Notes from “Brayssing Favorites on the Ukulele”

All sources are Wikipedia.

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.


A fantasia or fantasie is a musical composition with its roots in the art of improvisation. The term was first applied to music during the 16th century, at first to refer to the imaginative musical “idea” rather than to a particular compositional genre. Its form and style consequently ranges from the freely improvisatory to the strictly contrapuntal, and also encompasses more or less standard sectional forms (i.e. it sometimes but doesn’t always follow the “rules”).

The Fantasie presented in this book is the fifth or shortest of the six fantasies in the original folio.  It should be played using varying tempos and styles to fit the mode of the music.


A pseaulme is a psalm, a sacred song or poem.  Four of the Pseaulmes have been arranged into a single larger work.  Each section is titled with the original latin phrase as follows:

Verba mea                                          My words
In exitu Israel de Aegypto                The exodus of Israel from Egypt
Cum invocarem                                  With invocation
Beati quorum                                      Blessed are they (alternately, For our blessing)


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.

“Helas mon Dieu” is written by French composer Jean Maillard (ca 1520 – 1600) although many sources show the composer as Clément Janequin (ca 1485 – 1558).  Le Roy as well as Brayssing tabulated versions of this song.  The approximate translation is “Alas my God”.  The first phrase of the song is “ton ire s’est tournée vers moi” which means “you anger is turned towards me”.

“Qui souhaitez” is written by French composer Pierre Regnault Sandrin (ca 1490 – after 1561).  The approximate translation is “Who wishes” or “The one who wishes”.

“Au temps heureux” is written by Franco-Flemish composr Jacques Arcadelt (ca 1507 – 1568).  The approximate translation is “In happy times” or “The good times”.


The frottola was the predominant type of Italian popular secular song of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century (1470 to 1530). It was the most important and widespread predecessor to the madrigal.

“O passi sparsy” is written by Italian composer Sebastiano Festa (ca 1490 – 1524).  It is a setting of Petrach’s sonnet.  The approximate translation is “O wandering steps”.

Descriptive Chanson

“L’Alouette” is written by French composer Clément Janequin (ca 1485 – 1558).  It’s considered a descriptive chanson because of its imitation of the singing lark.

The following pieces in the original publication, Quart livre de tabulature de guiterre (1553), are not included in this book.  Some of these arrangements are available online.

  • Fantasie – there are six fantasies and only the fifth one has been arranged
  • Pseaulme “Super flumina” (Psalm “Large Rivers”)
  • Chanson “Voulant honneur” by Pierre Regnault Sandrin (ca 1490 – after 1561)
  • Chanson “Je cherche autant amout” by Fétis Jean Boyvin (dates unknown)
  • Chanson “Un mesnagier vieillard recru d’ahan” by Mathieu Sohier (ca 1501 – 1560).
  • La Guerre (The War)

La Guerre is a lengthy program piece, with military and battle sounds and carries the rubric:

“Veldt schlacht Wieder loblicher Churfurst herzogk Johans Friderich von Sachsen vor Mulberg gefangen ist Worden”

“Pithched battle before Muhlberg in which the honorable elector Johans Friederich von Sachsen was taken prisoner”.

NOTE:  “La Guerre” is available in “A Military Recital on the Ukulele”.