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A chanson by Claude le Jeune (1528-1600) of France. Scored for five voices, but the voices can be accompanied (or replaced, for that matter) by instruments.

This chanson is most significant in that it represents the short-lived Académie de Poésie et de Musique (founded in 1570 by King Charles IX) of which le Jeune was a major member. This Academy was interested in, among other things, setting strophic French verses in ancient classical meters (vers mesurés à l'antique). Remember, we're in the thick of the Renaissance!

The result, at least in le Jeune's music, is that the musical setting of poetry is generally isorhythmic, repeating the same rhythmic pattern over and over. As it happens, isorhythm is one of the defining elements of le Jeune's style, whether it be in his secular works or sacred (there was, still in this time, a significant gap between the two in terms of approach and even propriety).

As mentioned, the chanson is scored for five voices. The refrain -- or rechant -- is always sung by five voices, whereas the strophes -- or chants -- are sung, successively, by two, three, four, and five voices. Below is the text, in an archaic but readable French, with translation:

Revecy venir du Printans             Here again comes the Spring
L'amoureuz' et belle saizon          the amorous and fair season.

Le courant des eaus recherchant      The currents of water that seek
Le canal d'été s'éclaircît;          the canal in summer become clearer;
Et la mer calme de ces flots         and the calm sea the waves'
Amolit le triste courrous:           sad anger soothes.
Le Canard s'egaye plonjant           The duck, elated, dives
Et se lave coint dedans l'eau;       and washes itself quietly in the water.
Et la grû' qui fourche son vol       And the crane that branches off in flight
Retraverse l'air et s'en va.         recrosses the air and flies away.

Revecy venir du Printans             Here again comes the Spring,
L'amoureuz' et belle saizon          the amorous and fair season.

Le Soleil éclaire luizant            The sun shines brightly
D'une plus Séreine clairté:          with a calmer light.
Du nuage l'ombre s'enfuit,           The shadow of the cloud vanishes
Qui se ioû' et court et noircît.     from him who sports and runs and darkens.
Et foretz et champs et coutaus       Forests and fields and slopes
Le labeur humain reverdît,           human labor makes green again,
Et la prê' découvre ses fleurs       and the prairie unveils its flowers.

Revecy venir du Printans             Here again comes the Spring,
L'amoureuz' et belle saizon.         the amorous and fair season.

De Venus le filz Cupidon             Cupid, the son of Venus
L'univers semant de ses trais        seeding the universe with his arrows,
De sa flamme va réchaufér,           with his flame will rekindle
Animaus, qui volet en l'air,         animals that fly in the air,
Animaus, qui rampet au chams         animals that crawl in the fields,
Animaus, qui naget aux eaus          animals that swim in the seas.
Ce qui mesmement ne sent pas         Even those that feel not
Amoureux se fond de plaizir.         in love they melt in pleasure.

Revecy venir du Printans             Here again comes the Spring,
L'amoureuz' et belle saizon.         the amorous and fair season.

Rion aussi nous: et cherchon         Let us, too, laugh, and let us seek
Les ébas et ieus du Printans         the sports and games of Spring:
Toute chose rit de plaizir:          everything smiles with pleasure;
Sélebron la gaye saizon,             let us celebrate the merry season.

Revecy venir du printans             Here again comes the Spring,
L'amoureuz' et belle saizon.         the amorous and fair season.

The chanson, in typical late Renaissance fashion, is pretty clear about its tonality of F major. It follows voice-leading principles pretty strictly, so, in order to break up the monotony that isorhythm, monotonality, and strophic verse-setting conspire together to create, le Jeune ornaments the inner voices with short melismatic figures. Again, this is another characteristic of le Jeune's style, except that it looks back to earlier Renaissance and Medieval models, as opposed to classical ones. The result is a madrigal-like setting, the quick ornamental notes in the inner voices suggesting "giggling" not un-befitting for the generally optimistic tone of the piece.

If you listen to NPR at all, you've probably heard it. It's a particular favorite of the NPR station here in Omaha, which plays it every time the spring fund-drive comes around. The piece may also be performed in modern times by recorder consorts, often at a grossly heightened tempo. Well, all the more power to them, I guess.

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