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MS Florence 2794


A une dame j’ay fait veu 3v · Busnoys, Antoine

Appearance in the five chansonniers:

*Dijon ff. 67v-69 »A une dame j’ay fait veu« 3v Busnoys PDFFacsimile (Phot. 138-141)

*Laborde ff. 101v-102 »A une dame j’ay fait veu« 3v Busn[oys] PDFFacsimile

Other sources:

Bologna Q16 ff. 30v-31 »A une dame j’ay fait veu« 3v
*Florence 176 ff. 6v-8 »A ma dame« 3v PDF
New Haven 91 ff. 5v-6 »A une damme j’ay fait veu« 3v
Rome XIII.27 ff. 95v-96 »A une dame j’ay fait veu« 3v

Citation, see Fallows 1999, p. 92.

Text: Bergerette; full text in Dijon and Laborde; also in New Haven 91; also found in Berlin 78.B.17 f. 115, ed.: Löpelmann 1932 p. 197, and Paris 1719 f. 113-113v.

After Laborde:

A une dame j’ay fait veu,
pour le grant bruit de sa valeur,
que ja ne porteray couleur, (1)
se ce n'est le jaune ou le bleu. (2)

Ces deux en ung sans que les mue (3)
je maintendray pour sa beaulté,

l'un en signe de retenue,
l'autr’en monstrant ma loyauté. (4)

Mais au fort quant il sera sceu (5)
que d’elle soye serviteur,
onques ne m’avint tel honneur
sans fouler le sien tant soit peu. (6)

A une dame j'ay fait veu,
pour le grant bruit de sa valeur,
que ja ne porteray couleur,
se ce n'est le jaune ou le bleu.

1) Dijon, line 3, “que je ne ...”
2) Dijon, line 4, “ce ce n’est blanc ...”
3) Dijon, line 5, “Ses deux sans ce que ...”
4) Dijon, line 8, “... ta leaute"
5) Dijon, line 9, “Car ..."
6) Dijon, line 12, “sans faillir ...”

I have made a vow to a lady,
due to the shining fame of her worth,
that I will not wear colour,
unless it is the yellow and the blue.

These two together, without changing them,
shall I keep to for her beauty,

the one as sign of discretion,
the other to display my loyalty.

But, finally, as soon as it becomes known
that I am serving her,
such an honour never before has been bestowed upon me
without destroying her honour, not in the least.

I have made a vow to a lady,
due to the shining fame of her worth,
that I will not wear colour,
unless it is the yellow and the blue.


Evaluation of the sources:

Busnoys’ bergerette was copied into Dijon by the main scribe without any scribal errors in the musical text, and into Laborde by a later hand, LabordeC, who was identical to the main scribe of the French musical MS Florence 2794. The copying of this song belongs to his first session of work on the Laborde chansonnier, which also included the two following songs (nos. 83-84).

The LabordeC/Florence scribe used an exemplar which was different from the one used by the Dijon scribe: The Dijon version seems to have fallen in love with a cadence figuration, which first appears in the tenor bar 14.2 (here it is also found in New Haven 91 and Bologna Q16) and then transferred to the endings of both sections. In bar 40 the contra tenor does not have a rest on the first beat and prolongs the note g to a syncopated semibrevis; this is similar to how it appears in Florence 176 – all other sources have the Laborde version. Likewise, Dijon has a few unique melodic details (S b. 31.1 and 37.2-38.1; T bb. 35.1 and 37.2-38.1; C b. 31.1), and it shows much less use of coloration and ligatures than Laborde. This has some influence on the text underlay, for example in the third line, bars 18-24, where the ligatures in the Laborde tenor postpone the words and create a different effect. The poem in Laborde also seems much more consistent than the one in Dijon (see above): The lady’s colours are changed from yellow/blue to white/blue, and “ma loyauté” (which gives meaning) is changed to “sa leauté”, which to some degree turns the table.

The exemplars used for Laborde and contemporary sources clearly demanded a key signature of a flat at the f”-position, which indicates the use of a high tessitura and the high natural (extra manun) hexachord on c”. This was disregarded by the Dijon scribe, and in the same vein he omitted any accidental flats in the contratenor to warn to performers of difficult spots (especially b. 19.2); they are found in Laborde, New Haven 91 and Florence 176. All in all Laborde seems to represent the ‘normal’ version of the song, which also appears in the Mellon chansonnier (New Haven 91), Rome XIII.27 and Bologna Q16 with some differences, which easily can be ascribed to the editorial habits of their scribes (e.g. some Italianate divisions of long note values in Bologna Q16). (1) Dijon is in this company clearly the oldest source for the song, and some of its peculiarities may be results of the often-observed independent mind of its scribe. However, one trait links it to the later Italian MS, Florence 176, which becomes interesting for the genesis of this song.

Florence 176 was probably copied around 1480 in Florence by an Italian scribe who used a French exemplar. This exemplar could very well have been a small chansonnier similar to the ‘Loire Valley’ chansonniers, and contemporary with them. (2) Busnoys’ bergerette has the incipits “A ma dame” and no further text, and the ouvert and clos endings in the couplets are not marked. In this it is like most of the other French songs copied by the Italian scribe. The song is also simpler than in the Dijon and Laborde versions (cf. the edition). The most striking example is the passage bars 37.2-39 where superius and tenor progress stepwise and homorytmically in parallel sixths, while the contratenor drops out, instead of the livelier three-part counterpoint found in the other sources. Likewise, the contratenor is simpler in bars 27-28 and 44-45 – giving only the essential notes. And the superius in bars 13.2-16 is slightly less syncopated and omits the typical “Busmoys-turn” (b. 16.2; cf. the edition of his »Quant vous me ferez plus de bien« and the comments), and at other points too the music is more straightforward (S bb. 31-32; C bb. 3 and 7).

As mentioned above the contratenors are similar in bars 40-41 in Dijon and Florence 176. The Florence 176 version does not seem to be a simplified reworking of Busnoys’ original. In fact, the song here appears with stronger contrasts between the couplets and refrain/tierce and is elegant in its contrapuntal perfection. It is thinkable that it represents the earliest version of the song, which later was revised – probably by Busnoys himself –, and thus circulated in slightly different versions. The earliest source, Dijon, then contains its scribe’s interpretation of these versions. It is remarkable that a majority of the differences among all the sources are found in exactly the bars where the simpler versions of Florence 176 have been revised (bb. 12-16, 27-29 and 37-39). Given the different versions in circulation already at the time when the Dijon chansonnier was created, the song most have been known for some time.

While the song was ascribed to Busnoys with great confidence by the Dijon scribe, the short attribution “Busn” on f. 101v in Laborde was added at the top of the page by the later so-called ‘Index-scribe II’ who also added the song to the index at the start of the MS (cf. Alden 1999 p. 80).

Comments on text and music:

A happy bergerette in which the lover seems to declare that he at long last now understands how to serve a lady in a perfectly courtly manner. The poem is gracefully set for voices in high ranges; superius and tenor take turns to lead in canonic imitations at the octave, while the contratenor fills out and drives the music forward. The couplets are only differentiated from the refrain by their homorhythmic opening, which is most clearly conveyed by MS Florence 176 – the heavier working out of the music with complementary rhythms in the other sources tends to blur the contrast between the sections. The second line of the couplets reintroduces the style of the first section, and the couplets close in a sweeping clos-ending.

The poem’s mentioning of the lady’s colours, yellow/white and blue, has induced Leeman L. Perkins tentatively to include this bergerette in the famous series of Jaqueline d’Hacqueville songs by Busnoys, which several times has been commented on in the musicological literature. (3)

PWCH April 2012

1) See further the comments in Allan W. Atlas, The Cappella Giulia Chansonnier. Roma, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, C.G.XIII.27 (Atlas 1976), Vol. I, pp. 198-199, and Leeman L. Perkins and H. Garey (eds.), The Mellon Chansonnier (Perkins 1979), Vol. II, pp. 203-207.

2) See also the description in my edition of Mureau’s songs.

3) Leeman L. Perkins, ‘Antoine Busnois and the d'Hacqueville Connection’ in M.B. Winn (ed.), Musique naturelle et musique artificielle. In Memoriam Gustav Reese (Le moyen français 5). Montreal 1979, pp. 49-64, but see also note 3, p. 146 in Paula Higgins, ‘Parisian Nobles, a Scottish Princess, and the Woman’s Voice in Late Medieval Song’, Early Music History. Studies in medieval and early modern music 10 (1991), pp. 145-200.