4 Early Chansons Rustiques

for 3 voices or instruments.

During the second half of the fifteenth century French-speaking musicians began to introduce elements of popular song into their pieces. In the earliest settings they presented the simple melodies in the tenor part, with a rondeau text in the top part. But soon they dispensed with the rondeau, and composed settings in varying degrees of complexity in which the popular melody provided the main musical material in all parts. Modern scholars have used the term "chanson rustique" for such pieces, which conveniently disposes of the need to determine whether a particular piece is really based on popular song, or is merely written in a style derived from popular music. The vogue for chansons rustiques reached its peak at the very end of the century, when many hundreds were composed. However, the four pieces printed here are a little earlier, probably going back to the 1460s or 70s, as can been seen from the relatively archaic nature of the contratenor parts. All four pieces are based on melodies that have survived in other settings.
The original note values have been quartered, in order that the part with the "tune", should seem like a real melody, rather than a dry cantusfirmus. Editorial accidentals appear above the stave, applying to the one note only. The original accidentals are taken as applying to the whole bar I am grateful to Alan Robson for translating the texts of these songs.
These pieces may be performed in various ways. The part with the melody (tenor in nos. 1 and 3, discantus in nos. 2 and 4) may be sung, with the other parts played instrumentally. Alternatively the songs may be sung a cappella or played on groups of instruments, provided that there is some sense of where the tune is present. In no. 1 the discantus has the melody in almost as simple a for r as the tenor, so the imitation between the two parts can be featured by choosing two voices (or matching instruments) and an accompanying instrument.


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