Monday, 30 January 2017

Thomas Dallis: Passamezzi

I am grateful to The Lute Society for publishing their 58 Very Easy Pieces for the Renaissance Lute, from which these two pieces were adapted - first by them, and now simplified by me for uke. It is taken from a MS in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, and images of the original can be seen on their website here.  I reproduce one of the clearer pages here, to show you what the editors, all credit to them, have to work with.

Lute tablature: Thomas Dallis Lute book, Trinity College Dublin, MS 410/1
An example page from the Dallis MS (but not showing the pieces adapted here)

Thomas Dallis (fl 1580–1600) taught music in Cambridge and Dublin, and this MS is believed to have been written by his student(s) about then.

These two similar pieces (in D) are entitled Passamezzo d'Italie and Passamezzo, and sound well played in sequence. They are jaunty little tunes, and show you just what our ancestors could to with what we call the "three-chord trick" – D, G and A. The fast bits (divisions) aren't too difficult if played reasonably slowly, and I hope to build up to full speed one day. I've had to make the usual compromises too fit the bass lines to the lute, particularly where the lutenist has the luxury of allowing open bass strings to sustain through several beats, whereas we have to finger and hold them, which can lead to a shortage of available digits for the other notes – good luck!

As usual, they are available in pdf (preview), pdf auto download, TablEdit 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.