Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Dowland: Lachrimae Pavane (P 15 & 15a)

This haunting and melancholy piece is perhaps Dowland's most famous, and was performed in Europe as well as in England. You can read an article about its influence here (which is also where I pinched the images from).

Facsimile: Contemporary printed version of lute tablature for Lachrimae
Contemporary printed version of lute tablature for Lachrimae
(The inclined # symbols indicate graces, but ... what graces?)

In the past I have avoided transcribing it because the variations are not the easiest, but after my previous post it was suggested by Gilles T that I have a go. So, here it is.

Fortunately Sarge Gerbode has published transcriptions of two MSS of this piece for lute, and I have taken the easiest versions of the 3 sections and interleaved them. The arrangement is not all that difficult to play, but it did take me a while to get to grips with the syncopated parts in §B. I leave the difficult variations to more cunning hands then mine. It fills one with admiration for lutenists who can actually play the whole thing off lute tabs.

I have fiddled with my transcription for several weeks, off and on, because it is impossible to perform the various lines on the 4 strings of the ukulele. I have made the fullest version feasible, but there are many simplifications. Where relevant I have modified the fingerings so that notes can be played in position (here, 2B and 4B) rather than using open strings; but if you prefer the other way, it's easy enough to change.

As always, I have used the directions of the note stems to indicate melody (up), bass (down) and harmony (mostly down, except where obviously running in parallel with the melody).

Dowland's signature
Anyway, why not have a look and see what you think. Available to download in these formats: pdf (preview), pdf auto downloadTablEdit (tef) and MIDI.

PS: Gilles T has directed me to this page: http://www.verseandsong.com/song/renaissance-guitar/, which includes an arrangement for Renaissance guitar of Lachrymae, amongst many other pieces. These have been made by Stephen Wentworth Arndt from Jacob van Eyck, Der Fluyten Lust-Hof , so I imagine that they are original arrangements made from versions written for flute. Very impressive! They can be played directly on the ukulele if you are comfortable with the French-format tablature for guitar and lute used in the Renaissance (see my 'About this blog' page for help).

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