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Par dieu, ma dame, c’est a tort 3v · Anonymous

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Dijon ff. 125v-127 »Par dieu, ma dame, c’est a tort« 3v · Edition · Facsimile

*Nivelle ff. 46v-48 »Par dieu, ma dame, c’est a tort« 3v · Edition · Facsimile

This page with editions as a PDF

Text: Bergerette layé; full text in both sources; also found in Paris 1719 f. 94v. After Nivelle and Dijon:

Par dieu, ma dame, c’est a tort
que tant vous mettez vostre effort, 1)
par si tresfort, 2)
d’ainsi m’avoir du tout pugny
de vostre grace et forbanny 3)
disant “nenny,
jamais n’avrez de moy confort!".

Que puis je avoir vous mesfait 4)
veu que jamais n’ay riens forfait?
Pourquoy mon fait
ne doye estre beaucoup milleur? 5)

Fault il que je soie desfait,
sans ce que mon veul soit parfait,
mais imparfait
a l’apetit de grant rigueur?

Mourir me fault par desconfort
sans jamais avoir reconfort
en mil lieu fort
ne foible par vueil de soucy,
affin que chacun die aussy  6)
que vivre ainsi
plus ne me fault, je m’en fais fort. 7)

Par dieu, ma dame, c’est a tort
que tant vous mettez vostre effort,
par si tresfort,
d’ainsi m’avoir du tout pugny
de vostre grace et forbanny
disant “nenny,
jamais n’avrez de moy confort!".

By God, my lady, it is unjust
that you put so much effort,
very much indeed,
thus to have me totally punished
and banished from your love
saying “No,
you will never get any relief from me!”

What can I have done of wrong to you
as I never in anything have failed?
Why might not my doing
be much better?

Was it that I might be amiss,
without what would make my longing perfect
but imperfect
in desire for great strictness?

I shall die of unhappiness
without ever getting relief
neither strong
nor weak after the pain’s wish,
so that everyone can say
that to live like this
I cannot any more, I must try harder.

By God, my lady, it is unjust
that you put so much effort,
very much indeed,
thus to have me totally punished
and banished from your love
saying “No,
you will never get any relief from me!”

1) Dijon, line 2, “que tant avez mis vostre ...”
2) Nivelle, Line 3, missing (error)
3) Dijon, line 5, “de vostre amour ...”
4) Nivelle, line 8, “... avoir vous vous mesfait” (error)
5) Dijon, line 12, “n’en deust estre ...”
6) Dijon, line 21, ”--- chacun voie aussi”
7) Dijon, line 23, “plus ne pourroie ...”

Evaluation of the sources:

This curious bergerette was entered into the Dijon and Nivelle chansonniers by their main scribes after different exemplars. In Nivelle the song stands without errors in the music and quite straightforward, while the Dijon version adds passing notes and dotted figures especially to the upper voice (bb. 7.3, 8.1-2, 14.2, 22.1, 24.1, 35.1), sometimes enlivening the texture, sometimes not – in bar 3 the result is parallel fifths between tenor and contra as well as between superius and tenor. Furthermore. It looks as if the Dijon scribe did not understand the ouvert-clos repetition in the couplets. He has marked it with a signum congruentiae in superius and tenor above the brevis notes that are the last notes in the ouvert-ending, and then the music goes on with the clos-ending – it means that bar 43 is notated twice. This way of indicating repetition is not any more enigmatic than repetitions in many other instances. The Nivelle version is absolutely clear with fermata or signum over the first note in bar 43 followed by repetition sign in all the voices. Moreover, the Dijon scribe has placed the short text lines that must be sung in bars 37-38 in bars 39-43, and the lines “n’en deust estre ...” and “a l’apetit ...” are written below each other in bars 43-51, and thus showing no awareness of the ouvert-clos pattern.

Probably both scribes found it difficult to copy music and text of this song in a satisfactory way. The Dijon scribe misplaced the text in the couplets, and the Nivelle scribe overlooked a short line in the refrain, but the most important difference appears in their use of hexachordal signatures. Dijon has flats in all three voices, while Nivelle only has a flat in the upper voice. It is obvious that B-flats are needed at the beginning and the end of the refrain according to its F-tonality, but otherwise superius and tenor oscillate between the notes B and E in a way that any singer would recognize as fitting within hexachords on G (an interpretation based on Bb-hexachords sends this song off the rails); for long stretches naturals have to sound. How to clarify this situation without resorting to the use of accidentals?

The Dijon scribe offers a conventional solution by indicating signatures of one flat in all voices. However, it is quite easy to see where one has to sing flats that are not indicated, while introducing many naturals is quite demanding. Therefore I think that the Nivelle scribe found the obvious solution by being completely unconventional. In this period songs that waver tonally are as a rule notated with one flat less in the upper voice. Doing the opposite forces the performers to be alert. Any way, it is impossible to perform this song without first trying it out and after some discussions between the singers.

In both sources the music starts with a general pause consisting of a brevis and two semibreves. The introductory brevis bar was not meant to be performed in the realized form, and therefore it is not counted in the edition. It seems to be a device meant to insure absolute notational clarity in the cases where a song starts with an upbeat in all voices and the opening is homorhythmically designed (see further my note ‘On chansons starting with a general pause’.

Comments on text and music:

This is the song of a scorned lover who really cannot quite understand why he is rejected – he will try to better himself. Maybe his declarations are not completely trustworthy. The form of the poem seems unnecessary convoluted. It is a bergerette layé, a cinquain consisting of five and three lines, in which two short lines are interpolated into refrain and tierce and one short line in each couplet. It makes it difficult for the poet to vary the very rich rimes, close to equivoques, “fort/tort” and “ny/sy” which run through refrain and tierce, while the couplets have “fait” and “-eur”. The lover’s despair becomes shaded by a heavy monotony.

The untrustworthiness is enforced by a setting for male voices with an upper voice ranging between a and a', a tenor b-e', and a low contratenor F-c' which several times moves above the tenor. A more or less fixed motive permeates the setting, c-B-c-e etc., starts in the tenor bar 5 and is then developed by superius and tenor, repeated by the tenor in straight form bars 13-16, and comes – now augmented by a suspension figure – as an octave canon bars 16-19 between superius and tenor and reappears in the couplets’ ouvert ending.

The texture lives up to any ideals of variation. It starts in homophony, triple time with upbeat in the first long poetic lines, contains contrasting settings of the short lines with staggered entries of the three voices, passages in double time patterns and strict and free canons. The couplets form a fine contrast by being in tempus imperfectum and starting in homophony without upbeat. Normally in a bergerette in triple time we meet couplets in imperfectum diminutum in larger note values, that is, in a 3:4 tempo relation which causes a slight slowing down of the activity. Here, with a 3:2 relation and a slight shortening of the note values, we get nearly the same effect. Possibly with a more noticeable slowing down of the speed.

In spite of all this variatio it is not possible to overhear that monotony creeps in. The motivic repetitions and the narrow range within which the superius goes back and forth and regularly touches the same top notes, all this along with the overblown poem breeds a suspicion that the song is sarcastic, making fun of lovelorn songs.

PWCH October 2022