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MS Florence 2794


Dictes moy toutes vos pensees 3v · Loyset Compere

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Dijon ff. 191v-192 »Dictes moy toutes vos pensees« 3v Loyset compere PDF · Facsimile

*Laborde ff. 109v-110 »Dittez moy toutes voz pensees« 3v PDF · Facsimile

Other sources:

Bologna Q16 ff. 15v-16 »Dides moy« 3v · Facsimile (Q016_034)
Copenhagen 1848 p. 137 »Dictes moy toutes vos pensees« 3v · Facsimile
Copenhagen 1848 p. 436 »Dictes moy belle vous pensees« 3v
Florence 2794 ff. 8v-9 »Dictes moy toutes vos pensees« 3v
Rome XIII.27 ff. 124v-125 »Dites moy belle« 3v · Facsimile
Turin I.27 f. 18v »Dictes moy toutes vos pensees« 3v

Citations and related compositions, see Fallows 1999, pp. 132-133.

Text: Rondeau quatrain; full text in Dijon; Laborde has the refrain only; full text also in Copenhagen 1848 p. 137, Paris 2794 and Turin I.27.

After Dijon:

Dictes moy toutes vos pensees,
car j’ay desir de les savoir.
Octroies moy ce bien avoir,
affin qu’ellez soient exaulcees. (1)

Souvent les ay contre pensees,
c’est pour mieulx a mon cas pourvoir. (2)

Dictes moy toutes vos pensees,
car j’ay desir de les savoir.

De loyaulte sont balancees,
est ce bien pour me decepvoir? (3)
Si vous faissies votre debvoir,
je fusse des plus avancees. (4)

Dictes moy toutes vos pensees,
car j’ay desir de les savoir.
Octroies moy ce bien avoir,
affin qu’ellez soi ent exaulcees.

Tell me all your thoughts,
for I want to know them.
Grant me this advantage,
and then they shall be treasured.

I have often been wary of them;
it is for better to take care of my case.

Tell me all your thoughts,
for I want to know them.

They are ambivalent in loyalty,
is that with the intent to deceive me?
If you would fulfil your duty,
I should be so much better.

Tell me all your thoughts,
for I want to know them.
Grant me this advantage,
and then they shall be treasured.

1) Laborde, line 4, “... excusees”
2) Florence 2794, line 6,“ pour tous mieulx avoir car pourvoir”; Copenhagen 1848 p. 137, “pour tant mieulx ...”
3) Florence 2794, line 10, “et c’est bien...”
4) Florence 2794, line 14, “j’en seroye ...”

Evaluation of the sources:

Entered on the last pages of the Dijon chansonnier by a later hand (DijonB). This copy is without any scribal errors in music and text, and seems to present the original version of the song. Dijon is the only source to ascribe it to Loyset Compere. In Laborde it was also added in the last section of the MS by a later hand (LabordeD). This scribe used an exemplar quite different from the one used for Dijon. In addition to the usual differences in the use of coloration we find deviations in notes, note values and figuration (S bb. 4, 10.1 and 34.2-35.1; T bb. 13.1, 22.1, 28.1 and 30.2-31; C b. 22.1).

The scribe named DijonB above is identical to the second scribe of the French MS Florence 2794, who filled in empty pages in the work of the main scribe at some time around 1480. “Dictes moy” was among the first pieces, which this scribe copied into Florence 2794. This version of the song must be copied after the same exemplar as used for the Dijon chansonnier or after a slightly different one.

The differences are insignificant (coloration in S bb. 8.2, 31.2-32.1, 32.2-33.1 and 33.2-34.1; and C bb. 21.1 and 21.2-22.1) except that he placed a key signature of one flat in the tenor of Florence 2794, carefully notated all the way through, and that he here completely botched the 6th line of text (see above). The prescription of a flat in the tenor does not change much in a performance. Even without a flat in the tenor, quite many flats has to be performed in the lower voices, but of course the fluctuation between the high and low sixth degree in the Dorian setting becomes less prominent. The scribe has accented this change of colour by notating an accidental b’-flat in bar 32.2 in the superius and e”-flat in bars 31-32 in the tenor.

This situation may have arisen as a result of one of two scenarios:

1) The scribe used two different exemplars. A hint of confirmation is offered by the younger Italian MS Turin I.27, where the song appears with key signatures of one flat in both lower voices. However, this version of the song accords in details much more with the version found in the Laborde chansonnier and thus belongs to a different source tradition. Probably it expresses just an independent scribal uneasiness about the high Dorian sixth.

2) The scribe used only one exemplar, with or without the one-flat tenor key signature – he too may have added the signature and accidentals as scribal interventions. When copying the song into Dijon, he realized that the song did not need the signature and he found a solution to the meaningless second line of the first couplet – his presumably unreadable exemplar probably intended to give the same version of the line as found in the 16th century French MS, Copenhagen 1848 p. 137 (see above).

In both scenarios it is difficult to think that he made the Dijon version before the one in Florence 2794. He either got hold of a better exemplar for the Dijon version or he revised the one he had, maybe after consulting the composer, the reverse seems improbable considering the professional status of the scribe. This is of course pure speculation, but it is very interesting that exactly the same relationship between the sources appears in connection with a song, which the main scribe of Florence 2794 copied. It is Fresnau’s »De vous servir m’est prins envye«, which the main scribe added along with other songs to the last section of the Laborde chansonnier (see the remarks and edition).

The existence of at least two different sets of exemplars at an early date shows that Compere’s rondeau had circulated for some time before it found its way into Florence 2794 and the Dijon and Laborde chansonniers. There is no reason to believe that the scribe in Laborde (LabordeD) was not a contemporary of LabordeC, who was identical to the main scribe of Florence 2794. This MS originated aound 1480, probably with close connections to the French royal chapel, where Compere became a singer at least from 1486 and probably earlier; his music was certainly known in these circles from the late 1470s. (1) One family of sources consists in Florence 2794, Dijon and Copenhagen 1848 p. 137 – French sources from the period c. 1480 to c. 1520; another group consists of the Laborde chansonnier (also c. 1480) and the Italian MS Turin I.27 (c. 1500); and a third, probably younger group with differences involving the part-writing in the tenor at bar 30 and in the contratenor bars 11-13, consists of Rome XIII.27 (Florence, 1490s) and Copenhagen 1848 p. 436 (Lyon, c. 1520). (2)

See also my article The French musical manuscript in Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, Ms. 2794, and the ‘Loire Valley’ chansonniers.

Comments on text and music:

A quite refined rondeau poem in rime équivoque about the insecurity experienced by the lover, whose sex is undefined, when confronted by the fickleness of the beloved. The setting is written for a songlike superius and a tenor, which in the song’s second section participates in snatches of canonic imitation (bb. 23-25 and 28-31), and an active low contratenor that occasionally reaches above the tenor.

Nothing in the disposition of the parts signals anything new in this song. However, the speaking melody of the upper voice, its nervousness, conveys a mood in quite a different way than the earlier generations, Ockeghem, Busnoys and their followers, were able to. The interplay between the elegiac descending lines of the superius and active rising lines in complementary rhythms in the lower voices (bb. 12-23) offers a precise rendering of the ambivalent feeling expressed in the poem. In addition, the tonal ambivalence of the Dorian mode supports this feeling: the high sixth degree of the scale is prevalent in the first section, while the flattened step comes to dominate after the Phrygian cadence in bar 23 in the second section.

PWCH February 2012

1) The identification of the scribes in Florence 2794 was published by Joshua Rifkin in 1973 in ‘Scribal Concordances for Some Renaissance Manuscripts in Florentine Libraries’ (Rifkin 1973, pp. 318-326); concerning Compere, see Joshua Rifkin, Jeffrey Dean, David Fallows, “Compère, Loyset” in Grove Music Online.

2) See further Atlas 1976, Vol. 1, pp. 231-232, and Christoffersen 1994, Vol. II, pp. 87-88 and 168.