Adrian Le Roy (1520 - 1598) composed for both the lute and guitar. Le Roy was also a music publisher, along with Robert Ballard, in Paris. Le Roy and Ballard were the Royal music printers for Kings Henri II, Charles IX, Henri III and Henri IV. 4 books of Le Roy's guitar music were printed in the 1550s, including his Second Livre de Guiterre... in 1555. The 1555 publication appears to be a reprint, as extant copies of Le Roy's 1st and 3rd guitar books are dated 1551 and 1552, respectively (see my Le Roy Premier Livre and Tiers Livre pages for details on those books). So, an original publication date for Second Livre could have been as early as 1551, and one can assume the book was rather popular in its day, to warrant reprinting. Second Livre was published in a series of renaissance guitar books by Le Roy and Ballard in Paris in the 1550s. The series includes 4 guitar books by Le Roy, and Brayssing's guitar book which is discussed here.
Second Livre is a book of songs/chansons set to 4-course guitar music by Le Roy. Unlike Le Roy's Cinqiesme Livre, the authors of the song lyrics (or original melodies) are not credited in Second Livre; however, Le Roy is listed as the author for two songs in Cinqiesme Livre, in addition to composing the guitar parts, so some of the songs in Second Livre may be attributed to Le Roy himself. The song melodies and lyrics are included in the book as late Period mensural notation, with Le Roy's guitar accompaniments provided on separate pages in French Tablature. An interesting feature of this book, is that the guitar part for several of the chansons doubles as a stand-alone dance piece. For example, the chanson Quand j'entens le perdu temps (see below) features a guitar accompaniment that doubles as a stand-alone branle gay. As a result of this style of accompaniment, Second Livre not only contains songs/chansons, but also pavans, galliards, and branles for the renaissance guitar.
Contents of Adrian Le Roy's Second Livre from 1555
Facsimile of I'ay cherche la science from Le Roy's Second Livre (1555). Lyrics and mensural notation on the left page, with the guitar part (french tablature) on the right. The mensural notation is on the C Clef, and the song is written in the key of F (1 flat). The guitar part, however, works out to be in the key of D (2 sharps). This arrangement of publishing vocal parts and guitar/lute parts in different keys is common in the period guitar and lute song books. The vocalist would simply have followed the pitch of the guitar/lute accompaniment. In transcribing the I'ay cherche la science, I set the piece to 2/4 meter, which allowed me to reconcile the note values between the vocal and guitar part by doubling the note values of the guitar part (lute and guitar music published in French tablature often had the note values halved) and halving the mensural notation values. The result was a transcription where the vocal part and guitar part had the same number of measures... which is an obvious goal when transcribing guitar songs! To reconcile the key signature differences between the vocal and guitar parts, the guitar part may be played with a capo at the 3rd fret. See below for my transcription of the song.
Transcription of I'ay cherche la science from Adrian Le Roy's Second Livre (1555). Transcribed to modern staff notation and tablature by Johann von Solothurn.
Facsimile of the mensural notation and lyrics of I'ay cherche la science from Le Roy (1555)
Transcription of the mensural notation alone is mostly straightforward. Note from the facsimile above that, for the most part, syllabication of the lyrics to corresponding notes is not indicated in the original publication. There are cues, however - note that lyrical phrases are grouped together between rests in the mensural notation above. So, we have at least a starting and ending point for the musical and lyrical phrases to work with. See below for my transcription of the mensural notation, in its original key, along with my pairing of notes to lyrics. This is my interpretation and preference for the lyrics, but the singer may wish to experiment and come up with other, equally valid, interpretations - with the exception of the start/end notes/syllables for each phrase, as mentioned above, and with the pairing of "blessu-re" on the second line of the mensural notation, which is clearly indicated in the original.
Staff notation and first verse lyrics to I'ay cherche la science from Second Livre (Adrian Le Roy, 1555). Transcribed by Johann von Solothurn.
Facsimile of Quand j'entens from Le Roy's Second Livre (1555). Lyrics and mensural notation on the left page, with the guitar part (french tablature) on the right.
The mensural notation is on the C Clef, and the song is written in the key of F (1 flat). The guitar part, once again, works out to be in the key of D (2 sharps). As mentioned above, period lute and guitar songs were often printed with guitar/lute parts and vocal parts in different keys, likely to reduce printing costs. In transcribing Quand j'entens, I doubled the note values of the guitar part and halved the note values in depicted in the mensural notation to reconcile the note values between the vocal and guitar parts (lute and guitar music published in French tablature often had the note values halved for ease of printing). This was necessary to transcribe the vocal and guitar parts together on a single sheet (to provide a useable arrangement for the modern performer). In practice in period, an experienced guitarist would have recognized the meter and adjusted to the vocalist (resulting in a combined performance as depicted on my transcription below). To reconcile the key signature differences between the vocal and guitar parts, the guitar part may be played with a capo at the 3rd fret. In practice, a period singer would have sung to the pitch of the guitar (or the guitar would have been tuned to a pitch suitable for the vocalist). See below for my transcription of the song. Also note that the guitar accompaniment for the song doubles as a Branle Gay, and makes a nice instrumental solo.
After playing this piece by Le Roy from 1555, one can hear Adrian Le Roy's influence on the music of John Dowland. Dowland uses the same repetitive rhythm of Quand j'entens in his lute song "Now O Now I Needs Must Part" from 1597 (see my Dowland 1st Book page for a performance of Now O Now). Dowland spent time in France during Le Roy's lifetime, and no doubt was exposed to Le Roy's music while in France. There are other examples of Le Roy's influence in Dowland's compositions (e.g. the intro of Le Roy's 2nd guitar Fantasie and the intro to Dowland's lute Fantasie #7, etc.).
In the facsimile of the mensural notation above, note the use of the signum congruentiae :
The signum congruentiae was often used to indicate where all voices/parts come together (or sometimes where they diverge). However, the signum congruentiae is used in a variety of ways in various period compositions. In late period lute/guitar manuscripts, the signum congruentiae is often used indicate repetition where the signum receptionis ( :||: ) is not sufficient for the composers intent. See my Le Roy 1554 book page for an example of the signum congruentiae being used effectively as an early form of the dal segno al coda construct. In Quand j'entens, the symbol is used to indicate a repetition of the last 8 "measures" of the mensural notation. Comparing the mensural notation to the guitar part for this song, it is obvious that this is the intended use of the symbol, as otherwise, the vocal part would be 8 measures shorter than the guitar part! So, for this piece, there is a repeat at the end of the vocal part (mensural notation), but the guitar accompaniment is through-composed (no repeats).
Transcription of Quand j'entens from Adrian Le Roy's Second Livre (1555). Transcribed to modern staff notation and tablature by Johann von Solothurn.
Facsimile of mensural notation and lyrics for Quand j'entens from Adrian Le Roy (1555)
Staff notation and lyrics (1st and 2nd vs) to Quand j'entens from Second Livre (Adrian Le Roy, 1555). Transcribed by Johann von Solothurn.