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Early Vocal Music Map

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  • Research and text by Chris Whent at HOASM (Here on a Sunday Morning - WBAI 99.5 FM New York)
  • Composer Bibliography - links to Wikipedia and HOASM
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IV. The High Renaissance (16th Century)

IVm. England Through 1635.

IVm5. English Lutenists.

Despite the fact that more lute than keyboard pieces were published--several of them in song-books--there seems little doubt that the instrument was not so popular in England as abroad, even though in John Dowland she was to possess one of the leading lute virtuosi of the time. No surviving works for lute can in fact be dated with assurance earlier than the mid-sixteenth century--not that there was lack of lute-playing earlier: Henry VIII played "well on the lute" as did his three children. The MS works that we do have include a few pieces by Raphe Bowle, dated 1558.

The first tablature printed in England was Le Roy's Instruction de partir toute musique facilement en tablature de luth, which appeared in two or possibly three translations, in 1563(?), 1568, and 1574. Then in 1596, William Barley printed A new Booke of Tabliture for the lute, orpharion, and bandora, which was in part a new, partial translation of Part II of Le Roy's work. The pieces offered by Barley included examples by Francis Cutting, I.D (=John Dowland), P.R. (Philip Rosseter)and others. It was not until 1603 that an original work was produced with similar aims--Thomas Robinson's Schoole of Musicke. The text in this work is followed by thirty-four lute solos and duets, mostly by Robinson.

Pieces for solo lute are included in several of the song-books: Dowland's of 1597, 1600, and 1612, Francis Pilkington's of 1605, John Danyel's of 1606, Robert Dowland's Musicall Banquett of 1610, and John Maynard's of 1611, and lute-parts, often actually reductions of the whole score, are found often in broken-consort books. Finally, in 1610, Robert Dowland, together wuth his father, published Varietie of Lute Lessons, a collection of lute pieces prefaced by "Necessary Observations belonging to the Lute and Lute-playing" --a tanslation from Besard--followed by "Other Necessary Observations belonging to the Lute by Iohn Douland, Batchelar of Musicke."

Apart from Dowland, who thus, surprisingly enough, issued no collections of lute solos and the bulk of whose output remained in manuscript, apart from a few pieces in other men's publications, the chief lutenist-composers were his son Robert, Anthony Holborne, John Johnson, Francis Cutting, Daniel Batchelar, Richard Alison, Philip Rosseter, and Francis Pilkington. Dowland's output consists mainly of dances and is typical of the English lutenist school as a whole, contrasting markedly with Continental production, which preferred arrangements of vocal pieces. A strong sense of rhythm and a flair for fresh-sounding melodies--the latter a general characteristic of English music of the time--are abundantly apparent in his lute music and in that of his compatriots, but his melancholic nature is revealed in a number of fine compositions that employ chromaticism to a greater degree than do other English lutenists. Apart from dances, the lute repertoire consists of In nomines, fantasias, and transcriptions of both sacred and secular vocal music, including some of complete masses. In this last category Byrd is drawn upon more frequently than any other composer, a further indication of the esteem in which he was held.

English music for the lute or for its near relations, the theorbo, guitar, cittern, and pandora, like keyboard and secular vocal music, but not like music for consort, enjoyed but a brief flowering compared to the Continent, where during the whole of the sixteenth century and much of the seventeenth these instruments, especially the lute, were enormously popular. The theorbo, which emerged c.1560 in Italy, can be described as a bass lute; it had single strings at first, but by the middle of the seventeenth century was double-strung, the number of strings being either fourteen or sixteen, the lowest eight or ten tuned to the diatonic notes lying immediately below one or other of the usual lute tunings. These bass strings necessitated not only a larger body than the lute, but also frets spaced at wider intervals, thus making it more difficult to play normal lute music, with the result that the theorbo became more of an accompanying instrument, and as such found a place in ensembles and even the opera orchestra as late as the eighteenth century.

The cittern, which has been aptly called 'the poor man's guitar', was very popular with amateurs of all classes. It has the guitar's flat back, but the lute's rounded sides. It is doublestrung and ranges in size from a small one with four pairs of strings (courses) to one with twelve courses. The pandora was the popular substitute for the theorbo.

Subdivisions of English music with Composers bibliography and music

IVm1. Guide to English Keyboard Music through 1635
IVm2. Guide to the English Madrigal
IVm3. Guide to English Consort Music through 1635
IVm4. Guide to English Song in the Elizabethan and Stuart Ages
IVm5. Guide to the English Lutenists
IVm6. Latin Church Music 1460-1575

Name and link to Whents Bibliography Years Country # of PDF/Midi Discography # of MP3
Alison, Richard fl. 1580 - 1610 England . Discography .
Attey, John fl.1620s England . . .
Barlett, John fl.1606-10 England . . .
Batchellor, Daniell fl. 1574- after 1618 England . Discography .
Bowle, Ralph fl. 1558 England . . .
Brewster (Brusser, Bruster, Brusters) fl.mid 16th C England . . .
Bulman, Baruch fl. c. 1600 England . Discography .
Campion, Thomas 1567-1620 England . Discography .
Cavendish, Michael c.1565-1628 England . Discography .
Collard, Edward ? -c.1600 England . Discography .
Cooper (Coperario, Coprario), John c.1570-1626 England . Discography .
Corkine, William fl. 1610-1620/9 England cpdl=2 Discography .
Countie, Anthony De ?-1579 England . . .
Cutting, Francis fl. 1595 England . Discography .
Danyel (Danyell), John 1564 - after 1526 England . Discography .
Dowland, John 1563-1626 England cpdl=78 Discography .
Dowland, Robert 1591-1641 England . . .
Ferrebasco II, Alfonso 1572?-1628 England . Discography .
Ford, Thomas 1580-1648 England cpdl=7 . .
Greaves, Thomas fl.1604 England cpdl=1 . .
Hales, Robert fl.1583-1616 England . . .
Handford, George fl.c.1609 England . . .
Hely, Cuthbert fl.c.1630 England . Discography .
Hilton, John (2) 1599-1657 England cpdl=4 . .
Holborne (Olborner), Anthony fl. 1545? - 1602 England . Discography .
Ives (Yves), Simon 1600- 1662 England . Discography .
Jenkins, John 1592 - 1678 England cpdl=1 Discography .
Jones 2, Robert c. 1577 - after 1615 England cpdl=4 Discography .
Johnson, John c.1540 - 1594 England . Discography .
Johnson 2, Robert c.1582 - 1633 England . Discography .
Lanier (Lanire), Nivholas 1588 - 1666 England . Discography .
Lawes, Henry 1596 - 1662 England . Discography .
Lawes, William 1602 - 1645 England cpdl=4 Discography .
Mace, Stephen fl. 1627-35 England . . .
Mace, Thomas 1612? - 1706? England . . .
Martin, Richard fl.c.1610 England . . .
Mason, John 1485? - 1547? England . Discography .
Maynard, John 1566/7 - betw.1614-33 England . Discography .
Morley, Thomas c.1557 - 1602 England cpdl=67 Discography .
Pearson, Martin 1572 - 1650 England . Discography .
Pilkington, Francis c.1565 - 1638 England cpdl=4 Discography .
Ramsey, Robert ? - 1644 England cpdl=1 . .
Robinsson, Thomas fl. 1589 - 1610 England . Discography .
Rosseter, Philips c.1568 - 1623 England cpdl=2 Discography .
Webb, William c.1600 - after 1656 England . Discography .
Whyte, Robert c.1525 - 1574 England cpdl=3 Discography .
Whythorne, Thomas 1528 - 1595 England cpdl=1 . .
Wilson, John 1595 - 1674 England . Discography .

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