Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Flow My Tears - the policeman said

"Flow, My Teares (Lachrimae)"
(John Dowland 1563-1626)

Flow my teares fall from your springs,
Exilde for ever: Let me morne
Where nights black bird hir sad infamy sings,
There let me live forlorne.

Downe vaine lights shine you no more,
No nights are dark enough for those
That in dispaire their last fortunes deplore,
Light doth but shame disclose.

Never may my woes be relieved,
Since pittie is fled,
And teares, and sighes, and grones  
My wearie days of all joyes have deprived.

From the highest spire of contentment,
My fortune is throwne,
And feare, and griefe, and paine 
For my deserts, are my hopes since hope is gone.

Hark you shadowes that in darnesse dwell,
Learn to contemne light,
Happy they that in hell
Feele not the worlds despite.

Flow My Tears - The Policeman Said, the novel by Philip K. Dick, refers to this haunting song from long ago and only yesterday (the Sting 2006 recording). By the time the novel's policeman appeals to his tears, they well-up easily enough in the reader. There seems to be reference to Dick's long departed twin sister in this work which, of course, adds to the melancholy.

I particularly like this version of the song because it employs at least rudimentary vocal harmonies rather than being set as a vehicle for countertenor solo.

Lachrimae (the song to which words were later added) is sometimes presented in counterpoint form, but, sadly, not at the same time for voice. I'm just not a period purist in aspiration.

"It is hard to write a beautiful song. It is harder to write several individually beautiful songs that, when sung simultaneously, sound as a more beautiful polyphonic whole. The internal structures that create each of the voices separately must contribute to the emergent structure of the polyphony, which in turn must reinforce and comment on the structures of the individual voices. The way that is accomplished in detail is...'counterpoint'." - John Rahn

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