Thea Abbott, 'Diana Poulton’s love affair with John Dowland'

This paper will describe the development of Diana Poulton’s relationship with Dowland during the 30 years in which she researched her book on his life and works, (John Dowland, Faber, London 1972). I will describe how that research led Diana into deeper and ever deeper cul-de-sacs of 17th century life and how the shadowy presence of Dowland seemed as real to her as that of any of the other men in her life. This will NOT be a technical paper about Dowland and his music but an account of a love affair in which Diana Poulton fell completely under the spell of that music and searched tirelessly to understand and to know the man who had made it. It will be anecdote rich, dealing with Diana’s connections to the Dolmetsch family, her first BBC broadcast in 1926 where she played The King of Denmark’s Galliard, her meeting with Peter Warlock, the beginnings of the Lute Society, her visit to America and her communism (which had echoes of the Elizabethan state’s paranoia about the risk posed to national security by travelling musicians). I will discuss some of the difficulties of writing the biography of someone who has left little evidence of their being beyond the work which brought them to the public attention, and compare Diana’s difficulties in trying to write the life story of someone long dead, and my own in trying to write the story of someone born only a few decades before me.


Katherine Bank, ‘Dim the lights of other lands’: composer-traveller identity and reputation in the early seventeenth century'

Francis Pilkington’s Second Set of Madriagls (1624), includes a sonnet by William Webbe, which asks, ‘And must the matchless Excellencies / Of Bird, Bull, Dowland, Morley, and the rest / Of our rare Artists, (who now dim the lights / Of other lands) be onely in Request?’. Why did the poet choose these particular composers to typify England’s supposed musical reputation abroad? And why was a foreign reputation meaningful? Two composers, John Dowland and John Bull, were known travellers employed by foreign bodies for significant parts of their careers, while Thomas Morley only visit the Continent, and William Byrd never left the Isle. Accounting for the particular circumstances of each composer’s travel abroad (or lack there of), this poem provides an interesting starting point for an examination of musical traveller-identity with implications for what it meant to encounter ‘Other’, either physically or mentally. Though Dowland was a ‘voluntary’ ex-pat and Bull an ‘involuntarily’ exile, both men enjoyed considerable contemporary legacies, both in England and on the Continent. But what of composers home in England? Some of Morley’s work had been translated/published in other countries, and there is some evidence of Byrd’s music abroad. But how did this sort of distanced reputation compare with those of the composers who actually worked in foreign lands? Looking at infrastructure, case studies, and composers, this paper will examine what foreign travel (both in act and in idea) meant to an early seventeenth-century English composer and how these concepts were manifest in music, text, and identity.


Philippe Cathé, 'Some Insights on John Dowland’s harmonic language'

Referring to a broad corpus including Dowland’s First Book of Songs as well as the Lachrymae and A Pilgrimes Solace, this paper will analyse some specificities of Dowland’s harmonic language as they emerged from the study of its root motions. The great changes occurring at the end of the Renaissance on a harmonic point of view were sometimes overshadowed by the fact that the chords used then and during the following first Baroque era were identical. However, recent extensive studies based upon Nicolas Meeùs’s theory of the harmonic vectors have provided us with new results. More recently, new theoretical developments have shown how the growing proportions of some root motions are linked to the global triadic evolution of music of this period, motions later associated to tonality. On the contrary, the influence of some dissonances which were characteristic of the Renaissance era weakened, a fact that has also been linked to root motions. The aim of the paper will be to show Dowland’s position within these harmonic evolutions. First, a large amount of statistics will give some insights on his music. As abstract as they may seem, these calculations will always be connected to music and scores. Then, these proportions will allow drawing comparisons between his musical language and the one of some of his great contemporaries, in particular William Byrd, Thomas Morley and John Bull. A closer study of his use of dissonances will be correlated to the asymmetry of dominant and subdominant vectors. This last comparison will allow a more detailed description of the composer’s specific place in the slow establishment of tonality.


Michael Gale, 'John Dowland, Celebrity Lute Teacher'

Two manuscripts apparently connected with John Dowland’s lute-teaching activities survive, but little attempt has been made to situate this aspect of his professional activity within a broader biographical narrative. This paper begins by sifting through the fragmentary evidence concerning the pedagogical activities of Dowland and his closest colleagues, mainly lutenists in royal service pursuing busy portfolio careers. The area around Dowland’s home in Fetter Lane, London emerges as a thriving centre for professional musical activity in the decades around 1600. With a ready supply of wealthy clients living close-by, teaching became an important means of securing additional income for these musicians and, more importantly, provided an opportunity to meet potential patrons.

As lessons with ‘celebrity’ teachers such as Dowland and Philip Rosseter became increasingly desirable as status symbols, the material traces that these men left behind (in the forms of signatures and autograph musical materials) also became highly prized. By certifying their presence in this way, both parties – the student and the teacher – could benefit from the increased cultural and social capital generated through these lessons. Although recent scholarship has focused upon Dowland’s masterful manipulation of print technology in order to enhance his professional reputation and advance his career, his participation in these important forms of socialised scribal activity is equally significant but has, thus far, remained comparatively underexplored.


Kirsten Gibson, 'John Dowland and the Elizabethan Courtier Poets'

In the address to the reader of The First Booke of Songes or Ayres (1597), John Dowland publicises his hopes that ‘The Courtly iudgement … will not be seuere against them [the songs], being it selfe a party’. This was an ostensibly tacit acknowledgement of the socio-political context in which at least some of the lyrics had been conceived, and of the social calibre of the otherwise anonymous versifiers. The lyric poetry set by Dowland in his four single-composer songbooks appeared, following convention, without attribution. While the vast majority of lyrics Dowland set remain, as they originally appeared in print, anonymous, work by both musicologists and literary scholars since at least the final third of the twentieth century has begun to illuminate the contexts in which a number of these lyrics were generated and, in some cases, to identify the authors. Most of the verses with secure attributions are by amateur versifiers, men identified by Steven W. May as ‘Elizabethan courtier poets’: Robert Devereux, second earl of Essex, Sir Edward Dyer, Sir Fulke Greville, Sir Henry Lee and Sir Philip Sidney. Drawing together work by musicologists, literary scholars and historians over the last 45 years, this article focuses on lyrics set by Dowland for which the ‘Courtly iudgement’ was ‘it selfe a party’. Building on critical editions by Stephen W. May and Edward Doughtie in particular, this study surveys those lyrics set by Dowland that can be firmly attributed to courtier poets, and will especially examine the place of Essex, and the circle of poets associated with his politico-cultural predecessor, Philip Sidney, in Dowland’s song output. The themes and functions of these lyrics will be explored, alongside the social, political, literary and musical milieu that connects them as they are brought together in Dowland’s printed songbooks.


David Gorton, 'Recomposing Dowland: Forlorn Hope for eleven-string alto guitar and optional electronics'

This presentation traces the composition process in David Gorton’s Forlorn Hope for eleven-string alto guitar and optional electronics, a twenty minute work written for (and in collaboration with) the guitar player Stefan Östersjö, and premiered by Östersjö and Juan Parra Cancino (electronics) at the ORCiM Research Festival at the Orpheus Instituut in Ghent in October 2012. The collaboration between Gorton and Östersjö was influenced by a number of factors, most importantly the instrument itself and the chromatic fantasia Forlorn Hope Fancy by John Dowland. The eleven-string alto guitar was developed in the 1960s by the Swedish luthier George Bolin, originally to play renaissance and baroque music but now increasingly used in contemporary music. A microtonal tuning system was developed for the guitar by Gorton and Östersjö, and a transcription of the Forlorn Hope Fancy was made for the instrument using this new tuning. The transcription then served as proto-material throughout the composition of the new piece, Forlorn Hope, where it was used as a compositional generator/filter in the selection of pitch materials, rhythmic and textural tropes, technical constraints and fingering patterns, and, through its partitioning, in the control of large-scale structure. The recomposition and reimagining of Dowland’s fantasia result in a fractured homage, in which the original moves in and out of focus within the context of a contemporary musical landscape.


Christopher Hogwood, 'John Dowland on the keyboard'

Despite the notable absence of any original ‘Dowland keyboard music’, 17th-century keyboard players were almost as familiar with his works as lutenists (who were often one and the same). More than fifty English and continental keyboard settings are known to survive – by such respected contemporaries as Bull, Byrd, Farnaby, Peerson, Philips, Scheidt and Sweelinck – but rarely performed today due to misgivings about the legitimacy of ‘arrangements’. In making the case for the reinstatement of these works in the keyboard repertory this essay surveys all known manuscript sources (with appendices listing modern editions and concordances with the lute originals) and illustrates the range of compositional approaches they represent: from simple, literal transcriptions to highly virtuosic elaborations, some evading and others embracing Dowland’s striking dissonances. Also published here for the first time is a new arrangement by Benjamin Cosyn of ‘Lachrymae’ from a recently-discovered manuscript source now part of the private collection of William H. and Judith M. Scheide.


David Lewis, 'Using computers to explore Dowland’s Lachrimae'

Dowland’s `Lachrimae’ pavan was not only one of his most popular compositions, but also saw rapid, widespread dissemination through England and the continent. It can be found in more than one hundred sources, including versions for lute, consort instruments, voices, keyboard and solo recorder.

In 2004, Gale and Crawford published the first systematic attempt to assess the settings, collating and listing the materials, and hypothesising about the transmission process. Such work is necessarily laborious and complex and, even for the study’s authors, keeping an overview of such a large amount of music can be challenging.

In this paper, we explore ways in which computational tools, coupled with digitised corpora, can help to enhance our interaction with such a body of closely-interrelated music. We compare fully-automated and user-guided approaches to the tasks and discuss the challenges to creating a perfect generic toolkit for dealing with this and related research questions.


Paul O’Dette, 'Dowland’s iPod: Some Possible Models for John Dowland’s Lute Fantasias'

It has been well-established that Dowland borrowed liberally from other composers in his dance music and lute songs, but the fantasias have generally been considered quintessential examples of Dowland’s unique genius. But are the elements that make these works so individual, really due to his own personal muse? Indeed, comparison with contemporary keyboard and viol consort music suggests that many of the most remarkable passages in Dowland’s fantasias were probably borrowed from the works of other composers, but combined in novel ways. This talk focuses on the music from Dowland’s iPod which inspired his greatest solo works.


Anthony Rooley, 'Dowland’s Ayres: intended for solo or a4?'

How can we decide John Dowland’s prime intentions? How much was it a process of ‘regularizing’ for print? Does it make any difference? What were the influences forming the printed format of the Lute-song Repertoire? These are the questions all performers of Dowland’s 87 songs should ask, but few of us do… In this exploration I propose certain solutions arising from the ‘inner’ information of the songs themselves, and the contexts for which they were composed.


Alon Schab, 'Lachrimae – a Passionate Interpretation'

Dowland’s Lachrimae—a cycle of seven ‘Passionate Pavans’—is difficult to contextualize: no direct model for it has been identified; the format of the publication in which it was printed was novel and unprecedented; the variation technique it demonstrates is too free to formulate; and the titles attached to each of the pavans are notoriously enigmatic. Ironically, Lachrimae also seems to be the one work whose proper contextualization may answer many of the questions regarding Dowland’s personality, patronage and religious views.

In my paper, I will discuss the unique status of the “Lachrimae problem” in Dowland scholarship, and suggest a new interpretation to Lachrimae and to the seven titles it bears, within the context of Catholic liturgy. The new interpretation may trigger re-evaluation of the relationship between composer, dedicatee and religious message, and may shed new light on Dowland’s religion.


Selim Yavuz, 'A comparative look at the settings of sacred texts by John Dowland'

Even though John Dowland himself declared that The Third Booke and Last Booke of Songs of Aires would in fact be the final songbook of his oeuvre, nine years later he published another one, which he called A Pilgrimes Solace. With this songbook, his usual choice of “worldly” texts showed slight alteration, and he included several songs that appraised sacred ideals alongside the accustomed earthly motivated songs. This paper compares the different stylistic characteristics Dowland employs, in A Pilgrimes Solace, and it shows the contrasts of musical assets between settings of these variously subjected texts. A crucial comparison with earlier songbooks also takes place. Robert Toft’s research on the “rhetorical artifice” of Dowland provides an important basis for this paper. Robert Headlam Wells and Anthony Rooley also have commented in detail on Dowland’s applications surrounding the bearing of the texts he sets in his songs. Rhetoric’s undeniable role in reflecting textual nuances aids to highlight composer’s musical choices on disparate subject matter. Dowland alters contrapuntal and harmonic associations between different voices as a result of meaning and appeal of the text. Howard S. Becker’s “art world” concept can be applied to Elizabethan society. Dowland’s decision mechanism involved and social implications surrounding the decision to include sacred oriented texts after, in his own words, “the fiftieth yeare of mine age” illustrate the constraints and conventions of this society. This paper canvasses both musical features surrounding A Pilgrames Solace and the society enforcing the decisions lay before the composition of the book.