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Complete Works of Gilles Mureau

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Helas, l’avoy je desservy 3v · Anonymous

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Leuven ff. 73v-74 »Helas, l’avoy je desservy« 3v PDF · Facsimile

Other musical sources:

Cop 1848 p. 45 »Helas, l’avois je deservy« 3v

Text: Rondeau quatrain, full text in Leuven, also found in Berlin 78.B.17 f. 142v, ed.: Löpelmann 1927, p. 261.

Helas, l’avoy je desservy
d’estre si rudement traicté?
Par Dieu, nenny, car j’ay esté
cil qui a loyaument servy.

Je sçay bien ce que ung soir je vy
dont oncques puis ne fus haicté.

Helas, l’avoy je desservy
d’estre si rudement traicté
?

Quant je vy jouer a l’enuy,
je congneu bien sa voulenté.
Incontinant je l’a quitté,
car plus n’y avoit de renuy.

Helas, l’avoy je desservy
d’estre si rudement traicté?
Par Dieu, nenny, car j’ay esté
cil qui a loyaument servy.

Alas, did I deserve
to be so rudely treated?
By God, no no, for I have been
the one who truly served.

I know well that I one evening saw
what never was nice.

Alas, did I deserve
to be so rudely treated?

When I saw her play the sufferer,
I certainly understood her wish.
Immediately, I left her
for I had nothing to counter with.

Alas, did I deserve
to be so rudely treated?
By God, no no, for I have been
the one who truly served.

Evaluation of the sources:

Copied into the Leuven chansonnier by the second scribe who collaborated with the main scribe of the chansonnier. His copy lacks two semibrevis rests, in the upper voice and in the tenor. These errors are easy to amend after the other source for this song, the big paper manuscript from Lyons in the Royal Library, Copenhagen, Ny kgl. Saml. 1848 2° (Cop 1848), in which it was entered by its main scribe around 1520 (cf. Christoffersen 1994, vol. I).

It is amazing how similar the two versions are considering the long span of time between them. Of the poem Cop 1848 has the refrain only, but musically they agree on the details including the accidentals; Leuven has a few more ligatures and one sharp in the superius bar 16 not in Cop 1848. The late copy appears among songs by Fresnau, Compere and other songs contemporary with the Leuven chansonnier, all of which must have been copied en bloc from an old exemplar (see Christoffersen 1994, vol. I, p. 78, the rondeau is published in vol. III, no. 10).

Comments on text and music:

A wronged lover complains in this short rondeau quatrain – or pretends to, because the tone of the poem is surely in the not entirely courtly vein. The music supports this interpretation with its almost syllabic declamation of the words in the superius and tenor, and they sing most of them simultaneously. Only the most important words, “Par Dieu, nenny”, which open the second section, are treated imitatively, and this brings them effectively into the foreground. The contratenor is in the same range as the tenor and fills out the harmony, often above the tenor.

The song is probably an early example of the light-hearted, anti-courtly, forme fixe song. It went well together with settings of popular songs, which assured it a long life in the repertory.

PWCH July 2017