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Ma bouche rit et ma pensee pleure 3v · Ockeghem, Johannes

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Dijon ff. 9v-10bis »Ma bouche rit et ma pensee pleure« 3v · Edition · Facsimile

*Laborde ff. 32v-34 »Ma bouche rit et ma pensee pleure« 3v · Edition · Facsimile

*Leuven ff. 37v-39 »Ma bouche rit et ma pensee pleure« 3v · Edition · Facsimile

*Nivelle ff. 52v-54 »Ma bouche rit et ma pencee pleure« 3v Okeghem · Edition · Facsimile

*Wolfenbüttel ff. 29v-31 »Ma bouche rit et ma pensee pleure« 3v · Edition · Facsimile

Other musical sources:

Copenhagen 1848 p. 401 [Without text] 3v (First section only) · Facsimile
Florence 176 ff. 32v-34 »Ma bouche rit et ma pencee pleure« 3v Ocheghem
Florence 2356 ff. 28v-29 »Ma bouche rit et ma pensee pleure« 3v
Kraków 40098 ff. L7v/M3v/M8 »H« 3v · Facsimile
Munich 810 ff. 62v-64 [Without text] 3v Ockegheim · Facsimile
New Haven 91 ff. 38v-39 »Ma bouche rit et ma pensee pleure« 3v Okeghem · Facsimile
Paris 15123 ff. 30v-32 »Ma bouche rit et ma pensee pleure« 3v · Facsimile
Paris 2973 ff. 42v-44 »Ma bouche rit et ma pensee pleure« 3v · Facsimile
Paris 4379 ff. 4v-6 »Ma bouche rit et ma pensee pleure« 3v
Petrucci 1501 ff. 59v-60 »Ma bouche rit et ma pensee pleure« 3v Okenhem · Facsimile
Rome 2856 ff. 61v-63 »Ma bouche fijt« 3v Okeghem · Facsimile
Rome XIII.27 ff. 76v-77 »Ma bouche rit« 3v · Facsimile

This page with editions as a PDF

Reworkings, citations, and use in other compositions, see Meconi 1994, p. 35, and Fallows 1999, p. 263.

Editions: Droz 1927, p. 9 (Dijon), Ockeghem 1992, p. 73 (Nivelle), Gutiérrez-Denhoff 1988, no. 23 (Wolfenbüttel)..

Text: Bergerette, full text in Dijon, Laborde, Leuven, Nivelle and Wolfenbüttel, also found in Paris 2973; also in Berlin 78.B.17 f. 83v-84 (no. 142), ed.: Löpelmann 1923, p. 123, Paris 1719 ff. 61 and 132, Jardin 1501 ff. 61 “Dictié ou motet magistral” and 71v “Motet magistral”.

Text after Dijon, Laborde, Leuven and Nivelle:

Ma bouche rit et ma pensee pleure,
mon oeil s’esjoye et mon cueur mauldit l’eure 1)
qu’il eut le bien que sa sante dechasse
et le plaisir que la mort me pourchasse 2)
sans resconfort qui m’aide ne sequeure. 3)

Ha, cueur pervers, faulsaire et mansongier,
dictes comment avez ouse songier
que de faulser ce que m’avez promis. 4)

Puis qu’en ce point vous vous voulez vengier, 5)
pensez bien tost de ma vie abregier; 6)
vivre ne puis au point ou m’avez mis.

Voustre pitie veult doncques que je meure, 7)
mais rigeur veult que vivant je demeure; 8)
ainsi meurs vif et en vivant trespasse,
mais, pour celer le mal que ne se passe 9)
et pour couvrir le dueil ou je labeure,

ma bouche rit et ma pensee pleure,
mon oeil s’esjoye et mon cueur mauldit l’eure
qu’il eut le bien que sa sante dechasse
et le plaisir que la mort me pourchasse
sans resconfort qui m’aide ne sequeure.

My mouth laughs, and my mind weeps,
my eye enjoys itself, and my heart courses the hour
when it received the gift that drives away its composure
and the pleasure for which death pursues me
without comfort to aid and succour me.

Ah, perverse, false, and lying heart,
tell me how you had dared to dream
of falsifying what you promised me.

Since to such a degree you wish to avenge yourself,
think rather of shortening my life:
I cannot live in the situation in which you have placed me.

Your pity, then, wills that I die,
but your severity wants me to stay alive;
thus alive I die and in living perish,
but, to hide the pain that will not at all go away
and to conceal the grief I suffer,

my mouth laughs, and my mind weeps,
my eye enjoys itself, and my heart courses the hour
when it received the gift that drives away its composure
and the pleasure for which death pursues me
without comfort to aid and succour me.

1) Laborde. line 2, “mon cueur s'ejoie ...” (error)
2) Wolfenbûttel, line 4, “... mort luy pourchasse”; Laborde, “... me prechasse”.
3) Wolfenbûttel, line 5, “... qui l’aide ne sequeure”
4) Leuven, line 8, “... qu’avez promis” (error)
5) Wolfenbûttel, line 9, “... point vous voulez venger” (error)
6) Wolfenbûttel, line 10, “... bien brief de ma vie ...”
7) Nivelle, line 12, “Voustre rigeur ..."
8) Nivelle and Wolfenbûttel, line 13, “mais pitie veult ...” (error in Wolfenbüttel).
9) Wolfenbûttel, line 15, “mais pour celer le mal qui ne se passe”

Many differences in spelling.

Evaluation of the sources:

“Ma bouche rit” was entered in five of the ‘Loire Valley’ chansonniers by their main scribes. It was obviously a must to include it. The many surviving sources show that Ockeghem’s song was widely circulated and popular in several generations. In general, its strong individuality emerges unscathed in the sources, as remarked by David Fallows, even if its complexity and rhythmical freedom have provoked a great number of errors. (1)

Differences in the exemplars of greater and lesser importance indicate that it had been circulating for a long time before reaching the ‘Loire Valley” scribes. If we disregard errors and variations in the use of ligatures and coloration, the exemplars used for the Leuven and Wolfenbüttel versions may have been very similar. The main difference is an interesting variant in the text. In the fourth line in Wolfenbüttel the word “me” is substituted with “luy” exchanging the love forlorn speaker with the heart. “Luy” can also be found in a few other sources (in Paris 2973 and in the two younger text collections Paris 1719 and Jardin 1501), but Wolfenbüttel is the only one which as a consequence has changed “m’aide” in the next line into “l’aide” (”et le plaisir que la mort luy pourchasse sans reconfort qui l’aide ne sequeure.” – and the pleasure for which death pursues it [the heart] without comfort to aid and succour it.) This may not be the original wording, but the meaning in Wolfenbüttel is perfectly logical.

Laborde has the same version as Leuven and Wolfenbüttel with some variants in details, which it shares with later sources, and a unique variant in the tenor bar 43, where the first semibrevis f has been replaced by a minima-rest and a minima f. Its most conspicuous difference is the appearance of hexachordal signatures of one flat all the way through in the tenor and contratenor. These flats must be regarded as errors as they cannot be applied to the music, which clearly is in E-Phrygian. It is unexplainable why the scribe entered them, but the same phenomenon appears in the preceding song, the even more widely circulated »J’ay prins amours a ma devise« on ff. 31v-32. This erroneous grasp of hexachordal signatures mars several of the Laborde scribe’s copies of songs that should never have been supplied with flats in the lower voices (see for example the songs on ff. 38v-39, 68v-69 and 70v-72).

In Dijon we find the greatest number of differences in comparison with the Leuven/Wolfenbüttel version in the contratenor, especially in bars 4-5 and 24, where the variants are unique to Dijon. Also Nivelle has its own set of unique variants; the most audible appears in the tenor bars 36.2-38.1 where Nivelle ends the fourth line of text on a semibrevis (like in the slightly younger textless version in MS Roma, Biblioteca Casanatense, Ms. 2856) and opens the next line vigorously with a dotted figure.

The bergerette is in Leuven, Laborde and Wolfenbüttel notated with a change of mensuration in the couplets (bb. 48 ff) from tempus imperfectum to imperfectum diminutum. This change was ignored in Dijon and Nivelle just as it is in all the remaining sources. They demonstrate some confusion concerning the mensuration. The majority is like Dijon and Nivelle in tempus imperfectum in both sections, but several use diminutum as general mensuration.

The Leuven and Nivelle chansonniers are alone among the ‘Loire Valley’ chansonniers in notating the last line of text in the couplets in its correct place below the music. Dijon, Laborde and Wolfenbüttel all place the words “que de faulcer ..." under the superius entry on a brevis c'' in bar 66.2. If this prescription were to be obeyed, it would be impossible to perform the indicated repetition of the couplets with ouvert and clos endings.

In spite of the many and often contradictory variants and errors it seems safe to assume that the version preserved in the majority of the early sources, that is in the Leuven, Laborde and Wolfenbüttel chansonniers, is the one best representing the intentions of the composer. Without the diminutum of the couplets, the bergerette would maintain the same rhythmical pattern throughout both sections, without any marking of the change to direct speech in the couplets. (2) Busnoys’ bergerette »Ja que lui ne s’i actende« shows up the exact same relation between the sections.

Ockeghem probably did not expect a doubling of the tempo in the couplets. His use of diminutum in other compositions in tempus imperfectum, see for example the masses Quinti toni and Au travail suis, seems to indicate that the change to diminutum means that the beat changes from the semibrevis to the brevis, with the breves performed a bit slower than the semibreves in the preceding section. (3) In this way the rhythmic relation between the refrain/tierce and the couplets becomes quite similar to the 4:3 relationships in most bergerettes in tempus perfectum with couplets in imperfectum diminutum (see for example Ockeghem’s »Ma maistresse et ma plus qu’autre amye«).

Comments on text and music:

This love complaint is one of the most accomplished poems in the repertory. Written in rich rimes, near equivoquées, and brilliantly playing with antithesis in the refrain and tierce, it changes into a direct admonishment to the heart in the short couplets. One must admire the elegant way in which the tierce slides back from direct speech into the refrain. It is set for a superius and tenor of equal melodic importance an octave apart and with much canonic imitation between them. The contratenor occupies the same range as the tenor and support and enrich the core duet. The melodic flow, the harmonic colouring and the rhythmic flexibility are all exquisite. A magical moment occurs near the end of the couplets when the descending fifth, which ends the opening line (b. 8), reappears staggered in all three voices to the words “que de faulcer / vivre ne puis” a fifth lower (bb. 65-66).

PWCH August 2022

1) G. Thibault & D. Fallows (eds.), Chansonnier de Jean de Montchenu (Bibliothèque nationale, Rothschild 2973 [I.5.13]). Paris 1991, p. cxiv; see also Allan W. Atlas, The Cappella Giulia Chansonnier. Roma, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, C.G.XIII.27 (Musicological Studies Vol. XXVII/1-2), New York 1975-76, vol. 1, pp. 164-166.

2) The use of chansonnier Nivelle as the primary source for the edition of “Ma bouche rit et ma pensee pleure” in Ockeghem’s Collected Works was not a felicitous choice (J. Ockeghem (ed. Richard Wexler with Dragan Plamenac), Collected Works III: Motets and Chansons. Philadelphia 1992, p. 73).

3) See further Johannes Ockeghem, Missa Quinti toni. Edited with an introduction by Peter Woetmann Christoffersen, June 2021, pp, xxi-xxiii (