Sunday, 29 January 2017

Campion & Dowland: What if a day

Painting of Thomas Campion playing a lute
Thomas Campion (seen here with a rather wonky lute) was a poet, musician and physician.



It is fascinating to see how this air by Thomas Campion (1567–1620) was turned by John Dowland (1563–1626) into a solo piece for lute. To this end, I have made a simple arrangement of What if a day for low-G ukulele, complete with words, and with a very clear melody line. The verse structure is: a a' b c c' c" (bars 1–26).

The subsequent bars are a transcription, as full as I can manage, made from Dowland's lute version. He modified the structure to: A A' B B' C C'. The first of each pair is close to the original air (and not coincidentally to the simple arrangement), the repeats (A' etc) are far more decorated. By comparing A with A' etc, one can see how Dowland did it.

The arrangements are available here in pdf (preview), pdf auto downloadTablEdit and MIDI formats.

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I hope you enjoy these arrangements. I would welcome your views, and comments on possible errors or improvements.