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‘With sound of lute and pleasing words’: The Lute Song and Voice Types in Late Sixteenth- and Early Seventeenth-Century England

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 November 2021

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The Elizabethan and Jacobean lute song (1597–1622) represents one of the most iconic genres of all early music. Although much literature has been dedicated to this repertory, the issue of the voices for which this music was probably intended still remains surprisingly underexplored. This subject has, moreover, acquired greater significance in light of research undertaken by Simon Ravens (2014) and Andrew Parrott (2015), which has challenged the plausibility of the falsetto voice in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, particularly in sacred music.

This paper explores the issue of the types of voices that most likely performed the Elizabethan and Jacobean lute song in three ways. Firstly, contemporary English evidence for lutes and viols is analyzed together with information regarding tuning and transposition. Secondly, the music itself is investigated, including the part names and clefs used alongside the tessitura of the melodic line. Finally, a detailed examination of evidence for the tenor and falsetto voice is presented, including a critical examination of the word ‘faine’ (usually assumed to mean ‘falsetto’). The collective results are then brought together to refine current ideas regarding the voices used in the Elizabethan and Jacobean lute song.

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© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal Musical Association

‘ … Dowland to thee is deere, whose heauenly tuch

Vpon the Lute, dooth rauish humane sense:

Spenser to me, whose deepe Conceit is such,

As passing all conceit, needs no defence.

Thou lou’st to heare the sweet melodious sound,

That Phoebus Lute (the Queene of Musicke) makes:

And I in deepe Delight am chiefly drownd,

When as himselfe to singing he betakes … ’Footnote 1

‘VVHilst vitall sapp did make me spring,

And leafe and bough did flourish brave,

I then was dumbe and could not sing,

Ne had the voice which now I have:

But when the axe my life did end,

The Muses nine this voice did send’.Footnote 2

Towards the centre of a small anthology of 20 poems about love, published in 1599 and attributed on its title page to none other than William Shakespeare (1564–1616),Footnote 3 a verse is found which meditates briefly on the interrelationship between ‘Musicke and sweet Poetrie’ (see the first of the above extracts). Paying homage in its 14 lines to two celebrities of the Elizabethan musical and literary worlds – John Dowland (1563–1626) and Edmund Spenser (1552–99) – and simultaneously reflecting on the close marriage between poetry, singing, and the lute, there can surely be no clearer symbol of the status which this musical combination had attained by c.1600. By this time, the lute had also cemented its reputation as the ‘Queene of Musicke’: it was mentioned in countless contemporary texts, often linked to famous musical figures from antiquity like Amphion and Apollo, and it was even sometimes described in a quasi-religious manner (as a former tree that had acquired a divinely bestowed musical voice in its ‘afterlife’, like in the second extract above by Spenser). Indeed, over the 25-year period of its peak (1597–1622), some 30 different lute song collections appeared in print, amounting to a total of more than 600 songs.Footnote 4 After eventually falling out of fashion by the 1630s, this repertory was once again brought to public attention by Edmund Fellowes (1870–1951), whose editions of The English School of Lutenist Song-Writers from the 1920s onwards provided the impetus for further scholarly research and helped secure the lute song’s continued presence in modern times, both in commercial recordings and the popular imagination at large.Footnote 5

Yet despite the wealth of scholarship dedicated to this repertory, the types of voices for which it was probably intended has received surprisingly little attention to date.Footnote 6 In some respects, this may seem inevitable, since any attempt to establish precise parameters is confronted by the truism that no Elizabethan or Jacobean voices survive and also, as the influential French writer Pierre de La Primaudaye (1546–1619) observed, ‘we seldome see that the speaking and singing of one resembleth the speech and tune of another’.Footnote 7 Furthermore, singing was a social phenomenon that traversed all strata of English society, and evidence for lute accompaniment occurs quite frequently within this complex web of singing practices, both in amateur and professional music-making.Footnote 8 Indeed, the earliest surviving English lute music, such as Royal Appendix 58 (after 1551) and Stowe 389 (1558), both held in the British Library, shows a strong connection to the voice via tablature accompaniments to popular songs and solo versions based on them.Footnote 9

The general lack of scholarly interest in the voice types associated with the Elizabethan and Jacobean lute song has nonetheless acquired fresh significance in light of recent research challenging the plausibility of the falsetto voice in this period. In 2015, for example, Andrew Parrott re-examined evidence previously assumed to document the countertenor or falsetto voice in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century sacred vocal music, concluding that terms like ‘fausset’ or ‘falsetum’ had been misunderstood and that modern vocal pitch had also fuelled misinterpretation of the notation.Footnote 10 In the previous year, Simon Ravens published a chronological investigation of the falsetto voice (from the Ancient Greeks through to the twentieth century) that also considered aspects like human physiology alongside national and cultural vocal stereotyping. As a result of these independent publications, both scholars concluded that falsetto singing seems not really to have been used in Medieval and Renaissance vocal music.Footnote 11

Yet in spite of this, the idea persists that the lute song was ‘composed in the style of the professional, courtly, countertenor male voice’, which was ‘fashionable throughout the period and commonly developed among male vocalists’.Footnote 12 Focussing primarily on the printed lute song collections alongside relevant literary, archival, and iconographical evidence, this article will therefore attempt to refine current knowledge of the performance of this repertory via consideration of the following: (a) an investigation into the instruments used, their tunings, and evidence for transposition; (b) an analysis of the music itself, including the part names, clefs, and melodic writing; and finally (c) an examination of literary, documentary, and musical evidence for the tenor and the falsetto voice and their respective connections to the lute song. The combination of these different research areas collectively indicates that this repertory was primarily conceived for instruments in fixed tunings, with women and children singing the song melodies in the written treble register and men singing them in the octave below in tenor register.

Instruments and Tunings

Before discussing information relating to singing in late Tudor and early Stuart England, it is worth clarifying the instrument(s) which accompanied the lute song. The title pages and music of the printed collections indicate several possible performing forces, including multiple singers (up to six voices), tablature for lute or orpharion, and additional or substitutional bass viol or lyra viol (or occasionally ‘viols’). Two further printed music books with tablature add six more songs: four with bandora and two with cittern accompaniment (see Table 1).Footnote 13

Table 1. Instrumentation in the Printed Song Collections with Tablature

Note. The number after the composer’s name indicates the relevant songbook (i.e. ‘Dowland i’ = John Dowland, The First Booke of Songes).

This Table excludes Richard Allison, The Psalmes of Dauid in Meter (London: William Barley, 1599) and Robert Tailour, Sacred Hymns Consisting of Fifti Select Psalms of David and Others (London: Thomas Snodham, 1615), since these are not, strictly speaking, collections of lute ayres, even though they were also printed with tablature.

a Instrumentation listed relates only to the songs with tablature included in these collections; i.e. it excludes other pieces that some of these books also contain, such as unaccompanied madrigals, songs with viol consort, instrumental pieces, etc.

b The table includes the songs with bandora in William Barley, A Nevv Booke of Tabliture, iii (bandora), hence why it starts a year before the first printed collection of lute songs.

c Where instruments are named in the music, internal title page or preface (rather than on the main title page)

d Title pages of songbooks that specify ‘viols’ in the plural.

A careful examination of the lute tablature reveals that it is primarily intended for the ‘meane lute’ in g′, tuned g′-d′-a-f-c-G (Image 1a to 1c). Since the orpharion (Image 2) had identical tuning to a mean lute and could thus read the same tablature without affecting the pitch of the voice and viol parts, it is unsurprising that it also appears on certain songbooks as a suggested substitute for the lute.Footnote 14 Although largely ignored in modern lute song performances, the orpharion may actually have been the preferred choice of accompaniment for some contemporaries; for example, John Aubrey (1626–97) posthumously recorded his grandfather’s praise for Sir Carew Raleigh (c.1550–c.1625), who apparently ‘had a delicate cleare voice, and played singularly well on the olpharion (which was the instrument in fashion in those dayes), to which he did sing’.Footnote 15 Yet could these songs have been accompanied by differently tuned lutes as well?

Image 1a Anonymous Italian (?Venice) (c. 1630), 11-course Lute with ebony and ivory inlay (Museum No. 1125-1869) (© The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London, with permission). No English lutes survive from the period.

Image 1b Anonymous English or Northern Italian (c.1590–1600), Betrothal painting on a copper panel (© Derek Johns Private Collection, with permission).

Image 1c Isaac Oliver (c.1565–1617), Female figure playing a lute (c.1610), ink drawing, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) (© The Courtauld, with permission).

Image 2 Francis Palmer (London, 1617), Orpharion, Collection of Musikmuseet, Musikhistorisk Museum & Carl Claudius’ Samling, Copenhagen, Denmark Inv. No. CL 139 (© Arnold Mikkelsen, CC-BY-SA, The Danish Music Museum / The National Museum of Denmark, with permission).

A bass lute in d′, tuned d′-a-e-c-G-D, could theoretically have been used instead of a mean lute to suit a lower voice, although this was surely not ‘common practice’.Footnote 16 Bass lutes are in fact explicitly named only very rarely in surviving English nobles’ and gentries’ wills and inventories of the period (see Appendix 1a). Collectively, the largest proportion of this information shows typical ownership of only one lute, whilst references that do not follow this trend normally document ownership of only small numbers, that is, between ‘ij Lutes’ and ‘4 lootes’. Clearly, multiples on their own cannot be assumed to indicate contrasting sizes and tunings, irrespective of the possibility that they may have differed from one another in reality – a point which can be usefully emphasized via comparison with other instruments where variations in sizes and tunings seem unlikely, such as the ‘iij lutes’ with the ‘iij bandoraes’ in Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester’s (1532–88) inventory at Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire (c.1578) or the ‘Lutes viii’ with the ‘Vyrgynalles paires v’ in the inventories (1596–1609) of John Lumley, First Baron Lumley (c.1533–1609) at his various residences in Surrey, County Durham, and London.Footnote 17

Similarly, with virtually no exceptions,Footnote 18 listings that mention lutes alongside songbooks or other ‘lewting books’ provide no details regarding the instrument’s size and most likely relate to typical (i.e. ‘meane’) lutes, like the 1608 will of Godwin Walsall, Hebrew lecturer at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University, which simply records ‘a lute & a lute case’ alongside ‘Dowlandes songes in 2 volumes. sticht’ and ‘benetes songes in 4. partes. 4o sticht’.Footnote 19 In addition, only a miniscule number of literary sources connect the bass lute to solo song, and no English iconography convincingly substantiates this practice.Footnote 20 It seems that the bass lute was primarily used in lute consorts, like ‘the three lutes’ at court in which Robert Johnson (c.1583–1633) and Philip Rosseter (1568–1623) both variously played bass lute (see Appendix 1b), and in larger ensembles with other instruments, like those heard in the 1607 ‘Maske’ in honour of the marriage of Sir James Hay (c.1580–1636), First Earl of Carlisle to Honoria Denny, daughter of the Earl of Norwich.Footnote 21 Indeed, printed lute songs which explicitly stipulate a ‘base lute’ are exceptionally rare (just two out of more than 600 songs).Footnote 22

This situation is also similar for lutes in other tunings and sizes. Although other lute tunings existed on the Continent,Footnote 23 it is clear that, for contemporary English lutenists with any knowledge of musical notation and theory beyond tablature, the term ‘lute’ generally indicated an instrument with the top string solmised as g sol re ut.Footnote 24 In turn, the word ‘meane’ generally appears only where it was necessary to distinguish it from the ‘base’ lute.Footnote 25 These observations are confirmed by analysis of other contemporary English lute music, such as the surviving corpus of lute duets (c.1570–1610), which are almost always for ‘two Lutes tun’d alike’,Footnote 26 save a small number for mean and bass lutes (i.e. tuned a fourth apart) and a tiny handful of Continental pieces for two lutes tuned a tone apart, mostly copied from prints of Pierre Phalèse (1510–73).Footnote 27 Similarly, despite its misleading name, the ‘treble lute’ in the English mixed-consort music of Thomas Morley (1557/8–1602) and Rosseter was actually intended for a mean lute in g′ (‘treble’ perhaps simply hinted at the way its part was dominated by high fret positions, often on the treble string).Footnote 28

In addition, English evidence for the theorbo – which could theoretically act as a substitute for the mean lute in g′ due to its tuning – suggests that it was not really used or even widely known during the heyday of the lute song. Although this instrument was apparently first brought to England c.1605 by Inigo Jones (1573–1652), it is mentioned in very few sources pre-1620, and it also appears to have been seen as distinctly Italianate.Footnote 29 Indeed, only one English literary text apparently describes its use to accompany a solo singer and, significantly, this occurs within a deliberately Italianate context; likewise, the only surviving music printed in England pre-1620 to stipulate a theorbo is a collection of monodies and canzonettas by the Italian composer Angelo Notari (1566–1663).Footnote 30 Theorboes are also very rare in surviving English inventories and other documents until after 1630,Footnote 31 even though one is depicted in the portrait by John de Critz (1551/2–1642) of Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth (1587–1652) from c.1620 held in Penshurst Place.

Lastly, the viol required in these collections appears variously as ‘viol de gambo’, ‘base violl’, or simply ‘viol(s)’ (Image 3). These words are used interchangeably, and there is nothing to suggest that they indicated anything other than an instrument in standardized tuning; indeed, some books explicitly stipulate a bass viol ‘tunde the Lute way’, that is, its normal tuning of d′-a-e-c-G-D (the tuning of the tenor viol matches that of the mean lute in g′).Footnote 32 The lyra viol is also occasionally called for in the lute song books, yet this is not so much a distinct instrument from the bass viol as an alternative manner of playing, using tablature to accommodate chordal accompaniment and different tunings – a point exemplified by the second book of songs (1601) of Robert Jones (fl. 1597–1615), which includes two options for the bass viol part: the normal bass line (‘the base Violl the playne way’) and a chordal part written in tablature (‘the Base by tableture after the leero fashion’).Footnote 33 Only later on was the lyra viol possibly a distinct instrument in its own right.Footnote 34

Image 3 John Rose (active 1552–61), Bass viola da gamba c.1600 (accession number 1989.44) (© The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), New York, with permission).

Significantly, the written pitch of the bass viol part clearly supports the use of a mean lute in g′ (or an orpharion): indeed, only four songs out of the entire printed corpus under consideration have viol and lute parts in different keys, and the wording on two of their respective title pages provides a simple solution to this apparent problem by calling explicitly for lute, orpharion, ‘or’ bass viol.Footnote 35


Having clarified the lute and viol intended in this repertory, it must briefly be investigated whether contemporary musicians ever transposed lute songs to suit their own pitch preferences. At this time, lute- and viol-sounding pitch was not standardized and partially depended on optimal tensile strength of strings.Footnote 36 However, it seems that pitch may not have varied as widely as is sometimes claimed, and much evidence also survives of lutes playing in ensembles where they had to play to a given pitch.Footnote 37

English lutenists certainly used transposition, for it is discussed in the English version of the famous lute treatise by Adrian Le Roy (c.1520–98), a work which was even cited in the Varietie of Lute-lessons (1610) by Robert Dowland (c.1586–1641).Footnote 38 Yet Le Roy’s treatise is of suspect relevance for the lute song. Firstly, he discusses transposition of music for solo lute, not lute with other musicians; secondly, he transposes music written in mensural notation – French chansons by Orlando di Lasso (1530/32–1594) – not music written in tablature; and thirdly, despite writing for those ‘without great knowledge of Musicke’, his apparently easy method includes errors in the transcriptions.Footnote 39

Despite this, the survival of some lute songs in versions using different keys could seem to provide indisputable evidence for transposition, at least in certain cases. A good example is ‘Flow my Teares’ (or ‘Lachrimæ’) by John Dowland, which exists in a five-part instrumental arrangement in the same key as the original song (A minor), a setting for mixed consort a fourth higher (D minor), various solo lute versions written both in the original key and a tone lower (A minor and G minor respectively), and also a setting for bandora (C minor).Footnote 40 However, the overwhelming majority of printed lute songs do not survive in such versions; furthermore, rather than indicating possible options for the singer, those few examples of songs that survive in different keys generally suggest that this instead reflected the choice of performing forces (i.e. vocal or purely instrumental).Footnote 41 Transposition of the tablature likewise necessitated rewriting it out, but the small number of surviving examples of songs in different keys raises doubts over the frequency of this practice.

In addition, a tiny handful of printed lute songs have tablature in a different key and pitch to the melody it accompanies (see Table 2).Footnote 42 These songs therefore do not work if performed as written: seven examples occur in Robert Dowland’s A Mvsicall Banqvet (1610) alone. Several similar examples also exist in certain manuscript sources such as the ‘Dallis Manuscript’, Trinity College Dublin, MS 410/1 (c.1583) and British Library, Additional Manuscript 4900 (c.1604).Footnote 43 Yet all these instances can be explained simply through a general desire to avoid ledger lines or too many accidentals in the written vocal part.Footnote 44 The lutenist presumably played the tablature on a mean lute in g′ rather than retuning or playing another (differently tuned) lute to match the written vocal pitch in these rare cases; the singer thus inadvertently transposed to fit the lute in these few instances, since this was clearly the simplest (and, by proxy, likeliest) solution.Footnote 45 It therefore seems that lutenists utilized transposition only in specific cases and thus probably did not transpose lute song tablature on a regular basis, if at all.

Table 2. Lute Songs in the Printed Collections (1597–1622) with Pitch Disparity between Voice and Lute Tablature

Note. The data assume the use of a mean lute in g’ for the lute tablature in all pieces. Theoretically, the use of a bass lute in d’ resolves the pitch disparity in Campion’s The Third and Fovrth Booke of Ayres, iii, song 10; and Mason & Earsden, The Ayres that vvere svng and played, songs 7 and 9. However, this solution seems unlikely since it would in turn imply that the remaining pieces in the table also require differently tuned lutes, which is problematic in terms of (a) the miniscule total number of pieces that fit those apparent tunings, (b) the lack of stipulation for such lutes in the respective songbooks, and (c) the lack of evidence for lutes in such tunings in other English sources.

With the exception of those few songs just discussed, where a musical analysis makes it clear that the singer had to transpose to fit the lute, written evidence that discusses vocal transposition has similarly questionable application to the lute song. Indeed, music instruction manuals such as The pathvvay to Musicke (1596) generally mention this practice in relation to ‘plaine song’.Footnote 46 This term means a simple melody, like a metrical psalm tune, and it also frequently occurs alongside the word ‘descant’, in other words indicating a tenor or ground upon which polyphonic music is based.Footnote 47 Discussions of vocal transposition therefore do not relate to songs accompanied by instruments, particularly those reading from tablature.

There is also nothing in the voice parts of the lute songs that particularly suggests transposition possibilities. For example, an F3-clef or even a C4 or C3-clef in the bass part of around 40 of the printed lute songs could initially imply chiavette clef combinations (indicating downwards transposition, typically by a fourth).Footnote 48 However, this reading is at best unlikely and in reality unconvincing, since comparison of all the songs in the books where a chiavette song seems to occur actually reveals that the written cantus ranges do not differ substantially from one another, if at all. A notable exception is John Dowland’s A Pilgrimes Solace (1612), which contains eight songs with bass parts in F3-clefs and high cantus parts, but the chiavette solution is problematic here for several reasons.Footnote 49 Firstly, a bass lute would be required for these potential chiavette songs, but nothing in the book suggests this (it calls simply for ‘the Lute’) – surely an oversight given the apparent rarity of such instruments. Secondly, Dowland’s other lute song books (including those with F3-clefs) do not convincingly employ chiavette, so their use in A Pilgrimes Solace would be difficult to explain; the same is true of the other lute song books produced by the printers linked to A Pilgrimes Solace.Footnote 50 In fact, the eight songs in question are no higher if performed as written (reaching up to g″ or a″) than a large number of other songs in the printed lute song collections. In any case, the practice seems to have been used in England primarily in sacred, not secular, music.Footnote 51

It therefore seems that, rather than transposing, one was instead expected to ‘learne quickly in what cléefe you should take your part’.Footnote 52 Indeed, two of the printed lute song books state that they were written for ‘all the partes together, or either of them seuerally’, clearly suggesting possible solo use of any voice part (irrespective of whether this was primarily a marketing ploy or not).Footnote 53 The lute song repertory thus seems to have been printed in a format which was intended to facilitate instant performance. This links more generally to a culture of music-making in which one could ‘in short time […] sing a difficult song of himselfe, without any Instructor’,Footnote 54 an attitude exemplified by Edward Herbert, Lord Baron of Cherbury (1582/3–1648), who claimed that during his undergraduate days in the 1590s, he had ‘attaind also to sing my part at first sight in Musicke, and to play on the Lute with very litle or almost noe teaching’.Footnote 55 The lute song books themselves likewise occasionally speak directly to an amateur reader.Footnote 56 Thus, in short, there seems little reason to doubt that the obvious solution was the one intended by the composers and printers of the lute songs.

Voices and the Lute Song: Evidence from the Music

The combination of all the evidence presented above regarding different instruments, transpositions, and pitch possibilities raises important questions in relation to the sung melody, since it seems most likely that these aspects were considered to be reasonably fixed. What, therefore, does this tell us about the voice(s) that sang this repertory?

The title pages, prefaces and dedications in the lute song collections give almost no clues regarding the intended voice(s); they simply state that it is music ‘to sing’ (or ‘to be svng’) or instead stipulate a ‘voyce’ (or, where applicable, ‘voyces’) (Image 4a and 4b). The only three exceptions to this – Vltimvm Vale (1605) by Robert Jones (c.1577–1617), the Fvneral Teares (1606) by John Coprario (c.1570–1626), and A Booke of Ayres (1606) by John Bartlet (fl. 1606–10) – all indicate a ‘treble voice’ or ‘two Trebles’.Footnote 57 An additional hint is provided by Coprario, who also mentions a ‘mean part’ which ‘may be added, if any shall affect more fullness of parts’, yet interestingly, this ‘mean part’ is called ‘alto’ in the music itself.Footnote 58 These ‘treble’ and ‘mean’ stipulations probably refer primarily to boys’ voices,Footnote 59 even though the word ‘treble’ was also sometimes used to describe a female voice.Footnote 60

Image 4a Philip Rosseter (1568–1623) and Thomas Campion (1567–1620), A Booke of Ayres, Set foorth to be song to the Lute, Orpherian and Base Violl (London; Peter Short, 1601), title page (British Library, Music Collections K.2.i.3.) (© British Library Board, with permission).

Image 4b John Danyel (1564–c.1626), Songs for the Lvte, Viol and Voice (London; Thomas East, 1606), title page (British Library, Music Collections K.2.g.9.) (© British Library Board, with permission).

Just like ‘treble’ and ‘mean’, the words ‘cantus’ and ‘altus’ are also linked more generally to children.Footnote 61 Judged on evidence from contemporary literary sources, it seems that the boys who sang such treble and mean parts could have been aged up to 14 or 15 years old and were expected to have ranges from around a, b, or c′ up to g″ or a″, which perfectly suits the treble and mean range ‘cantus’ parts in the lute song collections.Footnote 62 Although still relatively uncommon today,Footnote 63 performances of lute songs by boy trebles were clearly more widespread c.1600, as substantiated by references in literary sources, noble correspondence, state documents, and also stage productions, particularly those of the children’s drama companies.Footnote 64 Alongside descriptions of a character like a pageboy singing to a lute or viol, as in two plays by Nicholas Breton (?1545–?1626),Footnote 65 boys also played female characters, as documented explicitly in VVhat Yov VVill by John Marston (1576–1634), where the schoolboy Holifernes Pippo was granted leave ‘to play the Lady in commedies presented by Children’.Footnote 66 Unsurprisingly, some of those plays performed ‘by Her Maiesties Children, and the boyes of Paules’, like John Lyly’s (?1554–1606) Sapho and Phao (1584) and Marston’s The Dutch Courtezan (1605), also included a female character who ‘singes to her Lute’.Footnote 67

Turning to the inside of the songbooks and the music itself, the part designations do not really elucidate further the question of the intended voice(s) (Image 5). What at first glance appears to be a correlation between the names ‘cantus’, ‘altus’, ‘tenor’, and ‘bassus’ and their modern choral counterparts turns out to be rather less clear-cut; indeed, it quickly becomes apparent that these names primarily indicate the hierarchical relationship of one part to another rather than the assignment of each part to an exact vocal type and range.Footnote 68 For example, a number of the songbooks include songs with ‘cantus’ and ‘altus’ ranges and clefs that are virtually or even completely identical to one another, such as ‘Sweet was the song’ by John Attey (d.c.1640), where both the ‘cantus’ and ‘altus’ parts use a G2-clef and have a range of e′ to a″, or ‘On a time in summers season’ by Robert Jones, where both parts use C1-clefs and have a range of d′ to e″.Footnote 69 In contrast, other songbooks have ‘altus’ parts that are decidedly ‘tenor-like’ in register and also exhibit terminological fluidity between part names, as exemplified via comparison of three songs by Thomas Campion (1567–1620): ‘Vaine men whose follies make a God of Loue’ (‘altus’, C3-clef, range d to f′), ‘Harden now thy tyred hart’ (‘contratenor’, yet with identical clef and range as the former example), and ‘Now hath Flora’ (whose ‘Tenor part’ is written in both C2 and C3-clefs with range d to g′).Footnote 70 Similar instances between ‘tenor’ and ‘bassus’ parts could likewise be highlighted; for a pertinent example, compare the ‘Basso’ of ‘What delight can they inioy’ (C3-clef, range d to g′) by John Danyel (1564–c.1626) with the ‘Tenore’ of another one of his songs, ‘Now the earth’ (C4-clef, range c to e′).Footnote 71 More significantly, in some of the collections for solo voice, like the two books of ayres (1610 and 1612) by William Corkine (fl. 1610–17), the word ‘cantus’ is routinely applied to the texted melody irrespective of its actual written pitch and clef (which sometimes extends down to c and uses a C3-clef).Footnote 72 Thus, whilst it would be wrong to claim that the part designations in these lute song collections are completely arbitrary or that they are so broad in application as to be totally meaningless, it is also clear that they are not intended to indicate a precise vocal type or range. Indeed, it is perhaps worth highlighting here that the words ‘cantus’ and ‘altus’ generally seem not to have described a voice type (‘treble’ and ‘mean’ were typically used instead).Footnote 73

Image 5 John Dowland (1563–1626), The First Booke of Songes or Ayres of foure partes with Tableture for the Lute (London; Peter Short, 1597), song 19 (sig.Kv-K2r): ‘Awake sweet loue’ (British Library, Music Collections K.2.i.4.) (© British Library Board / Bridgeman Images, with permission).

In addition, a musical analysis of the sung melody in the printed lute song collections reveals an overwhelming predominance of high clefs and range.Footnote 74 This can be explained simply in the songs scored for multiple voices via the ‘familiar and infallible’ harmonic rules which governed the process of writing ‘parts in counter-point’, for the presence of lower voices clearly necessitates a high (i.e. ‘treble’) melody.Footnote 75 Yet significantly, of the 322 songs scored for solo voice, only 21 have melodies that exploit lower written ranges and clefs (C3, C4, and F4-clefs, i.e. alto, tenor, and bass-clefs) (see Table 3); in contrast, 232 are in a G2-clef ( =treble-clef), 68 are in a C1-clef ( =soprano-clef) and one is in a C2-clef ( =mezzo-soprano–clef) – that is, a total of 301 ‘high’ solo songs or 93% of the overall total of solo songs (see Figure 1). These solo song melodies generally have a range of around an octave to a minor tenth (see Figure 2), normally somewhere within the compass of d′–g″ (i.e. the lowest and highest notes within a treble stave without using ledger lines); this incidentally matches the typical upper part of the songs set for multiple voices. Indeed, over 75% of the solo songs reach e″ or above. The total number of songs scored for a low solo voice can be extended only marginally beyond 21 songs by including the solo parts in the occasional dialogues and ensemble songs from masques that appear in these collections.Footnote 76

Table 3. Songs for Solo Voice Using Low Clef(s) and Range

Figure 1 Clefs used in the printed lute songs scored for solo voice. These figures exclude the first song from Campion, The Discription of a Maske […] in honour of the Lord Hayes (which has a tenor part at the back of the book) and the incomplete song (no.14) from Thomas Morley, The First Booke of Ayres (London, 1600). “Other” includes songs in C2, C3, C4 and F4-clefs alongside three songs in the collections of Tobias Hume that use a mix of clefs.

Figure 2 Average written range of sung melody in the printed lute songs for solo voice. The numbers in the vertical axis relate to the average range in intervals (e.g. 8 = octave; 9 = minor or major 9th, etc.). The mean was calculated correct to the nearest semitone. In the collections with a mode of zero, this indicates that there is no mode (i.e. no clef is more common than any other in the solo songs in this collection). The transposing songs in this collection have been analyzed as written (i.e. the sung melody has not been transposed in the above data); see Table 2.

It is well known that, alongside evidence for boys singing songs to lute or bass viol accompaniment, many references survive in plays, literary sources and letters which describe a woman singing to a lute or (less frequently) bass viol.Footnote 77 Such references can be contextualized within the frequently voiced contemporary opinion that musical skills ranked amongst those accomplishments which were ‘fit for a Lady or Gentlewoman to doe’, and with which she could ‘gette the lykinge of any man’.Footnote 78

Yet evidence for performance of songs or ‘ditties’ by a man with a lute in contemporary written sources appears with similar frequency as texts documenting performance by women.Footnote 79 Indeed, numerous literary references describe a lovesick suitor trying to woo his beloved or ease his suffering from the ‘straunge effects of loue’ by singing with his lute,Footnote 80 whilst other evidence includes references to named male lutenist-singers who were employed at court, such as Guillaume de Vermigny in the early 1560s, described as ‘the singularest player on the lute […] whereunto he sings very well’.Footnote 81 The lute songs themselves add further support to the observation that men and women alike sang these songs since their texts unambiguously express thoughts and desires from both gender perspectives. Yet numerous ‘male’ and ‘female’ songs could be cited which show either no or only negligible differences from one another in terms of clef and registral range – an observation that acquires further significance in the songs scored for solo voice, like the male and female character studies (written in the first person from the perspective of the character) in The XII. Wonders of the World (1612) by John Maynard (bap. 1577–c.1633).Footnote 82 This raises the critical question of the register in which men would have performed these songs: the high register as written using falsetto voice (or loft register), or an octave below sung in chest voice (or modal register).Footnote 83

The tenor voice and the lute song

Judged purely on the music itself, the ‘tenor’ voice – or, more accurately, a man singing the treble melody down an octave in his ‘natural’ modal register in chest voice (i.e. high tenor, tenor, or baritone depending on the song in question) – clearly represents a plausible solution to the registral ‘problem’ of the male voice.Footnote 84 Indeed, most of the songbooks have ranges whose upper notes extend up to g″, sometimes even a″. Important context is provided here by Thomas Morley, who explains in his A Plaine and Easie Introdvction to Practicall Mvsicke (1597/1608) that ‘all songes made by the Musicians, who make songs by discretion’ are set either in the ‘high key’ or ‘lowe key’ and have fixed clefs and ranges. Yet crucially, he then discusses ‘compositions for men onely to sing’ which, he says, ‘neuer passe this compasse’ – accompanied by written-out ranges for four voices, the highest of which only goes up to g′ – and that ‘you must not suffer any part to goe without the compasse of his rules, except one note at the most aboue or below’ (i.e. a′). In addition, the ‘Tenor’ of songs ‘in the high key’ reaches up to a′ whilst the ‘Tenor secundus’ of ‘compositions for men onely’ extends down to B♭ (see Figure 3).Footnote 85 Thus, in short, if the lute songs are sung down an octave by a man in tenor register, they match precisely Morley’s stipulations as outlined here.

Figure 3 Ranges and clefs stipulated for use when composing ‘all songes’ in Thomas Morley, A Plaine And Easie Introdvction To Practicall Mvsicke (London; Humphrey Lownes, 1597), iii, 166 (British Library, Music Collections K.3.m.16.) (© British Library Board, with permission).

A number of hints emerge from the printed song books with tablature that collectively point towards men singing the melody an octave below the written treble pitches. The first clue comes from the handful of songs with bandora accompaniment in A Nevv Booke of Tabliture (1596) by William Barley (?1565–1614).Footnote 86 Surviving evidence suggests that the bandora was particularly linked to the adult male voice in solo songs, which perhaps reflects the instrument’s ‘deepe’- or ‘base’-sounding register.Footnote 87 Indeed, whereas a number of sources describe men playing a bandora and also singing to it, such as on several occasions in Anthony Copley’s Wits Fittes and Fancies (1595), women are connected to the instrument only more passively, like listening to ‘sweet musicke’ on it, and references to a child singing to bandora accompaniment seem to be lacking entirely.Footnote 88 Surviving archival listings add further support to this observation, since these typically indicate male ownership of bandoras.Footnote 89 However, Barley’s sung melodies are all in G2-clefs and C1-clefs with written ranges from d′–f″. Even after the required downwards transposition of the melody by a fourth or fifth to resolve the different written voice and tablature pitches,Footnote 90 the melody is still noticeably higher than Morley’s suggested male vocal ranges – an observation that is all the more notable given Barley’s close professional relationship with Morley, having worked as his assign and printer of several of his music collections.Footnote 91 Sung as written, the tablature also sounds an octave lower than one might expect (i.e. compared to the voice-tablature relationship in songs with lute accompaniment). Sung down an octave, however, the ranges clearly fit Morley’s tenor and bass voice stipulations.

Hints also occur through printed songs that can be connected to known contemporary singers and musicians. Two songs are linked to Robert Hales (fl. 1583–1616), a ‘Groome of her Maiesties Priuie Chamber’ whose singing was admired by a number of contemporaries including Elizabeth I herself.Footnote 92 Both songs exploit high clefs and ranges (if sung as written by an adult male voice): ‘His golden locks’ from John Dowland’s The First Booke of Songes or Ayres (C1-clef, range f#′ to d″), which Hales seems to have performed at the Ascension Day celebrations of Elizabeth I in Westminster in 1590;Footnote 93 and Hales’s own composition ‘O Eyes leaue off your weeping’ in Robert Dowland’s A Mvsicall Banqvet (1610) (G2-clef, written range f′ to f″).Footnote 94 Yet the written vocal tessitura in these songs seems much less fixed once the lute tablature in A Mvsicall Banqvet is carefully examined. Here, the singer’s first note is always given as a cue before each song; this is generally taken from the appropriate note in the lutenist’s first chord, often an octave below the singer’s written pitch (as in Hales’s song). Yet significantly, in two cues in this book, the lutenist has the singer’s starting note twice in his first chord (i.e. at written pitch and an octave below), but he chooses to give the singer the note an octave below as a cue, seemingly hinting at performance by a tenor voice.Footnote 95 To these two songs may be added a third song, whose cue is not in the lutenist’s first chord but which falls easily under his fingers, again suggesting a tenor voice since it would be easy to strike the top string here.Footnote 96 Vocal cues also occur in a related collection of songs with lute tablature, arranged by Sir Edward Filmer (1565/6–1629): French Covrt-Aires, VVith their Ditties Englished (1629).Footnote 97 Like Robert Dowland, Filmer always gives cues an octave below the written pitch of the sung melody. Three of these songs have the starting note twice in the first chord but, like Robert Dowland, Filmer always chooses the lower pitch as a cue (an octave lower than the cantus), again hinting at tenor performance.Footnote 98

Two years after the 1590 Ascension Day celebrations of Elizabeth I, the Queen visited Sudeley Castle whilst she was on progress in Gloucestershire, where entertainments had been organized by Giles Brydges (1548–94), Third Baron Chandos (they were cancelled because of bad weather).Footnote 99 Amongst those due to perform in the Shepherds’ Entertainment seems to have been John Dowland (identified simply as ‘Do.’), who was to accompany the character ‘Cut.’ – perhaps Cutter of Cotsholde or possibly Cutty (i.e. Cuthbert) – in the song ‘Hearbes, wordes, and stones’.Footnote 100 Maybe these are the same as the two musicians who on the previous day would have stood next to Apollo and performed (‘one that sung […] one that plaide’, the latter on ‘lute’) ‘My hart and tongue were twinnes’, a song set by John Dowland in his A Pilgrimes Solace (1612).Footnote 101 Yet if the printed song in any way resembles the one intended for the Shepherds’ Entertainment, it would surely have been sung down an octave if performed by an adult male given the clef and range of its cantus part (G2-clef, range f′ to a″).

Two known contemporary singers are also linked to Campion’s ‘single voyce’ lute songs for the masque of the Earl of Somerset (1614). The first four numbers in this collection are respectively described as having been ‘made and exprest’ and ‘sung’ by ‘Mr. Nicholas Laneir’ (Image 6) and ‘Mr. Iohn Allen’; yet once again, these songs are written in C1 or G2-clefs and have overall ranges of d′ to g″.Footnote 102 Although Lanier’s vocal range cannot be confirmed through external evidence, the likelihood that he sang at tenor range is surely suggested by the description of his co-musician as ‘that most excellent tenor voyce, and exact Singer (her Ma.ties Servant, Mr. Jo. Allin)’ in Ben Jonson’s The Masqve of Qveenes (1609).Footnote 103 Thus, even allowing for the possibility that these songs could have been published in different versions to those heard in the masque, they clearly provide strongly suggestive evidence for a male soloist singing music written in G2 and C1-clefs down an octave in tenor register.Footnote 104

Image 6 Hendrick van Steenwyck the Younger (c.1580–1647), Painting of Nicholas Lanier (1588–1666) holding a lute (1613) (© Private collection, The Weiss Gallery, London, with permission).

A further possible hint that men sang from high clefs down an octave can be found in the few songs that exploit unusually large ranges and a variety of clefs. A pertinent example is ‘Robin is a louely lad’ from George Mason (fl. 1611–18) and John Earsden’s (fl. 1618) ayres performed at the 1618 ‘Kings Entertainment’ organised by Francis Clifford, Fourth Earl of Cumberland (1559–1641) in Brougham Castle, where various characters have solos in different registers (in G2, F4, and C3-clefs) before they join together for a final section and chorus in a G2-clef with a range of g′ to g″ – surely intended to be sung down an octave (or even two) by the singers with F4 and C3-clef solos.Footnote 105 Likewise, in the Ayres (1609) of Alfonso Ferrabosco II (c.1575–1628), two groups of three songs labelled ‘First part’, ‘Second part’, and ‘Third part’ demand an abnormally large overall range of 2.5 octaves from B♭ or c to g″ reading from G2, C1, and C4-clefs;Footnote 106 yet if the songs in G2 and C1-clefs here are sung down an octave, the overall range in each group (c–g′ and B♭–g′ respectively) conforms closely to the tenor ranges outlined by Morley.Footnote 107

Three songs using large ranges and different clefs by Tobias Hume (c.1569–1645) – two from The First Part of Ayres (1605) and one from Captaine Hvmes Poeticall Musicke (1607) – also deserve attention here, since they are closely related in style to the repertory under discussion even though they are, strictly speaking, not lute ayres.Footnote 108 Unlike the previous examples, the clefs alternate midway through both ‘The Souldiers Song’ (variously G2, C1, C2, and C3-clefs, with range g–g″ and tablature for tenor viol) and ‘The Hunting Song to be sung to the Bass-Viol’ (variously G2 and C2-clefs, with range g–a″ and sporadic tablature for bass viol).Footnote 109 Both songs were presumably meant to be sung in their entirety down an octave if performed by a man, since octave downwards transposition of only the passages in G2 and C1-clefs would create odd registral breaks with the passages in C2 and C3-clefs that are surely not intended.Footnote 110 When the whole melody is transposed down an octave, it not only brings the songs in line with Morley’s male voice stipulations, but it also resolves the otherwise peculiar incongruity between music (i.e. treble register) and text (i.e. from the soldier’s or huntsman’s perspective).Footnote 111 Indeed, it seems unlikely that a man singing the songs as written (in falsetto, reaching up to g″) could really convey with any gravitas for contemporaries the ‘wel gotten skars’ of battle ,‘the brauery of glittring shields’, and the ‘shoutes and soundes of hornes and houndes’ mentioned in the songs, particularly given Hume’s first-hand experience as a soldier.Footnote 112

The third song, ‘Alas poore men’ (variously G2, C1, C3, C4, and also F4-clefs, with range F–f″ and bass viol tablature), is slightly more problematic, since the F4-clef section would be too low if the whole song is transposed down an octave. Footnote 113 As it stands, its three-octave range exceeds by some way any other contemporary English music for solo voice, even outstretching works written several decades after 1650 for the bass John Gostling (1644–1733), who was famed for his low notes and had a range of at least two octaves (D–d′).Footnote 114 Likewise, other songs with large ranges from elsewhere in Europe c.1600 – notably in Italy by composers such as Ottavio Valera (early seventeenth century) and Giulio Caccini (1551–1618) are markedly different in character and style from Hume’s song, instead showcasing vocal virtuosity and utilizing many fast runs.Footnote 115 Thus, if ‘Alas poore men’ really was intended for performance as written by one singer,Footnote 116 how was he supposed to convey an appropriately sombre mood in its execution, as befitting the song’s accompanying performance instructions which clearly convey its serious nature as an ‘Imitation of Church Musicke’?Footnote 117 Likewise, given that English theoretical writings on music c.1600 considered the ‘naturall compasse of mans voice’ to be between ‘an Interuall by a Fifteenth’ and ‘xx. notes and no more’, how could printing the song have represented a sensible marketing decision, especially from a printer like John Windet (fl. 1584–1611) who had an established reputation?Footnote 118 Perhaps the F4-clef section was to be sung at pitch whilst the G2 and C-clef sections were to be transposed (as in the previous examples); in any case, the song clearly represents an unusual and exceptional conundrum.

Within the context of all the hints described above in the songbooks for men singing from high clefs an octave below, Campion’s observation in his Tvvo Bookes of Ayres (?1613) that ‘the Treble tunes, which are with us commonly called Ayres, are but Tenors mounted eight Notes higher’ surely acquires significance.Footnote 119 More crucially, in his singing instruction manual in The Schoole Of Mvsicke (1603), Thomas Robinson (c.1560–1610) – after discussing the ‘Gam-vt’ and its relationship to tablature – explicitly incorporates singing ‘eight vnder’ into his definition of singing ‘with the Lute in the vnison’:

‘Now you haue gotten the way to tune your voice, (note for note) with the Lute in the vnison, (that is: all in one tune or sound, or eight vnder) then you may rule your voice to the Viol also … ’Footnote 120

Francis Bacon (1561–1626) likewise notes in his Sylva Sylvarvm (1627) that the ‘Diapason or Eight in Musicke […] is in effect an Vnison’, as in bass courses on lutes tuned ‘one an Eight aboue another; Which make but as one Sound’.Footnote 121 Additional related evidence further substantiates contemporary performance of lute song melodies an octave below the written pitches by a tenor or baritone voice.Footnote 122 Yet what about a man singing the songs at the written pitch using falsetto voice (or loft register) and only occasional modal register for lower notes? (Image 7).

Image 7 Anonymous (c.1615), Wall painting of lute player, originally in a bedroom in the west wing of The Swan Inn, No.1 London End, Beaconsfield, now in Aylesbury Museum (© Bucks Free Press, with permission).

The male falsetto voice and the lute song

According to Michael Praetorius (1571–1621), the ‘falsetista’ of Continental polychoral music had the same range as the ‘Evnuchus’ and ‘Discantista’, that is from b or c′ to somewhere between e″ and a″.Footnote 123 Praetorius therefore primarily considered the falsetto voice to be a soprano voice (not alto, as it is typically used today). This ‘male soprano’ range is clearly sufficient to execute the cantus parts of lute songs as written, assuming the full upper range up to a″ is usable (which, incidentally, is usually not the case for modern countertenors or falsettists apart from specialist sopranists).Footnote 124 The word ‘falsetto’, however, appears to have been virtually unknown in England: it only seems to occur in the 1598 and 1611 Italian-English dictionaries of John Florio (1553–1625), who defines it as ‘a false treble or counter-tenor in musicke’.Footnote 125 Florio’s phrase ‘false treble’ also seems to be absent from other English sources until later on.Footnote 126 The Italianate context of this source is thus noteworthy, since falsetto singing seems to have been known in Italy, as famously described by the English traveller Thomas Coryat (c.1577–1617) on his travels to Venice in 1608.Footnote 127

Similarly, the modern association of male falsetto singing with the word ‘countertenor’ (which Florio could appear to substantiate) seems not to reflect general usage in England at this time, which may indicate Florio’s difficulty in finding a clear definition for ‘falsetto’.Footnote 128 The word ‘countertenor’ normally occurs alongside various combinations of ‘treble’, ‘mean’, ‘tenor’, and ‘bass’ in contexts ranging from choirs to bell sizes and forest birds;Footnote 129 its primary function as a part name is underlined through conflation with terms like ‘contra-tenor’, ‘counterbase’, and ‘counterpoynt’.Footnote 130 Only one source – Campion’s description of the 1613 entertainment at Reading for Anne of Denmark (1574–1619) given by Lord Knowles – apparently describes a ‘counter-tenor voice’ in music that may have resembled the lute song.Footnote 131 Its accompaniment by ‘two vnusuall instruments’, however, may suggest a specific intended effect here; perhaps this ‘counter-tenor voice’ sang a harmony part (like the altus) instead of the melody.Footnote 132 More significantly, the only example of a contratenor in Campion’s lute song books is actually written in a C3-clef with the range d to f′.Footnote 133 This range is not only virtually identical to other tenor parts in Campion’s songs,Footnote 134 but it also matches exactly two of the tenor ranges stipulated by Morley in A Plaine and Easie Introdvction: the ‘Tenor’ in the ‘low key’ and the ‘Tenor primus’ in the ‘compositions for men onely to sing’ (both in C4-clef, range d–f′).Footnote 135 The ‘counter-tenor voice’ Campion describes in the 1613 entertainment was thus probably a high tenor, not a falsettist.Footnote 136 Further support for this reading may be found in Le Roy’s description of lute strings (‘the high Tenour, called in Latine Contratenor […] is nexte to the highest, or Treble’) and Dowland’s translation of Micrologvs (‘the high Tenor, is the vppermost part, saue one of a Song’), amongst others.Footnote 137 Indeed, this meaning of ‘countertenor’ most likely derives from the term’s origins in late medieval music, where the ‘contratenor’ originally occupied a similar range to the ‘tenor’ and was later subdivided into ‘contratenor altus’ and ‘contratenor bassus’ respectively.Footnote 138

Lastly, it is important briefly to address the ‘Evnuchus’ mentioned by Praetorius. Although known to English readers through literary texts, the eunuch represented something theoretical, not real, in English society, as exemplified by those sources that refer to the Biblical passage in Acts 8 where Philip the Evangelist met the Ethiopian eunuch;Footnote 139 indeed, actual English contact with eunuchs was seemingly had solely by English ambassadors abroad.Footnote 140 Only a tiny handful of English sources mention a eunuch singing to a lute, a character that is primarily used to conjure up exotic authenticity in ancient and foreign settings.Footnote 141 Unlike in Continental princely chapels,Footnote 142 eunuchs seem not to have been employed in English royal or ecclesiastical choirs, nor are they apparently mentioned in descriptions of actual English music-making – a fact exemplified by the letters of Richard Champernoun of Modbury (c.1558–1622) to Sir Robert Cecil (1563–1612) in 1595, in which he fiercely denied ‘an ydle & vntrew report of mee as a gelder of boyes for preserving theyr voyces’, noting that such action would be ‘agaynst reason, & the law’.Footnote 143 More importantly, eunuchs were generally believed to represent an odd middle gender (‘lesse then a man, & halfe a woman’),Footnote 144 and were seen as ‘vnperfect’, ‘effeminate’, and ‘womanish’.Footnote 145 These negative assessments link to more general contemporary suspicion aroused by effeminate men, who were considered to ‘have degenerated into women’ and thus to have transformed ‘from the more perfect to the imperfect’;Footnote 146 indeed, he who ‘hath the voyce lyke a woman, is estemed of the wise to haue litle vnderstanding or knowledge’ – something that the aspiring courtly amateur male musician could hardly think it worth emulating.Footnote 147

On the face of it, therefore, evidence for the falsetto voice in the lute song appears to be absent. Nevertheless, the possibility that contemporary Englishmen used different terminology to ours to mean falsetto singing remains open. Indeed, the vocabulary used c.1600 to describe spoken and sung voices reveals slight differences between Elizabethan and modern English, and careful analysis is required to unravel the subtle nuances and meanings intended. For example, whether spoken, sung, female, or male, a ‘low’ voice often simply meant one that was quiet, weak or submissive (rather than indicating pitch), as in Thomas Ravenscroft’s (c.1588–1635) prefatory singing directions in The Whole Booke Of Psalmes (1633), which contrasts ‘low’ with ‘loude’.Footnote 148 Likewise, a ‘high’ voice frequently indicated excitement, emotion, or a loud volume rather than exclusively describing pitch per se; this is exemplified by Stephen Batman’s (d. 1584) observation that the ‘perfect voyce’ in music should (amongst other things) be ‘high to bee well heard’.Footnote 149 This conflation of ‘high’ and ‘loud’ versus ‘low’ and ‘quiet’ is frequently seen in contemporary descriptions of (loud) ‘treble’ versus (soft) ‘tenor’ and ‘bass’ voices,Footnote 150 and it can be traced back through several previous centuries in literary, musical, and theoretical sources from across Europe.Footnote 151 Thus, it seems that ‘high’ and ‘low’ often relate only partially or indirectly to pitch except where musical ‘notes’ or ‘sounds’ are explicitly described, but even here, the terms must be understood in a relative sense and therefore fail to provide clear evidence for falsetto singing.Footnote 152 Other words used to describe voices include ‘small’ and ‘litle’ – generally for women, children and eunuchs – or ‘great’ and ‘deepe’ – generally for men. This distinction occurs frequently and was linked to understanding of biological differences between ages and genders;Footnote 153 indeed, ‘a great voyce in a woman’ was considered to be ‘an euill sygne’, whereas men who had a ‘small voyce’ were thought to be weak.Footnote 154

Occasionally, specific musical terminology is also used. Several texts mention a man’s ‘treble voyce’, which could initially seem to indicate falsetto singing, although it should be noted that none of these references occur in relation to lute accompaniment.Footnote 155 A number of these describe the typical ‘ballad-monger’ or ‘common Fidler’ who, amongst other things, ‘can Match his Treble to the Uioll’.Footnote 156 However, these are illiterate singer-sellers who are usually portrayed in unambiguously unflattering terms – for example, as so impoverished that ‘his totall meanes amounts but to fiue markes, which he hath miseraby [sic] beene scraping all his life-time’ and whose best source of income is ‘Drunkards, and such as are lasciuiously inclin’d’ – a somewhat different context, audience, and performer from those of the printed lute song collections.Footnote 157 Furthermore, the collective references that describe a man’s ‘treble’ voice are not only tiny in number but they also seem to be predominantly metaphorical (meaning ‘at the top of his range’) rather than indicating literal pitches in a G2-clef.Footnote 158 The same is true of references to a man singing or exclaiming ‘a note aboue Ela’ (‘Ela’ was the highest note in the Guidonian system, i.e. e″), where a literal reading is undermined by the existence of similar wording in relation to women’s voices.Footnote 159

Discussions of the voice in contemporary anatomical and rhetorical works and almanacs provide further context here. In his Mikrokosmographia (1615), for example, the royal physician Helkiah Crooke (1576–1635) noted that a man might ‘vary’ his spoken voice ‘high, low, or in a middle key, or as we say Treble, Base or Tenor’,Footnote 160 whilst others like Robert Robinson (fl. 1617) and Richard Mulcaster (?1530–1611) used more generic terminology to describe man’s spoken range (from ‘shrill and lowd’ to ‘base and deep’).Footnote 161 Several writers noted that the ‘meane’ was the optimal spoken voice for a man, since a ‘meane voyce in sounde and in greatnes, declareth the man to bee wyse, circumspecte, iuste, and trew’.Footnote 162 Clearly, in such passages, ‘meane’ does not indicate the musical pitch associated with the ‘meane’ sung voice of a boy; rather, it relates here to a midrange adult male voice, and such usage was not confined exclusively to ‘scientific’ texts.Footnote 163 These writings about a man’s spoken voice in turn contextualize descriptions of a man’s singing voice that imply a similarly large range, like that of Philemon Holland (1552–1637), who noted that ‘Musicians are woont to guide and rule the voice gently by little and little up and downe, betweene base to treble, according to everie note as they would themselves, teaching their scholars thereby to have a tunable voice’.Footnote 164 Furthermore, the general preference for a ‘meane’ (i.e. midrange) adult male spoken voice convincingly explains why some texts that discuss man’s singing actually seem to conflate ‘a Meane, or Tenor’.Footnote 165 In any case, the rarity of references to a man’s ‘treble’ voice can be set alongside equally unusual descriptions of female voices that use words such as ‘alt’, ‘tenour’, and even ‘bace’.Footnote 166

Finally, the verb ‘faine’ or ‘feign’ (and its related adjectives) has sometimes been assumed to indicate the ‘falsetto’ voice in scholarship to date.Footnote 167 The musical use of this word seems to have been linked closely to its more typical nonmusical definitions: ‘to counterfeit’, ‘to inuent a lie’, ‘to falsifie’, etc., much like the modern ‘feign’. For example, the lexicographers Richard Huloet (fl. 1552) and Thomas Cooper (?1517–94) translate the Latin verb ‘incino, incinere’ respectively as ‘Singe a tryple, properly to fayne a small breast’ and ‘To sing: to feyne a small voyce: to sowne pleasantlye and with melodie’, thus equating singing a treble part with imitating or pretending to have a high voice.Footnote 168

A famous musical use of ‘faine’ that might perhaps indicate falsetto singing (possibly for a specific effect) occurs in Thomas Campion’s description of the 1613 entertainment cited above, where ‘the Robin-hood-men faine two Trebles’ in a five-voice song.Footnote 169 Yet the idea that this word generally meant falsetto singing at this time is questionable. John Florio, for example, does not link ‘faine’ to ‘falsetto’ (or ‘false treble’), even though he uses this word in another musical context, in his entry for ‘Croma’: ‘ … pleasant and delightsome musike with descant, faining or quauering’, a description which closely resembles Philemon Holland’s definition of ‘Chromaticke Musicke’.Footnote 170 Other sources also suggest a link between ‘faine’ and ornamentation, such as Nicholas Breton’s The Court and Country (1618), which twice contrasts ‘faine’ with ‘sing plaine’.Footnote 171

The word ‘faine’ elsewhere seems to relate to a soft volume in musical contexts. A pertinent example occurs in Cooper’s translation of a Latin quotation of Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (c.35–100 AD) (‘elisa voce canere, vel loqui’): ‘To feygne in singing: to speake in a small feygning voyce: also to speake or singe as one coulde heardely vtter his voyce’.Footnote 172 Other musical references appear to conflate ‘faine’ with ‘faint’ or ‘faintly’,Footnote 173 recalling in turn the frequently seen link between ‘tenor’ or ‘bass’ singing and a ‘soft’ delivery, as in contemporary translations of the Latin ‘succino, succinere’ (rendered variously as ‘to fain in singing’ and ‘To make a soft noyse: to sing a base or tenor’, etc.).Footnote 174 Indeed, in his 1593 translation of a French description of a nightingale’s singing, in which the bird traverses different polyphonic voice parts (from treble to bass), John Eliot renders the verb ‘contrefaire’ in four ways – ‘sings’, ‘counterfeiteth’, ‘quauereth’ and ‘faineth’ – significantly, pairing ‘faineth’ with ‘the base’.Footnote 175

Other examples of ‘faine’ in musical contexts seem to indicate a manner of delivery, such as the use of cunning or pretence, as in A Midsommer nights dreame (1600) by William Shakespeare (1564–1616), where Egeus complains that Duke Lysander has stolen his daughter’s heart after having (amongst other things) ‘by moone-light, at her windowe sung, / With faining voice, verses of faining loue’.Footnote 176 This may link to nonmusical definitions such as Abraham Fraunce’s (1558–92) explanation of the literary device prosopopoeia – the ‘fayning of any person, when in our speach we represent the person of anie, and make it speake as though he were there present’Footnote 177 – in turn perhaps explaining why some sources appear to distinguish ‘faine’ from ‘sing’.Footnote 178

Whatever ‘faine’ therefore means in any given example from a musical context, it clearly represents problematic evidence for the falsetto voice in the lute song repertory. Moreover, it would appear that it was not always used exclusively to describe male voices, since at least one contemporary literary text – The second Tome of the Palace of Pleasure (1567) by William Painter (?1540–94) – describes ‘three Amorous Gentlewomen’ who each had ‘a heauenlie voice to faine and sing’.Footnote 179 Similarly, almost none of the numerous contemporary English literary references that describe a man singing to a lute use the word ‘faine’, and those that do seem to fall outside the immediate period in which the lute song collections were printed (1597–1622; see Appendix 2). Instead, most sources simply use ‘sing’ or sometimes ‘warble’, or more rarely words like ‘accord’, ‘sought out’, and ‘sound’.Footnote 180 The tiny handful of references which mention a man ‘faining’ to a lute are also primarily translations of foreign texts from countries where falsetto singing may have been more known.Footnote 181

In view of all of the above, it therefore seems likely that lute songs were not intended for a man singing in his falsetto voice. Indeed, this manner of singing can only be justified in the lute song repertory by assuming that words like ‘sing’ and ‘warble’ function as generic umbrella terms for any vocal technique or style of performance imaginable. Contemporaries also seem to have favoured a ‘naturall voyce’,Footnote 182 and even some modern exponents of the falsetto voice do not consider it to be ‘natural’.Footnote 183 Furthermore, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century writers clearly distinguished the sound of a ‘mannes voyce’ from a ‘boyes voyce’,Footnote 184 and unambiguous evidence for English men singing in a soprano range to lute accompaniment seems to be similarly absent.


Having analysed the printed lute song collections alongside evidence both for the lute and also singing in late Tudor and early Stuart England, the following conclusions may be drawn. Firstly, it is evident that all of the lute song collections were printed in a format which was supposed to facilitate instant performance, primarily with a mean lute in g′ or bass viol (or both together) and, except in rare cases where the voice has to fit the lute’s differently pitched tablature, without the need for any transposition. Secondly, this repertory was intended for singers of all ages and both genders, with women and children singing the song melodies in the written treble register and men singing them in the octave below (excluding the occasional songs that use low clefs like C4 and F4-clefs, which were clearly intended primarily for a male voice at pitch). It also seems very questionable that this performance solution might have changed simply depending on the amateur or professional background or context of the singer.Footnote 185 Perhaps more importantly, these specific conclusions about the lute song provide further support for the recent research which has challenged the use of falsetto singing in England more generally at this time (particularly within a sacred context). In short, perhaps the lost soundworld of ‘the sweetest Lute, and best composed song’ in England c.1595–1625 is finally emerging with more clarity via a better understanding of the likely voices which would ‘to the lute full many a dittie sing’.Footnote 186


A version of this paper was presented at the Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference in Basel, July 2019. I am indebted to John Bryan, Katherine Butler, Christopher Page, John Potter, Anthony Rooley, Richard Wistreich and Crawford Young for their advice on early versions of this article. I am also grateful to Michael Fleming for providing several references in Appendix 1a, and to Christopher Goodwin, Elisabeth Leedham-Green, John Milsom, Robert Thompson and David van Edwards for their assistance with various other queries.


References to Lutes in Noble and Gentry Inventories, Wills, & Other Documents (1585–1635).

Note. This table aims to give a representative overview (and as comprehensive as possible) of lute ownership across the period in question; it excludes references to lute strings and/or lute books unless these are explicitly listed with a lute, and it also omits the other instruments that are sometimes listed alongside these lutes. The repository and shelf mark abbreviations follow the format used in ‘Records of Early English Drama’.

Source. In addition to several references generously supplied by Michael Fleming, this list was compiled with the aid of staff in the Hull History Centre, Norwich Records Office, Durham Record Office / Durham University Library, Oxfordshire History Centre, Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, and Dulwich College. In addition, the following sources were used: the multivolume collections of ‘Records of Early English Drama’ (REED, 1979–),; ‘The Henslowe–Allen Digitisation Project’,; Lionel Cust, ‘The Lumley Inventories’, Walpole Society, 6 (1918), 15-35; Michael Fleming, ‘Some Points Arising from a Survey of Wills and Inventories’, The Galpin Society Journal, 53 (2000), 301–11; Michael Fleming, ‘Unpacking the ‘Chest of Viols”, Chelys, 28 (2000), 3–19; Michael Gale, ‘Learning the Lute in Early Modern England c.1550–c.1640’ (Ph.D. diss., University of Southampton, 2014); Historical Manuscripts Commission (HMC), The Manuscripts of his Grace the Duke of Rutland GCB Preserved at Belvoir Castle, 4 vols (London: HMSO, 1888–1905); Peter Holman, Four and Twenty Fiddlers: The Violin at the English Court 1540–1690 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993); Lynn Mary Hulse, ‘The Musical Patronage of the English Aristocracy, c.1590–1640’ (Ph.D. diss., King’s College, University of London, 1992); Elisabeth Leedham-Green, Books in Cambridge Inventories; Teresa Ann Murray, ‘Thomas Morley and the Business of Music in Elizabethan England’ (Ph.D. diss., University of Birmingham, 2010); Tessa Murray, Thomas Morley: Elizabethan Music Publisher; David C. Price, Patrons and Musicians of the English Renaissance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).



Note. This table aims to give a representative overview of references to lutes in court archives. It generally excludes references to lute strings and/or lute books unless these provide more information about the lute’s size, number, or purpose (references marked *) or unless these are explicitly listed with a lute.

Source. The information is taken from the nine-volume collection by Andrew Ashbee, ed., Records of English Court Music; the relevant volume and page number are given in brackets in the source details column.


Descriptions of a Man Singing to a Lute in English Printed Literary Sources (1595–1625)

The following list closely follows the date range of the printed lute song collections under consideration. The literary references from this relatively narrow spectrum may be seen as representative in type and in the vocabulary used of earlier and later sources describing a male singer with lute across the period 1550–1650. This table excludes: a) references to male singing and lute with other instruments (i.e. ensemble performance); b) descriptions of a man playing a lute that do not mention him singing to it; c) references that mention a eunuch who sings to the lute; and d) texts that relate generically to singing with lute that do not specify the singer’s gender or where this is unclear.

In the book titles and subheadings, words in capital letters have been rendered with small letters, but capitals have been retained at the start of words as they appear in the original. All letters have been kept as they appear in the original (including ‘u’ and ‘v’). Additions or omissions are indicated with square brackets (i.e. []).


1 See Appendix 2 doc. 19.

2 Spenser, Edmund, ‘Verses upon the said Earles Lute’ [‘Richard Earle of Corke’], Tvvo Histories of Ireland, ed. Sir James Ware (Society of Stationers, Dublin, 1633), sig. L4v.Google Scholar

3 This collection is generally accepted to contain pirated texts, with only five poems in the collection securely linked to Shakespeare. The poem in question (no. 8) is thought to be by Richard Barnfield (1574–1627); see Burrow, Colin, ed., The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Sonnets and Poems (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 7482Google Scholar.

4 For a complete list, see Matthew Spring, The Lute in Britain: A History of the Instrument and its Music (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 266–7.

5 See Edmund H. Fellowes, The English School of Lutenist Song Writers, series 1, 16 vols. (London: Stainer & Bell, 1920–32), series 2, 16 vols. (London: Stainer & Bell, 1925–7), rev. R. Thurston Dart, et al., The English Lute-Songs (London: Stainer & Bell, 1959–). New recordings and reissues of lute song recordings are released almost annually; see For examples of the lute song in popular imagination, see Graham, Winston, The Grove of Eagles: A Novel of Elizabethan England (London: Pan Books, 1963/2016), 366 and 571–2Google Scholar, and Philip, K Dick, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Boston: Mariner Books, 1974/2012), 110–11 and 242Google Scholar.

6 The fullest investigation into this area remains Edward Huws Jones, The Performance of English Song 1610–1670 (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1989), 25–47.

7 Peter (= Pierre) de La Primaudaye, The French Academie, trans. Thomas Bowes (London: Edmund Bollifant, 1586), 22Google Scholar. Michael Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum (Wolfenbüttel, 1619), ed. W. Gurlitt, facs. edn (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1958), ii, 17–18, noted, after showing how high and low various voices could safely go (‘ohn gefehr’), that no firm conclusions could be reached nor strict limits imposed (‘Wiewol hierin nichts gewisses zu schliessen oder in gewisse terminos zu bringen’).

8 Fox, Adam, Oral and Literate Culture in England, 1500–1700 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000/2003), 2731, 41–4Google Scholar; and Marsh, Christopher, Music and Society in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 20–1Google Scholar.

9 Ward, John, ‘The Lute Music of MS Royal Appendix 58’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 13 (1960), 117–25Google Scholar.

10 Parrott, Andrew, ‘Falsetto Beliefs: The “Countertenor” Cross-Examined’, Early Music, 43 (2015), 79110 Google Scholar.

11 Simon Ravens, The Supernatural Voice: A History of High Male Singing (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2014). Both scholars have expressed doubts about the falsetto voice for some time; see Parrott’s correspondence, ‘False Voices’, Early Music, 9 (1981), 71–5 (p. 72); Ravens, , ‘A Sweet Shrill Voice: The Countertenor and Vocal Scoring in Tudor England’, Early Music, 26 (1998), 122–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Ravens, ‘Countertenor Counterblast’, Early Music, 28 (2000), 507–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

12 Scott, A. Trudell, ‘Performing Women in English Books of Ayres’, Gender and Song in Early Modern England, ed. Dunn, Leslie C. and Larson, Katherine R. (Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, Surrey, 2014), 1529 (pp. 21, 24)Google Scholar. This viewpoint has undoubtedly been influenced by the legacy of Alfred Deller (1912–1979) and Russell Oberlin (1928–2016), alongside the continued popularity of the countertenor voice in commercial recordings of this repertory. For a recent example of the opinion that ‘Dowland lute songs’ are ‘monopolised by Oxbridgey countertenors’, see Richard Bratby, Opera Review: ‘Ambassador, you are really spoiling us’, The Spectator Christmas Special (19 December 2020–2 January 2021), 93–4 (at 94).

13 William Barley, A Nevv Booke of Tabliture (London: William Barley, 1596), iii (bandora), sig. C2v–D2r (4 songs); Robinson, Thomas, New Citharen Lessons, With Perfect Tunings of the Same, from Foure Course of Strings to Fourteene Course (London: William Barley, 1609), nos. 46 and 47Google Scholar.

14 Barley, A New Booke of Tabliture, ii (orpharion), sig. a4r actually states explicitly that music ‘played vpon the Lute may as well be plaied vpon the Orpharion’.

15 Clark, Andrew, ed., ‘Brief Lives’, Chiefly of Contemporaries, Set Down by John Aubrey, Between the Years 1669 & 1696 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1898), ii, 179. See also The Private Life of an Elizabethan Lady: The Diary of Lady Margaret Hoby, 1599–1605, ed. Joanna Moody (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1998), 56 (entry for 26 January 1600).Google Scholar

16 As claimed by O’Dette, Paul, ‘The Lute’, A Performer’s Guide to Renaissance Music, ed. Kite-Powell, Jeffery (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991/2007), 170–86 (p. 172)Google Scholar.

17 British Library, Add. MS 78176, fol.42r; and Lionel Cust, ‘The Lumley Inventories’, Walpole Society, 6 (1918), 15–35 (p. 29).

18 The oft-cited 1603 inventory of Sir Thomas Kytson (1540–1602) at Hengrave Hall in Suffolk precisely lists four lutes in three sizes (see Appendix 1a) alongside several songbooks, but this represents a rare exception and it is going too far to assume that ‘similar collections […] must have existed in other households of similar status’, particularly regarding different sizes and tunings of lutes; see Hector Sequera, ‘Practice and Dissemination of Music in the Catholic Network as Suggested by the Music Collection of Edward Paston (1550–1630) and Other Contemporary Sources’, Networks of Music and Culture in the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries: A Collection of Essays in Celebration of Peter Philips’s 450th Anniversary, ed. David J. Smith and Rachelle Taylor (London: Routledge, 2013/2016), 215–30 (p. 223).

19 See Leedham-Green, Elisabeth, Books in Cambridge Inventories: Booklists from Vice-Chancellor’s Court Probate Inventories in the Tudor and Stuart Periods (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), i, 559 and ii, 826Google Scholar.

20 See Knell, Thomas, An Epitaph, or rather a short discourse made vpon the life & death of D. Boner sometimes vnworthy Bisshop of London (London: John Alide, 1569)Google Scholar, preface, sig. Avr, where a man sang ‘some merie vanitie’ about Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London (c.1500–1569) to a ‘dull base Lute’; and John Kennedy, The Historie Of Calanthrop And Lvcilla (Edinburgh: John Wreittoun, 1626), sig. E8r, where a ‘trebble’ sings to a ‘basse Lute’. For English iconographical depictions of lutes, see David van Edwards, ‘The Lute Iconography Database’,

21 See Ashbee, Andrew, ed., Records of English Court Music (Snodland, Kent: Aldershot, 1986–96), iv (1603–25), 87–8, and 101Google Scholar; and Campion, Thomas, The Discription Of A Maske, Presented before the Kinges Maiestie at White-Hall, on Twelfth Night last in honour of the Lord Hayes (London: John Windet, 1607), sig. A4r and B2rGoogle Scholar.

22 John Dowland, The Third and Last Booke of Songs or Aires (London: Peter Short, 1603), song 21 (‘Come when I cal’); John Danyel, Songs for the Lvte Viol and Voice (London: Thomas East, 1606), song 20 (‘Now the earth’). A few additional songs have tablature that is a fourth higher than the cantus, which could seem to suggest a bass lute, but this is unlikely; see Table 2.

23 Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum, ii, 51.

24 Non-standard tunings for the mean lute are stipulated in only two pieces in the entire printed lute song sources, and both are instrumental pieces; see Danyel, Songs for the Lvte Viol and Voice, no.21 (‘Mrs Anne Grene her leaues bee greene’) and Maynard, John, The XII. Wonders of the World (London: Thomas Snodham, 1612), no.15 (‘Pauin’)Google Scholar.

25 As in Dowland’s The Third and Last Booke of Songs or Aires, which includes a ‘dialogue for a base and meane Lute with fiue voices to sing thereto’.

26 Lady Mary Wroth, The Countesse of Mountgomeries Urania (London: Augustine Mathewes, 1621), i, 54. See also John Lyly, Sapho and Phao (London: Thomas Cadman, 1584), Act 4, scene iii [sig. Fr] (two references to ‘two Lutes tuned in one key’). No contemporary English literary references seem to describe lutes playing together in different tunings.

27 See Spring, The Lute in Britain, 150–6. The duets for lutes tuned a tone apart appear in ‘The Dallis Lute Book’ (c.1583), Trinity College Dublin, MS 410; see Linda Sayce, ed., Duets from the Phalèse Anthologies (Oxford: Sul Tasto Publications, distributed by The Lute Society, c.1991), i. Spring (p. 153) also lists a duet in ‘Jane Pickeringe’s lute book’, British Library, MS Egerton 2046 (c.1616) –‘the battell for ÿ lutes’, fols. 52v–54r – as being for two lutes tuned a tone apart, but this is for two equally tuned lutes (both 6-course lutes in g′ with the sixth course lowered to F); I am grateful to Christopher Goodwin for his help regarding these lute duets.

28 Robinson, Richard, ‘“A perfect-full harmonie”: Pitch, Tuning and Instruments in the Elizabethan and Jacobean Mixed Consort’, Early Music, 47 (2019), 199–223 (pp. 203–7)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

29 According to the posthumous record of Thomas Plume (1630–1704); see Thomas Plume’s Library, Maldon, Essex, Pocket Book no. 25, fol.92v. The theorbo is first mentioned in English in the Italian-English dictionary of Florio, John, A Worlde of Wordes (London: Arnold Hatfield, 1598), 421Google Scholar: ‘Tiórba, a kinde of musicall instrument vsed among countrie people’.

30 Chapman, George, Al fooles A Comedy (London: George Eld, 1605)Google Scholar, Act 2, scene i, at sig. E2v–sig. E3r, where Valerio sings to his own accompaniment on theorbo; and Angelo Notari, Prime Mvsiche Nvove (London: Guglielmo Hole, 1613), title page (‘ … per Cantare con la Tiorba’).

31 See the multivolume collections of ‘Records of Early English Drama’ (REED, 1979–),; Ashbee, ed., Records of English Court Music; and ‘British History Online’, Henry Lord Clifford (1592–1643) – the dedicatee of the second book of lute ayres by Thomas Campion (? 1613), and also named on George Mason and John Earsden’s song collection (1618) – apparently acquired a theorbo in 1611. Theorboes also appear in the 1615 will of Timothy Bright (c.1551–1615), rector of Barwick-in-Elmet; the 1622 inventory of Sir Charles Somerset (c.1588–1665), son of Edward, Fourth Earl of Worcester (c.1550–1628); and in a 1627 payment to court musician John Kelley ‘for a Theorb […] provided for his Mats service’; see Spring, The Lute in Britain, 371–2; Anon., ‘The Will of Timothy Bright, M.D., Rector of Methley and Barwick-in-Elmet, 1615’, Yorkshire Achaeological Journal, 17 (1903), 50–4 (pp. 53–4); Michael G. Brennan, ‘Sir Charles Somerset′s Music Books (1622)’, Music and Letters, 74 (1993), 501–18; and Ashbee, ed., Records of English Court Music, iii (1625–1649), 138.

32 Thomas Ford, Mvsicke of Svndrie Kindes, Set Forth in Two Bookes (London: John Windet, 1607), title page; and Maynard, The XII. Wonders of the World, title page.

33 I am grateful to John Bryan for clarifying this point. See Robert Jones, The Second Booke of Songs and Ayres (London: Peter Short, 1601), title page. Viol tablature as song accompaniment also occurs in Tobias Hume’s The First Part of Ayres (London: John Windet, 1605) and Captaine Hvmes Poeticall Musicke (London: John Windet, 1607). The lyra viol is named in four other lute songs collections – Thomas Ford (1607), William Corkine (1610, 1612), and John Maynard (1612) – but is only required for instrumental music like pavans and galliards.

34 See Christopher Simpson, The Division-Violist: Or an Introduction to the Playing upon a Ground (London: William Godbid, 1659), i, 2, who states that the viol for consort or division use had strings that were ‘a little bigger than those of a Lyra-Viol’.

35 These occur in Michael Cavendish, 14. Ayres in Tabletorie to the Lute (London: Peter Short, 1598), song ‘12’ (sic =13) (‘Everie bush new springing’); Philip Rosseter, A Booke of Ayres (London: Peter Short, 1601), i, song 9 (‘The Sypres curten of the night’); and Thomas Campion, The Third and Fovrth Booke of Ayres (London: Thomas Snodham, c.1618), iii, songs 5 (‘So tyr’d are all my thoughts’) and 10 (‘Breake now my heart and dye’). Cavendish and Campion both stipulate lute, orpharion, ‘or’ bass viol.

36 See Robinson, ‘“A perfect-full harmonie”’, 199, no. 5–6. The ‘high stretcht lute string’ is also mentioned in nonmusical sources like Robert Greene, ‘The Tale of Peratio’, Greenes Farewell to Folly (London: Thomas Scarlet, 1591), sig. E4r and John Donne, Poems, by J.D. VVith Elegies On The Authors Death (London: M. F., 1633), 58 and 339.

37 See David Tunley, ‘Tunings and Transpositions in the Early 17th-Century French Lute Air—Some Implications’, Early Music, 21 (1993), 203–9 (pp. 203–4); Robinson, ‘“A perfect-full harmonie”’, 199–203; and Ravens, The Supernatural Voice, 87.

38 Adrian Le Roy, A briefe and plaine Instruction to set all Musicke of eight diuers tunes in Tableture for the Lute, trans. Francis Kinwelmersh (London: John Kyngston, 1574); Robert Dowland, Varietie Of Lute-lessons (London: Thomas Snodham, 1610), sig. C2v.

39 Le Roy, A briefe and plaine Instruction, sig. Aiiiv. Transposing tablature was much less practicable, as noted by Michael Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum, iii, 83. On errors in the transcriptions, see Hector Sequera, ‘House Music for Recusants in Elizabethan England: Performance Practice in the Music Collection of Edward Paston (1550-1630)’ (Ph.D. diss., University of Birmingham, 2010), 84.

40 John Dowland, The Second Booke of Songes or Ayres, of 2.4. and 5. parts (London: George Eastland, 1600), song no. 2. For all ‘Lachrimæ’ concordances, see Diana Poulton and Basil Lam, eds., The Collected Lute Music of John Dowland (London: Faber Music Limited, 1974), 293–4, no.15.

41 For an exception, see the manuscript version for voice and lute of ‘Can She Excuse My Wrongs’ by John Dowland in the so-called ‘Turpyn Book of Lute Songs’ (c.1610–5), King’s College Cambridge, Rowe MS 2, no. 1, transposed up a fourth from the original and with much-changed accompaniment.

42 To these may be added three of the four songs with bandora accompaniment in Barley, A Nevv Booke of Tabliture, iii (bandora), sig. C2 v–D2 r, two of which have the cantus a fourth higher than the tablature (‘Those eies which set my fancie on a fire’; ‘But this & then no more it is my last of all’), and one of which has the cantus a fifth higher than the tablature (‘Howe can the tree but waste and wither away’). See also Edward Filmer, French Covrt-Aires, VVith their Ditties Englished, Of foure and fiue Parts, Together With That Of The Lute (London: William Stansby, 1629), which has only two songs (nos. 1 and 9) that have tablature which matches the written vocal pitch.

43 See Christopher Goodwin, ed., The English Lute Song before Dowland (Guildford; The Lute Society, 1996 and 1997), i (songs from the Dallis manuscript, c.1583) and ii (songs from additional manuscript 4900 and other early sources).

44 See Morley, Thomas, A Plaine And Easie Introdvction To Practicall Mvsicke (London: Humphrey Lownes, 1597/1608), iii, 156Google Scholar.

45 See Goodwin, The English Lute Song before Dowland, i, 7 and ii, 8–9; and Tunley, ‘Tunings and Transpositions’, 203–9Google Scholar.

46 See anon., The pathvvay to Musicke (London: J. Danter, 1596), title page and sig. Fv–Gv; William Bathe, A Briefe Introduction to the Skill of Song (London: Thomas East, ?1596), sig. Bv–Bivr; Andreas Ornithoparchus, Andreas Ornithoparcvs His Micrologvs, Or Introdvction: Containing the Art of Singing, trans. John Dowland, (London: Thomas Snodham, 1609), i, 26–8; and John Hopkins and Thomas Sternhold, The Whole Booke of Psalmes, collected into Englysh metre (London: John Day, 1562), ‘A shorte Introduction into the Science of Musicke, made for such as are desirous to haue the knowledge therof, for the singing of these Psalmes’, sig. +iir–[+vii]r. Other music instruction books – including those by Thomas Morley (1597), Thomas Robinson (1603), Thomas Campion (1610), Thomas Ravenscroft (1614), and Elway Bevin (1631) – are equally silent regarding transposition of music like lute songs.

47 Richard Allison, The Psalmes Of Dauid in Meter (London: William Barley, 1599), title page, defines ‘plaine song’ as ‘the common tunne to be sung’ (i.e. the metrical psalm tune), whilst Morley uses it simply to mean a basic melody; see Christopher R. Wilson and Michela Calore, Music in Shakespeare: A Dictionary (London: Thoemmes, 2005), 337–8. On ‘plaine song’ and ‘descant’, see for example George Gascoigne, A Hundreth sundrie Flowres bounde vp in one small Poesie (London: Henry Bynneman and Henry Middleton, 1573), 272.

48 For more on chiavette, see Kenneth Kreitner, ‘Renaissance Pitch’, Companion to Medieval and Renaissance Music, ed. Tess Knighton and David Fallows (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 275–83 (pp. 279–81). Only two printed lute songs have bass parts in C-clefs: Cavendish, 14. Ayres in Tabletorie to the Lute, song ‘15’ (sic =song 16: ‘Say shepherds say’, C4-clef) and Danyel, Songs for the Lvte Viol and Voice, song 19 (‘What delight can they inioy’, C3-clef). Lute songs with an F3-clef in the bass part occur in the books by Cavendish (1598), John Dowland (1597, 1603, 1612), Robert Jones (1605, 1609, 1610), John Coprario (1606), John Danyel (1606), Robert Dowland (1610), and Thomas Campion (? 1613 [i], c.1618 [iii]).

49 John Dowland, A Pilgrimes Solace (London: Thomas Snodham, 1612), songs 3, 4 (also with F4-clef), 6, 13, 17, 18, 20, and 21 (chorus only; the verse is in an F4-clef).

50 The printers linked to A Pilgrimes Solace are Mathew Lownes, Thomas Snodham, John Browne, and William Barley. Between them, they were responsible for printing most of the surviving lute song collections from 1609–22.

51 See Johnstone, Andrew, ‘“High clefs’ in composition and performance’, Early Music, 34 (2006), 2953Google Scholar. For an example of Continental usage, see Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum, iii, 80–5.

52 Luigi Pasqualigo, [Fedele and Fortunio], trans. Anthony Munday (London: John Charlewood, 1585), Act 3, scene ii, sig. Eiv. See also Everard Digby, Everard Digbie his Dissuasiue. From taking away the lyuings and goods of the Church (London: Robert Robinson and Thomas Newman, [1590]), preface, sig. 2v ( =sig. A6v): ‘ … in the eares of some, I may seeme to sing the treble rather than the meane, to misse the moode, and to mistake the figure, and therewith to sound some sharps insteed of flattes’.

53 John Dowland, The First Booke of Songes or Ayres (London: Peter Short, 1597), title page; and Robert Jones, The First Booke of Songes or Ayres (London: Peter Short, 1600), title page. Both books were printed by Peter Short, who seems to have recycled the same cover design. The same solution also occurs in Allison, The Psalmes Of Dauid in Meter, whose title page notes that ‘the singing part’ is ‘to be either Tenor or Treble to the Instrument, according to the nature of the voyce, or for foure voyces’. For examples in related repertory, see John Griffiths, ‘The Vihuela: Performance Practice, Style, and Context’, Performance on Lute, Guitar and Vihuela: Historical Practice and Modern Interpretation, ed. Victor Anand Coelho (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997/2005), 158–79 (p. 166).

54 Bathe, A Briefe Introduction to the skill of Song, sig.Aiiir–sig.Aiiiv. See also Le Roy, A briefe and plaine Instruction, sig.Aiiiv and Morley, A Plaine And Easie Introdvction, ii, 115.

55 Shuttleworth, J. M., ed., The Life of Edward, First Lord Herbert of Cherbury, written by himself (London: Oxford University Press, 1976), 1617 Google Scholar.

56 For example, see Jones, The Second Booke of Songs, sig. A2v (‘To the Reader’), which includes a brief explanation of ‘pricke-song Notes’ for the ‘better instruction’ of the performer.

57 Robert Jones, Vltimvm Vale, with a triplicity of Musicke (London: John Windet, 1605), title page; John Coprario, Fvneral Teares. For the death of the Right Honorable the Earle of Deuonshire (London: John Windet, 1606), title page; John Bartlet, A Booke of Ayres VVith a Triplicitie of Musicke (London: John Windet, 1606), title page.

58 This ‘alto’ part has an overall range g–d″. Interestingly, Florio, A Worlde of Wordes, 15 translates ‘alto’ in its musical sense as ‘a treble in song and musicke.’

59 A famous example of ‘treble’ and ‘mean’ to describe boys’ voices occurs in Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 6, 1596, ed. Richard A. Roberts (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1895), 68 (Lord Burgh to Robert Cecil, on the voices of three boys, one as ‘an excellent treble’ and another as ‘a very high mean’). See also John Marston, The History of Antonio and Mellida. The first part. (London: Richard Bradock, 1602), Act 5, at sig. H4r; John Marston, VVhat Yov VVill (London: George Eld, 1607), Act 2, scene i, at sig. Dr; and George Dobson (att.), Dobsons Drie Bobbes: Sonne and Heire to Skoggin (London: Valentine Simmes, 1607), sig. F3r.

60 As in Torquato Tasso, Godfrey of Bulloigne, or The Recouerie of Ierusalem, trans. Edward Fairfax (London: Arnold Hatfield, 1600), xv, 279 v.62 (‘she warbled forth a treble small’) and Gonzalo de Céspedes y Meneses, Gerardo The Vnfortunate Spaniard, trans. Leonard Digges (London: George Purslowe, 1622), i (discourse 2), 72 (‘he ghessed it vvas a vvoman […] by the sweetnesse of her trebble’).

61 Thomas Whythorne, Cantus. Of duos, or songs for tvvo voices (London: Thomas East, 1590), title page; and Dowland, Andreas Ornithoparcvs His Micrologvs, iv, 83. For representative examples of ‘treble’ and ‘mean’ referring generally to children, see Helkiah Crooke, Mikrokosmographia: A Description of the Body of Man (London: William Jaggard, 1615), viii, 633; and John Dee (attrib.), Aristotles Politiqves, Or Discovrses Of Government (London: Adam Islip, 1598), viii, 393.

62 Scipion Dupleix, The Resoluer; Or Curiosities of Nature (London: N. & I. Okes, 1635), 7–8. Several contemporary sources cite Aristotle on this point, like Anon., The Problemes Of Aristotle, with other Philosophers and Phisitions (Edinburgh: Robert Waldgrave, 1595), sig. M8v. See also Morley, A Plaine and Easie Introdvction, iii, 166, and Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum, ii, sig. Ciiv ( =p.20), Tabella iv (Vox viva seu humana). See also Ashbee, ed., Records of English Court Music, viii (1485–1714), 55–6 (entry for 1604, describing how the ‘said children, having served three years or more in his Highness’ [ =James I] Chapel, shall by change of their voice become unmeet for that service’).

63 Most modern commercial recordings of lute songs do not use a boy treble; notable exceptions are A Quiet Conscience: Songs from the 17th Century, Connor Burrowes (treble), John Scott (organ), David Miller (lute/theorbo), Guild GMCD 7150 (released 1998); and Shakespeare’s Musicke: Sung in Authentic Elizabethan Pronunciation, Simon Giles (treble), David Dyer (tenor), Camerata of London, dir. Barry Mason, Meridian CDE 84198 (released 1990).

64 See Austern, Linda Phyllis, Music in English Children’s Drama of the Later Renaissance (Philadelphia: Gordon and Breach, 1992), 12–13, 24, 52–3 and 254–66Google Scholar; and Grote, David, The Best Actors in the World: Shakespeare and his Acting Company (London: Greenwood Press, 2002), 1113 Google Scholar.

65 Nicholas Breton, The Strange Fortvnes Of Two Excellent Princes (London: Peter Short, 1600), 38 (a pageboy sings to his lute) and Nicholas Breton, Choice, Chance, and Change (London: Richard Bradock, 1606), sig. I2r (Lady Lamia’s pageboy sings to his ‘base violl’).

66 Marston, VVhat Yov VVill, Act 2, scene i (sig. Dr)

67 Lyly, Sapho and Phao, Act 3, scene iii (sig. Er–Ev); and John Marston, The Dutch Courtezan (London: Thomas Purfoot, 1605), Act 1, scene ii (sig. B2v). Incidentally, Thomas Ravenscroft, ‘Preface’, A Briefe Discovrse Of the true (but neglected) vse of Charact’ring the Degrees […] in Measurable Musicke (London: Edward Allde, 1614), sig. A2r–A2v, praises a certain Edward Pearce, ‘sometimes Maister of the Children of Saint Paules in London’ both for ‘Educating of Children for the ordering of the Voyce […] And also in those his Compositions to the Lute, whereof, the world enioyes many’.

68 The idea of part names functioning primarily as signposts for the rank order of individual musical lines in a composition can be traced back to the thirteenth-century ‘Tenor’ (from the Latin ‘teneo, tenere’, to hold) and via later polyphonic developments, where the ‘Tenor’ often carried a pre-existent tune or cantus firmus; for example, see Christopher Page, The Summa Musice: A Thirteenth-Century Manual for Singers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 108–9; and David J. Rothenberg, The Flower of Paradise: Marian Devotion and Secular Song in Medieval and Renaissance Music (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 159–60.

69 John Attey, The First Booke of Ayres of Fovre Parts (London: Thomas Snodham, 1622), song 12; and Robert Jones, A Mvsicall Dreame, or the Fovrth Booke of Ayres (London: John Windet, 1609), song 7. Further examples of exact or near-identical cantus and altus ranges occur in the other lute song collections.

70 Thomas Campion, Tvvo Bookes of Ayres (London: Thomas Snodham, ?1613), ii, songs 1 and 3; and Campion, The Discription of a Maske [] in honour of the Lord Hayes, sig. E3v: ‘A Tenor part to the first Song’ (i.e. ‘Now hath Flora’). For another example of a low alto part (C3-clef, range f# to b), see the dialogue ‘Hvmor say what mak’st thou’ in Dowland, The Second Booke of Songes or Ayres, song 22.

71 Danyel, Songs for the Lvte Viol and Voice, songs 19 and 20. The argument that song 19 might exploit possible chiavette is unconvincing: firstly, this would require a bass lute, yet no such lute is indicated – an odd oversight given that a bass lute is explicitly stipulated in song 20 under the ‘Canto Secundo’. Secondly, the written range of the ‘Canto Primo’ in song 19 (d′–f″) closely matches the other cantus ranges in Danyel’s collection. Only songs 4, 18, and 19 have bass-part clefs that could suggest downwards transposition, yet nothing explains why these songs require a lower tessitura than the remaining 18; their clefs also do not match typical chiavette found elsewhere.

72 William Corkine, Ayres, to Sing and Play to the Lvte and Basse Violl (London: William Stansby, 1610); and William Corkine, The Second Booke of Ayres (London: Mathew Lownes, John Browne and Thomas Snodham, 1612).

73 See Dowland, Andreas Ornithoparcvs His Micrologvs, iv, 83 (‘Of the Discantus’).

74 The same is also true of lute song manuscript sources; for three notable exceptions, see the ‘Turpyn Book of Lute Songs’ (c.1610–15), King’s College Cambridge, Rowe MS 2, no. 11 (‘Most men do loue the Spanish wyne’), where the sung melody is in an F4-clef; ‘Ann Twice, Her Book’ (c.1620–30), New York Public Library, Drexel MS 4175, no. 21 (‘Why should passion leade mee blinde’), where the sung melody is in a C3-clef; and ‘The Dallis Lute Book’, pp. 204–7 (‘In youthfull yares’), whose sung melody is in a C2-clef and C3-clef.

75 Thomas Campion, A Nevv VVay of making Fowre Parts in Counter-point [] with a briefe method teaching to sing (London: John Browne, 1610), title page.

76 Alfonso Ferrabosco II, Ayres: by Alfonso Ferrabosco (London: Thomas Snodham, 1609), dialogues 26, 27, 28; Ford, Mvsicke of Svndrie Kindes, book 1, dialogue 11; George Mason and John Earsden, The Ayres that vvere Svng and Played, at Brougham Castle in Westmerland, in the Kings Entertainment (London: Thomas Snodham, 1618), dialogues 1 and 2, masque songs 6 and 8 (for large ensemble).

77 For representative examples, see Robert Greene, Philomela The Lady Fitzvvaters Nightingale (London: R. Bourne and Edward Allde, 1592), sig. B3v (Philomela sings several ‘odes’ to her lute) and Luis Hurtado (attrib.), The Third and last part of Palmerin of England, trans. Anthony Munday (London: James Roberts, 1602), iii, p. 119v (Laurea sings to her ‘Violl de gamba’).

78 These quotations are taken respectively fromThomas Nash, Qvaternio Or A Fovrefold VVay To A Happie Life (London: John Dawson, 1633), 156; and Austin Saker, Narbonus. The Laberynth Of Libertie (London: Richard Johnes, 1580), i, 123–4.

79 Literary sources frequently describe the performance of ‘ditties’ (presumably songs like ayres) with a lute; see John Bodenham, Englands Helicon (London: James Roberts, 1600), sig. X2r, who includes three songtexts from Dowland, The First Booke of Songes and refers to them explicitly as ‘ditties’.

80 George Whetstone, The Rocke of Regard, diuided into foure parts (London: Henry Middleton, 1576), i, 32–3.

81 See Joseph Stevenson, ed., Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, iv (1561–1562) (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1866), 155, 330, 343 (entry 568.4). See also Butler, Katherine, Music in Elizabethan Court Politics (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2015), 198201CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

82 Maynard, The XII. Wonders of the World; for example, ‘The Marryed man’ (song 9, G2-clef, d’–f″) has a higher range than its paired song ‘The Wife’ (song 10; G2-clef, c′– e♭″). For an example of identical ranges (d′ to d″) and clef (G2) but different (male v. female) perspectives, see Campion, The Third and Fovrth Booke of Ayres, iii, songs 1 (‘Oft haue I sigh’d for him that heares me not’) and 2 (‘Now let her change and spare not’).

83 Singers still frequently refer to ‘head’ and ‘chest’ register due to where vibrations are felt in their body; scientifically speaking, however, the changes in sound are to do with vocal fold function; see Christina Shewell, Voice Work: Art and Science in Changing Voices (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 174.

84 This follows generic contemporary usage of the term ‘tenor’ as a midrange voice between treble and bass, as in Thomas Granger, A Familiar Exposition or Commentarie on Ecclesiastes (London: Thomas Snodham, 1621), 54 (on Ecclesiates 2:8). The word ‘baritone’ was virtually unknown in Elizabethan England and, unlike today, was simply used as another word for a ‘bass’ voice; see Dowland, Andreas Ornithoparcvs His Micrologvs, ii, 47 and iv, 84.

85 Morley, A Plaine and Easie Introdvction, iii, 165–6.

86 Barley, A Nevv Booke of Tabliture, iii (bandora), sig. C2v–D2r. On the bandora and its meagre surviving song repertory, see Nordstrom, Lyle, The Bandora: its Music and Sources (Michigan: Harmonie Park Press, 1992), 34, 37–40, 102–4Google Scholar.

87 Robinson, ‘A perfect-full harmonie’, 207, no. 42. It was also used as a consort instrument and in solo repertory; see Spring, The Lute in Britain, 109–11 and 173.

88 Anthony Copley, Wits Fittes and Fancies (London: Richard Johnes, 1595), 68, 69, 71; the quotation concerning women occurs in Joseph Swetnam, The Araignment Of Lewde, idle, froward, and vnconstant women (London: Edward Allde, 1615), 38. A notable exception occurs in Cyril Tourneur, Lavgh and lie dovvne (London: William Jaggard, 1605), sig. Cr, an exaggerated comical description where a woman ‘sings’ (‘like a Pigge, running to a swill-tubbe’) to a ‘Bandore’, but even here, it is played (or rather ‘fumbled’) by a man.

89 See ‘Records of Early English Drama’. Two exceptions occur in the will of Susan Jefferies (Norwich, 1619) – who had in fact inherited the instruments from her husband Edward, a musician – and the disbursements for Mary Somerford (Somerford, 1598), later wife of Philippe Oldfield and dedicatee of a galliard by Francis Pilkington (1565–1638) in British Library, Add. MS 31392, fol. 22v–23r; see David Galloway, ed., Records of Early English Drama: Norwich 1540-1642 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984), 157, 160, 192, and Lawrence M. Clopper and David Mills, eds., Records of Early English Drama: Chester (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), 835.

90 The cantus is a fourth higher than the tablature in ‘Those eies which set my fancie on a fire’ and ‘But this & then no more it is my last of all’, whilst the cantus is a fifth higher than the tablature in ‘Howe can the tree but waste and wither away’. After transposition, the sung melodies sound as follows: a to b♭′ (‘Those eies’), b to b♭′ (‘How can the tree’), and c′ to c″ (‘But this & then’); the remaining song (‘One ioy’) requires no transposition, so the melody remains d′ to f″.

91 See Murray, Tessa, Thomas Morley. Elizabethan Music Publisher (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2014), 110Google Scholar.

92 Poulton, Diana, ‘The Favourite Singer of Queen Elizabeth I’, The Consort, 14 (1957), 24–7Google Scholar; and Poulton, Diana, John Dowland (London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 1972/1982), 227, 408–9Google Scholar.

93 Dowland, The First Booke of Songes, song 18. See Poulton, John Dowland, pp. 82 and 239–40. Although likely, the connection between Hales and Dowland’s ‘His golden locks’ should not be overstated given (a) the minor textual differences between Dowland’s song and the verses sung by Hales, particularly the use of first person throughout (‘My golden locks’); and (b) because Hales’s performance predates the earliest surviving version of Dowland’s song.

94 Robert Dowland, A Mvsicall Banqvet (London: Thomas Snodham, 1610), song 3. After downwards transposition to match the lute tablature and bass viol part, the voice part actually sounds e♭′ to e♭″.

95 Robert Dowland, A Mvsicall Banqvet, songs 1 (‘My heauie sprite’) and 17 (‘Se di farmi moriré’).

96 Robert Dowland, A Mvsicall Banqvet, song 18 (‘Dourò dunque morire?’). I am grateful to Christopher Goodwin for drawing my attention to this piece.

97 Filmer, French Covrt-Aires, sig. Br explicitly mentions these: ‘The single Letter before the beginning of the Lute-part giues the Tune that the singing Part, which is ouer it, begins-in’.

98 Filmer, French Covrt-Aires, songs 9 (‘Syluia, not long since, halfe-affrighted’), 14 (‘Reason! arme thy wrong’d hands’) and 17 (‘Say then! my hard Iewell’).

99 Elizabeth Goldring, Faith Eales, Elizabeth Clarke, and Jayne Elisabeth Archer, eds., John Nichols’s The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth I: A New Edition of the Early Modern Sources (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), iii (1579–1595), 609–15. I am indebted to Katherine Butler for drawing my attention to this reference.

100 The identity of the singing character is disputed; see Goldring et al., John Nichols’s The Progresses, iii, 614 no. 61. Poulton, John Dowland, pp. 29–30 may overstate the case in claiming ‘there can be no doubt that the contraction “Do.” stands for Dowland himself’.

101 Dowland, A Pilgrimes Solace, song 18.

102 Thomas Campion, The Description of a Maske [] At the Mariage of the Right Honourable the Earle of Somerset (London: Edward Allde and Thomas Snodham, 1614), title page, sig. Cv and sig. C2v.

103 Ben Jonson, The Masqve of Qveenes, British Library Royal, MS 18 A XLV, fol. 20r. The manuscript can be accessed via: Explicit references to a tenor voice occur in two of his other masques; see Ben Jonson, The Characters of Two royall Masques (London: George Eld, 1608), ‘The Qveenes Masqves. The first, Of Blacknesse’ (1605), sig. A4v and B4v; and ‘The Second Masqve’ (1608), sig. Er, Ev, and E2r. On Lanier as a tenor, see also Michael I. Wilson, Nicholas Lanier: Master of the King’s Musick (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1994), 138.

104 Incidentally, explicit evidence of ‘tenor’ participation in masque songs as a harmony part also exists; see Campion, The Discription of a Maske […] in honour of the Lord Hayes, sig. B2r–B2v (‘a base, Tenor, and treble voyce’ sing ‘Now hath Flora’; the music is on sig. D2v–D3r and sig. E3v). Campion also describes a dialogue sung by a ‘base & tenor’ (sig. D1v), but the music is not included.

105 Mason and Earsden, The Ayres that vvere Svng and Played, at Brougham Castle, song vi (described as ‘The Dance’: ‘Robin is a louely Lad’).

106 Ferrabosco II, Ayres, songs 12–14 and 18–20. Voice designations are absent from this collection, save the words ‘Shepheard’ and ‘Nimph’ in the ‘Dialogues’ at the end (songs 26–28). The first group (songs 12–14) has an overall range of c to g″, with the first two songs in G2-clefs and the last in a C4-clef; song 14 alone has a range of c to g′. The second group (songs 16–18) has the same wide pitch problem with an overall range of B♭ to g″ in C1 (song 18), G2 (song 19), and C4-clefs (song 20); again, song 20 alone has a range of B♭ to g′.

107 Morley, A Plaine and Easie Introdvction, iii, 166. Perhaps significantly, the edition of Ferrabosco II’s Ayres by Fellowes, The English School of Lutenist Song Writers, series 2, vol. 16, puts all three songs in each group into the same octave (i.e. by transposing songs 14 and 20 up an octave), even though he writes in his introductory preface that the two groups ‘each form a single composition, and it is remarkable that in each instance the third section is in the tenor clef and evidently intended to be sung at that pitch.’

108 Hume, The First Part of Ayres, songs 1, 114 and Hume, Captaine Hvmes Poeticall Musicke, ‘The Hunting Song to be sung to the Bass-Viol’ (sig. Nv–N2r).

109 A possible G2-clef omission in the middle of ‘The Hunting Song’ on the words ‘Harke Beuty Dainty’ would actually make the highest note b″; I am grateful to John Milsom for this observation.

110 A boy treble performance as written is also theoretically possible, given that Philip Massinger, The Pictvre A Tragæcomædie (London: I. N., 1630), Act 2, scene ii, sig. E4v describes ‘two Boyes, one with his lute, the other like Pallas’ who sing ‘A song in the prayse of souldiers, especially being victorious’. However, this would require a boy who could go as low as g (i.e. lower than standard treble ranges given by contemporaries, as discussed previously).

111 Morley, A Plaine and Easie Introdvction, iii, 166.

112 Contemporaries unambiguously convey their unease at the mismatch of (masculine) military service and the (more feminine) art of music-making; for example, see Humfrey Barwick, A Breefe Discourse, Concerning the force and effect of all manuall weapons of fire (London: Edward Allde, ?1592), sig. B3r, where ‘one Cornelius a Gentleman and a Souldiour in the French Kings seruice’, despite his facility on the ‘Lute’ and ‘Gitterne’, would not even play for the ‘best Lord or Lady in Fraunce’ for fear of being taken for ‘some foolish Musition’; see also Appendix 2 doc. 33. On Hume, see Michael Rossi, ‘“Musical Humors”: The life and music of Captain Tobias Hume, gentleman’, Defining Strains: The Musical Life of Scots in the Seventeenth Century, James Porter, ed. (Oxford, Bern, etc.: Peter Lang, 2007), 155–80. Incidentally, the melody of a textually related song in Maynard, The XII. Wonders of the World, song 3 (‘The Souldiour’) is also written in a G2-clef, with the written sung range g′–a″. The same problems of textual-musical incongruity occur if it is sung by a man at the written octave; how could this seriously convey for contemporaries a line such as ‘My Occupation is the Noble trade, the trade of Kings’, etc.?

113 Hume, The First Part of Ayres, song 114. See the male ranges in Morley, A Plaine and Easie Introdvction, iii, 166. Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum, ii, 17, notes that ‘most basses in the schools’ (‘Die gemeine Bassisten […] in Schulen’) can rarely descend below F or E (at the bottom of the bass clef) ‘in proper natural strength’ (‘in rechter natürlicher stärke’), although he strangely seems to suggest lower ranges that go beyond C and even reach FF in his ‘Tabella’ of voice ranges (ibid., ii, p. 20). On modern classical bass ranges, see Dan H. Marek, Singing. The First Art (Lanham and Toronto: The Scarecrow Press, 2007), 117, 120–2.

114 For example, see ‘Music’s the Cordial of a troubled Breast’ (range D–d′) from the ode ‘Begin the Song!’ by John Blow (1649–1708) in A Second Musical Entertainment Perform’d On St. Cecilia’s day. November XXII. 1684 (London: John Playford, 1685), 54–63.

115 See Ottavio Valera’s ‘Sfogava con le stelle’ in Francesco Rognoni, Selva De Varii Passaggi (Milan: Filippo Lomazzo, 1620), ii, 72–3 (range C–c″) and ‘Io che l’eta solea’ and ‘Deh chi d’alloro’ in Giulio Caccini, Nvove mvsiche e nvova maniera di scriverle (Florence: Zanobi Pignoni, 1614), 33–38 (these two songs are specified ‘per Tenore, che ricerchi le corde del Basso’). Other Italian evidence documents how bass singers like Giulio Cesare Brancaccio (1515–86) practised ‘multi-register’ singing, whilst a famous letter of 1562 by Giovanni Camillo Maffei (fl. 1562–73) describes how some men could ‘very easily sing in the bass, tenor, and any other voice’; see Wistreich, Richard, Warrior, Courtier, Singer: Giulio Cesare Brancaccio and the Performance of Identity in the Late Renaissance (Abingdon: Routledge, 2007/2016), 181–182, 193217 Google Scholar.

116 See Fellowes, The English School of Lutenist Song Writers, series 2, xxi, 46.

117 Hume, The First Part of Ayres, song 114, sig. Q2r. Nothing suggests it is intended as a comical or technical showpiece; note how it is described – with ‘melancholy lyrics’ and ‘sombre minimalist accompaniment’ – in the novel by Michel Faber, The Courage Consort: Three Novellas (Orlando: Harcourt Books, 2005), ‘The Courage Consort’, 1–96 (pp. 88–9).

118 The quotes are taken respectively from Dowland, Andreas Ornithoparcvs His Micrologvs, i, 21–2; and Morley, A Plaine and Easie Introdvction, i, 7 and iii, 166. Windet produced other music books including Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins’s The Whole Booke of Psalmes (1599), John Dowland’s Lachrimæ (1604), and the lute song books by John Coprario (1606), John Bartlet (1606), and Thomas Ford (1607).

119 Campion, Tvvo Bookes of Ayres, i, ‘To the Reader’ [sig. Av].

120 Thomas Robinson, The Schoole Of Mvsicke (London: Thomas East, 1603), sig. Nr.

121 Bacon, Francis, Sylva Sylvarvm: or A Naturall Historie In ten Centuries (London: John Haviland and Augustine Mathewes, 1626 [ =1627]), Century ii, 36Google Scholar.

122 Several decades later, John Playford (1623–1686/7) explained that he had avoided C-clefs in The Second Book of the Pleasant Musical Companion (London: John Playford, 1686) and had instead ‘Printed them all in the G, or Treble Cliff, as proper to be Sung by Men or Boys’. He also notes that he could have printed his four-voice Psalms using three treble clefs and a bass clef, since it was ‘usual and common for Men to Sing those Songs which are prick’d in a Treble an Eighth lower, where the Parts are so Composed, that they do not interfere with the Bass’; cited in Matthew Locke, The Present Practice Of Musick Vindicated (London: N. Brooke, 1673), 86. The opposite solution occurs in Matthew Parker, The vvhole Psalter translated into English Metre, which contayneth an hundreth and fifty Psalmes. The first Quinquagene (London: John Daye, ?1567). Here, the nine tunes by Thomas Tallis (1505–85), written in four voice parts, carry the observation (sig. W.ivr): ‘The Tenor of these partes be for the people when they will syng alone, the other parts, put for greater queers, or to suche as will syng or play them priuatelye’; these tenor parts are all in a C4-clef. ‘People’ surely includes women and children here reading this clef up an octave; see Marsh, Music and Society in Early Modern England, 407–8.

123 Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum, ii, sig. Ciiv (= p. 20), Tabella iv (Vox viva seu humana).

124 Modern countertenors typically have ranges from around g to d″ or e″. Around half of the entire surviving printed lute songs reach f″ or higher and are therefore problematic as written for countertenors whose highest usable note is e″. Scholars give slight variations for modern countertenor ranges and generally do so within the context of later music, where greater ranges are required; compare John Barry Steane, ‘Countertenor’, The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan Press Limited, 1992), i, 999 and Marek, Singing. The First Art, 123.

125 Florio, A Worlde of Wordes, 124; John Florio, Qveen Anna’s New World of Words, Or Dictionarie of the Italian and English tongues (London: Melchior Bradwood and William Stansby, 1611), 178. The phrase ‘false treble’ seems to have been rare.

126 See Thomas Brown, The Whole Comical Works of Monsr. Scarron (London: S. And J. Sprint, 1700), i, ch. ii, 3–4 and ii, ch. vii, 173.

127 See Parrott, ‘Falsetto beliefs’, 93. Even abroad, falsetto singing was not always mentioned positively, and it may not have been as widely used as is sometimes supposed; see Wistreich, Richard, ‘Reconstructing Pre-Romantic Singing Technique’, The Cambridge Companion to Singing, ed. John Potter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 178–91 (p. 180)Google Scholar.

128 See also Florio’s definition for ‘Mezzano’ as ‘a meane or countertenour in musicke or singing’ in A Worlde of Wordes, 225.

129 For representative examples (many could be cited), see Thomas Adams, The Happines of the Church (London: G. P., 1619), ‘Faiths Encovragement’, 413–16 (bells); Thomas Scot, Philomythie, or, Philomythologie (London: Francis Constable, 1622), sig. K3v (choir); and William Browne, Britannia’s Pastorals. The first Booke (London: John Haviland, 1625), i, 65 (birds). A small handful of sources mention ‘countertenor’ on its own, several of which exploit puns on the ‘counters’ of bankers and relate to those residing in prison for debt, like Donald Lupton, London and the Countrey Carbonadoed and quartred into Seuerall Characters (London: Nicholas Okes, 1632), 42–6 (p. 45).

130 For example, see Peter Hay, A Vision Of Balaams Asse (London: Eliot’s Court Press, 1616), 69 (counterbase); Thomas Becon, The Reliques of Rome (London: John Day, 1563), fol. 121v (counterpoynt); Henry Hawkins, Partheneia Sacra (Rouen: John Cousturier, 1633), 146 (counter, counter-alt); Michael Drayton, Poems: By Michaell Draiton Esquire (London: Valentine Simmes, 1605), sig. Bb2v, Sonnet 6 (counterchime). Incidentally, ‘countertenor’ occasionally meant a lower voice than the tenor; see Samuel Purchas, Pvrchas His Pilgrimes. In Five Bookes […] The Third Part (London: William Stansby, 1625), i, ch. 10, 181 (from Gaspar da Cruz’s account of his travels in China), which describes an ensemble using ‘two small Bandoraes for the Tenor, a great one for counter-Tenor’, amongst other instruments.

131 Thomas Campion, A Relation Of The Late Royall Entertainment Given By The Right Honorable The Lord Knovvles… (London: William Stansby, 1613), sig. Bv (‘this Song was sung by an excellent counter-tenor voice, with rare varietie of diuision vnto two vnusuall instruments’). See Ravens, The Supernatural Voice, 87–8.

132 As suggested on the title pages of Dowland, The First Booke of Songes, and Jones, The First Booke of Songes.

133 Campion, Tvvo Bookes of Ayres, ii, song 3 (‘Harden now thy tyred hart’).

134 For example, see Campion, Tvvo Bookes of Ayres, i, songs 1 (‘Avthor of light’) and 9 (‘Most sweete and pleasing’), whose tenor parts both use a C3-clef and have a range of d to g′.

135 Morley, A Plaine and Easie Introdvction, iii, 166.

136 Earlier in Campion, A Relation Of The Late Royall Entertainment, sig. A4r, a five-part song is also incidentally described where two characters ‘sing two Countertenors’ (the others sing ‘two Trebles’ and ‘the Base’).

137 Le Roy, A briefe and plaine Instruction, p.6r; Dowland, Andreas Ornithoparcvs His Micrologvs, iv, 84. See also John Taylor, The Nipping Or Snipping Of Abvses (London: Ed. Griffin, 1614), sig. K3v (Epigram 30), where ‘the Tenor’ is linked to ‘the cursed Counter booke’.

138 See Don Michael Randel, ed., The Harvard Dictionary of Music: Fourth Edition (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1986/2003), 212 (‘Contratenor’).

139 For a representative example, see Andrewes, Lancelot, Scala Cœli. Nineteene Sermons Concerning Prayer (London: Nicholas Okes, 1611), p.244vGoogle Scholar.

140 See Agostino Nani’s 1601 ( =1602) letter to the Doge and the Senate sent from Constantinople, describing how the ‘English Ambassador’ had presented a note to the ‘Chief Eunuch’ about a Spanish naval attack, in Horatio F. Brown, ed., Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts, Relating To English Affairs, existing in the Archives and Collections of Venice, and in other Libraries of Northern Italy, ix (1592–1603) (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1897), 495 (entry 1055).

141 George Whetstone, An Heptameron of Ciuill Discourses (London: Richard Jones, 1582), sig. Civ, sig. Hivv, sig. Mivr, sig. Pivr, sig. S.iiv, and sig. Xir; and Gervase Markham, The most Famous and renowned Historie, of that woorthie and illustrous Knight Meruine (London: R. Blower and Valentine Simmes, 1612), 65. A couple of other English sources mention a eunuch singing to a harp or unnamed instrument.

142 See Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum, ii, 17 and iii, 82.

143 See John M. Wasson, ed., Records of Early English Drama: Devon (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986), 288–90.

144 T. G. (Thomas Gainsford?), The Rich Cabinet (London: John Beale, 1616), p.71r. An oft-recurring phrase used to describe eunuchs is ‘a man and yet no man’, as in John Case (attrib.), The Praise of Mvsicke (Oxford: Joseph Barnes, 1586), 82.

145 Florio, A Worlde of Wordes, 363 (entry for ‘Semiuiro’); Thomas de Fougasses, The Generall Historie of the Magnificent State of Venice (London: George Eld and William Stansby, 1612), i, 9; Crooke, Mikrokosmographia, iv, 242.

146 Paré, Ambroise, The Workes of that famous Chirurgion Ambrose Parey, trans. Johnson, Thomas (London: Thomas Cotes, 1634), 975Google Scholar. See also Prynne’s, William famous Histrio-mastix. The Players Scovrge (London: Edward Allde and William Jones, 1633), especially Act 5, scene vi, pp. 178–216.Google Scholar

147 Ortensio Landi, Delectable demaundes, and pleasaunt Questions, with their seuerall Aunswers, trans. William Painter (London: John Cawood, 1566), ii, p.27r.

148 Thomas Ravenscroft, preface ‘To All That Have Skill, or Will vnto Sacred Musicke’, The Whole Booke Of Psalmes (London: Thomas Harper, 1633), unpaginated. Other representative examples include Thomas Hill, The Contemplation of Mankinde (London: Henry Denham, 1571), p. 134r: ‘The voyce decerned small and lowe, doth indicate such a creature to be fearefull, and enuious. By this low voyce, is here ment (sayth the Phisiognomer) the small and faint voyce: and not the bigge, in any maner’; and Gualtherus Bruele, Praxis Medicinæ, Or, The Physicians Practice (London; John Norton, 1632), 136: ‘Svch men are sayd to be dull of hearing, who cannot heare a low voyce, and scarce vnderstand loud voyces’.

149 Stephen Batman, Batman vppon Bartholome (London: Thomas East, 1582), xix, ch. 134 (‘De musica’), sig. Cccc.iiv. Other representative examples include Hill, The Contemplation of Mankinde, p. 133v: ‘a person which hath a grosse, high, and sounding voyce: is reported to be eloquent, bold, fierce, and valiant in armes, or a warriour’; and Jean de Hainault, The Estate of the Church, With the discourse of times, from the Apostles vntill this present, trans. Simon Patrick (London: Thomas Creede, 1602), 480, where a guard on the town gates of Arras ‘vsed customably vpon the wall to sing with an high voyce’ to ‘aduertise the enemies when they should approach’.

150 For representative examples, see Philemon Holland, The Philosophie, commonlie called, The Morals (London: Arnold Hatfield, 1603), 69 (the ‘Meane’ is between the ‘height and loudnesse’ of the treble and the ‘lownesse or basenesse’ of the bass); and Josuah Sylvester, Du Bartas His Deuine Weekes and Workes Translated (London: Humphrey Lownes, 1611), 92 (‘your loud Trebbles help my lowly Bassus’). The word ‘shrill’, meaning ‘loud’ or ‘clear’, also occurs both generally and in relation to treble voices, and could be positive or negative; contrast Thomas Hoby, The Covrtyer of Covnt Baldessar Castilio (London: William Seres, 1561), sig.Fiiiir (amongst other things, a ‘good voyce’ is ‘shrill’) with Thomas Middleton, The Famelie Of Love (London: Richard Bradock, 1608), Act 5, ‘scaena vltima’, sig.I2v (‘your wife makes you deafe with the shrill treble of her tong’).

151 A pertinent example can be found in descriptions of the so-called ‘alta capella’ or wind band of the late Middle Ages by (amongst others) Konrad of Megenberg (1309–74) and Johannes Tinctoris (c.1435–1511), where ‘alta’ had both connotations ‘loud’ and ‘high’ whereas ‘bas’ instruments were considered to be ‘soft’ and ‘low’; see Myers, Herbert W, ‘Reeds and Brass’, A Performer’s Guide to Medieval Music, Ross W. Duffin, ed. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), 384–98Google Scholar. The phrase ‘alta voce’ also occurs frequently in Medieval texts and replicates this ‘loud’–‘high’ conflation; for a representative example, see Rastall, Richard, Minstrels Playing: Music in Early English Religious Drama II (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2001), 247–8Google Scholar.

152 For example, see Robert Robinson, The Art of Pronuntiation (London: Nicholas Okes, 1617), particularly sig. B11r–B12r, where the ‘sounds’ of ‘mans voice’ are ‘obserued of Musitians, by placing higher or lower (as the case doth require) of sundry formed cliffes […] the Faut, C: solfavt, and G solrevt cliffes, that are chiefly in vse, vpon certaine parralell lynes drawne one aboue another to expres the height or depth of their sounds’.

153 For a pertinent example, see Bacon, Sylva Sylvarvm, Century ii, 52 and Century ix, 226. On eunuchs and ‘small’ voices, see Juan Huarte, Examen de ingenios, trans. Richard Carew (London: Adam Islip, 1594), 279–80.

154 See Robert Copland (attrib.), The Shepardes Kalender (London: Thomas East, ?1570), sig. Lviir; and Raphael Holinshed, The Firste volume of the Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande (London: John Hunne, 1577), ii, 36, on the physical characteristics of Richard de Clare, Second Earl of Pembroke (1130–76).

155 A reference in Marcos Martínez, The Eighth Booke of the Myrror of Knighthood. Being the third of the third Part, trans. L. A. (London: Thomas Creede, 1599), sig. Kkv, where Agesilao sings to a lute and ‘did […] runne vpon the treble with such heauenly melodie’, could initially seem to provide an exception, but ‘treble’ actually refers to the lute’s top string here. The verb ‘runne’ occurs elsewhere in relation to (fast) lute playing, as in Cyril Tourneur, The Atheist’s Tragedie (London: Thomas Snodham, 1611), Act 4, scene i, sig. H2r.

156 The quote is taken from Henry Fitzgeffrey, ‘Notes from Black-Fryers’, Satyres: And Satyricall Epigram’s: With Certaine Obseruations at Black-Fryers? (London: Edward Allde, 1617), sig. F6r–F6v, at sig. F6v. See also Henry Chettle, Kind-Harts Dreame (London: J. Wolfe and J. Danter, ?1593), C2r (see also sig. B2v); Henry Hutton, Follie’s Anatomie (London: Nicholas Okes, 1619), sig. B3r–B4r, at B4r; and Richard Brathwaite, Whimzies: Or, A Nevv Cast Of Characters (London: Felix Kingston, 1631), 13.

157 Henry Parrot, Cvres For The Itch (London: J. Haviland and M. Flesher, 1626), sig. A8v–Br, at sig. Br. Various English ballad collections survive from the period, both printed and manuscript – significantly, without music; see Verse Miscellanies Online, On the different context of ballad singers, see Marsh, Music and Society in Early Modern England, 239–42.

158 For representative examples, see Marcos Martínez, The sixth Booke of the Myrrour of Knighthood, trans. Robert Parry (attrib.) (London: Edward Allde, 1598), part 3, i, sig. Iv (lovesick Torismundo exclaims ‘My wofull selfe will sing or cry the treble’ whilst the ‘still streame’ provides the ‘meane’ and the ‘Wilde Forrest beasts’ the ‘base’); and Girolamo Fracastoro, The Maidens Blush, trans. Josuah Sylvester (London: Humphrey Lownes, 1620), sig. Br (Joseph calls to his fellow shepherds ‘with his Treble throat, / So loud and shrill’). Some references to a ‘treble voic’d’ man simply mean ‘three-voiced’, particularly in relation to hell’s porter (alluding to Cerberus, the three-headed hound of Hades), as in John Taylor, The Eighth VVonder Of The VVorld (London: Nicholas Okes, 1613), sig. B2r.

159 Examples of men sounding ‘ela’ are: John Lyly, Euphues and his England (London: Thomas East, 1580), sig. Aiir; and Gervase Markham, A Health to the Gentlemanly profession of Seruingmen (London: W. White, 1598), sig. Gv. For similar descriptions of women’s voices, see Greene, Robert, Greenes Neuer too late (London: Thomas Orwin, 1590), 44Google Scholar; and Dekker, Thomas, Blvrt Master-constable. Or The Spaniards Night-walke (London: Edward Allde, 1602), sig. E4rGoogle Scholar.

160 Crooke, Mikrokosmographia, viii, 644 (sic. = 640); see also x, 766 and xii, 911.

161 Robinson, , The Art of Pronuntiation, sig. A12v; and Richard Mulcaster, Positions VVherin Those Primitive Circvmstances Be Examined, Which Are Necessarie For The Training vp of Children (London: Thomas Vautrollier, 1581), 55–8Google Scholar.

162 Richard Roussat, The Most excellent, profitable, and pleasant booke of the famous doctour and expert Astrologien Arcandain, trans. William Ward (London: James Rowbotham, ?1562), sig. Riiijv. See also Abraham Fraunce, The Arcadian Rhetorike (London: Thomas Orwin, 1588), ii, sig. H6v; and Hill, The Contemplation of Mankinde, pp. 7v–8r and p. 134v.

163 For example, see Nicholas Breton, I Pray you be not Angry, for I will make you merry (London; Augustine Mathewes, 1624), sig. B3v–B4r, where Fabiano describes a ‘young man’ whose voice was ‘neyther Treble nor Base, but a good meane’ – clearly a youth of sexual maturity, since he subsequently ‘playes false with my seruant maide’ and ‘steales away my eldest daughter’.

164 Holland, The Philosophie, 122. For similar descriptions, see Pierre de La Primaudaye, The Second Part Of The French Academie, trans. Thomas Bowes (London: G. Bishop, Ralph Newbery, R. Barker, 1594), 95; and Brathwaite’s description of a ‘Ballad-monger’ in Whimzies, 13.

165 For example, see Bacon, Sylva Sylvarvm, Century ii, p. 51 (‘a Meane, or Tenor, is the sweetest Part’); and de La Primaudaye, The Second Part of The French Academie, p. 95 (a man may ‘open and shut’ his larynx ‘in middle sort either more or lesse to make the tenor or the meane’). See also Thomas Churchyard, The Firste parte of Churchyardes Chippes, contayning twelue seuerall Labours (London: Thomas Marshe, 1575), 119 (the ‘Marchants keep a mean vnmixt, / with any iarryng part: / And bryng boeth Treble and the Baess, in order still by art’).

166 Arthur Golding, trans., The. XV. Bookes of P. Ouidius Naso, entytuled Metamorphosis (London: William Seres, 1567), xii, p. 151r (Ceny asks to be ‘no more a woman’, which she says ‘in bacer tune […] and her voyce / Did seeme a mannes voyce as it was in déede’); Kennedy, The Historie Of Calanthrop And Lvcilla, sig. B3r, on the two ‘Furies’ Megaera and Alecto (the Goddesses of Vengeance): ‘For whilst their Lutes, a Base or Tenour sound, / Their voyce in Alts sweet musicke doe abound’; Purchas, Pvrchas his Pilgrimes. In Five Bookes, part 4, vii, ch. 1, p. 1293 (on the ‘Indians of Brasil’: ‘They keepe among themselues differencies of voices in their Consort: and ordinarily the women doe sing the Treble, Counter, and Tenours’).

167 Unlike today, where ‘faining’ and ‘feigning’ have different definitions, the spellings and meanings are used interchangeably in contemporary sources. See James Stark, Bel Canto: A History of Vocal Pedagogy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999/2003), 35–6, 58–67. See also Christopher Page, The Guitar in Tudor England: A Social and Musical History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 132, no. 16; and Parrott, ‘Falsetto Beliefs’, 106, no. 113. ‘Faine’ also occurs as an adverb, meaning ‘willingly’ or ‘happily’, as in Campion, The Third and Fovrth Booke of Ayres, iv, song 24 (‘Faine would I wed a faire yong man’).

168 Richard Huloet, rev. John Higgins, Hvloets Dictionarie, newelye corrected, amended, Set In Order And Enlarged (London: Thomas Marsh, 1572), sig. Qqiir, ‘S. ante. I.’; Thomas Cooper, Thesavrvs Lingvæ Romanæ & Britannicæ (London: Henry Denham, 1578), sig. Qqq2v, ‘INC’: ‘incino’. Modern Latin dictionaries translate this word more generally (e.g. to cause to sound, to strike up, to sing, etc.), which may suggest a change in linguistic expression rather than a loss of precise meaning.

169 Campion, A Relation Of The Late Royall Entertainment, sig. A4r. Parrott, ‘Falsetto Beliefs’, 106, no. 112, offers several possible interpretations of this sentence (some convincing, others – like miming to someone else’s treble singing – less so).

170 Florio, A Worlde of Wordes, 92. See Holland, The Philosophie, sig. Zzzzz2v, ‘Chromaticke Musicke’: ‘soft, delicate and effeminate, ful of descant, fained voices and quavering, as some are of opinion’. In modern Italian, ‘croma’ means a quaver (eighth note), which may suggest fast note values here (hence ‘quauering’).

171 Nicholas Breton, The Court and Country (London: George Eld, 1618), sig. A4v and sig. D4r. Certain foreign dictionaries replicate this trend, like Mathias Sasbout, Dictionaire Francoys-Flameng Tres Ample Et Copievx (Anvers: Jean Waesberghe, 1579), ‘FA’, sig. Aa2v, where ‘Faulset en chanterie’ is translated as ‘De diminueringhe oft de schetteringhe int singhen’ – a description which appears almost verbatim in Jean Waesberghe, Dictionaire Francois-Flamen Tres-Ample Et Copievx (Rotterdam: Jean Waesberghe, 1599), sig. X2v, this time as a definition for ‘Fredon’ (in modern French, ‘fredonner’ means ‘hum’ or ‘croon’). ‘Schetteringhe’ is translated in its musical sense by Henry Hexham, Het Groot Woorden-Boeck (Rotterdam: Arnout Leers, 1658), ‘SCH’, sig. Ee4v as ‘a Quavering in Musick’.

172 Cooper, Thesavrvs Lingvæ, sig. Tttttt3r, ‘VOX’. Interestingly, this quote also appears in several Continental dictionaries; for example, see anon., Lexicon Trilingve, Ex Thesavro Roberti Stephani (Strasbourg: Theodosius Rihelius, 1586), sig. SSssr (‘VOX’), which translates this sentence as ‘falsch singen oder reden’, whilst Jean Nicot, Thresor De La Langve Francoyse (Paris: David Douceur, 1606), 281 (‘FA’) renders it ‘Chanter ou parler en faulset’.

173 For example, see Richard Capel, Tentations. Their Nature, Danger, Cure (London: R. Badger, 1633), 152 (‘men faint and sing many a heavy song’). This confusion may stem from French, as in John Cowell, The Interpreter: Or Booke Containing the Signification of VVords (Cambridge: John Legate, 1607), sig. Dd4v, ‘FA’, entry for ‘Faint and false action’: ‘ … For (faint) in the French tongue signifieth as much as (fained) in English’.

174 John Stanbridge, rev. Thomas Paynell, Vocabula Magistri, Sta[n]brigij (London: John Day, ?1560), sig. E4v, (‘to singe the base’); Peter Levins, Manipvlvs Vocabvlorvm: A Dictionarie of English and Latine Words (London: Henry Bynneman, 1570), sig. Qiiiv, ‘Ay ante N’ (‘to fain in singing’); and Cooper, Thesavrvs Lingvæ, sig. Ffffff2r, ‘SVC’ (‘… To make a soft noyse: to sing a base or tenor’). Huloet, Hvloets Dictionarie, ‘T. ante E.’, sig. Vviir translates ‘Tenor’ as ‘he yt singeth a tenor. Succentor, ris. m. ge.’ (linking to the verb succino), whilst Dupleix, The Resoluer, 291, notes that the ‘base’ is ‘the voice the most grosse, and which singeth the most softly’. A tiny handful of texts ascribe characteristics like ‘bellowing’ and ‘roare’ to tenor and bass voices, although these generally do so for a specific ‘manly’, warlike, or bucolic effect; see Brian Vickers, ed., Oxford World’s Classics: Francis Bacon: The Major Works (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996/2002), 416; and Jonson, ‘The Second Masqve’, The Characters of Two royall Masques (1608), sig. Er.

175 John Eliot, Ortho-Epia Gallica. Eliots Frvits for the French (London: Richard Field, 1593), 150–1Google Scholar. The nightingale is described in several other sources in a similar fashion, singing all the parts in polyphonic music; for representative examples, see Pierre Boaistuau, trans. John Alday, Theatrum mundi, The Theatre or rule of the world (London: H. D., ?1566), sig. cvir; and Sylvester, Du Bartas, 132.

176 See Shakespeare, William, A Midsommer Nights Dreame (London: Richard Bradock, 1600), Act 1, sig. A2vCrossRefGoogle Scholar. Other uses of ‘feigned voyce’ imply pretence or imitation like Abraham Fleming, A Panoplie of Epistles (London: Henry Middleton, 1576), 402 (he ‘had spoken his words with a feigning voice like a Gyant’).

177 Fraunce, The Arcadian Rhetorike, sig. G2r. See also John Brinsley, Cato Translated Grammatically (London: Humphrey Lownes, 1612), iii, 21: ‘For the Poets doe sing things to be maruelled at, but not to be beleeued’.

178 For example, see Rich, Barnabe, Rich his Farewell to Militarie profession (London: George Eld, 1606)Google Scholar, sig. A2v, where the ‘commendable qualities’ he needs to impress ‘Gentlewomen’ include ‘sight in Song’ which he calls ‘faining some prety Ditties’, but he notes: ‘my mouth is so vnpleasant, either to sing, or to faine, as would rather breed your lothing, then your liking’.

179 William Painter, The second Tome of the Palace of Pleasure (London: Henry Bynneman, 1567), novel 14, p. 89v. Painter later describes (novel 24, p. 205v [sig. FFf.iv]) how, in the city, love songs were ‘more common in eche Citizens mouthe, than the Stanze or Sonnets of Petrarch, played and fained vpon the Gittorne, Lute or Harpe of these of Noble house’ (‘citizens’ presumably includes women). In Robert Greene, rev. John Dickenson, Greene In Conceipt (London: Richard Bradock, 1598), 53, Valeria ‘tooke hir Lute, and therto warbled with a fainting voice’, which may be a conflation with ‘faining’. See also Thomas Nash, Pierce Penilesse His Svpplication to the Diuell (London: Abell Jeffes, 1592), sig. B3v: ‘the puling accent of her voyce is like a famed treble, or ones voyce that interprets to the puppets’, where ‘famed’ may be a misprint for ‘fained’.

180 For representative examples, see: Hoby, The Covrtyer of Covnt Baldessar Castilio, Book 2, sig. m.iiiir (sing); Robert Greene, Perimedes The Blacke-Smith (London: John Wolfe, 1588), sig. Gv (warble); Thomas Watson, The Hekatompathia Or Passionate Centurie of Loue (London: John Wolfe, 1582), Sonnet XII, sig. B2v (accord); Saker, Narbonus, ii, 26 (sought out); George Turberville, Epitaphes, Epigrams, Songs and Sonets (London: Henry Denham, 1567), p. 143v (sound); and Thomas Lodge, An Alarum against Vsurers (London: Thomas East, 1584), p. 22r (recorded).

181 Erasmus, Desiderius, The Arte of Rhetorique, trans. Thomas Wilson (London: Richard Grafton, 1553), ii, 72Google Scholar; and Painter, The second Tome of the Palace of Pleasure, novel 23 (The Duchesse of Malfi), pp. 170v–171r and novel 29 (Dom Diego and Gineura), p. 320r.

182 See Robinson, ‘“A perfect-full harmonie”’, 200, no. 20. See also Richard Greenham, rev. Henry Holland, The Workes Of The Reverend And Faithfvll Servant Af Iesvs Christ M. Richard Greenham (London: Thomas Snodham and Thomas Creede, 1612), 330, which criticizes ‘hypocrites’ who ‘haue not the sweete and naturall voyce, which commeth from a well affected and right ordered minde’; Allison, The Psalmes Of Dauid in Meter, who says the ‘singing part’ should be ‘either Tenor or Treble […] according to the nature of the voyce’; and Robinson, The Art of Pronuntiation, whose title page boasts that it is ‘very necessary […] to know the naturall structure of the voice’. Other texts express negative opinions on singers going beyond a natural range, like Thomas Adams, A Divine Herball Together with a Forrest of Thornes (London: George Purslowe, 1616), 85 (‘forc’d squeaking trebble’).

183 In a 2004 interview for the Independent, the countertenor James Bowman apparently ‘admitted that the countertenor voice could be described as fake: “It’s an acquired technique. Nobody speaks in that register.”’; see Michael Church, ‘The highs and the lows’, Independent (3 May 2004), See also James C. McKinney, The Diagnosis & Correction of Vocal Faults: A Manual for Teachers of Singing & for Choir Directors (Illinois: Genevox Music Group, 1994), 96–7.

184 Thomas Lupton, A Moral And Pitiefvl Comedie, Intituled, All for Money (London: Roger Warde and Richard Mundee, 1578), sig. Dir (‘Shall I in my mannes voyce or in my boyes voyce it declare?’); and William Shakespeare, The most excellent Historie of the Merchant of Venice (London: James Roberts, 1600), Act 3, scene iv, sig. Gv (‘speake betweene the change of man and boy, vvith a reede voyce’). See also Francis Meres, Wits Common Wealth The Second Part (London: William Stansby, 1634), 423 (an ‘old singer […] leaueth the shriller parts of singing vnto youth, who are more sit [=fit] for them’).

185 For example, see Campion, The Description of a Maske […] At the Mariage of the Right Honourable the Earle of Somerset, sig.Cv, sig. C2v and sig. D2v, where professional musicians like John Coprario and Nicholas Lanier are named alongside several noblemen who participated as ‘Maskers’. Amateur musicians were thus surely influenced by trends in professional music-making.

186 Quotations taken respectively from George Whetstone, The English Myrror (London: John Windet, 1586), 163; and Appendix 2 doc. 14.

Figure 0

Table 1. Instrumentation in the Printed Song Collections with Tablature

Figure 1

Image 1a Anonymous Italian (?Venice) (c. 1630), 11-course Lute with ebony and ivory inlay (Museum No. 1125-1869) (© The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London, with permission). No English lutes survive from the period.

Figure 2

Image 1b Anonymous English or Northern Italian (c.1590–1600), Betrothal painting on a copper panel (© Derek Johns Private Collection, with permission).

Figure 3

Image 1c Isaac Oliver (c.1565–1617), Female figure playing a lute (c.1610), ink drawing, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) (© The Courtauld, with permission).

Figure 4

Image 2 Francis Palmer (London, 1617), Orpharion, Collection of Musikmuseet, Musikhistorisk Museum & Carl Claudius’ Samling, Copenhagen, Denmark Inv. No. CL 139 (© Arnold Mikkelsen, CC-BY-SA, The Danish Music Museum / The National Museum of Denmark, with permission).

Figure 5

Image 3 John Rose (active 1552–61), Bass viola da gamba c.1600 (accession number 1989.44) (© The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), New York, with permission).

Figure 6

Table 2. Lute Songs in the Printed Collections (1597–1622) with Pitch Disparity between Voice and Lute Tablature

Figure 7

Image 4a Philip Rosseter (1568–1623) and Thomas Campion (1567–1620), A Booke of Ayres, Set foorth to be song to the Lute, Orpherian and Base Violl (London; Peter Short, 1601), title page (British Library, Music Collections K.2.i.3.) (© British Library Board, with permission).

Figure 8

Image 4b John Danyel (1564–c.1626), Songs for the Lvte, Viol and Voice (London; Thomas East, 1606), title page (British Library, Music Collections K.2.g.9.) (© British Library Board, with permission).

Figure 9

Image 5 John Dowland (1563–1626), The First Booke of Songes or Ayres of foure partes with Tableture for the Lute (London; Peter Short, 1597), song 19 (sig.Kv-K2r): ‘Awake sweet loue’ (British Library, Music Collections K.2.i.4.) (© British Library Board / Bridgeman Images, with permission).

Figure 10

Table 3. Songs for Solo Voice Using Low Clef(s) and Range

Figure 11

Figure 1 Clefs used in the printed lute songs scored for solo voice.These figures exclude the first song from Campion, The Discription of a Maske [] in honour of the Lord Hayes (which has a tenor part at the back of the book) and the incomplete song (no.14) from Thomas Morley, The First Booke of Ayres (London, 1600). “Other” includes songs in C2, C3, C4 and F4-clefs alongside three songs in the collections of Tobias Hume that use a mix of clefs.

Figure 12

Figure 2 Average written range of sung melody in the printed lute songs for solo voice.The numbers in the vertical axis relate to the average range in intervals (e.g. 8 = octave; 9 = minor or major 9th, etc.). The mean was calculated correct to the nearest semitone. In the collections with a mode of zero, this indicates that there is no mode (i.e. no clef is more common than any other in the solo songs in this collection). The transposing songs in this collection have been analyzed as written (i.e. the sung melody has not been transposed in the above data); see Table 2.

Figure 13

Figure 3 Ranges and clefs stipulated for use when composing ‘all songes’ in Thomas Morley, A Plaine And Easie Introdvction To Practicall Mvsicke (London; Humphrey Lownes, 1597), iii, 166 (British Library, Music Collections K.3.m.16.) (© British Library Board, with permission).

Figure 14

Image 6 Hendrick van Steenwyck the Younger (c.1580–1647), Painting of Nicholas Lanier (1588–1666) holding a lute (1613) (© Private collection, The Weiss Gallery, London, with permission).

Figure 15

Image 7 Anonymous (c.1615), Wall painting of lute player, originally in a bedroom in the west wing of The Swan Inn, No.1 London End, Beaconsfield, now in Aylesbury Museum (© Bucks Free Press, with permission).

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