John Dowland (1563-1626): Transcriptions for Cello

The vocal music of John Dowland (1563-1626) lends itself beautifully to being played on the cello. The 88 songs with lute accompaniment that were published in several volumes starting with his “Firste Booke of Songes or Ayres” in 1597 are presented by Dowland simultaneously also as four-part madrigals. While the songs can be transcribed as simple cello melodies with guitar (or lute, keyboard etc) accompaniment, the same songs as four-part madrigals lend themselves perfectly to being played as cello quartets. That makes two beautiful future transcription projects !

1: “Come Again” (1597)

From the “First Book of Songes or Ayres”(1597), we have transposed this song into D major in order to be able to comfortably play it in both a higher and lower octave. In this way, we can play the first verse in the lower octave, followed by a second verse one octave higher, as though we were going from a tenor to a soprano voice, and then we finish again with a shorter third verse in the lower octave.

  1.   Edited Performance Version
  2.   Clean Performance Version
  3.   Keyboard Score

A play-along audio of the accompaniment, “played” on the guitar,  can be found here below. If we actually download it then we can play it at different tempi with the wonderfully useful and simple Amazing Slowdowner program. This possibility is especially useful in Renaissance music because so much of the music of this period can be played at very different speeds: