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S'il advient que mon deuil me tue 3v · Michelet

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Copenhagen f. 31 »S'il advient« 2v [3v] (T and C only) · Edition · Facsimile

*Dijon ff. 8v-9 »S’il advient que mon deul me tue« 3v · Edition · Facsimile

*Laborde ff. 37v-38 »S’il advient que mon deul me tue« 3v · Edition · Facsimile

*Leuven ff. 21v-22 »S'il advient que mon dueil me tue« 3v · Edition · Facsimile

*Nivelle ff. 77v-78 »S'il advient que mon dueil me tue« 3v · Edition · Facsimile

*Wolfenbüttel ff. 46v-47 »S’il advient que mon dueil me tue« 3v · Edition · Facsimile

Other musical sources:

Florence 176 ff. 85v-86 »S’il advient que mon deul me tue« 3v Michelet

This page with editions as a PDF

Editions: Droz 1927 no. 4 (Dijon); Jeppesen 1927 no. 26 (Dijon + Copenhagen); Gutiérrez-Denhoff 1988 no. 37 (Wolfenbüttel); Goldberg 1997, p. 421 (Laborde).

Text: Rondeau cinquain, full text in Dijon, Laborde, Leuven, Nivelle and Wolfenbúttel, also in Berlin 78.B.17 ff. 78-78v (no.118), ed.: Löpelmann 1923, p. 110, Jardin 1501 f. 81 (no. 208); after Nivelle:

S’il advient que mon dueil me tue
pour vous, ma seule chere tenue, (1)
je tiens qu’Amours sera d'acord (2)
que je vous charge de ma mort
affin que vous soiez cognue.

Helas! or estes vous tenue
tout l’onneur qui est soubz la nue, (3)
mais vostre loz se perdra fort, (4)

s’il advient que mon deul me tue
pour vous, ma seule chere tenue.

Se ma cause est bien debatue
devant la court d’Amours et veue, (4)
pensez vous que vous n’aiez tort?
Si arez voir s’il vient au fort:
Ma fin vous sera chere vendue.

S’il advient que mon dueil me tue
pour vous, ma seule chere tenue,
je tiens qu’Amours sera d'acord
que je vous charge de ma mort
affin que vous soiez cognue.

If it happens that my grief kills me
because of you, my sole beloved,
I think that Amour will accord
that I charge you with my death
so that you shall be notorious.

Alas! Now you are renowned
as everything honourable below the sky,
but your fame will suffer badly,

if it happens that my grief kills me
because of you, my sole beloved.

If my case is well argued
before the court of Amour and decided,
don’t you think that you shall lose?
Indeed you shall, if it comes to that:
My end will cost you dearly.

If it happens that my grief kills me
because of you, my sole beloved,
I think that Amour will accord
that I charge you with my death
so that you shall be notorious.

Many differences in spelling can be found in the sources. The most important textual variants are the following:
1) Leuven, line 2, “... seulle cher tenue”
2) Laborde lines 3-4, “je tien qu’Amour sera decort / et si vous prometz fus ma mort”
3) Dijon and Leuven, line 7, “le chef d’onneur dessoubz la nue”
4) Laborde, line 8, “mais vostre loz sera perdu”; Leuven, “mais voustre bruit ...”
5) Wolfenbüttel, lines 12-14, “devant le dieu d’Amours et veue / pensez vous que n’ayez pas tort / si avez et si vient au fort” 

Evaluation of the sources:

»S’il advient que mon dueil me tue« is present in all six ‘Loire Valley’ chansonniers, and no one among the five different scribes has cared to mention the composer of this apparently very well known song. Only the slightly later Italian MS Florence 176 gives the composer’s name as “Michelet”, an elusive musician (cf. Fallows 1999 p. 708). That the chanson had a wide circulation is attested by the fact that the five versions (Dijon and the mutilated copy in Copenhagen were presumably identical and count as one) show quite many differences in their poetic texts (see above) and in details of the music (see the transcriptions).

One trait divides them into two groups, namely the introductory brevis general rest, which is found in the two copies by the Dijon scribe (Copenhagen and Dijon), in Leuven and Nivelle – the song was added to Nivelle by the later hand B – and in Florence 176, and which does not appear in Laborde and Wolfenbüttel (the whole-bar brevis general pause is not imcluded in the count of bars). Laborde and Wolfenbüttel also diverge by connecting lines 2 and 3 with a stepwise figure in the contratenor (b. 19).

Dijon (and Copenhagen) differs from the other sources by signalling a flat in the first staff of superius. This conforms to the omission of the natural in the tenor in bar 20, which otherwise seems to be an integral part of the chanson’s expression and is found in Nivelle, Laborde and Wolfenbüttel – but not in Florence 176! Dijon/Copenhagen and Leuven have a connecting figure between lines 1-2 in the contratenor (bb. 7-8), which is far more elegant than in the other sources. Instead of rising from an octave below the preceding cadence tone to the third in the next concord (c-f-c’), it reverses the movement and introduces a bit of tonal colouring by beginning on the third below and ending in an octave leap (a-f-c-c’).

While the Dijon version appeared to want to add flats, the Leuven version is without flats (hexachordal signatures as well as accidentals). It looks as if an attempt has been made to redo the song in Mixolydian. It was not successful, and it not advisable to use the copy in Leuven for a performance. Its music and text is basically quite close to the Copenhagen/Dijon version. However, in bars 14-15 the lower voices move through a G major triad – the ligature in the contratenor has been corrected from g-a to g-b – which creates an additional dissonance against the upper voice. The fourth line (from bar 32) has been prolonged with a brevis-value in order to make a stepwise descent in the upper voice possible. The tenor voice has been adjusted accordingly by inserting a brevis g’ following bar 36, but this value is missing in the contratenor. The clef is here changed at bar 36.2 and the passage has been erased and rewritten. This may have caused the missing notes, but it is difficult to imagine how the three-part structure should be amended without going back to the original composition. In bar 42 (in Leuven bar 43!) the second note in the ligature has become a c’ probably to avoid the forced b-flat in the next bar. This change combined with a rhythmical adjustment of the upper voice results in quite intolerable dissonances.

Dijon/Copenhagen, Leuven and Wolfenbüttel end the setting with an old-fashioned cadence formula involving an octave leap in the contratenor. Nivelle, Laborde and Florence 176 all modernized this trait. The flickering picture drawn by the sources indicate that the song had been in circulation for an extended period of time before it reached this group of sources, which happened to be the earliest to survive the dangers of musical use, and that some insecurity about its characteristics had crept into its transmission.

Comments on text and music:

The rondeau cinquain expresses a cry of despair from the rejected lover who warns the lady that her renown will suffer badly: “Ma fin vous sera chere vendue”.  The musical setting was quite conventional and old-fashioned when the sources were copied – probably the poem was the strongest argument for the song’s popularity.

Superius and tenor carries the words in a self-sufficient duet, starting every line but the last in homorhythmic declamation in a fixed pattern (involving a brevis, two semibreves, and a brevis again) with lots of parallel thirds and sixths. The contratenor fills out above and below the tenor and in between phrases. In three of the sources (Nivelle, Laborde and Wolfenbüttel) the most important element of contrast is fluctuation between B flat and B natural. The natural sign in the tenor in bar 20 decisively influences the sound of the third line, and in the fifth line, which clearly is meant to be dissimilar from the other lines – it also carries the punch lines of the poem –, the contrapuntally necessary use of B-flat in the superius (a notated flat in Laborde) also colours the sound (bb. 39 ff), but is avoided – without success – in Leuven. Moreover this line is very extended (covering a third of the setting), very syncopated (also involving the contratenor), and ends in a freely formed three-part imitation of a standard motive, the improvisatory pattern upon the final note C: the safe concords of 5-6-5-3-(4-3-)1. The last line is typically designed to counterbalance the three phrases of the first section in the rondeau.

The meaning of the poem imposes a shortening of the refrain in the second couplet, which has to stop after the second line. This seems to have been to intention of the composer and was anticipated in the setting’s layout: The setting of text line 3 leads into a cadence on C (b. 28), which at once is extended and comes to rest on G with the major third as the highest sounding note, and line 2 fittingly ends in a straight cadence on G (b. 18). In this way the couplets with a shortened refrain form a rounded entity with the tonally contrasting 3rd line (which the Dijon scribe disagreed on) in the middle.

The introductory brevis rest in all voices (in Dijon/Copenhagen, Leuven, Nivelle and Florence 176) seems not to have any practical function in a performance. In a way it connects the song to two songs by Busnoys, which is placed just before it in the Copenhagen chansonnier, »Soudainement mon cueur a pris« and »Quant vous me ferez plus de bien« (nos. 23-24 in Copenhagen), and which show similar rests. It is thinkable that the rests in this case just signal the homorhythmical start of the song; see further my note ‘On chansons starting with a general pause’.

PWCH May 2009, revised October 2022