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MS Florence 2794


Malheureux cueur que veulx tu faire 3v · Du Fay, Guillaume

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Laborde ff. 26v-28 »Malheureulx cueur que vieulx tu faire« 3v Du fay · Edition · Facsimile

*Wolfenbüttel ff. 25v-27 »Malheureux cueur que veulx tu faire« 3v · Edition· Facsimile

Other sources:

Munich 810 ff. 101v-103 »Malheureux« 3v · Facsimile

This page with editions as a PDF

Edition: Gutiérrez-Denhoff 1988 no. 21 (Wolfenbüttel)

Text: Bergerette by La Rousselet; full text in Laborde and Wolfenbüttel; also found in Berlin 78.B.17, ff. 128v-129, ed.: Löpelmann 1923, p. 229; Paris 1719, ff. 4 and 86; Paris 1722, f. 59v; Paris 7559, f. 66, ed.: Bancel 1875, p. 5; Paris 9223, f. 62v “Le rousselet”, ed.: Raynaud 1889, p. 103.

After Wolfenbüttel and Laborde:

Malheureux cueur que veulx tu faire?
Veulx tu tant a une complaire
qu’en un seul jour je n’aye repoz?
Penser ne puis a quel propos
tu me faiz tant de paine traire.

Nous n’avons ne joye ne bien,
ne toy ne moy, tu le sces bien,
tousjours languissons en destresse.

Ta loyaulte ne nous vault riens, 1)
et qui plus est, seur je me tien 2)
qui n’en chault a nostre maistresse.

Combien qu’aies voulu parfaire
tes plaisirs craignant luy desplaire, 3)
acroissant son bon bruit et los, 4)
mal t’en est pris, pour ce tes los 5)
que brief penses de t’en desfaire. 6)

Malheureux cueur que veulx tu faire?
Veulx tu tant a une complaire
qu’en un seul jour je n’aye repoz?
Penser ne puis a quel propos
tu me faiz tant de paine traire

Unhappy heart, what will you do?
Will you please her to such a degree
that I, even for a single day, will have no peace?
I cannot think for what reason
you make me suffer so much pain.

We have neither joy nor happiness,
neither you nor I, you know that well,
every day we languish in distress.

Your loyalty is worth nothing to us,
and what more is, I am not sure
that it means anything to our mistress.

However much you wanted to pursue
your wishes, fearing to displease her,
hoping to increase her standing and honour,
it went bad for you, therefore your praises
soon intend to defeat you.

Unhappy heart, what will you do?
Will you please her to such a degree
that I, even for a single day, will have no peace?
I cannot think for what reason
you make me suffer so much pain.

1) Laborde, line 9, “Ta beaulte ...”, making the line a syllable short
2) Laborde, line 10, “et qui pes est ...”
3) Laborde, line 13, “desplaisir craingnant ...”
4) Wolfenbüttel, lines 14-15 reversed, corrected with "b-a” in the margin
5) Wolfenbüttel, line 15, “... dont je tes los”
6) Laborde, line 16, “ ... pense de te retraire"

Evaluation of the sources:

The copies of this bergerette in Laborde and Wolfenbüttel were probably made from closely related exemplars without any composer attributions. In Laborde Du Fay’s name was added by a later hand, the so-called “Index-scribe II” who worked in the workshop of the scribe of MS Florence 2794. (1) Wolfenbüttel is practically without errors except for a reversal of two text lines in the tierce and a signature flat in the second part of the contra, which can only be explained by the scribe viewing the upward leap of a sixth in bar 34.

Laborde opens with a mensuration sign in the upper voice indicating tempus imperfectum cum prolatione perfecta. That is, the brevis divides in to two semibreves, which each contains three minimae. This may be an error. However, given the equivalence of breves under tempus perfectum and tempus imperfectum, which governs the rhythmic relation between the refrain and the couplets, it fits the combination with the tempus perfectum signature in the lower voices. But as it does not achieve anything concerning the flow of the upper voice, it is superfluous.

Apart from some differences in ligatures, coloration and cadential decorations, Laborde seems to some extent to be a revision of the version in Wolfenbüttel. Long notes in the lower voices have been broken up into smaller values (T bb. b. 4.1-2 and 8.2-3; C b. 1), and many ligatures have disappeared, all of which influence the text distribution in these parts, but do not create any improvements on the Wolfenbüttel version. The revision work seems to have stopped early: in the couplets, the contra with its many ligatures is unchanged.

In Wolfenbüttel the repetition of the music in the couplets is clearly marked with a signum congruentiae in all voices as well as :||: in the superius. In Laborde it is pointed out by fermatas, and in the tenor bar 54 has been included in the prima volta. This eliminates the parallel octaves involved in the repetition in Wolfenbüttel.

The song appears in the German manuscript from the early 1460s in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich, Cod. germ. mon. 810, the Schedelsche Liederbuch, without text and with so many errors in its contratenor that it is un-performable. Its version is the same as in the later sources, a bit closer to Laborde than to Wolfenbüttel. This indicates that to song had a wide circulation during the decades before the ‘Loire Valley’ chansonniers.

Comments on text and music:

A somewhat overblown dialogue between a lover and his unhappy heart wonders if it in any way pays off to please the adored one, all in highly stylized verses with many equivoque rimes. This early bergerette follows the pattern, which became the norm during the next decades: The first section (refrain and tierce) is in triple time with the contrasting couplets, where the text lines are sung at a calmer pace, in double time.

The setting is very varied. It displays a domineering upper voice (b-d'') accompanied by two voices in the same range an octave lower (B-f'). Superius and tenor form a self-sufficient duet enlivened by snatches of imitation at the fifth, octave and fourth and with longer stretches in free canon at the octave in the refrain’s fourth line (bb. 17-21) and in its final flourish (bb. 24-26). Dialogue in the form of canon reappears in the second line of the couplets (bb. 37-40). The contra is a lively filler, which contributes much to the musical colouring, for example in the faulxbourdon sound in couplet’s cadence bars 48-50.

PWCH November 2021

1) See further my article ‘The French musical manuscript in Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, Ms. 2794, and the ‘Loire Valley’ chansonniers’ and the description of the Laborde chansonnier.