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Tout a par moy affin qu’on ne me voye 3v · Walter Frye or Gilles Binchois

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Laborde ff. 11v-12 »Tout a par moy affin qu’on ne me voye« 3v Frye (added ascription) PDF · Facsimile

*Nivelle ff. 26v-27 »Tout a par moy affin qu’on ne me voye« 3v Binchois PDF · Facsimile

*Wolfenbüttel ff. 4v-5 »Tout a par moy affin qu’on ne me voye« 3v PDF · Facsimile

Other musical sources:

Berlin 78.C.28 ff. 29v-30 »T« 3v
Florence 2356 ff. 63v-64 »Tout a par moy afin qu’on ne me voye« 3v
Cape 3.b.12 ff. 84v-85 »Com defecerunt ligna [De tous biens plaine]« 3v
New Haven 91 ff. 45v-46 »Tout a par moy affin qu’on ne me voye« 3v Frye · Facsimile
Paris 2973 ff. 40v-42 »Tout a par moy affin qu’on ne me voye« 3v · Facsimile
Paris 4379 ff. 18v-19 »Tout a par moy afin qu’on ne me voie« 3v

Reworkings, citations and intabulation, see Fallows 1999 pp. 386-387.

Edition: Gutiérrez-Denhoff 1988 no. 4 (Wolfenbüttel).

Text: Rondeau cinquain; full text in Laborde, Nivelle and Wolfenbüttel, also with full text in Paris 4379 and Paris 2973; also found in Berlin 78.B.17 f 83, ed.: Löpelmann 1923 p. 121, Paris 2798 f. 71, Jardin 1501 f. 77.

The poem according to Wolfenbüttel:

Tout a par moy, affin qu’on ne me voye,
si tresdolant que plus je ne pourroye,
je me tiens seul comme une ame esbahie
faisant regrez de ma dolente vie
et de Fortune qu’ainsy fort me guerroye.

Pensez quel deul mon desplaisir m’envoye,
car j’ay des maulx a si tresgrant monjoye
que je crains fort que briefment je m’occye (1)

tout a par moy, affin qu’on ne me voye.

Et non pourtant, se mourir en devoye
en la poursuitte de vous servir, ma joye,
et fussiez vous plus fort mon ennemye (2)
n’ayez paour qu’a jamaiz vous oublie (3)
car c’est mon sort qu’il fault que vostre soye.

Tout a par moy, affin qu’on ne me voye,
si tresdolant que plus je ne pourroye,
je me tiens seul comme une ame esbahie
faisant regrez de ma dolente vie
et de Fortune qu’ainsy fort me guerroye.

Lines 12-16 in Laborde:
Car j’ay perdu a si que tant chier avoye,
dont ne m’atens pour nesune que voye
jamais de rien me trouver resjouye,
mais languir jusque tant que desvye
mon deul tenant sans avoir bien ne joye.

All alone, that nobody sees me,
so grief-stricken that I could not be sadder,
I keep to myself like a troubled soul,
regretting my dolorous life
and Fortune, who so fiercely fights me.

Think of what grief my sorrow sends me,
for I have miseries in such quantities
that I fear I will kill myself before long

all alone, that nobody sees me.

But nevertheless, if I should die
in the pursuit of serving you, my joy,
and were you even more my enemy,
do not fear that I ever shall forget you
for my misfortune is that I have to be yours.

All alone, that nobody sees me,
so grief-stricken that I could not be sadder,
I keep to myself like a troubled soul,
regretting my dolorous life
and Fortune, who so fiercely fights me.

1) Laborde, line 8, “… briefvement m’occye”; Nivelle, “… brief je ne m’occie”
2) Wolfenbüttel interchanges lines 14 and 15
3) Wolfenbüttel, line 15 has a superfluous syllable “… paour ja qu’a …”
Some further differences in spelling appear in the sources.

Evaluation of the sources:

The rondeau ascribed to Binchois as well as to Frye was probably quite old when copied into the three chansonniers by their main scribes. The copies were certainly made from different exemplars and differ in many details even if they just like the later sources listed above essentially transmit the same version of the song. Wolfenbüttel and Laborde are closer to each other than to Nivelle, but even these two show some differences, some of them errors, but we also find examples of attempts to improve on the then old-fashioned counterpoint. And Laborde has a unique last section of the poem (the tierce), which looks like a poor substitute for lines gone missing somewhere in the chain of transmission as they do not expand the theme of the poem in the way the original version was capable of.

Nivelle’s ascription to Binchois is of course authoritative but so is the ascription to Frye in the Mellon Chansonnier (New Haven 91), and the ascription also to Frye, which was added above the song in Laborde, may have been added before several of the later sources were initiated; it was supplied by the so-called Index-scribe II (cf. Alden 1999, pp. 79-81). Modern musicology tends to prefer Frye as composer of the rondeau.

In Wolfenbüttel the main scribe offers this unhappy song without any accidentals even if nearly every single B in it needs flattening. The shape of the melodious structural voices and the frequent movements between Bs and Fs and not least the dejected tone of the poem must have been considered adequate guidance to ensure the performance – Florence 2356 and Paris 4379 lean in the same direction with only a few accidental flats in the upper voice.

The Laborde scribe signed the first staff of the tenor with a flat and provided bb. 5-20 of the superius with accidental b’-flats; Paris 2973 and Berlin 78.B.17 followed this pattern with a one flat key signature in the tenor and accidentals in the upper voice. Only Nivelle and the Mellon Chansonnier adhered to the much more common setup with one flat signatures in both lower voices and no signature in the superius. There cannot be much doubt that now disappeared older sources for this song was without any signatures and that different scribe more or less hesitantly added the signatures during its transmission.

Nivelle and Laborde share an error in the contratenor (b. 12, d in stead of c), but are else quite different in details, for example, Nivelle has d in bar 2.2 in the contratenor (like Paris 4379 and New Haven 91), slightly less dissonant than the e in other sources. Characteristic variants are found where the composer plays with the triple meter by introducing groups of two semibreves helped by coloration. For example in the contratenor in bars 9-12: here the tenor in Wolfenbüttel and Laborde (like Paris 2973 and Paris 4379) goes against this tendency by introducing its syncopated line “que plus je …” on a brevis in bar 10.3; this effect is somewhat normalized in Nivelle (along with New Haven 97, Florence 2356 and Berlin 78.B17), which moves the entry of the tenor to bar 11.1 filling out bar 10 with a rest. And in bars 27-28 Wolfenbüttel has a fine interplay between superius in triple meter and the double tenor; this is normalized in Laborde by removing the tenor’s coloration, while Nivelle keeps up the rhythmical tension between the parts, but suppresses the upbeat in the superius (b. 27.3). Both Wolfenbüttel and Nivelle (and most other sources) let the contratenor enter in bar 28 on a in unison with the tenor, before jumping to the third above the tenor; in Laborde the scribe or his exemplar has changed the harmony by entering a fifth lower, on d, and this idea is expanded in New Haven 91 to the rising line in semibreves: d-g-d’, which further burdens the harmony.

Comments on text and music:

An extremely sad poem set in the two expressive melodic lines of superius and tenor with the contratenor in a supporting role in the same range as the tenor. The structural voices unfold in long curves with a keen attention to rhythmical variety and variation of secondary motifs (cf. S bb. 4.2 ff, 19-21, 25.2-27) and use imitation at the octave and unison just before and after the medial cadence (bb. 14 ff and 22 ff). Especially memorable is the imitation at the start of the second section on the words “faisant regretz”. These four notes later became the kernel of ostinato settings by Agricola and Josquin – their emotional impact are still remembered in the first decade of the next century due to Josquin’s mass Faisant regretz.

The setting’s cadences vacillate between D and G with the medial cadence rather weakly placed on G then prolonged to A; the whole second section, however, like most of the beginning is centred on D, therefore the final on G comes a bit surprising.

The extended setting of the first line “Tout a par moy, affin qu’on ne me voye” (All alone, that nobody sees me), which first cadences on A (Phrygian) then goes on to a cadence on D, strongly invites a performance with a shortened refrain in the couplets as seen in the editions. The threat of suicide in the first couplet assigns a new sombre weight on the following words “tout a par moy”.

PWCH November 2009