and Ne que on porroit may
seem to us remarkably similar in many ways but Machaut evidently felt he had created a quite distinctive, novel work with the latter. Ne que on porroit
is certainly unusual for its motivic density and its constant repetition and variation, but it may have been the recurrent, striking descending leaps that led the author to remark he had designed it in ‘the German style’ (‘a la guise d’un res d’alemagne’). He concluded it was the best thing he had written for a long while, declaring its lower parts are ‘as sweet as unsalted gruel’. He implored his mistress to learn it exactly as written, with nothing added or taken away, and to perform it with ‘long measure’, meaning, perhaps, with a stately tempo; finally, he advised it could be performed on organ, cornemuse, or other instruments, since this reflects its true nature.
from notes by Yolanda Plumley © 2013