Editorial issues

I. Pieces which are incorrectly transcribed

Volume I, pages 1-4: LM 1 “Réconfortez le petit cueur de moy”

The editors (both editions) have failed to notice that the rhetorical ploy of repeating the first syllable of the first word in a phrase – as in the altus in measures 1 and 2, and the superius i measures 2 and 3, where we find “Ré…. réconfortez”- is practiced throughout the piece. This has led to the curious editorial practice of simply leaving a blank space under a number of whole notes. This blank space may be profitably used to write in the missing syllables, which are (all in the superius) “Qui” in measure 10, “Sans” in measure 13, “”Si” in measure 24, “Plus” in measure 29, and “Na-” in measure 32, which will both improve the text underlay and help the performers make sense of the phrasing.

Volume II,pages 126-128: LM53 “Mon confesseur m’a dict”

The version in the first edition is incomplete. This has been corrected in the second edition on pages 128bis and 128ter. 

II. Cyclical works (rondeaus or rondeau-like pieces) where it would have been appropriate to indicate repeat signs

Some commentators feel that the curious half-cadence and phrygian endings in several Janequin settings represent a conscious toying with out-of-date traditions for rhetorical and dramatic effect, the “leave them hanging” school of interpretation, as it were. Others, myself included, believe that normal cyclical repeats were intended, but that to save space and paper, the 16th century publishers found it unnecessary to print the repeated sections twice. Performers are, as always, free to choose the mix that fits their mettle, but editorial indication of the pieces in which this unwritten tradition was a feature seems appropriate. They are:

LM21 En attendant

LM26 Qu’est-ce d’amour

LM36 De vostre amour

LM 68 Le Rossignol

III. Musica ficta

Accidentals and editorial recommendations above the staff remain a difficult issue. Some 16th century prints contain errors; some use the sharp sign (#) not as a fixed signal, but to indicate raising the tone a half-step; and sometimes certain of the “rules” for when the 16th century singer would have been expected to make adjustments collide with some of the other rules. Sometimes the “automatically” raised leading tone at a cadence feels exactly right, at other times the cadence may be elided or extended in such a way that including a raised leading tone leads to a feeling that some of the period flavor is getting lost.

I personally agree with about 80% of the suggestions in Lesure and Merritt’s editions, can go either way on another 10-15% and heartily disagree with the remaining 5% or so, but it would stretch all our patiences to discuss each of these individually, and even if we were to do so, it is not sure that we would arrive at complete agreement. The point of this section, then, is to remind the performer that one of the joys and burdens of performing music from this period is the necessity to take artistic responsibility for your own performances: like it or not, none of the ficta can be trusted 100%, neither that which is presented as “original” nor that which is proffered as suggestions (above the staff). You have to go in and make your own decisions.

IV. Metrical notation: barlines

Since Janequin’s music most certainly has a regular pulse, and very frequently consciously exploits rhythmic regularity, the editors decision to add bar lines to the music does no real violence to the general apprehension of his music, and is no doubt convenient for many modern readers. However, while Janequin’s rhythm is decidedly regular, he frequently constructs phrases with both even and odd numbers of strong beats. Without some adjustment to the notation, this would occasionally lead to the final note in a phrase or piece appearing on the third (weak) beat, which would be foreign indeed to the modern reader. The editor’s (Lesure and Merritt) solution, which is certainly satisfactory, is to score the music with the occasional “long” measure, that is to say, a measure of 6/4 or 9/4. The reader should keep in mind that these are not instances of triple meter. They are simply instances in which the Renaissance suppleness of line does not readily fit into modern bar-lining, and that this suppleness of line has of course precedence in the performance of the music.

V. Metrical notation: triple meter

Passages in triple meter in both editions have been transcribed in two ways: (1) some passages have preserved a duple time signature and rendered the passages by means of triplet figures, while (2) the majority of passages change to a triple time signature, often 3/2. In these cases, the editors have frequently, but not always, provided rhythmic equivalences. After the achievement of the first edition, it became apparent that a literal reading of many of the equivalences offered in the first edition would frequently result in tempos in the triple meter passages which were frankly turgid. Thus in the second edition, this has been rectified, and a numer of the equivalences have been adjusted. These changes were not, however, carried through consistently, and there remain editorial suggestions in the 2nd edition which are in error. Performers may take secure refuge in this area in the knowledge that correct tempos in each case are not determined by mathematical formulæ, but by the expressive intent of the performers and the physical conditions (size of the group, size of the room, etc.) of the performance.