Weep O Mine Eyes – Learning Tracks

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If you’re going to start anywhere with the English Madrigal it might as well be here. Bennett’s deployment of Dowland’s famous “Lachrymae” motif (the opening 4 note descending tune) begins perhaps the most well known of all the melancholic songs of the time. To make this polyphony really effective try making an arched phrase of each individual line. This way, the texture ebbs and flows between the voices and gives the listener an almost mesmeric experience. There are some nice instances of word painting here (to swell so high) but one other word is worth pointing out. We usually perform these madrigals a capella but back in the day they were often accompanied by a consort of viols. The word “weep” was said to imitate the sound of the viol bow beginning quietly and crescendoing through, and this may be why there are a number of other songs of the period which start with that word.

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