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Quant je fus prins au pavillon 3v · Anonymous

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Leuven ff. 76v-78 »Quant je fus prins au pavillon« 3v PDF · Facsimile

Other musical sources:

*Uppsala 76a ff. 6v-7 »Quant je fuz prins au pavillon« 3v PDF

Text: Charles d’Orléans, rondeau quatrain, full text in Leuven; for further text concordances, see Fallows 1999 p. 337; published in Charles d’Orléans (ed. Pierre Champion), Poèsies, Vol. II, Paris 1924, p. 353 (Rondeau 23).

Quant je fus prins au pavillon
de ma dame, tres gente et belle,
je me brulé a la chandelle
ainsi que fait le papillon.

Je rougy comme vermeillon
aussi flambant qu’une estincelle,

quant je fus prins au pavillon
de ma dame, tres gente et belle.

Si j’eusse esté esmerillon
ou que j’eusse eu aussi bon elle,
je m’eusse bien gardé de celle
qui me bailla de l’esguillon.

Quant je fus prins au pavillon
de ma dame, tres gente et belle,
je me brulé a la chandelle
ainsi que fait le papillon.

When I was caught in the meshes
of my lady, most noble and beautiful,
I burned myself by the flame,
just like the moth does.

I turned red as vermillion,
blazing like a spark,

when I was caught in the meshes
of my lady, most noble and beautiful.

If I had been a merlin
or I had wings as good,
I could have escaped her
who drove me into the trap.

When I was caught in the meshes
of my lady, most noble and beautiful,
I burned myself by the flame,
just like the moth does.

Evaluation of the sources:

Copied into the Leuven chansonnier without errors by the second scribe who collaborated with the main scribe of the chansonnier. The poem by Charles d’Orléans has the same wording as the standard version published by Pierre Champion in Orléans 1923, Vol. II (1924), p. 352. The two equal upper voices are notated without key signatures and the “Concordans” with a one flat signature. The accidentals put into the first bars of both upper voices seem to indicate that B-flats should be the performers’ first choice.

The only other source for this rondeau setting is the 30 years younger paper chansonnier in Uppsala University Library, Handskrift 76a, which most probable was made at Lyons by three collaborating scribes during the first decade of the sixteenth century (see further the description of the MS). Here it was entered by the second scribe, who probably was the main person in this enterprise, as part of a small group of three-part songs in high tessiture (Uppsala 76a nos. 6-9). The copy must have been made after a much older exemplar. Its music is very similar to the Leuven version, while its text transmits the rondeau refrain only. It has the same combination of signatures as found in the Leuven MS, but the upper voices show no instances of infections. This could mean that the song to some degree explored the rare Lydian mode with a high fourth scale degree (cf. the first bar or bb. 17-18). The only important musical variant appears in bars 17-18, where Leuven has a more elegant rising line in the concordans, which forces the second superius to inflect its b’s. In the Uppsala version the lowest voice goes down and support an interpretation without flats. Which of the sources that revises the original music for this song is difficult to know. It is not impossible that the youngest source was copied using an exemplar older than the Leuven chansonnier.

Comments on text and music:

The rondeau quatrain by Charles d’Orléans demonstrates the qualities of a real poet. Its compelling imaginary and fluent words are of a different class from what we usually find in chansons with music of his generation. Its musical setting lives up the poem’s picture of the doomed flittering moth.

A lively duet of high voices (range b-f’’) is self-supporting with constant exchanges of position and function. In the cadence ending the first line the superius 1 takes care of the superius function, while the voice written in the space on the opening normally reserved for the tenor (superius 2) performs the tenor function above it (bb. 6-7). However, in the important cadences at the end and in the middle, the superius 2 has the superius function in high position, while the superius 1 takes on the tenor function an octave below. The voice part, which in both sources is written in the “tenor’s” place, must be regarded as the real upper voice.

The concordans support the upper voices and keeps up the flow by connecting figures at cadences. The setting as a whole is varied with imitations at the unison and at the octave in the middle lines, and it has a sort of nervous energy, underscored in the Uppsala version by the ascending, uninflected Bs in the duet.

PWCH June 2017