In an earlier post I identified a new concordance for Jean Mouton’s stacked canon En venant de Lyon, which lay basically in plain sight in the choir stalls of Lodi Cathedral. This serendipitous discovery came about from the fact that I have been cataloguing the canonic repertoire from the fourteenth to early sixteenth centuries, and had recalled the melodic profile of Mouton’s canon from other sources when viewing the Lodi panel.
Since around 1983, scholarship has known of a double canon Pourtant si mon amy n’a point de monnaye in the manuscript Uppsala, Universitetsbiblioteket, Vokalmusik I Handskrift 76a, fols. 41v-42r, ascribed to the early sixteenth-century composer Ninot le Petit (actually given as “Minot le petit” – a misreading by the scribe of their source?). Howard Mayer Brown (1983, 1987) and Louise Litterick (2013) both list this chanson as a unicum in the Uppsala chansonnier, that is a piece of notated music lacking any known concordances. Peter Woetmann Christoffersen, who is responsible for a wonderful project producing online editions (and critical commentary) of all the repertoire of the Loire Valley chansonniers and related sources (including the Uppsala chansonnier), also lists this canonic song as recently as an update from 27 February 2019 as a unicum. Christoffersen’s scholarly online edition can be viewed by following this link.
It turns out that Pourtant si mon amy is also found in an early French print. Brown could not have possibly known this fact since it occurs in the early collection of double canons Chansons et Motetz en Canon published by Pierre Attaingnant in Paris around 1528. Although it was suspected since 1961 that such a book existed (though at that time only the last four folios were known), the music world had to wait until 1995 when Ludwig Finscher announced the discovery of a complete copy of the Chansons et Motetz en Canon. (The fact that an edition, whose print run must have run into hundreds of copies, only survives in one complete copy is not an unusual, even though the slim chances of survival of many printed music books from this period, is a slightly distressing thought for music historians. Kate van Orden has recently reflected on this survival rate for early music prints in her book Materialities.)
The reader can compare the online edition of Pourtant si mon amy from Attaingnant’s print (fols. 22v-23r) prepared by Frank Dobbins, Marie-Alexis Colin and Patrice Nicolas with Christoffersen’s (link given above). Note that Dobbins et al. do not reduce original note values, while Christoffersen halves them. The canonic song is transmitted anonymously in Attaingnant’s print. Retaining the attribution from the Uppsala chansonnier to Ninot Le Petit, who wrote another double canon, nonetheless seems plausible. There as several differences in the text of each source and minor differences in the music that will be object of a future study.
Brown, Howard Mayer. 1983. “A “New” Chansonnier of the Early Sixteenth Century in the University Library of Uppsala: A Preliminary Report.” Musica Disciplina no. 37:171-233.
Brown, Howard Mayer. 1987. Uppsala, Universitetsbiblioteket, Vokalmusik I Handskrift 76a, Renaissance Music in Facsimile. New York: Garland.
Finscher, Ludwig. 1995. “Attaingnantdrucke aus einer schesischen Adelsbibliothek.” In Festschrift Klaus Hortschansky zum 60 Geburtstag, edited by A. Beer and L. Lütteken, 33-42. Tutzing: Schneider.
Litterick, Louise. 2013. “Out of the Shadows: The Double Canon ‘En l’ombre d’ung buissonnet’.” In Instruments, Ensembles, and Repertory, 1300-1600, edited by Timothy J. McGee and Stewart Carter, 263-298. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.