb. 66 ff, and “Quant vous” bb. 12 ff).

- And, most significantly, they both start in homorhythmical declamation with an upbeat, and both are preceded by notated general pauses consisting of a whole brevis bar and one or two semibreves in accordance with the mensuration. These general pauses probably do not have any function during a performance and seem to be devices meant to insure absolute notational clarity when a song starts with an upbeat in all voices. Something analogous appears in Michelet’s rondeau »S’il advient que mon dueil me tue«, which is placed near the two Busnoys chansons in the Copenhagen chansonnier (no. 26); see further my note ‘On chansons starting with a general pause’.

PWCH May 2009
(Revised July 2012 – with my warmest thanks to Ron Andrico for his help in untangling my prose)