Flow My Tears - John Dowland

Notes on the Dowland piece

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  • Created by: Annie
  • Created on: 17-03-11 18:45

Flow My Tears - John Dowland - 1

Background

  • Lute-song or ayre
  • Based on pre-existing work: Pavan Lachrimae (Tearful Pavan)
  • Published 1600
  • Probably intended for performance at court
  • Marked by melancholy atmosphere, characteristic of the composer

Rhythm and Metre

  • 4/4 in characteristic slow pavan tempo with
  • Syncopation
  • Dotted rhythms
  • Ornamental, shorted note lengths near cadences
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Melody and word-setting

  • Opening stepwise descending line matches the text describing falling tears
  • Syllabic underlay, except for ornamental figuration in bars 7 and 23
  • Verbal and musical accentuation is not always synchronised
  • Line is broken by rests to convey 'teares and sighs' at bar 12
  • First syllable of 'Happie' is the highest note of the piece - word-painting
  • Over all range of a 9th (D-E)
  • Odd interval of a diminished 4th (G#-C) at bar 22 to convey 'helle'

Harmony

  • Though not consistantly functional, there are frequent cadences both perfect and Phrygian
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Flow My Tears - John Dowland - 3

(Harmony continued)

  • Other devices include:
  • Suspension, e.g. 7-6 at bars 1-2 and 4-3 at bar 7
  • False relation (bar 5)
  • Tierce de Picardie (bars 8 and 24)

Tonality

  • A minor with Aeolian inflections (as in a descending melodic minor scale)
  • Second section starts in C, but finishes with a Phrygian cadence in A minor 
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Structure

  • Typical pavan structure - in three parts, each section repeated - AA BB CC

Resources/Texture

  • Voice and lute and on the recording with a bass viol
  • Melody and accompaniment which hovers between homophony and counterpoint
  • Some dialogue or antiphony, e.g. bar 12
  • Brief imitation bars 13-14

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