Start

Related sources
   Copenhagen
   Dijon
   Laborde
   Leuven
   Nivelle
   Wolfenbüttel

Other sources
   Music
   Text

Compositions
   
by first line
   by composer

Bibliography

Abbreviations

Papers and notes

General Index of music editions
   
by first line
   by composer

 

Editions and papers
on this site:

Complete Works of Gilles Mureau

Amiens MS 162 D

Uppsala MS 76a

Homepage
Peter Woetmann Christoffersen


Papers on

Basiron’s chansons
Busnoys & scibes PDF
Caulaincourt
Chansons in Fa-clefs
Chansoner på nettet
Fede, Works
Dulot’s Ave Maria
Open access 15th c.
MS Florence 2794

 

 
Presque transi ung peu moins qu’estre mort 3v · Ockeghem, Johannes

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Dijon ff. 55v-57 »Presque transi ung peu moins qu’estre mort« 3v Okeghem PDF · Facsimile

*Laborde ff. 81v-83 »Presque transi ung peu mains qu’estre mort« 3v  PDF · Facsimile

Editions: Ockeghem 1992, p. 81 (Laborde); Droz 1927, no. 48 (Dijon); Goldberg 1992, p. 458 (Dijon); Ockeghem 1998b, pp. VI-IX.

Text: Bergerette; full text in both sources; also in Berlin 78.B.17, f. 152v, ed.: Löpelmann 1923, p. 284.

After Dijon and Laborde:

Presque transi ung peu moins qu’estre mort,
vivant en dueil sans avoir nul confort (1)
voir l’on me peut eslieus de fortune (2)
qui sans cesser pis qu’aultre me fortune (3)
et me combas de plus fort en plus fort.

Helas, je suis contre mon vueil envie, (4)
et si n’est riens dont tant j’aie d’envie
que de povoir veoir ma fin bien prouchaine.

Morir ne puis et tousjours m’y convie,
et m’est bien tart que du tout je desvie
a celle fin que soie hors de paine. (5)

Il m’est advis que la mort me tient tort, (6)
quant autrement elle ne fait son effort
de moi vengier de ma vie importune
car je languis sans avoir joie aucune
par mon maleur qui me devour et mort.

Presque transi ung peu moins qu’estre mort,
vivant en dueil sans avoir nul confort
voir l’on me peut eslieus de fortune
qui sans cesser pis qu’aultre me fortune
et me combas de plus fort en plus fort.

Nearly gone, only a little bit from being dead,
living in sorrow without having any consolation
I can be seen as chosen by Fortune
who incessantly makes my fortune worse than others
and attacks me with stronger and stronger blows.

Alas, I am alive against my will,
and there is nothing I wish for so much
as to be able to see my quickly approaching end.

I cannot die and yet am always attracted,
and it is quite late for me as I leave everything
for this end, which may be free of pain.

I think that Death does me wrong,
when otherwise she makes no effort
to punish me for my painful life
for I languish without having any joy
due to my grief which devours and kills me.

Nearly gone, only a little bit from being dead,
living in sorrow without having any consolation
I can be seen as chosen by Fortune
who incessantly makes my fortune worse than others
and attacks me with stronger and stronger blows.

1) Dijon, line 2, “vivant en deul ...”
2) Dijon, line 3, missing in MS, there is simply no space for it! After Laborde
3) Dijon, line 4, “Qui sans cesser puis”
4) Dion, line 6, “... mon veul envie”
5) Laborde, line 11, "a celle fin que je soye ..."
6) Laborde, line 12, “... la me tient tort”

In addition some minor differences in spelling.

Evaluation of the sources:

Copied twice by the Dijon scribe after the same exemplar, first in the Dijon chansonnier where the song belonged to its original repertory, and some years later he added it to the Laborde chansonnier (cf. the descriptions of the MSS). He was obviously somewhat confused by the disposition and the range of the two lower voices, when he entered the song into Dijon, and he did take time to prepare the layout of the music with his usual care. He began by notating the tenor in a C4 clef, but changed it at once into a C5 clef without erasure of the first written. This clef was already in the next staff exchanged with a F3 clef, which was used for the remainder of the part. The contratenor is in an extended range, A-g'; in the song’s first section it is notated in a F3 clef, but changes into a C3 clef for the couplets. This change of clef and its high range in the couplets has apparently induced the scribe to introduce a one flat key signature from bar 33. Likewise, in the upper voice he has put a flat in the key signatures of last two staves of the first section (bb. 16.2-32). The upper voice flats may be caused by his recognizing the needed inflections in the cadence bb. 15-16. The key signatures in the contratenor, however, are impossible to explain. He also had to skip the third line of text in the upper voice, simply because the notes did not leave any space for the words. This he had not previewed. All in all, this copy seems to indicate that he was not familiar with the song and did not really succeed in his first try.

The later Laborde copy is much better – without spurious key signatures and nearly without errors. He carefully disposed his writing on the very small pages of this chansonnier in such a way that there was room for all the text, and he was more careful with his spelling (see above). The differences in the music are very few: A single change of a dotted figure into a semibrevis and the usual variability in the use of coloration (S bb. 49.3-50.1 and C b. 11.1-2 without coloration; C bb. 10.1, 26.3 and 29.3 with coloration).

Comments on text and music:

The poem is an extremely depressed bergerette in artful, rich rimes. The poet longs for death without specifying the reasons for his dark mood. At the end of the tierce the poet appears to run out of steam and becomes quite repetitive in his banalities.

The low-range Phrygian musical setting perfectly adheres to the mood of the words, and all three voices appear to be conceived with the words in mind. The tenor, in particular, is close to the words, and it has the strongest line of melody. Its range is very low (G-c’), and it is combined with a contratenor in the same range, which is placed mostly above the tenor. This forces the contratenor to extend its range in the first section, up to e’.

Normally, bergerette settings obtain their musical effect by virtue of their contrasting the repeated couplets with the long first section. In “Presque transi” this contrast only appears in the poem by the change of rime words, not in its mood, Similarly, there appears to be no contrast in the written music: No change of mensuration, not even a renewed indication of tempus perfectum, nor of key signature (in the Laborde copy), and superius and tenor seem to proceed in the same track. Only the change of clef in the contratenor signals a difference. In performance the contrast is audible. The black notation of the first two bars of the couplets signals very discreetly a double time, which creates tension in the remainder of the section. The tenor restrict its range to an octave, c-c’, which forces the contratenor into an even higher range, c-g’, to keep its position above the tenor. The change of clef from F3 to C3 may very well indicate that another singer here has to take over. The sound of the voices and subtle changes of rhythm assure the contrast in relation to the first section. It is not immediately visible in the written music, and it may have led the Dijon scribe astray in his first copy.

The memorable opening phrase of the tenor and the ability of the song’s motives to combine with each other compelled Ockeghem to use some of its elements as points of departure in composing of the four-part Missa Mi mi. See further Miyazaki 1985, Fitch 1997 pp. 159-170, Ockeghem 1998b pp. XII-XIII and Fallows 1999 p. 327.

PWCH April 2016