Saturday, 18 March 2017

Dowland: Extract from 'A Fancy' (P 73)

When I am looking for lute pieces to transcribe I do a sort of mental triage on them:

1. No too difficult to play, or
2. Playable with a lot of practice (should I survive that long), or
3. Never in a month of Sundays.

Most of this piece falls in the third category. Just look at bar 37 in the image below, or better listen to some of the excellent renditions on YouTube, to see why. But .... I was reading Diana Poulton's biog of John Dowland and she wrote that A Fancy (P73) was based on All in a garden green. It just so happened that I had posted a home-made pseudo-Renaissance version of the song a few days before. So, I was tempted.

One bar of Dowland's Fancy on which this transcription is based
A single bar of Dowland's A Fancy
From a transcription for lute by Sarge Gerbode

Mr D's Fancy seems to be in 3 sections of 19 (sic) bars, and as the first section wasn't impossibly  challenging I have burnt the midnight oil to produce something playable (I hope) on the Ukulele. It wasn't always easy, as my inexperience made it difficult to decide which notes were the lead, which the harmony and which the bass (the 'melody' was sometimes on the lower strings of the lute.) This all meant that fitting 8 courses on the ukulele was more than usually hard. I was helped by a Guitar-pro arrangement for guitar (3rd to F#) here (which is readable with TablEdit) when I encountered problems, particularly in interpretation of note lengths.

I have followed as far as possible the native fingering of the lute in the arrangements, so the uke piece is in A rather than G. (I tried lowering it to G, but it's not so pleasing.) In places I have used the directions of the stems of the notes to discriminate between overlapping runs of notes. This may or may not be conventional, but it helps one to see what is happening. Also, I've added an final bar (chord of A) to round off the previous 19 bars.

There are two versions here. The first (simple) one mainly picks out the 'melody' part, with a few bass notes to fill in echoing gaps. The second is as full a representation of Mr D's original as I can make, and it doesn't sound too bad when played back on MIDI.

You will notice that I am more than usually diffident about this piece, so if you are a specialist in the field do let me know of any errors and misinterpretations, and I will amend and acknowledge appropriately.

Downloadable in these formats: pdf (preview), pdf auto download,  TablEdit and MIDI.

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