Notes from “Gorlier Favorites on the Ukulele”

All sources are Wikipedia.

Simon Gorlier (flourished 1550-84) was a musician and French composer and an active bookseller and printer in Lyon. He could not be linked to the Lyon consular family of Grolier. Most musical editions printed by Simon Gorlier are lost and reported only in bookseller catalogs or bibliographies of the time. His sole surviving works for guitar are in Troysieme livre de tabulature de guiterne (1551) which was published by Morlaye in Paris. In the dedication Gorlier wrote apologetically of the four-course guitar and his reasons for composing for an inferior instrument, saying that he wanted to show that it was as capable as larger instruments of reproducing music in two or three parts.  He also played the spinet.

Chansons and Motets

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.

“Mamie un jour” is written by French composer Pierre Certon (ca 1515 – 1572).

“Ce qui est plus en ce monde amy” is written by French composer Pierre Regnault Sandrin (ca 1490 – after 1561).  Approximate translation is “What’s more in this friendly world”.

“Si iay du bien” or “Si j’ai du bien, helas” is written by French composer Maille (fl 1539 – 1549). Approximate translation is “If I have any good, alas”.

“Je suis desheritée” is written by French composer Pierre Cadéac (fl 1538 – 1558), but is attributed or dedicated to Jacotin (surname unknown) by Simon Gorlier.

“Il ne se trouve en amytié” is written by French composer Pierre Regnault Sandrin (ca 1490 – after 1561). Approximate translation is “He does not find friendship”.

“Je n’ay point plus d’affection” is written by French composer Claudin de Sermisy (ca 1490 – 1562).  Approximate translation is ”I have no more affection”.

“La voulonté” is written by French composer Pierre Regnault Sandrin (ca 1490 – after 1561).  Translation is “The will”.

“Estantz assis aux rives aquatiques” has an anonymous composer. Approximate translation is “Seated on the waterfront”.

“Pourquoy sont bruit et s’assemblent les gens” has an anonymous composer but is also attributed to Claude Le Jeune (ca 1529 – 1600).  Approximate translation “Why are people gathering and making noise?”.

A motet is a mainly vocal musical composition, of highly diverse form and style (i.e. a piece of music in several parts with words) and was one of the pre-eminent polyphonic forms of Renaissance music.

“Le Duo de Benedicta” (Per illud ave prolatum) is composed by French composer Josquin des Prez (died 1521).  The complete name of the six-voice motet is Benedicta es, caelorum regina.

Canons and Duo

A canon is a contrapuntal (counterpoint-based) compositional technique that employs a melody with one or more imitations of the melody played after a given duration (e.g., quarter rest, one measure, etc.). The initial melody is called the leader (or dux), while the imitative melody, which is played in a different voice, is called the follower (or comes).

The arrangements in this book are for one performer, however, they can easily be played as duets with repeats so that the performers can exchange parts.

In the first Canon (In subdyapenté), the follower part comes in 2 bars later and mimics the leader part but a fifth lower in pitch.  While difficult to see in the original folio (see the original folio for this piece at the start of this book), it becomes more obvious in modern musical notation with note stems up for the leader part and stems down for the follower part.

Autre Canon has a similar structure but the follower part is only 1 bar after the leader part.

Duo is a duet, but not in the style of a canon.  The two parts compliment each other.

The following pieces in the original publication, Troisieme livre de tabulature de guiterne (1551), are not included in this book.  Some of these arrangements are available online.

  • Chanson Qui souhaitez”
  • La bataille de Marignan (The battle of Marignano) by Clément Janequin is a lengthy four-part chanson.  It is a showpiece impressively arranged by Gorlier for the four-course guitar.

NOTE:  “La bataille de Marignan” is available in “A Military Recital on the Ukulele”.