Featured post

Please read: What to do if the links to transcriptions don't work

😩  All the links embedded in posts before 1 August 2020 are broken. As a workaround, please go directly to my repository on Google Drive  ...

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Anon: Fair Ministers disdain me not (Margaret Board Lute Book, f23v/2)

 Short and sweet

One of the shortest pieces from the Margaret Board Lute Book, and good fun to play. I have had to take some liberties with the lower voice, but it sounds OK. There is a lot of space for you to add your own decorations (graces, divisions, etc).

"Fair ministers" as it appears in the MS

I have tried (not very diligently, I must admit) to trace the origin of the words, presumably a song or part of a masque: 

Fayre my[ni]sters disdayne me not though hard fauored I be 

For Venus did not w[i]th V[u]lcan match yet none so foule as he

In  [...] that text What [...] knowe

What if he were a cuckold made would be so served so 

That's the best my slight skills in palaeography can achieve. It does not appear to be a reference to the poem “Disdain me not without desert” by Sir Thomas Wyatt.

Nevertheless it's good fun to play.

You can download a pdf of the piece freely here.

Saturday 13 January 2024

John Dowland: A Dream (P 75)

Back to a piece by (probably) my hero

As promised in my previous post of "A Dreame" from the Margaret Board Lute Book, here is a piece of the same name by the Master.

I couldn't resist an image of Russel T Davis' wonderful version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, by you-know-who.

 I have transcribed directly and slavishly from: Poulton D, Lam B, Eds. 1995. The collected lute music of John Dowland, Edn 3. Faber Music, London

There are three strains of, unusualy, 7, 7 and 9 bars, each repeated. Some fingerings are a little tricky, because the ukulele is tuned slightly differently to the lute. I have suggested a few fingerings, which you may care to ignore.

Diana Poulton was of the opinion that this piece was most probably by John Dowland, although there was no written evidence. In my inexpert opinion she was correct for 3 reasons:

1. his favourite cadence occure in bars 14, 16 and 19;

2. the unheralded D on the first string in bar 18, as in "Far[e]well" (P3) where the same note occurs unexpectedly at the end of bar 30;

3. in general (eg. bar 10) the unexpected notes and harmonies – which are, of course, to be expected in a Dowland piece.

In his performance on lute, Nigel North plays this piece at 38 bpm, but I must admit that it sounds much more mournful than on the chirpy ukulele, and not much more sombre on the Renaissance guitar. He also plays some fancy divisions in the repeats, which I leave to your own invention and creativity.

A pdf of the arrangement is free to download here.

Tuesday 9 January 2024

Anon: A Dreame (Margaret Board Lute Book, f. 20v)

 A lovely little tune, and my favourite (so far) from the Margaret Board MS

Transcribed from a facsimile of the original online here.

There are 3 strains of 16, 12 and 12 bars. The repeat pattern is 2 x (A, A’), 2 x (B, B’ C, C’). 

Transcription was relatively easy because the original made little use of strings 5 and below. The principal challenge was in bars 69 – 74, where the bass line uses notes on the 5th string, which we don’t have. I have therefore exchanged the voices, but appended a version of §C’ in whch the voices are as close to the original as possible. The choice is yours. 

Also, I have indicated barrés where you might find them convenient.

You can download the PDF file of "A Dreame" here.

I hope that you enjoy playing it as much as I do.

Btw, this is not the same as Dowland's "A Dreame", which I find that I haven't yet arranged it for the uke. I'm going to start now.

Monday 8 January 2024

Anon: Delacourt Pavan (Margaret Board Lute Book, f. 1v/1)

The second piece in The Margaret Board Lute Book

Transcribed for low-G ukulele from a facsimile of the original (available online here),  

There are 3 strains of 8 bars, each followed by a variation ornamented with divisions. For a simpler and shorter piece one can ignore the variations. The arrangement is as near as possible to the lute fingering, although it is not always possible to represent the lower voice.

There are overwhelmingly many ornaments indicated on the MS: perhaps the player was just being shown what grace to play if they felt like it, possibly to elaborate the repeats. 

The harmonies are reminiscent of those in the Passamezzo Antico, but not in the same order.

V      | V     | i       | i   iv  | V  i    | V        | I      | I      |

V      | V     | i       | i   iv  | V       | iv   V  | I      | I      ||

i       | i      | ♭VII | ♭VII  | i        | i           | V     | V     |

i       | i      | ♭VII | ♭VII | i        | iv          | V     | V      ||

♭VII | ♭♭VII | i      | iv     | V   i   |  V        | I       | I      |

♭VII | ♭VII | i  ♭VII | i  iv  | V   iv  |  V     | I      | I     ||

You can freely download a pdf of this piece here.

Thursday 4 January 2024

Michael Praetorius: Branle de la Torche XV

As promised, another Branle de la torche 

Following on from my previous posting of an anonymous Branle de la torche, here is one by the German composer Michael Praetorius (1561 – 1621). I read somewhere that the piece has been referred to as "The dance of the candlestick".

The composer

The lute version that I found is a duet, so I have transcribed two versions for low-G ukulele:

1. A ukulele duet, which you can download here and

2. A ukulele solo, incorporating as much of the two parts as I can, available here.

Harmonic sequence:

 the first strain 

 i  | VII  |  i   | V  ||  i  | VII  | i V  | I  ||

is basically the passamezzo antico, 

and the second strain

 i  III | ii  | i  V  | V  ||  III  | VII | i  V  | I  || 

is a variation of it, with i replaced in places by its relative major (III.)

It's interesting to note that he accent of the heavier chord voicings does not always fall on the beat.

This branle has similarities with the one in my previous post, but I think that it is more a cousin than a sister.

Have fun!

Thinks: I wonder if there are 14 other Branles de la Torche to be found.

Wednesday 3 January 2024

Anon: Branle de la Torche (Margaret Board Lute Book f. 23/3)

 A tuneful little piece and fun to play

The branle is in origin a C16 French dance involving swaying (branle = sway), but I do not know whether torche refers to a flaming torch or a tea-towel. Shakespeare refers to the dance as a 'brawl', which sounds quite robust.

Harmonies: The first strain follows the pattern of the passamezzo antico 

i    | VII    | i  V   | V    || i    | VII    | i  V   | I   ||

 and the second strain 

 V  v   | ii VII   | i  IV   | V    || V  v   |VII  V   | i  V   | I   ||

is a variation.

You can download the pdf for free HERE.

(Incidentally, there is a similar Branle by Michael Pretorius and I will post it soon so that you can see the similarities and differences.)

Tuesday 2 January 2024

Anon: Two More Courants (Margaret Board Lute Book, f. 7 and f. 25/2)

 Following on from yesterday's post, two more accessible pieces for you to download and enjoy here and here.

The piece on f. 7 is interesting for its varied placing of emphasis within the bar, as shown by the dots under the notes that indicate weaker notes (played with the RH index finger).

Have fun!