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Complete Works of Gilles Mureau

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Puis qu'a vous servir me suis mis 3v · Anonymous

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Dijon ff. 23v-24 »Puis qu'a vous servir me suis mis« 3v PDF · Facsimile

*Leuven ff. 19v-20 »Puis qu'a vous servir me suis mis« 3v PDF · Facsimile

*Nivelle ff. 16v-17 »Puis qu'a vous servir me suis mis« 3v PDF · Facsimile

Edition: Droz 1927 no. 20 (Dijon.

Text: Rondeau quatrain; full text in Dijon, Leuven and Nivelle :

Puis qu'a vous servir me suis mis,
a mon povoir vous serviray
et leaulment vous obeiray
ainsi que je m’y suis submis.

Vous savez ce que j’ay promis,
croiez que je l’acompliray

puis qu'a vous servir me suis mis,
a mon povoir vous serviray.

Et si j’ay vostre grace acquis,
quant long temps servy vous aray,
riens plus ne vous demanderay,
il me souffira pour tout pris,

Puis qu'a vous servir me suis mis,
a mon povoir vous serviray
et leaulment vous obeiray
ainsi que je m’y suis submis.

As I have taken on to serve you,
I will serve you with all my might
and loyally obey you
just as I have submitted to do.

You know what I have promised;
believe that I will accomplish it

as I have taken on to serve you,
I will serve you with all my might.

And if I have obtained your grace,
when I have long time served you,
I will wish no more from you,
it will be more than enough.

As I have taken on to serve you,
I will serve you with all my might
and loyally obey you
just as I have submitted to do.

– with a few differences in spelling.

Evaluation of the sources:

The three “Loire Valley” chansonniers have the same version of text and music for this rondeau. Leuven and Nivelle obviously are related as they exhibit the same error in the superius 2/tenor (bar 13.2 a instead of g), and they both have key signatures of one flat in all three voices and mark the middle cadence with fermatas. The Dijon scribe put in a key signature in the voice on the tenor’s place only and there are no fermatas.

However, as regards musical and notational details Leuven and Dijon are very similar. Except for decorative notes in the contratenor and tenor in bars 7 and 9 all other differences concern the use of coloration. Nivelle differ from both in cadential decorations in bars 25 and 32 and in the omission of a ligature in bars 4-5 and, of course, in the use of coloration. The Dijon and Nivelle scribes did not label the three equal voices of the song, while the Leuven scribe mechanically named the two voices on the opening’s left-hand page “Tenor” and “Contratenor”.

This small group of related sources illustrate how easily and fast details in the music could change – often on the whim of the scribe. The exemplar used by the Dijon scribe probably was very similar to the one used for Leuven. Apparently he did not find the key signatures in all three voices essential. With the fixed flat in the superius 2 and the careful flattening of the high b’ in bar 3, he would consider the interpretation of the musical structure unmistakable.

Comments on text and music:

The setting of this subservient love song is for three equal voices in the high tenor range (f-b’). They take turns in singing the song’s highest note (b’), which is reached many times, and they unite in fauxbourdon passages in which the two voices placed in the superius and tenor positions on the pages functions as the structural duet with the third voice as a filler. A short glimpse of three-part unison imitation appears at the beginning of the rondeau’s second section. The constant cadencing towards G makes a sense of monotony unavoidable.

The voice in the tenor’s position (labelled “Tenor” in Leuven) seems to have the strongest melodic profile. This voice also take on the superius role in the final cadence with the other superius an octave below, exactly as it happens in Ockeghem’s famous »Fors seulement l’actente que je meure« (see also the unique »Helas, mon cueur, tu m’occiras« a few pages earlier in the Leuven chansonnier). However, we are here very far from the elegance of Ockeghem. The meaning of the poem and the structure of the setting strongly suggests a performance with a shortened refrain after the first couplet as well as after the tierce. Such a performance is proposed in the edition of the Leuven version (see above). The one-line refrain features the voices in exactly the same configuration as would a performance of the full final refrain.

PWCH December 2017