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La grant paine que yo sento 3v · Anonymous

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Laborde ff. 137v-138 »La grant paine que yo sento« 3v  PDF · Facsimile

Other musical sources:

*Amiens 162 D f. 1 »Le grant pena que io sento« 3v PDF
*Copenhagen 1848 p. 403 »La grand pena que yo sento« 3v PDF · Facsimile
*Copenhagen 1848 p. 411 »La grant pena que yo sento« 3v PDF · Facsimile
*Sankt Gallen 462 p. 102 »La grant pena che io sento« 4v PDF · Facsimile

Citations, Fallows 1999, pp. 530.

Edition: Goldberg 1997 p. 512 (Laborde).

Text: One stanza of four lines in corrupt French-Italian:

La grant paine que yo sento,
my tormenta nocte et dy.
O de morir son contento
pour la vostre seignoria.

The great pain, which I feel,
torments me night and day.
O, I am content to die
for your sovereignty.

Evaluation of the source:

A late addition to the bound Laborde chansonnier; entered by Hand E after c. 1480; a faultless copy of an exemplar containing among other pieces the small song motet »Dulcis amica dei« 3v (ff. 139v-140, the next song entered by HandE), which in later sources are attributed to Prioris.

Comments on text and music:

A very simple setting of an Italian song. The tune in the upper voices is followed strictly in parallel sixths by the tenor except for the first and last sonorities, and both voices keep their ranges within a fifth. Only two note values are used, a short and a long, and the only adornment is the traditional suspension and figuration at the final cadence. Accordingly, the formal layout is simple: A B CA’(4+4 syllables) B’. The contratenor accompanies in alternating thirds and fifths below the tenor, again except for the first and last sonorities which are unison and octave.

This could easily be simple improvised polyphony, notated after an improvised performance or from memory. It would fit perfectly into square chant notation, which much simple polyphony uses, with the shorter note values in rhombic shape and many fermatas. The francophone rendition of the Italian poem could be a sign of oral transmission too. Furthermore, the later versions of the song exhibit many differences in details, which underscore the absence of a stable written tradition. See further the discussion of the song in the Amiens MS

The Italian song may have been a courtly love song, but in the French tradition, which is the only one preserved, it probably was regarded as a lauda, as a song to the Virgin Maria. It is remarkable that it in three sources (Laborde, Amiens 162 D and Copenhagen 1848) has been copied in close proximity to Prioris’ popular Latin song »Dulcis amica dei«.

PWCH December 2013