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Vous marchez du bout de pie 4v · Busnoys, Antoine

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Dijon ff. 185v-186 »Vous marchez du bout de pie« 4v PDF · Facsimile

*Nivelle ff. 58v-59 »Vous marchez du bout du pie« 4v Busnois PDF · Facsimile

Other musical sources:

Hradec Králové II A 7 p. 255 »Magne olimpi« 4v
Trento 91 ff. 42v-43 »[Vous marchez du bout]« 4v

More recent sources and citation, see Fallows 1999 p. 407.

Editions: Maniates 1989 no. 34 (Dijon); Busnoys 2018 no. 59 (Dijon).

Text: Two popular texts framed by a common refrain, full text in Dijon and Nivelle; after Nivelle:


Vous marchez du bout du pie, Marionecte,
vous marchez du bout du pie, Marion.

Vostre beaute tres mignonnecte
m’a este trop cher vendue,
je amasse mieulx l’avoir rendue.

Vous marchez du bout du pie, Marion.

Lines 3-7 in Dijon:

Vostre beaute tres mignonnecte
m’a este trop cher vendue,
j’amasse mieulx l’avoir onc veue,
neantmoins, vous marchez, qu’elle soit fricquecte.

Tenor, contratenor altus and bassus:

Vous marchez du bout du pie, Marionecte,
vous marchez du bout du pie, Marion et Marion.

L’autrier quant je chevauchoie
mon chemin droit a Lion,
je rencontray frère Pierre
a tout son grant chapperon.

Vous, Marionecte,
vous marchez du bout du pie, Marion et Marion.


You walk on tiptoe, Marionette,
you walk on tiptoe, Marion.

Your beauty so endearing
has cost me much too much,
I would have been better off by leaving it alone.

You walk on tiptoe, Marion.


Your beauty so endearing
has cost me much too much,
I would have been better off never to have seen it,
nevertheless – you walk – how she is frolicsome.


You walk on tiptoe, Marionette,
you walk on tiptoe, Marion and Marion.

The other day when I was riding
my road straight towards Lyon
I met brother Pierre
wrapped in his great cloak.

You, Marionette,
you walk on tiptoe, Marion and Marion.

Evaluation of the sources:

The two scribes (Dijon and Nivelle) probably used exemplars, which differed in notation (Nivelle uses minor color only in connection with the name “Marionecte”, while Dijon uses it for many other dotted figures) and in embellishments of the cadences in the upper voice. Moreover, in the Dijon version the leap of an octave, which provides the fifth in the harmony, in Contratenor bassus bb. 20-21 has been changed into a doubling of the tenor’s note, and in bb. 30-31 embellishments appear in the tenor tune, which are not found in Nivelle.

Some of these changes may very well have been brought about by the Dijon scribe who – as we have seen in other cases – could be quite enterprising. The near contemporary textless version in Trento, Codex 91, is close to the Nivelle version in most details, but it agrees with Dijon in not entering a key signature of one flat in the superius. This superius flat (in Nivelle) does not make any difference in a performance; it is more important that all sources agree on not to prescribe any use of B-flat in the lowest voice (in Trento 91 the flat is in fact a carefully placed fa-sign in the c space). The most important contribution from the Dijon scribe to the version seen in the Dijon chansonnier could be the redaction of the text.

In Nivelle we find the double chanson with a short three-line stanza in the upper part, which is framed by a refrain common to all four parts (see above), and which together fits the music quite well. In the section where these Verse lines are sung (bb. 21-41) the contratenor bassus is not supplied with any text at all, and accordingly the choice between the text of the upper voice and the text of the tenor and contratenor altus is left to the singer. If the singer chooses to sing its text with the other low voices we will hear a chanson where the upper part stands out from the lower voices – this is the solution presented in the transcription. However, the Dijon scribe has chosen to sketch a text underlay in the bassus and used the text of the upper voice and thereby accentuated the parallelisms of the two voices. Maybe he also found that the text of the upper part was too short to accommodate the final, shortened repetition of the refrain – or he or his exemplar had knowledge of a different version. Anyway he gives one more line of text, which perfectly fits the rhyme and the number of syllables required (9) for a four-line Verse section, “neantmoins qu’elle soit fricquecte”, but then he also marked the beginning of the refrain by inserting two words of its text “vous marchez” into this line. This confluence of two textual elements highlights the start of the four-part imitation and (surprisingly?) gives some meaning in the context – an ingenious solution.

Comments on text and music:

Busnoys sets two different texts, both in a popular vein, apparently using the lines “Vous marches ...” as a common refrain. The tenor and the contratenor altus share a popular tune as cantus prius factus. While the refrain lines are set in four-part imitation, which also involves the upper voice, the two voices (T and CA) alternate in the Verse lines taking two lines each, “L’autrier quant ...” (bb. 23-32) and “je rencontray ...” (bb. 33-41), in three-part c.p.f.-setting. The first refrain-section, in which the tune is imitated canonically in octaves in superius and tenor loco and a fourth lower by the two contratenors, also can boast a sort of obligato counterpoint in the tenor and contratenor bassus on the words “vous Marionecte”. This is heard in a shortened version in close imitation in bb. 8.2-10, and the contratenor bassus brings it below the repeats of of the four-part imitation in bb. 11-13 and 44-47, but it is first heard at the start of the chanson, where it is shared by tenor and contratenor bassus: “Vous” in the tenor b. 1, the remainder in the bassus bb. 2-3, so that the tenor entry is not masked. Maybe this beginning with the single brevis in the tenor was inspired by Ockeghem’s “S’elle m’amera / Petite camusette” (cf. Fallows 1999b p. 31), but in that case Busnoys certainly outdid his mentor.

Even if it contains some crudities this is a very elegant and inventive double chanson, which comes up with an effective solution of setting common refrain lines around two different texts, it is funny and a bit tongue-in-cheek. (In a performance I would sing e’ as the last note in the superius’ bar 8 even if all sources agree on f’).

See further the structurally comparable four-part chansons in this repertory: Busnoys’ “On a grant grant mal / On est bien malade”, Ockeghem’s “S’elle amymera / Petite camusette”, and the anonymous “Garison sçay /Je suis mire”.

PWCH May 2009