Gilles Binchois (ca 1400-1460) was a Franco-Flemish composer who mainly wrote rondeaux. He is often seen as the third most important of the early Renaissance composers, although his work is the “most frequently used… as a basis for other settings.” (McComb)
He was also known for fauxbourdon, similar to the English faburdon, the movement of parallel first inversion chords to harmonize a chant.
Adieu, Adieu, Mon Joyeux Souvenir (Farewell, my happy memory) was written in the early fifteenth century, as can be seen by several factors, which we will address momentarily.
This chanson can be more specifically classified as a rondeau because it repeats verse one after verse 3 and verse 6.
Signs that put this piece in the early fifteenth century can be seen in the analysis. There are a few spots (m. 2 for instance) that contain parallel 3rds and 6ths. This sounds similar to the contenance anglois, however, at cadential points we still see parallel 4ths (m. 7-8). You also can hear the leading tone #4 to 5 at cadences, coupled with the characteristic voice leading of 1-7-6-1 that is prevalent in this period.
These sounds mixed together during the transitional time between the Ars Nova and the Renaissance, and can be easily narrowed down to the first or second quarter of the 1400s.
The words speak of unrequited courtly love that leaves the author open-mouthed in pain. This type of love is a common theme in early Renaissance works.
This piece is different from many of Binchois’ other chansons in that it is heavier than his other works, lyrically and musically.
“What is especially different from other Binchois chansons, is the unmitigated heaviness of mood; the spider web-thin shafts of sunlight that almost always pierce the gloom are absent. This lament is entirely in colors of auburn and turquoise, thick, and the cadential points, although the music is beautiful, provide pleasant bits of rest, for breath-catching. Whatever mode this chanson is in should be renamed ‘the mode of choked sobs.’” (Mancini)
I chose this piece because it is in typical Binchois style and gives a great snapshot of his output during the early Renaissance.
McComb, Todd M., 2001, Gilles Binchois Biography
Mancini, Donato, Gilles de Bins dit Binchois, Adieu, adieu, mon joyeux souvenir, rondeau for 3 voices, R. 1 Edit
“Gilles Binchois: Adieu, adieu, mon joileux souvenir” Youtube video, 6:35. Posted by deadcalledpark on January 12, 2011