In a league table of composers who have made a career out of exquisite misery (several names come to mind!), John Dowland must, surely, come somewhere near the top.
Flow, my tears, fall from your springs!
Exiled for ever, let me mourn;
Where night’s black bird her sad infamy sings,
There let me live forlorn.
Dowland’s song Flow, my tears (notice the lute tableture on the bottom line) is based on his lute piece the Lachrimæ pavan:
Dowland must have really liked this music (or, maybe it had proved very popular with his Elizabethan/Jacobean audience) since the composer, in addition to the two versions already mentioned, produced a whole series – seven in all – of pavans based on the tune.
The pithily named Lachrimæ or seaven teares figured in seaven passionate pavans, with divers other pavans, galliards and allemands, set forth for the lute, viols, or violons, in five parts, as its title suggests, combines the stately, lachrymose pavans with other, livelier, dance movements.
Semper Dowland semper dolens
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