John Johnson: Variations on Walsingham
|A facsimile of the first three lines from a Matthew Holmes Lute Book published by the Cambridge University Digital Library here: https://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/view/MS-DD-00002-00011/188.|
John Johnson (c. 1545 – 1594) was a lutenist and composer in the court of Elizabeth I. He was the father of Robert (1583 – 1663) who followed the same trade and may have been the author of some lute pieces attributed to John Dowland.
This is perhaps the simplest setting of “Walsingham” (see blog page on the song for more info) that I have found so far: good fun to play and a good one to start with. It has six variations of 8 bars, and a seventh and final one of 12 bars. The earlier variations keep quite closely to the melody (appended), and the 5th and 6th are particularly jaunty.
I couldn’t find a trancription easily, so I had to try to make one myself from the published facsimile, which you can see above. It is unfortunate that although Matthew Holmes wrote text in a version of the chancery hand, his music setting is in what looks to my inexperienced eye as the secretary hand, and written quickly. Also, mice had eaten some of the first two bars, so I had to rely on my imagination in places. One good thing is that the composer did not make too much use of the lower strings, which we lack on the ukulele. Apologies for any errors or infelicities.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
You can download a pdf file of the transcription for ukulele here… and the TablEdit file here.