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Mon tout, mon souvenir, m’amye (1) 3v · Anonymous

Appearance in the five chansonniers:

*Copenhagen ff. 31v-32 »Mon tout, mon souvenir, m’amye (1)« 3v PDF - Facsimile

Edition: Jeppesen 1927 no. 27 (Copenhagen)

Text: Rondeau quatrain, full text:

Mon tout, mon souvenir, m’amye,
ayez regard au paciant:
Regarder l’avient loyaument;
je vous pri: Ne l’oublier mye.

En tous lieux, je vous certifie,
croistra vo los en vous servant.

Mon tout, mon souvenir, m’amye,
ayez regard au paciant:

Tendant les bras a vous s’escrie,
il n'a point d’autre expediant:
Ne lui soyez point refusant,
exsaucer le, je vous emprie.

Mon tout, mon souvenir, m’amye,
ayez regard au paciant:
Regarder l’avient loyaument;
je vous pri: Ne l’oublier mye

My one and only, my sole thought, my friend,
pay regard to him who patiently suffers:
You ought to be faithful to him;
I beg you: do not forget him!

Everywhere, I assure you,
Your honour will increase by his serving you.

My one and only, my sole thought, my friend,
pay regard to him who patiently suffers:

Holding out his arms towards you he cries,
he has no other expedient:
Please do not refuse him!
Grant his prayer, I beg you.

My one and only, my sole thought, my friend,
pay regard to him who patiently suffers:
You ought to be faithful to him;
I beg you: do not forget him!

This poem is found in a different setting in Dijon ff. 134v-135 (no. 111)

Except for some differences in spelling the sources have the same version of the poem.

Evaluation of the source:

The Dijon scribe executed the copying of music and text with only a single error (b. 31.2 in the tenor), only lack of space between the staves in the superius caused him some difficulties in placing the text.

Comments on text and music:

The scribe was apparently not satisfied with the setting of this desperate love complaint in his Dijon Chansonnier. A different or new setting was selected for inclusion in the more exclusive repertory of the Copenhagen Chansonnier. It is much more successful as a rondeau quatrain, but on the other hand it has also features in common with the chanson in Dijon.

The disposition of the voice parts is the same with a slightly more restricted range in the tenor. The mensuration is now tempus imperfectum instead of tempus perfectum; this is somewhat hidden by entrance of the superius after three semibreves in the imitation with the tenor (and by the theme in slow brevis values). It uses the modern technique of imitation between the structural voices in three of the four lines, and it has longer melodic lines whose flow are not hindered by too tightly spaced cadences. It supplies the contrasts needed for the rondeau form by a varied rhythmical course, for example, the almost floating beginning is very far from the final melisma’s hectic complementary rhythm. The setting of the words is lyrical and easy to sing with relaxed prolongations of the final chord in several cadences (in lines 2 and 3, bb. 17-19 and 27-29), which is related to the middle cadence in the Dijon setting. The result is an elegant and charming setting with a touch of desperation in the last line of the refrain.

The F-tonality, the disposition of the parts, and the prolongation of cadences are not the only features this chanson has in common with the Dijon setting. It is striking that the superius and tenor parts keep even more within the confines of hexachords: All of the first and second lines (bb. 1-17) keep to the F-hexachord, the third line (bb. 20-27) is placed in the C-hexachord with a very small extension in the superius (b. 25), and the tenor is in its entirety back into the F-hexachord for all of the fourth line (bb. 29-48). Furthermore the third line is close to the Dijon setting in melody and its reliance on thirds (d’-f’ and c’-e’) between the upper parts - now in imitation.

- both versions of the chanson in a PDF package.

The role of the scribe:

All in all it is hard to believe that the composer of this chanson did not know the Dijon setting of the exactly same text. It is conceivable that it was composed with this chanson as its somewhat rejected starting point. Then it is interesting to speculate on the role of the Dijon scribe. Did he know both versions before copying, or did he only get hold of the Copenhagen version later? None of them belongs to the most modern type of chanson with a really independent low contratenor, so both could have been in circulation before he started work. Of course he could just have changed to the better version, when it became available. But it is more exciting to presume that he did like the poem and therefore convinced the composer, probably a local musician, to try his hand again.

To me the relationship between the two settings of the same poem looks like a model for developing musical ideas - regardless whether they in fact were composed by the same musician or not. The first tryout was heavily influenced by improvisatory standard patterns and in a formal layout not really fitted for a rondeau text. The next and final version was modernized by changing the mensuration, getting rid of fauxbourdon-like passages and applying imitation technique, and it did become a real rondeau, an example of res facta as described by Tinctoris, created in the mind of the musician, tried out on paper, retried probably in performance, adjusted and polished, and finally copied on costly parchment and sent to the book painter. [1]

PWCH April 2008


[1] See further my chapter “Improvisation und schriftliche Komposition” in Handbuch der Musik der Renaissance (forthcoming).