Dowland: Queen Elizabeth’s Galliard (P 41)
|Miniature of Queen Elizabeth I playing the lute.
(Thumb under or thumb over?)
This is a rather more challenging piece than The Queen’s Galliard, which I posted a few days ago.
Not only was Queen Elizabeth I a player of the lute (and possibly 4-course guitar), but she was also an enthusiastic dancer – one way for her to exercise. I like to think of her dancing vigorously to this galliard, and the other dancers being very careful.
Knowing little of Renaissance dancing (except from watching Wolf Hall) I have done a little background reading. The galliard was a frisky dance in triple time, with 5 steps to 6 beats (or 2 bars); the missing step is a jump on beat 5, in the middle of bar 2. The most familiar tune in galliard form is, at least to the British, God save the Queen, presumably with the jump on the second syllable of ‘gracious’.
The first 16 bars of Queen Elizabeth’s Galliard are in 3/4 time. It took me a little while to divine that the rest of the piece is in 9/8 time (I hope), which must have made the dancing interesting. As it’s quite quick (I have heard performances of 80 – 100 bpm – how on earth do they do that?), it involves a lot of fast chord changes at the beginning, and the divisions in bars 9–16 are, to be honest, terrifying. Perhaps one day …
Anyway, do have a look:
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