Thursday, 16 March 2017

Traditional (Playford): All in a garden green

All in a garden green arranged for ukulele low-G

All in a garden green was probably at least a century old when the melody was included in this famous dance manual. It was drawn to my attention by 'Ukatee' on the Ukulele Underground forum, who also sent me this link to a performance on lute by the wonderful Luthval.

I couldn't find a version for lute or guitar online, so I thought I'd have a go at making my own ersatz  Renaissance-style arrangement for low-G ukulele. The first section is simple, and the base line  alternates the root with (where relevant) any convenient 3rd or 5th, so it has a see-saw feel, I think. (Imagine the lovers on a swing.) I especially enjoy the ascending melody motifs (riffs) in bars 13 – 16. You can play much of this section just holding down the chords. I have added the words of the first verse, as it helps me to keep track of the tune. It's much more demure than Watkins Ale, which I uploaded a few weeks ago.

I have not included the chords in the score as it is getting a bit full up. Here are the harmonies I used:

G    |G      |C Am |D    |C    |G    |Am  D  |G    |,
D    |C D G /|G Em |Am C |G    |Am   |Bm  G  |C    |Am D |G   ||

In other words: I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, which I hope are consistent with Renaissance usage.

The second section has more divisions (twiddly bits), but I wrote them with the uke on my lap so the notes mostly fall easily under the fingers (well, when I play them slowly). The third section has the melody almost unaltered in the bass (to be played louder), and ornaments on the top (quieter). John Dowland has kindly provided some turns of phrase, and also the whole of the penultimate bar (a motif that occurs in many of his pieces, such as Solus cum Sola).

If you've got the time and inclination, have a look and see what you think: available to download as pdf (preview), pdf auto downloadTablEdit and MIDI. (The MIDI tempo is a bit on the slow side, but this makes the divisions easier to hear.)

As usual I urge you to feel free to modify the arrangements as you wish and, above all, to have fun.

PS I have just read in Diana Poulton's biog of John Dowland that his piece 73: A Fancy (1600) strongly resembles this tune, so I have downloaded it from Sarge Gerbode's site and will try to transcribe it.


  1. Hello dear Harry,

    Thank you very much for this lively gem. The Dowland is far beyond my skills, but this setting with moderatly difficult divisions sounds particulary well on the tenor.Althought the last part seems quite challenging to play with the proper "swing", if you see what I mean.
    Keep on gardening our souls with your nice music;

    Gilles T

  2. Hi Gilles
    Again, I thank you for your kind comments.
    I agree with you about the Dowland – it's really hard, and I doubt that I will ever be skilled enough to play it properly. I wonder how lutenists manage with all those extra strings.
    I noticed a strange thing after adapting 'All in a garden green': I would play a few bars on the uke and enter them in the software with no great difficulty, but the next day when I printed them out and tried to play them I found it quite challenging. Old age doesn't come alone.
    All best wishes


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