Sweelinck Analysis: 'Pavana Lachrimae'.

  • Created by: Isobel
  • Created on: 16-06-14 17:05


1.    3 sections can be labelled as ABC, each repeated.

2.    Follows Dowland’s structure of ‘Flow my Tears’, variation of sections instead of repetition.

3.    Note values of ‘Flow my Tears’ doubled in the Pavane, i.e. Dowland’s 1-8 = Sweelinck’s 1-16.

4.    Varied repeat of each section is provided, e.g. bars 49 -64 are a variation of B.

5.    Suggested regularity of phrase lengths with semibreve counts of 8, 12 and 16. Similarities to periodic phrasing.

6.    Section A begins with a clearly defined 4-bar phrase like Dowland. 

1 of 7


Sweelinck: Tonality:

1.    3 interpretations: A minor – as there’s no key signature; A minor with modal elements, and; Aeolian mode – accounts for the presence of G#s.

2.    Uncertain tonality due to the mixed use of G#s and G naturals, e.g. prominent G naturals (bar 6) and G#s (bar 8).

3.    Simultaneous false relations – bar 96; successive – bar 10.

4.    Music is largely in a minor key, befitting the tears in the title. Principle tonal changes during B section.

5.    Ambiguous tonality (bars 39-44), initiated by chords rising in 3rrds.

6.    Bass C# (bar 38) used as a matching answer to the G# in the top part (bars 37-38). 

2 of 7

Resources/Performing Forces

Sweelinck: Resources/PF:

1.    Probably intended for domestic or educational use as Sweelinck was a teacher.

2.    3 octave range suited contemporary Dutch harpsichords – G to G.

3.    Top G used in bar 96 with climatic intent, in a passage of rising scalic lines that reach successively to E (94), F (95) and G (96).

4.    Limited range reflects derivation of piece from original source; need for a sometimes complex texture to be playable by both hands.

5.    Sweelinck’s bass is sometimes an octave higher, e.g. 39-42; 44-48.

6.    Borrowed melody is now an octave higher than the lute transcription, now an octave above C. 

3 of 7


Sweelinck: Texture:

1.    Piece mainly in 4 parts, similar to 4-part choral writing, though this is not constant. Florid passages are sometimes in 3 parts (23-24).

2.    Borrowed Dowland melody in the top part, texture is mainly homophonic.

3.    Contrapuntal interest in inner parts – alto anticipation and echo of the melody’s descending quavers (1-4).

4.    Pairs of parts in parallel 3rds and 6ths engage in rapid dialogues (39-41).

5.    Imitation of parts: soprano and alto (2-3); soprano alto bass (42-45).

6.    Emphatic dialogue between parts, bass abandons dotted rhythm of 40-41, becomes rhythmically identical to the tenor. 

4 of 7


Sweelinck: Rhythm:

1.    A lot of rhythmic diversity. Sections generally begin with semibreves, minims, crotchets and a few quavers.

2.    Often continuous semiquavers, especially in variations, in 1 part for display and decoration
 (26-27) with slower supporting parts.

3.    Cadential trills involving 8 semiquavers occur twice, bars 30 and 45.

4.    The metre is simple quadruple (4/4).

5.    Syncopation isn’t very widespread, but note the minim A that generates a suspension (37) and the corresponding bass D (38).

6.    Changes in variations, bars 53-54 minim A retained but the bass line is decorated and the suspension eliminated. 

5 of 7


Sweelinck: Melody:

1.    Melodic writing is in vocal character with much stepwise writing.

2.    Occasional melodic leaps. Rising minor 6th (2) is very striking especially after initial stepwise descent of a perfect 4th.

3.    Dowland’s distinctive use of a falling 4th represents tears. It’s used more extensively by Sweelinck’s opening 5 bars.

4.    Top part is predominantly conjunct, even in the variation. Most florid passages cover a small range.

5.    Some passages, similar to trills, start on an upper note and end on an auxiliary note (section A, bar 14).

6.    Some repeated short patterns in sequence – sequential treatment of a 3-note descending figure (17). 

6 of 7


Sweelinck: Harmony:

1.    Most chords are triads in root position or 1st inversion (bar 13).

2.    Non-chord notes include passing and auxiliary notes (especially in rapid scalic passages) and occasional suspensions.

3.    6-5 mild dissonances are common throughout, e.g. quaver D (34) implies IVb but better heard as a 6-5 movement.

4.    At the ends of sections, final cadence chords are extended over 2 bars and considerably embellished (15-16).

5.    Perfect cadence (15-17) ends with a tierce di picardie, a customary technique of this style.

6.    Imperfect cadences are all Phrygian, chords V proceeded by IVb. Associated with the Phrygian mode. 

7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Music resources:

See all Music resources »See all Developing Musical Understanding resources »