Sweelinck - Pavana Lachrimae: Instrumental

Revision cards for Sweelinks Pavana Lachrimae, A2 Music


  • 1615
  • Transcription with variations on the lute song Flow My Tears by John Dowland
  • Probably intended for perfomormance on harpischord, and provides evidence of the transfer of English viginalist techniques to the continent
  • The pavan is a relatively slow dance in three sections.
  • Intended for domestic performance or educational use (Sweelinck was also a teacher)
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Rhythm and Metre

  • Notated in common time, simple quadruple metre in a slow tempo
  • Occasional syncopation - bar 37 melody, bar 38 bass
  • Wide variety of note lengths from semibreves (in bass and at ends of sections) to demi-semiquavers (in embellishments)
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Transfer of vocal styles to keyboard with extensive conjunct movement

The descending (falling tears) line spanning a perfect 4th is sometimes changed to span a diminished 4th  e.g. C-G# in bars 3-4

There is a rapid semiquaver ornamentation of the melodic material

Use of fully notated trills

Elements of Aeolian mode, although Sweelinck frequantly uses the equivalent of the modern melodic minor scale e.g. bars 30-31 with F# and G# ascending, and G natural and F natural descendng

Ocaisional use of a sequence - bar 17, 94-96

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Harmony and Tonality

  • Sweelinck uses mainly root and first inversion chords with frequent cadences e.g. Phrygian cadence as in bars 3-4 and the perfect cadences at the end of the first and third sections and Tirce de Picardies
  • 4-3 and 7-6 suspensions are frequent
  • The pavan is in A minor with Aeolian mode inflections
  • Tonality is reinforced through dominant pedals (bars 65-68 and 82-85)
  • Tierce de Picardie are used e.g. at the end of the first and last sections
  • Bar 33 beings in the relative major
  • There are occasional false relations (e.g. bar 10)
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  • Tripartite pavan with varied repeats 

- AA1 BB1 CC1

  • 3 sections followed by a variation
  • 4-bar phrase to start, followed by balanced 2 or 4-bar phrases
  • One 6-bar phrase starts Section B and Section C and has 17 bars (5+2+10=unusual)
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The work has an idiomatic keyboard style, involving a range a textures:

- Bars 1-4: Mainly four-part free counterpoint

- Bars 5-8: Some imitation of the melody in the inner parts

- Bars 9-16: Essentially chordal, with ornamental quavers passing from the inner, to uppermost, then inner part again

- Bars 17-32: Brief imitation within the three-part texture; then running semiquavers predominate

- Bars 33-39: Generally homophonic

- Bars 39-41: Antiphony/dialougue between 6ths in the right hand and 3rds in the left hand

- Bars 42-64: Some imitation

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