Lady Laiton's Almain in guitar tab & standard notation
Lady Laiton's Almain is an Elizabethan, Renaissance Period lute composition by John Dowland that, like a lot of his lute pieces, has found its way into the classical guitar repertoire. It's around intermediate level of difficulty, and, surprisingly for him, it's quite a cheerful piece.
The video contains the score, which you should view in full screen mode with HD playback quality if possible to ensure it displays clearly. The soundtrack is an audio rendition of the MIDI file generated by Finale (the notation software used to create the score) so that you can hear what it's supposed to sound like if your sight reading skills aren't quite at that level.
The score below the video is a static version of the same score. You can enlarge it with the HubPages Gallery feature which shows up when you click on any part of the score.
John Dowland - Lady Laiton's Almain
Download as PDF file
Click to view and download Lady Laiton's Almain as a PDF file for offline viewing and printing.
Study notes for learners
An almain, or alman, or even allemande, is a 16th century courtly dance that, supposedly, originated in Germany. Music being written for them outlasted the Renaissance Period and survived well into the Baroque Period. J.S. Bach composed a few of them.
The fretting-hand fingering is shown as a suggestion, although in some places you don't really have a choice. I haven't suggested picking-hand fingering as I don't feel it's necessary. If you have the skill to play this intermediate level piece, you certainly have the skill to use the most practical picking-hand fingering. If you're a fingerstyle guitarist unfamiliar with standard classical technique, the rule is to avoid using the same picking-hand finger twice in succession. Exceptions are for the thumb playing bass notes or chords that need all the fingers. Constantly alternating the fingers when you have to play successive notes on the same string makes for greater fluency.
These are marked above the standard notation staff in Roman numerals wherever barred chord shapes are needed. Tab readers should make a note of them, too, because they let you know which fingers to use for notes on that fret or higher.
Rolling or spreading some of the chords like you can hear in the audio track can make for a more lute-like effect. Don't do it on every chord, though. Another lute-like effect can be achieved by playing it with a capo on the 3rd fret.
Renaissance Lute to guitar transcriptions, unlike most pieces of the later classical period, also sound good on steel strings.
E G# B
Tonic (Home chord)
B D# F#
Dominant, (leading home)
A C# E
C# E G#
F# A C#
A# C# E
Secondary leading tone
Lady Laiton's Alman - Key and Chords
For those interested in knowing the musical structure of this piece - read on.
The key is E major and the chords used (i.e., formed by the combination of melody, harmony and bass) are shown in the chart.
Basically it alternates between the tonic or 'home' chord, E major and the 'dominant' chord, B major. Mostly it alternates between them quite directly, but it also sometimes takes a more interesting route via C sharp minor and F sharp minor.
The tonic is the home chord that the music always returns to and eventually ends the music with the appropriate feeling of finality. Most key-based music ends on the tonic chord.
The dominant chord is the chord built on the 5th scale degree of the key. It leads back home to the key chord more forcefully than any other chord.
The subdominant chord is the one built on the 4th scale degree of the key. One of its commonest functions is as a pre-dominant chord, that is, it leads naturally to the dominant chord, as is the case in this piece .
The submediant chord is built on the 6th scale degree of the key. It often acts as a tonic substitute - it's similar in sound to the tonic chord as it has two notes in common with it (E and G# in this key of E major) but different enough to sound unsettled and interesting.
The supertonic is built on the 2nd scale degree of the key. Its function is, like the subdominant, to lead to the dominant chord.
Secondary leading note diminished
This is the chord built on the 7th scale degree of another key. It occurs on the last beat of bar 3 (ignoring the pick-up bar) as notes C#, A# and E. So it's an A# diminished chord leading strongly to the dominant chord B major and treating B major like a new tonic chord. Hinting at a key change like this without actually pulling it off is called tonicisation. A simpler approach is to see it as F#7, a secondary dominant chord to B major but with the F# omitted.
John Dowland (1563-1626) was an Elizabethan composer who published a lot of lute music that transcribes very nicely for guitar. There are many classical or fingerstyle guitar arrangements of Dowland's lute music available. This is one, and you can see links below to two more Dowland pieces in some more hubs of mine here on HubPages. You can also learn more about John Dowland on Wikipedia.
Some easy classical guitar arrangements
Midnight - This is based on "Mr Dowland's Midnight" by John Dowland. The key is A minor.
Orlando Sleepeth - This is a fairly simple piece with an interesting change of rhythm for its second section. The key is D major
Kemp's Jig - This one is not by John Dowland but is anonymous. It's got the same Elizabethan vibe, though. The key is D major.
Keep in mind that these pieces predate our modern major-minor key system, so there are various chord changes here and there that aren't typical of music composed in the later classical period. Loosely speaking, though, they are in the keys.mentioned.
Lady Laiton's Almain is composed by John Dowland (1563-1626) and is in the Public Domain.
The score, audio and images are by chasmac and produced on Finale, Goldwave and Photoshop.
© 2014 chasmac
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