Flow my Tears (John Dowland)

Revision cards for Flow my Tears my John Dowland - Music AS Set work 2011

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  • Ayre - a song for Lute

-Based on a pre-existing work - "Pavan Lachrimae" (Tearful Pavan). A Pavan is a slow processional dance in duple time

  • Published 1600
  • Intended for professional performance at court or by amateur musicians at home
  • Melancholy (popular with Elizabethan England) atmoshpere - a characteristic of the composer
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Rhythm and Metre

  • 4/4 time, with slow Pavan tempo
  • Syncopation
  • Dotted Rhythms
  • Ornamental, Shorter note lengths near cadences
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  • Typical Pavan structure - three parts (Tripartite). Each section is repeated 


  • Three main cadences in A minor:

- Bars 1-8, end with a perfect cadence

- Bars 9-16, end with an imperfect cadence

- Bars 17-24, end in a perfect cadence

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  • Not constantly functional. Frequent Cadences - Perfect and Phrygian (IVb-V)
  • Other devices

- Suspension e.g. 7-6 at bars 1-2 and a 4-3 at bar 7

- False Relation (like a "blues notes") at bar 5 between G in Lute and the G# in the vocal. Reflects sad words

- Tirce de Picardie at bars 8 and 24 - C# in the chord on A major

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  • A minor with Aeolian inflections (descending melodic minor scale)
  • Second section starts in C, but finished with a Phrygian cadence in A minor
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Melody and Word Setting

  • Overall range of a 9th (D-E)
  • Diminished 4th (G#-C) at bar 22
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Word Setting

  • Opening stepwise descending line matches the text describing falling tears
  • Syllabic, except for ornamental figuration in bars 7 and 23
  • Line broken by rests to convey tears and sighs at bar 12
  • First syllable of "Happie" given the highest note in melody - word painting
  • Verbal and musical accentuation not always synchronised
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Resources and Texture

  • Voice and lute (plus bass viol on recording)
  • Melody and accompaniment which hovers between homophony and free counterpoint
  • Some dialouge or antiphony e.g. bar 12
  • Brief imitation, bars 13-14
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Other Points

  • Scholars believe that pitch in the late Renaissance was lower tahn it is today, which is reflected by the fact that the performance in the CD is a tone lower than the music printed in the score
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