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Open access 15th c.
MS Florence 2794

 

 
De m’esjouir plus n’ay puissance 3v · Basiron, Philippe

Appearance in the five chansonniers:

*Laborde f. 21v »De m’esjouir plus n’ay puissance« 1v [3v] (S only) P Baziron ·Facsimile

*Wolfenbüttel ff. 13v-15 »De m’esjouir plus n’ay puissance« 3v PDF · Facsimile

Other sources:

Florence 2794 ff. 56v-57 »De m’esiouir plus n’ay puissance« 3v

Edition: Gutiérrez-Denhoff 1988 no. 14 (Wolfenbüttel - faulty).

Text: Rondeau cinquain; full text in all sources. After Wolfenbüttel:

De m’esjouir plus n’ay puissance,
car j’ay perdu sans recouvrance (1)
l’espoir de jamaiz n’avoir bien; (2)
en ce monde plus je n’ay rien (3)
ou je preigne jamaiz plaisance.

De Fortune je n’ay doubtance
croistre ne peut ma desplaisance,
quant a mon fait j’avise bien: (4)

De m’esjouir plus n’ay puissance,
car j’ay perdu sans recouvrance
l’espoir de jamaiz n’avoir bien.

Du temps que j’avoye esperance
en mes maulx prenoye pacience, (5)
dont j’ay receu dieu soit combien, (6)
maiz maintenant ung j’en soustient
qui mourir my fait quant je y pense. (7)

De m’esjouir plus n’ay puissance,
car j’ay perdu sans recouvrance
l’espoir de jamaiz n’avoir bien;
en ce monde plus je n’ay rien
ou je preigne jamaiz plaisance.

To have joy I’m not able anymore
for I have lost beyond recovery
the hope of ever feeling good;
in this world I have nothing left
from which I will ever get pleasure.

I have no doubt that Fortune
cannot increase my unhappiness
when I really consider my fate:

To have joy I’m not able anymore
for I have lost beyond recovery
the hope of ever feeling good.

Earlier I might have hoped
that I could show patience with my griefs,
of which I have received God knows how many,
but now I must endure one,
which kills me when I think of it.

To have joy I’m not able anymore
for I have lost beyond recovery
the hope of ever feeling good;
in this world I have nothing left
from which I will ever get pleasure.

1) Laborde, line 2, “… toute recouvrance” (error)
2) Laborde, line 3, “… avoir bien”
3) Laborde, line 4, “… plus n’a rien” (error)
4) Florence 2794, line 8, “… je pence bien”
5) Laborde, line 13, “… prenoie plaisance” / Wolfenbüttel, “… prandre pacience”
6) Florence 2794, line 14, “dont j’en ay eu dieu scet combien”; following line 14 Wolfenbüttel has a superflous rentrement “De m‘esjouyr” (error).
7) Wolfenbüttel, line 16, “… my fault …”
In addition there is some differences in spelling.

Evaluation of the sources:

Laborde contains the superius only, because four folios, which originally followed f. 21, have been lost. Nothing in the surviving voice part, however, indicates that the Laborde and the Wolfenbüttel scribes worked from exemplars exhibiting substantial differences. The differences concerning the music are limited to an error in Wolfenbüttel bar 15 and the notation of a cadential figure in bars 50-51 (see the edition).

The variants in the wording and spelling of the text are more important. However, none of the copies seem to be very careful in their presentation of the poem. In line 2 Laborde has “… toute recouvrance”, which obviously is wrong; and in line 13 the sentence “en mes maulx prenoye plaisance” is difficult to fit into a meaningful context. Here Wolfenbüttel has  “… prandre pacience”, and the slight younger French MS Florence 2794 agrees with Laborde in “prenoie” and with Wolfenbüttel in “pacience” (see futher above).

Florence 2794 basically agrees with Wolfenbüttel apart from some errors and differences in the use of ligatures. The most important divergence in Florence 2794 is the absence of the key signature in the contratenor. This in itself does not effect any real difference during a performance as all essential B-flats in the contratenor (bb. 1-2, 16, 48-49 and 54) will be generated by common rules.

All three sources obviously belong to the same tradition, and they do not corroborate that the song had any wider circulation.

Comments on text and music:

The ordinary, downcast love poem, a rondeau cinquain in rich rimes (rimes léonines), has been equipped with a quite extended setting for voices in low ranges. The low tessitura does not hinder that their mutual relationship accords with the norm of many similar chansons, that is with superius and tenor an octave apart and contra mostly placed below the tenor. The composer has made an effort to vary the setting: Superius and tenor start in imitation, which is replaced by homorhythmic declamation in the second line. The declamatory stance is maintained by the tenor in the second half of this line (bb. 16-22), but its cadence on c’ in bar 22 is ignored by the other voices (sounding a triad on f), and the passage is prolonged without text until an imperfect cadence on the song’s finalis C again in the tenor – an octave lower. The third line is an energetic canonic imitation between tenor and superius, which is pre-imitated by the contra, while the superius is still finishing the preceding phrase. The rondeau’s second section opens in a similar procedure, only now the three-part canonic imitation is maintained over a longer stretch. The fifth and last line starts with a declamatory motive, which comes in close imitation in all three voices (b. 52 ff) – the contra a fifth below the octave imitation in the upper voices –, and it is brought to an end by an even more extended passage than in the 2nd and 4th lines.

In spite of the intended variety the setting seems rather monotonous with endings on finalis and the fifth only and a repetitive upper voice, which in the last line appears its great range notwithstanding to knock against the note g’ (bb. 57-68; see also bb. 32-35). This chanson may be an attempt to write in a ‘modern’ style involving extended imitation and a low contratenor from the hand of a young and quite inexperienced composer. See also the comments on the preceding song in the Laborde chansonnier, »Puis que si bien m’est advenu«.

In the Laborde chansonnier the song was ascribed to “P. Baziron” by a slightly later scribe (the so-called Index-Scribe II; cf. Alden 1999 p. 80) who also wrote similar ascriptions above two other chansons in Laborde: »Nul ne l’a telle sa maistresse« (no. 5) and »Je le scay bien ce qui m’avint«  (no. 7). Philippe Basiron was between 1458 and 1474 associated the Sainte Chapelle of the royal palace in Bourges, as a boy chorister at first, and he ended up as magister puerum. (1)

See also the article ‘The chansons of Basiron’s youth and the dating of the ‘Loire Valley’ chansonniers’.

PWCH July 2012


1) Cf. Jeffrey Dean, ‘Basiron, Philippe’ in Grove Music Online (accessed November 2009).