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O dieu d’amours et qu’as tu fait 4v · Delahaye

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Laborde ff. 97v-98 [Without text] 4v  PDF · Facsimile

*Nivelle ff. 39v-40 »O dieu d'amours et qu’as tu fait« 4v Delahaye  PDF · Facsimile

Editions: Goldberg 1997 p. 494 (Laborde), Alden 2001 no. 5 (Nivelle).

Text: (Rondeau) cinquain; refrain only in Nivelle, textless in Laborde:

O, dieu d’amours et qu’as tu fait
d’avoir consenty le forfait
de celuy dont je fuz maistresse?
Mon cuer en a si grant destresse
qu’a bien peu il n’en est desfait.

O god of love, what have you done
having consented to the misdeed
of him whose mistress I was?
My heart is in so great worry
that thereby it could be the least dishonoured.

Evaluation of the sources:

The main scribe of the Nivelle chansonnier entered a faultless copy of Delahaye’s “O dieu d’amours” in standard four-part voice disposition – with the tenor placed below the superius. There was not room on the opening for any more text to supplement the cinquain laid under the highest voice. The scribe may have regarded the song complete as it stands.

Also the Dijon scribe produced a copy without any errors in the Laborde chansonnier. He used the same disposition of voices on the pages as the Nivelle scribe, but he did not write in a set of reminders to the illuminator of the MS that something was different in this song from the preceding ones. As a result, the book painter became confused. He painted – on autopilot – a capital “T” at the start of the voice part on top of the right-hand page, the usual place for the tenor in a three-part song. By so doing he created the designation “Tontratenor”; he refrained from painting anything for the other voices. Furthermore, the Dijon scribe had not copied any words under the voices. It is thinkable that his exemplar contained an amount of text similar to Nivelle’s, and that regarding this a incomplete he decided to postpone the copying of the poem until he found a more satisfying exemplar.

In other regards his exemplar was different from the Nivelle version, even if the real variants are few in number. The voices are labelled in slightly different; for example, in Laborde the “Tenor basis” is named “Contratenor basis”. The differences mostly concern ligatures and coloration (see the edition), but variants that influence the declamation of the text also appear; in tenor bar 15.2 the semibrevis is split up in two minimae, and below it the tenor basis sings the two semibreves as one brevis in bar 15. Obviously, all four songs by the apparently local musician Delahaye, which the Dijon scribe copied into his chansonniers (cf. »Comment suis je de vostre cueur«,  »Puis qu’il convient que le depart se face« and »Mort j’appelle de ta rigueur«), came from an exemplar that belonged to a line of transmission different from the one known by the Nivelle scribe.

Comments on text and music:

A woman blames the god of love: Her lover has done something unforgivable (left her probably), and now she fears that some slight dishonour will stick with her. The setting is for four voices in a motet-like style in the Phrygian mode. The core voices, the superius, tenor and the low contratenor, here labelled as a real bass part “Tenor basis”, are disposed in the normal way, superius and tenor an octave apart, and the bass a fifth below the tenor; the fourth voice, “Contra”, is placed in the same range as the tenor (c-f’). While the middle voices exhibit lots of crossings, great care have been taken that they never cross above the superius, and that the low contratenor keeps below them.

The song opens with four-part imitation initiated by the contra on a lamenting motive, the characteristic Phrygian scale descending through a fourth, ending on E in the three highest voices and repeated a fifth lower in the bass. Also the fifth line of text is emphasized by imitation between superius and tenor; here they expand the motivic descending Phrygian scale to encompass a sixth (bb. 43 ff). The most important words in the poem, the cause for the woman’s misery, are set out in a sudden turn to four-part homorhythmic declamation at low pitch: “de celuy dont je fuz maistresse” (bb. 24-26). Otherwise the song is set in quite dense polyphony with extended cadences; also the target notes in the tenor have been extended, see bars 12-14 and 23-24. The line-by-line setting out the sense of the five-line stanza makes it probable that the composer did not create the music with any more lines of text in mind. The situation depicted by the cinquain poem is made complete by its musical setting.

PWCH October 2016