Friday, 17 November 2017

Dowland: Galliard to lachrimae (P 46)


Facsimile of the first 12 bars of Galliard to lachrima(e)
Facsimile of the first 12 bars of the lute solo Galliard to lachrima[e].
From John Dowland. 1612. A pilgrimes solace. William Barley, London.

Source: IMSLP.

Last April I posted transcriptions of two versions of John Dowland's Lachrimae Pavane here. It was composed in about 1595 and went viral across Europe, with many versions and variations. At some later date Mr D wrote this lively dance Galliard to Lachrimae, which was published in 1612.

It is not an easy piece to play and keep to time, with all the dotted notes and tied notes – and, if you play it at Nigel North's 78 bpm, it's even more challenging. I have tried playing just the melody notes, the ones with the stems pointing up, in order to get to know where the tune lies.

The sainted Diana Poulton described this piece as an "ingenious transmutation" from 4/4 to 3/4 time. In the original pavane there are 3 sections (with variations) of 8 bars, or 32 beats per section. In this galliard the sections are of 10, 11 and 10 bars (30, 33 and 30 beats) per section, presumably to make room for all the notes.

The galliard is set in G minor in the lute version, and in A minor in this transcription. To use modern terminology, Sections A & C end on the chord of A major (the Picardy 3rd), which is typical. In section A you can find both E major (the dominant of Am) and E minor. Section B is set in the relative major (C) but concludes (via the chord of G major) to end on the related E major (the dominant of Am). In Section C the harmonies are much simpler and oscillate between tonic and dominant.

I have inserted modern chord names as an aid to understanding the harmonies, but I am aware that this will not have been the way that Mr D and his contemporaries regarded the music. Indeed, in some places I have had to guess at the most appropriate chord name when there are just 2 notes, but it seems sensible that, for example, the notes B and D before a chord of E will be Bm rather than G(major).


Brave souls 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.