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John Dowland, “Can She Excuse My Wrongs?”. Lute Song in Elizabethan England. Was the Renaissance Hit Parade from 1590s to 1610. Solo voice accompanied by lute. Lutes were also used in the French Air de Cour. Parts of the Lute. The top is called a soundboard .

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John Dowland, “Can She Excuse My Wrongs?”

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John dowland can she excuse my wrongs

John Dowland, “Can She Excuse My Wrongs?”

Lute song in elizabethan england

Lute Song in Elizabethan England

Was the Renaissance Hit Parade from 1590s to 1610.

  • Solo voice accompanied by lute.

  • Lutes were also used in the French Air de Cour.

Parts of the lute

Parts of the Lute

  • The top is called a soundboard.

  • The carving on the soundboard is a rose.

  • Inside the soundboard & back is the belly, a skeletal structure of wood .

  • The neck holds the fretboard.

  • The head is at an angle to decrease string tension.

Lute strings

Lute Strings

  • Strings were held taut by the bridge and nut.

  • Strings were made of sheep intestine, sometimes combined with metal.

  • Strings were arranged in sets of 2 called courses, except the highest string, a single called a chanterelle.

  • An 8-course Renaissance Lute will have 15 strings.

Queen elizabeth was an accomplished lutist

Queen Elizabeth was an Accomplished Lutist

John doland 1563 1626

John Doland(1563 - 1626)

  • Virtuosic Lutenist

  • Sensitive Melodist

  • Pensive Lyricist

  • Capable Singer

John dowland s beginnings

John Dowland's Beginnings

  • Born in 1563 to an English Family living outside Dublin

  • Family Class was upper artisan, like masons and tailors.

  • Early musical training unknown



  • 1580, Dowland studied with the best lute teachers, while serving England's Ambassador to France.

  • 1588 Bachelor of Arts from Christ Church, Oxford

  • 1597 Graduated from Cambridge

Dowland s personal life

Dowland's Personal Life

  • Emotional, Melancholic

  • Motto: Semper Dowland, Semper Dolens

  • Catholic Conversion while in France.

  • His Muse was not his wife: hardly mentioned.

  • Musical Successor, his son, Robert

Dowland s lute song masterpiece

“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 Lute Song Masterpiece

  • Best known work was Flow My Tears

  • Arranged as a consort, it was entitled Lachrimae, and was the most famous consort of the day.

Job of dowland s dreams queen s musician of lute

The Queen did not care to be overthrown.

Point of fact: the post went unfilled for 4 years

The hired lutenist was not paid until a year after hired.

It was about money.

Job of Dowland's Dreams: Queen's Musician of Lute

  • Dowland, believing his Catholicism denied him the post, renounced his faith.

  • When Dowland returned from France, seditious Catholics in league with Mary Queen of Scots were hanged for treason.

Can she excuse my wrongs or the earl of essex s galliard

Dowland's lute part was based on the melody of "Will Yow Walke the Woods soe Wylde", reputed as a favorite of Henry the Eighth

Did the song bring favor to Essex??

Can She Excuse My Wrongs?Or The Earl of Essex's Galliard

  • 1597 Dowland was commissioned by the Second Earl of Essex to set Essex's poem to music.

  • The Earl had fallen from the Queen's favor. And, he wanted to marry her for the throne.

Queen elizabeth ordered the earl of essex beheaded

Queen Elizabeth Ordered the Earl of Essex Beheaded

  • February 8, 1601, Robert Devereax, Earl of Essex, led a plot to seize the city of London and dethrone the Queen.

  • The Queen did not care to be overthrown

  • The Queen felt very badly afterward.

For doleful dowland a happy ending

For Doleful Dowland,A Happy Ending

  • 1612 King James I appointed Dowland a King's Musician for the Lutes.

  • Held the position until his death in 1626 and was succeeded by his son, Robert.

  • Over the course of his life, he wrote 4 lute books.

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