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Le despourveu infortuné 3v · Caron

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Laborde ff. 72v-73 »Le despourveu infortune« 3v PDF · Facsimile

*Leuven ff. 9v-11 »Le despourveu infortune« 3v PDF · Facsimile

Other sources:

Bologna Q18 ff. 25v-26 »Tanto é l’afano« 4v (Contra (I) added) · Facsimile (Q018_028)
Florence 229 ff. 99v-100 »Le despour« 3v Caron
Kraków 40098 ff. J10v/K7v/K9v [Without text] “undecimus” 3v · Facsimile [1:113; 2: 127; 3: 130]
Paris 15123 ff. 139v-140 »Le despourvene infortune« 3v · Facsimile
Petrucci 1504/3 ff. 120v-121 »Le desproveu infortune« 4v (Contra (II) added) · Facsimile
Rome 2856 ff. 67v-69 »Tanto l’afano« 3v Caron · Facsimile
Rome XIII.27 ff. 38v-39 »Tant’e l’affano« 3v Facsimile
Sevilla 5-1-43 ff. 52v-53 »Le despourveu« 3v
Verona 757 ff. 62v-63 [Without text] 3v

Intabulation and citation: see Fallows 1999 p. 246.

Text: Rondeau cinquain; full text in Laborde and Leuven; also found in Berlin 78.B.17 f. 195v, ed.: Löpelmann 1923, p. 384; Jardin 1501 ff. 84v-85.

After Leuven and Laborde:

Le despourveu infortuné,
incessament environné (1)
de dueil, de regretz et de plours,
me trouve banny de secours
et a tout mal abandonné.

Piteusement suis guerdonné
et tant mallement gouverné;
Fortune m’a fait par ses tours

le despourveu infortuné,
incessament environné
de dueil, de regretz et de plours.

Sur touz je suis mal atourné,
car Espoir m’a le doz tourné, (2)
si va mon faict tout au rebours; ((3)
par raison puis blasmer Amours,
quant en ce point m’a ordonné

le despourveu infortuné,
incessament environné
de dueil, de regretz et de plours,
me trouve banny de secours
et a tout mal abandonné.

The man helpless and unfortunate,
incessantly surrounded
by grief, regrets, and tears,
I find myself banished from any help
and abandoned to all evil.

Piteously I am compensated
and so badly cared for;
Fortune with her turns has made me

the man helpless and unfortunate,
incessantly surrounded
by grief, regrets, and tears.

More than anybody I am unlucky,
for Hope has turned her back on me,
and so my case goes completely backward;
I have reason to blame Amour,
because he there appointed me to be

the man helpless and unfortunate,
incessantly surrounded
by grief, regrets, and tears;
I find myself banished from any help
and abandoned to all evil.

1) Laborde, line 2, “... avironne”
2) Leuven, line 13, “car desespoir ...” (error, a syllable too many)
3) Laborde, line 14 “ainsi va mon fait a rebours”
- some further differences in spelling.

Evaluation of the sources:

The Dijon scribe entered the song into the Laborde chansonnier quite carefully, he made a few errors in the music only, and the Leuven scribe copied it into his chansonnier with only a small error in its text. He used an exemplar that was different from, but closely related to the one used by the Dijon scribe.

The differences between the two sources vary in importance. Some of them depend on simple mistakes. They include the sign for tempus imperfectum without diminution in the Laborde superius, and in the same voice Laborde notates bar 23-24 correctly as a longa, while the Leuven scribe has prolonged a faulty brevis by adding another brevis. In Laborde bars 1-2 in the tenor consist of a brevis only. The scribe has overlooked either the stem on the note transforming it into a longa, as he did with two stems belonging to c.o.p.-ligatures (bb. 6 and 9), or he missed the two repeated semibrevis notes; as the two notational signs are spaced tightly, the first alternative is most probable. Other variations concern the scribes’ or the exemplars’ interpretation of the notation of coloration (S bb. 21.2-22.1 and 36.2-37.1; T bb. 17.2-18.1; C b. 21), of ligatures (S bb. 41.2-42.1 and 49; T bb. 7-8, 20.2-21.1 and 56; C bb. 14, 24-26 and 33.2-34), or decorative elements (S bb. 34.2 and 43-44).

A few variants are of greater importance: Laborde has key signatures in all three voices, where Leuven only has one in the tenor; in bar 3 in the superius of Laborde, the brevis note is replaced by two semibreves, which cause a faster delivery of the words in the superius; in Leuven the tenor similarly in bar 2 has in stead of a long note two semibreves, which assure the correct delivery of the text. In both sources the song appears without a composer’s name, while it in later Italian sources is attributed to Caron.

There cannot be any doubt that singers would break up the long notes at the beginning of the song when performing the lower voices. If older sources for the song had survived, we would probably find a notation of the start very like the Leuven version, but with the tenor as in Laborde; that is, with a brevis in bar 3 in the superius and a longa as the first note in the tenor. The exemplar used by Petrucci for his printed edition in Canti C of 1504 is exactly like this – only with flats in all voices, a new contratenor added and no text after the first three words. Petrucci or his editor apparently had access to an exemplar preserving the song’s original layout. Glogauer Liederbuch (Kraków 40098) preserves a variant of this format without any text. In the Italian chansonnier Rome XIII.27 we find the same beginning of the music as in Laborde, but with an Italian text incipit.

In the Italian sources Sevilla 5-I-43, Paris 15123 and Florence 229 the text delivery of the upper voices has been made explicit by a further breakup of long notes, even if there is not any text after the first few words in Sevilla 5_I-43 and Florence 229: The superius is like Laborde, while the tenor has four semibreves in bars 2-3, and they all have key signatures in all voices further (see the edition in Brown 1983 no. 97). This notation of a faster, simultaneous recitation of the first words gives the song a decidedly more modern appearance on the pages.

The French rondeau text seems at some point to have been replaced by an Italian poem beginning “Tant’e l’affano” in some Italian sources (Rome 2856, Bologna Q18 and Rome XIII.27), but only its first words are preserved as text incipits. The two first mentioned have the “modernized” version of the song, now with also the start of the contratenor broken up in breves, while Rome XIII.27 as mentioned above keeps to the Laborde start.

The picture of the song’s circulation that comes up just by looking at its first few bars discloses that Caron’s song must have been quite old when it was copied into Laborde and Leuven. Leuven probably reflects an older tradition in its use of a key signature in the tenor only, but has begun the declamatory “modernization” in its tenor. In Laborde the same “modernization” has started in the upper voice, and the obviously generally needed key signatures have been supplied in all voices. The fully “modernized” version with an Italian text incipit under Caron’s name appeared already in the only a few years younger MS Rome 2856, while the most old-fashioned version was current still after 1500, when it functioned as model for the reworking of the song in Canti C.

It seems remarkable that in the musical sources the song’s highly sophisticated text appears complete in Laborde and Leuven only. In the MS Pixérécourt (Paris 15123) the refrain only is present, and all other sources have a few words only to identify the piece or are without any text. It is as if outside France interest in its music pushed aside the difficult poem.

In Leuven “Le despourveu” stands side by side with Ockeghem’s rondeau »La despourveue et la bannye«, ff. 7v-9, and is followed by Barbingant’s »L'omme banny de sa plaisance«, ff. 11v-13, forming with them a small group of songs about lovers banned from their happiness. “L’omme banny” was entered into Laborde by the original Laborde scribe, while “Le despourveu” as well as “La despourveue” were added to the Laborde chansonnier by the Dijon scribe along with »Les treves d’amours et de moi«, Laborde ff. 98v-99, which appears in Leuven just before this group, ff. 6v-7. Barbingant’s “L’omme banny” in Leuven came from an exemplar, which in its notation was remote from the one used by the Dijon scribe in the Dijon chansonnier. But it is possible that the three other songs in Leuven and Laborde were grouped together in closely related exemplars circulating in the circles where the Dijon and the Leuven scribes worked. The placement side by side in Leuven of the two rondeaux by Caron and Ockeghem underscores that the poem in Ockeghem’s “La despourveue” is a female version or response to “Le despourveu”.

Comments on text and music:

The poem’s artful love complaint is an intricate grammatical construction, which ties the two couplets indissolubly together, with the meaning of the first couplet ending in the repeat of the opening refrain, and similarly the sentence in the tierce also has to end with the repeat of the refrain. This was an ideal way to fulfil the rondeau’s formal layout in the stylistic conventions of the Seconde rhétorique, and when the poem was read or recited only the rentrement, the first words of the refrain, were needed to complete the sentences – here “Le despourveu”. In musical settings this characteristic of the poem can be emphasized by performing it with short refrain, that is, singing only the refrain’s first line. Caron has taken care to end the first line with a cadence on the song’s finalis (b. 11) making it convenient to stop here in sections 2a and 4 (or at least in the couplets, see the edition). However, Ockeghem’s »La despourveue et la bannye«, which offers a female version of the exact same poetic structure (see the edition and discussion) and probably was inspired by Caron’s song, does not invite such a performance – he prefers a full rendition of the poem.

The man’s luckless love is expressed in elegant music for voices in a high tessitura. Superius and tenor weave their lines quite close together (d’-g’’ and f-b’-flat) with the tenor occasionally crossing above the upper voice; the contratenor keeps below the tenor except on long final tenor notes in bars 11-13 and 59-60 (the first instance is where the refrain ends with “short refrain”). The setting opens with a recited statement of the poem’s signal word “Le despourveu” (only fully notated in the later sources), and in the following lines the words stand out in alternation between syllabic settings and long melismas organized in strict or free imitation between the upper voices. The second line unfolds in strict unison canon (bb. 12 ff), which effortlessly changes into canon at the fifth (bb. 18 ff), typical of the style of Caron. The second section starts in octave imitation, and after some expressive free interplay the song ends in a long melisma on “abandonné”, a hidden canon, first at the octave (bb. 46 ff), changing into unison (bb. 51 ff) and at the fifth (bb. 53 ff) – a virtuoso display.

PWCH November 2017