Sunday, 5 November 2017

Dowland: John Dowland's Galliard (P 21)


This is a sprightly little galliard with only two strains, and no variations to the repeats. Scale fragments, 7 descending and 3 ascending, are prominent in both voices.

Nigel North plays the repeats with ornaments, and some relatively simple divisions – none of which I have transcribed, except for an approximation of the final bar.

It is a nice easy piece to read off the dots and understand, but not quite so easy to play, as you need to make some quick chord changes to maintain the continuity of the melody and bass lines.

The most difficult part for me is the long stretch from the low G# on string 4 at the end of bar 2 to the high E on string 1: I can just about manage it, but slide my index finger to the A on string 4. A work-around is to play the bass notes an octave higher on string 2. Either way, it helps to leave the little finger on the E ready for the sweet Dm_sus2 (or is it Am6?) chord in bar 3.


An engraving of English explorer Sir Thomas Cavendish (or Candish) (1560–1592), who was known as "the Navigator" because he was the first to deliberately set out to circumnavigate the globe. The engraving contains the words "Thomas Candish, ArmigerAnimum fortuna sequatur [The soul follows chance]".
From Wikipedia.

An alternative name for this piece, in another MS [Add.2764 (2)] in Cambridge University Library, is Capit[ain] Candishe his Galy[ard]. If 'Candishe' is a version of 'Cavendish', this name may apply to Thomas Cavendish (1560 – 1592), an English explorer, sailor and privateer who built his own galleon and, like Sir Francis Drake, harried the Spanish treasure ships. He was knighted by Elizabeth I for his efforts.

As the galliard is scored for a lute with only 6 strings it may have been written during Dowland's early career. This accords with Cavendish's dates – Cavendish was 3 years the elder and died 4 years after Mr D graduated in music from Oxford. [This is all assumption on my part, and I'm no historian, so don't take it on trust. Even so, it's a good opportunity to add an illustration.]

You can find the transcriptions here:

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