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UBC Theses and Dissertations

’Fumeur’ poetry and music of the Chantilly codex : a study of its meaning and background Unruh, Patricia


This thesis examines the humorous poetry and music of two compositions in the late fourteenth-century Chantilly Codex, Musee Conde 564. These works, a two-voiced ballade by Hasprois, Puisque Je Sui Fumeux (no.47), and a three-voiced rondeau by Solage, Fumeux Fume, owe the humour of their texts to a play on the word fumeux. Commentaries on these pieces have associated them with works of the poet Deschamps (1346-c.1406), which describe the strange habits of a group of people called fumeurs, and over whom he was a self-styled 'emperor'. Little is known about this group beyond what is revealed in Deschamps' poems, but no detailed critical examination has been made even of this, either from a literary or a musicological point of view. A broader understanding of the Chantilly poems and music can be gained, by examining the medieval meanings of fumeux, and by taking account of the literary traditions and social background of the fumeur poems. The purpose of this thesis is to make such an examination, and to relate the insights gained to the music poetry of the Chantilly compositions. Chapter one includes an examination of the late medieval meanings of the word fumeux and its derivatives, a commentary on fumeur works of Deschamps, their place within fourteenth-century literary tradition, and the social background to which they were relevant. The poems are: La Chartre des Fumeux, D'une aultre Commission d' un Chien, Cy Parle d' une Sentence Donne'e Contre Aucuns de Vitry pour un Debat Meu Soudainement Entr'Eulx, CEst la Commission des Loups d'Esparqnay sur la Riviere de Marne, and Ballade 813: Sur sa Nature Melancolique. Deschamps' possible connections with fourteenth-century patrons and musicians are examined. Finally, the fumeur poems in Chantilly are discussed in the light of what is known of other fumeur works. Chapter two analyses the fumeur musical settings in Chantilly and discusses possible relationships between them and their texts. For Fumeux Fume, this also involves examining its connection with speculative extensions of the hexachord described in the treatise Berkeley, MS. 744. Chapter three summarizes all preceding findings and speculates on the links between the author of the Berkeley Manuscript and Solage. The study produces the following conclusions. In the late middle ages, a person who was fumeux had a number of qualities. He was moody, excitable, garrulous, irascible, vague, a pontificator, melancholy, and immoderate in drinking habits, which aggravated the other qualities. These meanings are metaphoric, deriving from fumosus, meaning "smokey", but they also have a physiological basis, related to the concept of the humours. Deschamps' poems describe people who have fumeux qualities, but most of the poems are also dramatic monologues that parody legal documents. They may therefore be linked with the new but growing class of lawyers, the Basochiens, who formed mock hierarchies resembling that of the fumeurs, and who were responsible for the development of French comic theatre. Deschamps' fumeurs were probably based in the Marne region of France, where the poet was a magistrate, between about 1367 and 1388. It is not clear how musicians could have been involved with the fumeurs, but another poem by Deschamps proves that he was also known as fumeux to members of the nobility, and therefore possibly to the musicians whom they patronized. Some likely patrons include Giangaleazzo Visconti, Valentine Visconti, Louis d'Orle'ans and Pierre de Navarre. Besides Hasprois and Solage, musicians who can be associated with Deschamps include Andrieu and Ja. de Noyon, known through the Chantilly Codex, and a minstrel, Platiau. Both fumeur compositions of Chantilly have musical settings at variance with their texts: Puisque Je Sui Fumeux, is a pseudo-learned defense of fumosite, while its music has moments of triviality. Perverse dissonances and numerous changes of rhythm within a small time-frame contribute to its mad effect. Fumeux Fume has a cryptic, concetrated text, but a setting that is full of melisma. A mad effect is created by its remorseless sequences, abnormally low range and unusual chromaticism. "New" notes used to achieve this effect conform closely enough to innovations described in the Berkeley Manuscript for it to have been a "test-piece" for theoretical ideas. As such, it could also have been considered "fumous". As apologies for folly, the fumeur poems belong to a tradition of "fooling" whose practices were becoming widespread. Their musical settings should be understood within this context.

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