Gilles Binchois: “Adieu, adieu, mon joileux souvenir,” “Triste plaisir et douleureuse joye”

Gilles Binchois (1400-1460)

Gilles Binchois was a 15th century Franco-Flemish composer.  Along with Dunstable and Dufay, Binchois was one of the three leading musical figures of the first half of the 15th century.

The first important chanson composer was Machaut.  His chansons were written for a treble voice with two, three, or four parts, and were rhythmically iregular with ornamented melodic lines.  Then came the chansons of the Burgundian school with composers such as Dufay and Binchois.  Dufay and Binchois’ chansons are mostly about courtly love.  They are more refined than earlier chansons.  Later on in the 15th century the chansons of Dufay and Binchois became more homogeneous in texture.  About a third of the chansons by Binchois are written in four parts, which was standard by c.1500.

Here are two chansons by Gilles Binchois.  The first is called “Adieu, adieu, mon joleux souvenir,” and the second is called “Triste plaisir et douleureuse joye.”  The poem that “Triste plaisir” uses as its text is by Alain Chartier (1385-1433).  The musicians are Lena Susanne Norin (Alto), Randall Cook (viol’ da gamba/Vielle/fiddle) and Susanne Ansorg (Rebec/fiddle). 

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John Dunstable (1380-1453) – Sancta Maria

John Dunstable (1380-1453)

John Dunstable was an English composer of polyphonic music (a style of music which consists of two or more relatively independent musical lines that sound simultaneously).  Dunstable was active as a composer from the late medieval period until the early Renaissance.  He was very well known as a composer in England and across Europe.

The motet Sancta Maria by Dunstable is full of triadic harmony (chordal harmony) and sounds quite modern for its time.  A lot of music back then was based on modes (early scales), and harmony as we now know it didn’t exist at that time.  The main musical line in the motet is taken by the Tenor voice.