Sunday, 30 April 2017

Dowland: Queen Elizabeth's Galliard

Miniature of Queen Elizabeth playing the lute
Miniature of Queen Elizabeth I playing the lute.
(Thumb under or thumb over?)

This is a rather more challenging piece than The Queen's Galliard, which I posted a few days ago.

Not only was Queen Elizabeth I a player of the lute, but she was also an enthusiastic dancer - one way for her to exercise. I like to think of her dancing vigorously to this galliard, and the other dancers being very careful.

Knowing little of Renaissance dancing (except from watching Wolf Hall) I have done a little background reading. The galliard was a frisky dance in triple time, with 5 steps to 6 beats (or 2 bars); the missing step is a jump on beat 5, in the middle of bar 2. The most familiar tune in galliard form is, at least to the British, God save the Queen, presumably with the jump on the second syllable of 'gracious'.

The first 16 bars of Queen Elizabeth's Galliard are in 3/4 time. It took me a little while to divine that the rest of the piece is in 9/8 time (I hope), which must have made the dancing interesting. As it's quite quick (I have heard performances of 80 – 100 bpm – how on earth do they do that?), it involves a lot of fast chord changes at the beginning, and the divisions in bars 9–16 are, to be honest, terrifying. Perhaps one day ...

Anyway, do have a look:
pdf preview
pdf automatic download
 Good luck!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Dowland: The Queen's Galliard

Dancing a galliard

This is a simpler piece (Poulton 97) than the more famous (and more difficult) Queen Elizabeth's Galliard, an arrangement of which I will publish soon. I must admit that I was first attracted to it because in the original for lute most of the activity was on the top 4 strings, and there were no notes on the open 3rd string (which on the uke you have to play on the 4th string, which I would rather use for bass notes).

It's a lively little tune, and a good exercise in quick chord changes and in syncopation in 3/4 time.

I hope you enjoy playing it. Here are the files for download:

pdf (preview), pdf (auto download),  TablEdit, MIDI.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Dowland: Lachrimae Pavane (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:, 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.