Composer: Johannes Ockeghem (1410?-1497)

Piece: L’autre d’antan (The Other Year)

Date: 1487

Form: Chanson

Texture: Polyphonic

Text: Anonymous rondeau

Ockeghem’s chanson, L’autre d’antan, is in a more popular style of poetry than many of the courtly chansons. This informal love song tells in a simple, direct manner how the lover was first conquered, then rejected. The fair one’s glance that pierced his defenses was “forged in Milan”; a reference to the town that made the best armor and swords. One line from the chanson, “Puis apres nostre amour cessa” (And then our love ended), echoes a sentiment that resounds through popular poetry and song to our very day.

The text utilizes the poetic form of the rondeau (as in Machaut’s Puis qe’en oubli). This example features a six-line refrain for the opening stanza which is partially repeated in the middle of the poem, and in full at the end. The music fits this intricate scheme, consisting of two sections that are repeated according to the repetition in the poem.

The chanson opens with imitative counterpoint which is maintained until the end. The text setting is largely syllabic, with some melismas near the end of phrases. In this recording two parts are sung while the bottom one is played on a bowed-stringed instrument. The two sung voices sing in the same range, with much crisscrossing of parts. This music is in a much older style than some of Ockegem’s contemporaries as is indicated by the hollow sounding cadences on intervals of the fifth and octave rather than on the more mellow thirds and sixths.