John Dowland (1563 - 1626) was an English lutenist and composer. He was lutenist to Christian IV of Denmark (1598-1606) and James I of England (1612 until his death). In addition to composing lute solos, Dowland also published 4 books of lute songs. 88 Dowland lute songs and 90 of his lute instrumental compositions survive today. In 1600, Dowland published his Second Booke of Songes or Ayres of 2, 4 and 5 Parts with Tableture for the Lute... Scroll down to check out performances of some Second Book material.
Cover page of Dowland's Second Booke (1600)
Contents pages from Dowland's Second Booke. This is the "greatest hits" list from 1600. This book includes the song Flow My Tears, possibly the most famous lute song ever written.
Another depiction of the vihuela from El Maestro
Click on the player above to hear Fine Knacks for Ladies from Dowland's Second Book. The lute part for this piece is written for a 7-course lute. I transposed the piece to a key more comfortable for me to sing - this, along with the fact that the piece is written for a 7-course lute, presented the problem of losing some of the lower bass notes from the original lute part. I rearranged as necessary, so that I could sing and play the piece solo. The recording above is a demo recording of me singing the piece while playing my slightly revised and transposed guitar arrangement.
Facsimile of Fine Knacks for Ladies from Dowland's Second Book
My transposed guitar arrangement for Fine Knacks for Ladies
The recording above is a demo recording of my alfabeto style 5-course guitar arrangement of Clear or Cloudy. For more information on my Dowland Alfabeto Project, and this particular guitar arrangement, click here.
Facsimile of Clear or Cloudy from Dowland's Second Book
Flow My Tears is one of my other favorite Dowland songs. Unfortunately, I have not recorded a performance of this piece yet! I will update this page once I do. The melody of Flow My Tears is the same as Dowland's lute piece, the Lachrimae Pavan. The Lachrimae Pavan appears in the "Dowland" Folger MS, c. 1590. Click the player below for my demo recording of Lachrimae Pavan - you can practically hear the words of the lute song being spoken by this Pavan!
Facsimile of Flow My Tears, from Dowland's Second Book (1600)
While listening to the Lachrimae Pavan, it always helps to think about the lyrics to Flow My Tears.
Flow my tears fall from your springs,
Exiled, forever let me mourn
Where night's black bird her sad infamy sings,
There let me live forlorn
Down vain lights, shine you no more
No nights are dark enough for those
That in despair their last fortunes deplore
Light doth but shame disclose
Never may my woes be relieved
Since pity is fled
And tears, and sighs, and groans my weary days (my weary days)
Of all joys have deprived
From the highest spire of contentment,
My fortune is thrown
And fear, and grief, and pain for my deserts (for my deserts)
Are my hopes since hope is gone
Hark, you shadows that in darkness dwell,
Learn to contemn light
Happy, happy they that in Hell
Feel not the world's despite