by John Dowland, Arranged by Richard Summers (Grade 3, 5:15)
John Dowland (1563-1626) was an English Renaissance composer, singer, and lute virtuoso was well known for his melancholy songs. The melody, “Flow My Tears, is considered one of his most famous songs and originally appeared in three versions: one for solo voice with lute accompaniment; another for four singers with lute accompaniment; and third, as a consort of five viols with lute accompaniment.
The consort title of Lachrimae Antiquae is the first of “Seven Tears” in his published edition of 1604. In creating this arrangement, these versions were studied and blended with some of the arranger’s original ideas and harmonies. The first melody is stated three times, initially by various woodwinds in the style of the song, then by the brass but covered by a romantic woodwind countermelody with percussion. On the third pass through the melody, the percussion sets a slow march tempo and the woodwinds evoke a feeling of improvisation, typical of the Renaissance style. The following two sections of the piece alternate brass and woodwind variations. The percussion maintains the slow march beat to the end, creating a brighter mood from a melancholy beginning.