Authenticity in Music for: John Dowland - Flow My Tears
There are several parts to what makes music authentic from the instrumentation to the piece of paper it is written on. I am going to try to explain what I believe makes an authentic musical performance in general and specifically towards John Dowland’s piece, Flow My Tears. I believe that authentic music is such that when one listens to it, they should feel as though they are in whatever year the music was written/played.
Flow My Tears is a song for lute composed by lutenist John Dowland. It was originally composed as an instrumental piece called ‘Lachrimae Pavene’ in 1596. This was regarded as one of Dowland’s most famous songs. The piece is classified as an ‘ayre’. Lute ayres were originally played towards the end of the 16th century and are solo songs usually accompanied by a lute. This piece also was key to the current art movement melancholia which, as deduced from the title, was art (and music) of a melancholic feeling. There were many variants of this piece usually instrumental. It is believed that it was an instrumental song originally and the lyrics were added at a later time – probably by Dowland.
To begin my argument for ‘what would make an authentic performance’ we will look at the instrumentation. This, I believe, is a big part of authenticity in music as instruments have evolved and now sound different, in terms of timbre, to what they did back in other centuries. The music was written for instruments at the time and therefore should be played on those instruments. For ‘Flow My Tears’, this late 16th century composition should have suitable instruments. For example, the image to the right shows what could be a version of an original score with on the lute score and lute tablature. In this case, the piece should be played on a 16th century lute. Now as far as the lute goes, there is not as much development as the instrument became less popular as string instruments became more popular and other instruments were invented such as the guitar and piano. But let’s say that this piece was arranged for a string quintet, in that case, you would have to...