Holborne – Pavane and Galliard Essay

Holborne’s Pavane ‘The image of melancholy’ and Galliard ‘Ecce quam bonum’ (Behold, how good a thing is) are two pieces that belong to the genre of ‘consort music’, a form of domestic music that made its appearance in Elizabethan England. A consort may have derived from the French ‘concert’ which implied an ensemble of instruments or voices that perform. In later years, from about 1575, ‘Broken consorts’ were introduced and these included mixed ensembles. The usual instrumentation for a broken consort was lutes, viols (treble and bass) and flute.

Consorts of viols began to appear during the time of Henry VIII with the earliest source of the music being a songbook of Henry VIII, found after his death that included copies of Viol consorts.

There are three main types of consorts, one being the Pavane and Galliard, which is a dance form. In many of the pieces, the writing was very similar to that of contemporary writing for voices; therefore it was usually polyphonic in texture.

When paired together, the Pavane usually takes the more melancholy character, while the Galliard a more cheerful one which is shown in these two movements by Holborne. Although dance forms were used for both movements, the dense counterpoint provides melodic interest for all five players and also listeners, which suggests the music to be more for listening than dancing. Not much is known about Holborne, but he did publish two collections of music with about 120 works altogether.

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