Notes from “A Trove of Chansons on the Ukulele”

Selection of Music for this Book

All the pieces in this book were written for the Renaissance guitar and were included in 9 surviving books published by Adrian Le Roy and Guillaume Morlaye:

Premier livre de tabulature de guiterre (1551) — Cinquiesme livre de guiterre en tabulature (1554)
Premier livre en tabulature de guiterne (1552) — Quatriesme livre en tabulature de guiterne (1552)

Some of the pieces have already been arranged and included in books from Ancient Music for Ukulele:

  • Favourites of Le Roy on the Ukulele (Books 1 and 2)
  • Favourites of Morlaye on the Ukulele (Books 1 and 2)
  • Favorites of Brayssing on the Ukulele
  • Favourites or Arcadelt on the Ukulele

Where a chanson has been written or arranged by multiple composers, only one of them has been included in this book or arrangements.

Notes on the Composers and Pieces

All sources are Wikipedia.

Chansons are songs.  The earliest chansons were for two, three or four voices, with first three becoming the norm, expanding to four voices by the 16th century. The Parisian Chansons began in 1520 and were lighter and chordal with melodies in the upper most line. Sometimes, the singers were accompanied by instruments, often lutes. The general subject matter was courtly love.  Words to these chansons or songs can be found online.

Adrian Le Roy (c.1520–1598) became an accomplished musician and entered the service of, first, Claude de Clermont, then, Jacques II (Baron de Semblançay and Viscount of Tours), both members of the aristocracy who had influence at court. Le Roy and his cousin Robert Ballard founded the printing firm “Le Roy & Ballard”, and in August 1551 obtained a royal privilege from Henry II to print music. Royal patronage was a major factor in the company’s success since it ensured both a ready supply of new music from the court musicians and a market for its publications. Over the following two decades other rival companies dropped out of the market and from the 1570s onwards Le Roy & Ballard enjoyed a virtual monopoly in music publishing. Le Roy achieved renown as a composer and arranger of songs and instrumentals, his published work including at least six books of tablature for the lute, five volumes for the guitar and arrangements for the cittern. Le Roy’s book L’Instruction pour la mandore gives modern historians hints as to the instrument’s origins and design.

“Pour m’eslongner” has approximate translation “To get away” or “For my escape”.

“Je ne veux plus à mon mal consentir” is written by Franco-Flemish composer Jacques Arcadelt (ca 1507 – 1568) and has approximate translation is “I no longer consent to my evil”.

“J’ay cherché la science” is written by Belgian/Dutch composer Orlando di Lasso (ca 1532 – 1594) and has approximate translation “I seek knowledge”.

“Oyez tous amoureux” has approximate translation “Hear all in love” or “Hear all lovers”.

“Mon dieu vostre pitié” has approximate translation “My god, your pity”.

“Un advocat dit a sa femme” is written by Belgian/Dutch composer Orlando di Lasso (ca 1532 – 1594) and has approximate translation “A lawyer says to his wife”.

“Jean de Lagny” was a French theologian (died 1549).

“Pour un plaisir que si peu dure” is written by French composer Claudin de Sermisy (ca 1490 – 1562) and has poetic transition “For a pleasure so fleeting”.

“La la la je ne l’ose dire” is written by French composer Pierre Certon (ca 1515 – 1572) and has approximate translation “La la la I don’t dare say it”.

Gregoire Brayssing (flourished 1547-60) was born in Augsburg in Bavaria.  He left the after the victory of Charles V over Elector Johann Friedrich of Saxony at Mühlberg in 1547.  He was a lute and guitar player and composer active in France in the period 1547-1560.  His sole surviving works for guitar are in Quart livre de tabulature de guiterre (1553) which was published by Le Roy in Paris.  Little else is known about him.

“Voulant honneur” is written by xxxxxxxx composer Pierre Regnault Sandrin (ca 1490 – after 1561) and has approximate translation “Desiring honor”.

“Un mesnagier vieillard recru d’ahan” is written by xxxxx composer Mathieu Sohier (ca 1501 – 1560) and has translation “An old housekeeper worn out and out of breath”.

Jacques Arcadelt (ca 1507 – 1568), also known as Jacob Arcadelt and identified in the book by Le Roy as Arcadet) was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, active in both Italy and France, and principally known as a composer of secular vocal music. Although he also wrote sacred vocal music, he was one of the most famous of the early composers of madrigals. He was equally prolific and adept at composing chansons, particularly late in his career when he lived in Paris.

All of the chansons by Arcadelt are in the publication “Favourites of Arcadelt on the Ukulele”.  Six other chansons in the original book Cinquiesme livre de guiterre en tabulature (1554) have been arranged and are available for free (visit the Ancient Music for Ukulele website).

Guillaume Morlaye (ca 1510 – 1558) was a French Renaissance era lutenist, composer and music publisher. He was a pupil of Albert de Rippe and lived and worked in Paris. In 1552 he received a ten-year license to publish music from Henry II, and between 1553 and 1558 published four lute collections in cooperation with Michel Fezandat and six lute collections compiled by Albert de Rippe. He also published three books of his own four-course Renaissance guitar compositions during 1552–53, including fantasies and dances, and also lute arrangements of Pierre Certon and Claudin de Sermisy. Besides his music publishing activities, Morlaye was reported to have engaged in the slave trade, although reliable evidence for this is scant.

“Ce qui m’est deu et ordonné” is written by French composer Pierre Regnault Sandrin (ca 1490 – after 1561) and has translation “What is mine and destined”.

“Regretz, soucy et peine” is written by French composer Guillaume Le Heurteur (fl. 1530-1545) and has translation “Regrets, worry and sorrow”.

“Je ne sçay pas comment” has translation “I don’t know how”.

“Mais pourquoy” is written by French composer Pierre Regnault Sandrin (ca 1490 – after 1561) and has translation “But why”.

“Si j’ay du bien” has translation “If I have what it takes”.