Du Metz and “Catin”: Confusion in Lyon, Paris, and Antwerp

The burlesque romp included in Chansons polyphoniques as LM116 “Ung jour Catin” is known from three sources: it appears in Jacques Moderne’s Difficile II collection in 1544 with an attribution to Du Metz; it is in Attaingnant’s Dixseptiesme collection from 1545, attributed to Janequin; and it appears again in a manuscript assembled in the Low Countries around 1564, BolQ26, again with an attribution to Janequin.

Attribution RISM Cat. Publisher Collection Location
(a) Du Metz 15449 M40 Moderne Difficile des chansons II no. 22, fol. 27
(b) Jannequin 154510 A126 Attaingnant Dixseptiesme…en 2 vol. no. 12, fol. ix–v[1]
(c) Janequin BolQ26 (ca. 1564, Low Countries) no. 54, fol. 102r

If Jacques Moderne’s composer attribution is correct, then we are in the presence of an otherwise unknown composer whose style is virtually indistinguishable from that of Clément Janequin. If, as was often the case, Jacques Moderne’s composer attribution is incorrect, we are nevertheless faced with the solitary occurrence of a Janequin chanson appearing in print with Moderne in Lyon before it appears from the presses of the publisher who normally printed Janequin’s first editions, Pierre Attaingnant in Paris—a jarring exception to the usual pattern.

BolQ26 essentially compounds the confusion. Copied in the Netherlands around 1564, two of the sixty-one pieces in the manuscript are in Dutch and four are in Italian; the remaining texts are in French, but judging from the scribe’s occasional linguistic struggles, this was perhaps not his mother tongue.[2] Drawing heavily on Attaingnant’s Dixseptiesme livre (RISM 154510), it includes two chansons correctly attributed to Janequin (LM112, LM117), one chanson demonstrably by Janequin but without attribution (LM113), a chanson by Fresneau without attribution incorrectly attributed to Janequin by Attaingnant in 154510 (LM114), the contested “Ung jour cattin” (LM116) attributed to “Janequin,” and finally a chanson with the hopelessly garbled incipit “Ung catin vinst a catin,” also credited to “Jannequin” (folio 89 verso). As such, BolQ26 provides little help in untangling the Moderne/Attaingnant primacy issue concerning “Ung jour Catin.”

In 1540, Jacques Moderne published a collection with the suggestive but cryptic title Le Difficile des chansons, which can perhaps be translated as “advanced partsongs.”[3] The chansons in this collection, all by Janequin, were lifted from two Attaingnant publications: the shorter chansons are from Attaingnant’s Huitiesme livre (1540), and the descriptive chansons, which had been previously published on several occasions, could well have been copied from Attaingnant’s Les Chansons de la guerre, etc. of 1537.

In 1544, Moderne brought out a follow-up volume entitled Le Difficile des chansons, Second livre. Although the title again suggests that this was a repertory aimed at an “advanced” clientele, only one descriptive chanson (Fleche’s “Batailla en Spagnol”) appears. The remainder of the collection is devoted to chansons of standard length and profile, a majority of which are by a composer thought to have Lyon connections, Henri Fresneau. Only one of the twenty-six chansons in Difficile second is attributed to Janequin, the otherwise unknown “Une Deesse en ce temps cy” (no. 19, folio 24). “Vng iour Katin” appears on folio 27 of the Difficile second, with an attribution to Du Metz, a name that does not appear in any other known sixteenth-century musical context.

The following year, Pierre Attaingnant published a collection, the Dixseptiesme livre contenant xix chansons legeres (RISM 154510), that shares four titles with Moderne’s Difficile second of 1544.

Chanson Title Moderne 15449 Attaingnant 154510
“Ung Cordelier”/“Quelque frappart” Eresneau [sic] (no. 4, fol. 11) Jannequin (no. 8, fol. vii-v)
“Ung labourer sa iournee” Fresneau (no. 13, fol. 19) Senserre (no. 5, fol. iiii-v)
“Tenot estoit en son cloz” Fresneau (no. 14, fol. 20) Senserre (no. 13, fol. x-v)
“Ung jour Catin” Du Metz (no. 22, fol. 27) Jannequin (no. 12, fol. ix-v)

As noted, since many chansons attributed to Henri Fresneau appear in publications of Jacques Moderne, it has been suggested that this composer had ties to Lyon.[4] We are thus in imminent danger of circularity if, considering Fresneau and Du Metz to be Lyon figures, we suggest that Moderne’s attributions to Fresneau and Du Metz carry more weight than Attaingnant’s suggestions from Paris. Attaingnant’s own attributions in this period, however, are less than consistently impressive. His assignments to Sancerre (Santerre, Senserre) are difficult to corroborate, and the death of Attaingnant’s partner and son-in-law Hubert Jullet (before April of 1545) was an event from which Attaingnant’s firm never fully recovered, and one that conceivably affected both the quality of the work and the accuracy of the attributions.

In any case, two alternatives present themselves. If we accept the primacy and reliability of Moderne’s Difficile II attributions from 1544, we should then (1) remove LM116 “Ung jour Catin” from the Janequin canon and (2) add the unicum “Une deese en ce temps ci.”

If this solution seems unsatisfactory, involving as it does the only known example of a first edition of a Janequin chanson being given to a non-Parisian printer, then we must posit an earlier, now-lost Attaingnant printing of LM116 “Ung jour Catin.” This earlier edition, perhaps from around 1535, subsequently made its way to Lyon, where Moderne, as he was wont to do, included pieces from it in one of his own publications, at the same time as he managed to corrupt the attributions involved (as he was also wont to do). Since the style of “Ung jour Catin” is archetypically Janequin, and since Moderne’s record of reliability concerning attributions is demonstrably less impressive than Attaingnant’s, Lesure and Merritt have opted to retain this chanson in the canon, and I concur.

  1. RISM 154511 (A127) is the same collection in one volume instead of two.
  2. Only the quintus and bassus partbooks are preserved, in the Museo internazionale e biblioteca della musica in Bologna (formerly the Civico museo bibliografica musicale). On the handwriting and dating of BolQ26 (and its relationship to WhalleyS 23 and Leuven M4) see Frans Boendermaker, “Een collectie Antwerpse stemboeken” (Utrecht, 2011); and Martin Ham, “The Stonyhurst College Partbooks, the Madrigal Society, and a Diplomatic Gift to Edward VI,” Tijdschrift van de Koninklijke Vereniging Voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis 63, no. 1/2 (2013): 154.
  3. On the dating of Difficile I see Laurent Guillo, Les Éditions Musicales de La Renaissance Lyonnaise, Domaine Musicologique 9 (Paris: Klincksieck, 1991), 240.
  4. See Pogue, Jacques Moderne, 67.