Sheet music printable and free for your vocalists, guitarists, and pianists - three versions! Mignonne allons is a mesmerizing song from the French Renaissance. If you don't know if your students would like Renaissance music, have them listen to the Youtube videos on this page...
Isn't that beautiful? This lute-vocal duo has a number of albums available at their website, Mignarda. This particular song is also available at Amazon on an album by the name of Divine Amarillis: Airs de Court 1570-1640
No, I have not written up sheet music printable for the lovely lute accompaniment. If you want a 4-part arrangement of this piece, go to a page associated with The Society for Creative Anachronisms where there is much great early music transcribed and downloadable for free. (You will have to hunt around a bit.) A fellow named Steven Hendricks, along with several others, took the time to write up nice arrangements of this and many other popular Renaissance pieces. The site is a wonderful resource for public domain music, music that has been in the public domain for hundreds of years!
I did notice, after my students and I had done some floundering with the lyrics, that Steve's sheet music printable version didn't fit the notes exactly. Therefore, I re-wrote the PDFs of this song, but haven't got to the graphics yet. (There are only four very minor changes.)
The printable sheet music I have here is the melody line (treble clef, and also guitar tablature), plus chord suggestions, and also a piano arrangement.
Knowing just a little bit of French, a person can see that the translation is very good indeed, in fact, almost word for word. The song speaks of the briefness of beauty, shown by the fading hue of the rose, which is like his lovely mistress's cheek... There is only a breath of time in which those who are young can enjoy their youth. Therefore, seize the moment -- seize it!
The translation above is from the site Society for Creative Anachronisms.
The male vocalist in the following Youtube video gives a very strong performance, very enjoyable:
Fabulous! He sings on a recording called The King's Singers' Madrigal History Tour.
A very simple guitar chord, plucked and never varying, can give a good impression of a lute accompaniment. I think a guitar accompaniment is all that was used in this recording.
To duplicate it, use the notes of an "open" Em chord (that is, the notes "E" and "B" only, without the third of the chord, "G"). E, B, High E, B, and repeat. That is, fret 2 E on the D string, string B, high string E, back to string B, back down to fret 2 E on the D string.
The key of Dm also works: use open string D, followed by fret 2 A on the G string, then fret 3 D on the B string.
Sheet music printable for Mignonne allons in Am, with guitar tablature
Guitar Tablature for Mignonne allons in Dm
Mignonne allons in Em
You may not agree with the measure of rest, the feeling of pause, at measure 13. Well, I fell in love with it, listening to Mignarda. But take it out if you like the flow better without it.
Here is a sheet music printable arrangement for piano. This does not use all the chords heard in the first video, but I like the simplicity of my arrangement here, as I didn't want too much heaviness from the piano:
Mignonne allons with piano arrangement in Cm
Printable sheet music Mignonne allons with piano arrangement in Dm
Printable piano music Mignonne allons in Em
The first version I ever heard of this moving Renaissance song was from a recording given to me by my daughter called La Rocque 'n' Roll - Popular Music of Renaissance France / The Baltimore Consort. It is a fun recording, mostly with vocals by this soprano, but also drums, pipes, and viols of some sort. Very energetic - Renaissance rock music! I can listen to it over and over again.
Big question: How do you pronounce the French words?
If you have no background in French, get thee to a library and check out all the books and recordings you can! Show your music students how a self-starter does it!
French looks very daunting... a "slippery sort of language," as Jo March says in Little Women (which lack of appreciation cost her a much-coveted trip to France with her Aunt Josephine). Use the books and CDs that work for you, and return the rest!
Personally, I have really enjoyed the recordings of Michel Thomas, who was a French Resistance fighter in World War II. But it is an audio course, not text-based, so you also need a guide that will help you look at a cluster of letters and derive the correct pronunciation from them.
One of the best helps is to listen to native French singers, of course... and there are many to be found on Youtube (though I do not think any of the singers among my Youtube examples on this page are native French speakers).
Be aware that although in everyday speech French words are usually shortened, with final "s" and other consonants and vowels, too, not pronounced, yet in singing, those one-syllable words will frequently turn into two syllables, like Spanish and Italian. The word "chante," for example (sing), ordinarily pronounced "shahnt," becomes "shahn - tuh." Why? "Tradition!" according to my sometime-teacher John D'Armand of Juneau, Alaska.
Lastly, the description of "Mignonne allons" given by Mignarda says that it is "a song of seduction," and the lovely lyrics ARE that, but so much more than that!
In the Renaissance, CHANGE and DEATH were common themes. Poets, thinkers, and everyday people were deliberately conscious of mortality... some carried pocket-watches shaped like a skull. This was partly a result of the Black Death, and the nearness of death everyday, which changed society.
All that lies beneath the sphere of the moon, they believed, is subject to change, to death, to decay, and therefore the time we have must be grasped and lived with urgency. As Andrew Marvell's poem, "To His Coy Mistress," says:
"Then let us sport us while we may, and now, like amorous birds of prey, rather at once our time devour than languish in his slow-chapped power...Thus, though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run."
Do you have a story or even a question about this vocal piece? Share it!
If I publish it, I will not use your last name, and certainly never show your email address (name and address are optional, anyway).