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Complete Works of Gilles Mureau

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Au gré de mes jeulx 3v · Busnoys, Antoine

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Dijon ff. 113v-114 »Au gré de mes jeulx« 3v Busnoys  PDF · Facsimile

Edition: Busnoys 2018 no. 35.

Text: Bergerette; full text in Dijon:

Au gré de mes jeulx
je vous ay choisie,
la plus acomplie
qui soit soubz les cieulx.

Car le bien parfait
qu’en vous est compris

sur toutes vous fait
donner los et pris.

De moi en tous lieux
vous serez servie,
car toute ma vie
je ne pourroit mieulx.

Au gré de mes jeulx
je vous ay choisie,
la plus acomplie
qui soit soubz les cieulx.

With the consent of my eyes
I have chosen you,
the most perfect woman
ever found under the skies.

For the complete goodnes,
which in you is comprised,

above all others lets you
earn standing and praise.

By me in all places
you will be served,
for in my whole life
I could not do any better.

With the consent of my eyes
I have chosen you,
the most perfect woman
ever found under the skies.

Evaluation of the source:

The bergerette was entered by the main scribe into the Dijon chansonnier under Busnoys’ name with some errors (missing a note and a rest, and the tempus imperfectum indicated in the contratenor is an error). The contratenor has no music for the couplets. In the second section, the superius and the tenor voices move into higher ranges – from c’-d’’ and e-f’ respectively to c’-f’’ and c’-a’. The superius changes its clef from a C1-clef to a G2, while the tenor keeps to its C3-clef, but obviously the couplets were meant to be sung by two voices with the note c’ as their lower limit. One may presume that the song was composed for performances with the boys of the maîtrise in noble houses. The boys could sing the first section along with grown-up singers on the lower parts, and the boys alone sang the couplets.

The second section probably misses a repeat sign after bar 34. The two lines of text are clearly laid under the two musical phrases in bars 19-34 in both superius and tenor (incomplete), while the canonic ending in coloured notation is entirely without text. Singing through the second section twice including an acceleration of the tempo by a third at the end would be difficult, while a repeat of the texted lines alone followed by an accelerated canonic finish would lead naturally into the music of the first section with the text of the  tierce.

Comments on text and music:

A setting of a jubilant love poem in short, effective lines, each of five syllables only, a tribute to the lady. The contrast between the first section of the bergerette and the repeated couplets is taken care of effectively not only by the traditional shift from tempus perfectum to tempus imperfectum diminutum but also through a striking change in sound. The first section is scored for a “normal” three-voice disposition with a tenor basically a fifth below the upper voice and a lower contratenor, which often crosses above the tenor. The tenor and the superius compete in being of interest melodically, the tenor being rhythmically unusually independent of the superius in the non-imitative setting. It sounds as if the tenor fights for our attention besides the declamatory superius; this way of forming the relationship between the upper voices has resulted in some dissonances on weak beats (see bb. 2.2 and 7.3). Imitation is reserved for the couplets composed for two high voices, which opens with octave imitation and end in a strict unison canon in coloured notation. A performance with the boys of the maîtrise splitting up for the couplets will be most effective if the texted lines only are repeated. The melodic high point of the song comes at the words of praise “Car le bien parfait / sur toutes vous fait” in calm note values; after that the coloration speed up the tempo by a third in the textless bridge to the repeat of the first section with the text of the tierce. But as mentioned, no repeat signs are found in the MS.

The tempo relation between the sections is 3:4. This means that the duration of a perfect brevis of the first section equals two imperfect breves of the second. When the notation becomes coloured in bar 28 and speeds up the tempo, three imperfect breves now match one perfect brevis of the first section; therefore a black brevis at the end of the couplets ends up having the same duration as a semibrevis of the first section, so a smooth return to the repeat is easy. Something similar can be found in the learned anonymous bergerette »La plus bruiant, celle qui toutes passe« 3v, which is also a tribute to a lady and entered by the same scribe into the Dijon and Copenhagen chansonniers, and it is more careful notated with repeat signs. While “La plus bruiant” clearly has triplets in the upper voice against the lower voices, the colouration in “ ">Au gré de mes jeulx” involves both voices, and a feeling of triplets is effectively obstructed by the canon at a temporal distance of two breves – only an increase of the tempo is experienced. The whole layout of the song is unusual: the use of change in vocal instrumentation as a contrasting element, the slightly wilful ductus of the tenor in the first section, and the snatch of strict unison canon; there seems to be an aura of experimentation in this small piece. It may stem from Busboys’ early years as teacher or master of the boys at St Martin in Tours.

Another song featuring the boys of the maîtrise by Busnoys preserved as a unicum is the four-part dialogue-chanson »Terrible dame, que vous fault« in the Italian MS Paris 15123 (Pixérécourt), where the boys sing in faulxbourdon in the comic dialogue (see the edition). Use of the sound of the boys’ voices as contrasting elements can be found in the couplets of the bergerettes »Grace actendant ou la mort pour tous mes« 4v by Gilles Mureau and »A la longue j’ay bien cognu« 3v by Fede.

PWCH November 2018