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Pensez de faire garnison 3v · Anonymous

Appearance in the five chansonniers:

*Dijon ff. 106v-107 »Pensez de faire (de) garnison« 3v PDFFacsimile (Phot. 216-217)

Text: Rondeau quatrain; full text in Dijon; also found in Paris 1719 ff. 108v-109; Paris 1722 f. 40; Chasse 1509 f. P4 “Rondel d’ung amant aux autres amoureux” ed.: Champion 1907, p. 178.

Pensez de faire garnison (1)
serviteurs qui estes en grace,
chascun de vous son proffit face,
qui le sçait faire il a raison.

Tandiz qu’il est temps et saison
et qu’on vous monstre belle face

pensez de faire garnison
serviteurs qui estes en grace.

Telz servent en haulte maison
et ont le bruit pour une espace
qu’on voit a cop vider la place,
il est d’envieulx grant foison.

Pensez de faire garnison
serviteurs qui estes en grace,
chascun de vous son proffit face,
qui le sçait faire il a raison.

1) Dijon, line 1 has a superfluous syllable “… faire de garnison”

See you get something out of it,
servants, while you’re in favour;
let each of you look to his own gain.
Provident he who does so.

As long as time and occasion grant,
and you are well received,

see you get something out of it,
servants, while you’re in favour.

Those who serve in a fine house,
enjoying respect for a time,
can suddenly be set aside,
for envy is all around them.

See you get something out of it,
servants, while you’re in favour;
let each of you look to his own gain.
Provident he who does so.

(Translation from Christoffersen 1994, I, p. 151)

Evaluation of the source:

The Dijon scribe notated this chanson without any key signature in the upper voice, with a flat in the tenor in the first staff only (bb. 1-9.1), and with a signature of two flats in the contratenor. As we do not know of any other sources for this setting it can only be a guess what was in his exemplar. My guess is that the exemplar had one flat in the contratenor only, and that the scribe inadvertently put in the flat in the tenor’s first staff too. To retain the relationship between tenor and contratenor he then added the superfluous second flat in the contratenor. That the tenor originally was without any flats is indicated for example by the setting’s use of imitation at the octave (bb. 8-10) and canonic imitation in unison (bb. 14.3-18). As we have seen at several other occasions the Dijon scribe was in the habit of a liberal use of flats in key signatures – and occasionally he overdid it (cf. the Copenhagen version of Busnoys’ »Ja que lui ne s’i actende« or the related »La pourveance de mon cueur« in the Laborde chansonnier). Therefore the present edition also contains a restored version of the song - here also the notated (very discreetly entered) accidental, a b-flat, at the rondeau’s medial cadence must be regarded as an error.

Comments on text and music:

This cynical rondeau is a warning to all lovers not to waste any time in pursuing their happiness; in La Chasse et depart d’amours, 1509, the song is designated “Rondel d’ung amant aux autres amoureux”. The composer does not seem to have caught entirely the ironic tone of the poem, but has provided a quite ordinary rondeau setting with a structural duet in superius and tenor supported by a low contratenor, which crosses above the tenor at cadences; compare how startling effective the other anonymous and somewhat later setting is – it is found in the chansonniers Uppsala, Universitetsbiblioteket, Vokalmusik i handskrift 76a, ff. 36v-37, and in London, British Library, MS Harley 5242, ff. 11v-12 – much more compact and popular in style. (1)

The setting was evidently designed with only the four refrain-lines in mind. Here the text underlay effortless combines with the music, and it looks like the composer consciously has exploited the fact that in a musical setting one does not need to elide the syllables in the last refrain-line, but is free to work with the line as two separate text segments “qui le sçait faire / il a raison” in stead of following a reading governed by the syllable count “qui le sçait faire_il a raison”. This however does not apply to the tierce. Likewise the segmentation of the first musical line into three short phrases “Pensez / de faire / garnison” (not an idea that brings the irony of the text in focus) only fits the refrain; the singers need to adjust the syllables in a quite cumbersome way for the tierce.

What succeeds in the setting is the play with rhythm. During the second line (bb. 11 ff) the cadences are displaced in relation to the regular triple time, and the second section of the rondeau is obviously flirting with duple time, so that the final cadence seems to happen either a bit too early or a little late. The contrast between the sections is further strengthened by the unison canon between superius and tenor (bb. 14-18), which momentarily makes the tenor the highest sounding voice. It is possible that the rhythmical fickleness of the setting, which comes out clearly when the sections are repeated according to the rondeau form, constitutes the composer’s interpretation of the poem’s irony.

PWCH October 2010


1) Published in P. Woetmann Christoffersen, French Music in the Early Sixteenth Century … (Christoffersen 1994), Vol. I, p. 151.