Background Information & Performance Circumstances
- Sweelinck lived and worked in the Netherlands, across the late 16th and early 17th century. He composed much vocal music, both secular and sacred, some music for lute, and a lot of music for keyboard.
- The Pavana was likely to have been composed circa 1600.
- The Pavana is an adaptation of John Dowland's material 'Flow my tears', and probably the lute version 'Lachrimae Pavan' - he sometimes simply transcribes the music for a different instruments, and also embellishes and elaborates the original material, creating a variation.
- Sweelinck is more of an arranger of the piece, rather than a composer.
- There are 6 sections to the piece, three being arrangements of the original music, and the other three being variations of these arrangements.
- The music was intended for harpsichord, although nowadays the music is played on the organ, which works well with the long sustained notes.
- The Pavana was likely written for domestic or education use, and although its title suggests a slow dance, it is unlikely to have been used for dancing.
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Performing Forces and their Handling.
- Probably composed for single manual harpsichords.
- The range is 3 octaves, from G (bottom line of bass stave) to G three octaves above.
- Sweelinck uses the top G only once, in bar 96, for climactic intent.
- The limited range reflects the limited range of the originals, and also the need for the texture to be manageable by one pair of hands.
- Sweelinck's bass is sometimes an octave higher than Dowland's, e.g. bars 39-42, and 44-48.
- He puts the borrowed melody an octave above middle C occasionally, which is an octave higher than it would have sounded in the originals.
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