Errant par les champs de la grace
Supplement musical to the 1552 edition of Les amours de P de Ronsard Vandomoys, ensemble le cinquiesme de ses Odes, 1552
The last of the early pieces from the 1552 edition of the Amours: this is a setting of the Ode which made Ronsard’s name, the monumental Ode to the Chancellor of France. Goudimel’s setting is remarkable for the low voices: all four voices range over no more than two-and-a-half octaves, and the distribution is alto-tenor-tenor-low bass – though the first tenor has a rather higher tessitura in the Epode.The recorded extract uses a viol consort to realise the lower voices, with a single voice above – I’ve chosen the opening quatrain, showing the artfully-varied repeat of the opening music in the second couplet.
Goudimel seeks to match Ronsard’s objectives in his setting: for instance, the music of the second couplet reflects, but is not identical to, that of the first; he (mostly) avoids repeating words or lines; he re-uses small melodic motifs in the same way that Ronsard uses internal rhymes, alliteration, etc to bind the song together. And of course he provides a setting which mirrors the classical form used by Ronsard – a strophe whose music is repeated for the anti-strophe, just as the rhythms and rhyme-scheme of the strophe are repeated in the anti-strophe; and then a concluding epode which rounds off the setting.
The helpful 1552 editor suggests that anyone wishing to sing the entire Ode (!) should simply repeat the 3-verse musical setting as many times as necessary: Ronsard’s text allows this, but as there are 24 sequences of strophe-antistrophe-epode in the poem, and the sequence takes around five minutes to sing, singing the whole ode would take something over 2 hours!
In transcribing Tiersot’s version, I have taken the liberty of normalising the text underlay in a few places to fit the ‘standard’ rules; though Goudimel doesn’t help (especially in the epode) by regularly having one more note than he has syllables! I’ve kept the halved note-values Tiersot uses.