Cutting: Walsingham variations Francis Cutting (c 1550 – 1595/6) was one of the many excellent lutenists and composers who flourished in the late 1500s. He was not associated with court, and may have had independent means. You can read a brief biography of him here. His variations on Greensleves are incorporated in an earlier post here.
|The first three lines of Cutting’s Walsingham on a rather dog-eared page from the Matthew Holmes Lute Book. The full MS can be seen here. All respect to the transcribers.|
The popular air As I went to Walsingham was the subject of many 16th century lute arrangements, as described in an earlier post here.
There are 7 variations, most of which stick keep closely to the melody. Variation 4 is a set of divisions in traditional format that feel like a sort of exercise in left-hand fingering, the kind of music that if you do make a mistake it may well not be important so long as you are in scale and keep the rhythm going.
Bars 33 – 40 (variation 5) are in syncopated triplet format: I have notated them in 9/8 time.
I am perplexed by the last note in bar 50. It is shown as an ‘i’ in the lute transcription, and looking at the facsimile of the original there is a squiggle which does seem to mean ‘i’ (= fret 8 = F5 or f’’ on the ukulele). Dowland did this too, with an unexpected note high in the 1st string in his Farwell (P3), bar 30, last note. Come to think of it, Bix Beiderbecke used to do a similar thing in the 1920s.
The phrases in bar 40 are reminiscent of Dowland’s Go from my window (P64), bar 47.
You can hear Cutting’s piece, complete with the funny note, very nicely played on lute here.
Available to download in the following formats. The melody is appended to help in interpretation of the variations.