John Dowland By: Ryan McCarthy

John Dowland was born in 1563 in Dublin, Ireland. He spent time in Paris, Florence, Venice, and Denmark, but he spent most of his life in England. He was appointed a King’s musician for the lute at the court of King James I. He was part of this from 1612 to 1626 when he died.

Nothing is known of his childhood or training. John Dowland was a musician from 1580 to 1584 for the English ambassadors in Paris. Dowland received his bachelor of arts degree and converted to Roman Catholicism. King James I was one of Dowland's patrons. Dowland was a King’s musician for 14 years.

John Dowland

John Dowland mainly composed for the lute and voice. He composed “I Saw My Lady Weep” and “Sorrow Stay.” One of his most famous pieces is “Flow my Tears”. Many of his works were sorrowful.

The isms that link to John Dowland are naturalism and realism. Naturalism is the use of different tones and focuses on the mood. John Dowland wrote melancholy songs that talk about bad experiences. The mood of each song is seen through his word choice in the lyrics and the melodies of the lute. Realism involves showing the world as it is, not as it should be. His songs talked about problems that people face and how life might not always go the way we want it to.

Flow My Tears

By: John Dowland

Flow My Tears

Flow My Tears was published in London in 1600. It was originally written for solo lute. The piece can be sung by one person or by a small group. It can consist of four voices, each singing different parts. The song is accompanied by a lute and has a melancholy feel to it.

The song is about the narrator losing everything that makes him happy. There is no one to help him and he is helpless. The narrator says that he was content and then everything changed without warning. His pain and suffering will never end and he can’t do anything about it.

Renaissance Composition

I think that realism is linked to this piece. Realism is portraying the world as it really is. The lyrics of this song talk about how anything can change in a given second and people can end up alone. Life isn't always easy and it's often painful.

One of the most interesting lyrics to me is “happy, happy they that in hell, feel not the world’s despite." He is saying that although people are in hell, they are happy because they don’t have to deal with the problems in the world. The song is very smooth and it has a nice tune. Music is a big part of my life and I am always interested in learning more about it, especially when it is from various time periods.

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