Anon. UK

The great majority of extant English (and Scottish) instrumental lute music is preserved in manuscript sources (as opposed to lute songs, which are often found in printed sources). This is in contrast to the European continent where the printing of music (initiated by Petrucci in 1501) was more widely practised (though of course there are numerous continental MS sources also). There are 50 or so surviving UK manuscripts containing 2 - 3,000 separate pieces of music (Marriott 1978, Tayler 2005), a repertoire far more extensive than any other contemporaneous solo instrumental repertoire (Craig-McFeely 2000).

In this section you will find anonymous pieces from the Cherbury Lute Book, the Cosens Lute Book, the  Folger Dowland Manuscript, the Hirsch Lute Book, the Marsh Lute Book, the Margaret Board Lute Book, the Matthew Holmes Manuscripts, the ML Lute Book, the Mynshall Lute Book, the Jane Pickering Lute Book and the Willoughby Manuscript. These manuscripts are described in the Lute Sources page. Other pieces from these MSS that are attributable are posted under the heading of the individual composers.


A) The Cherbury Lute Book

Chacogne [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 08 


B) The Cosens Lute Book
(Pieces are listed in the order they appear in the source.)

Prelude (Cosens) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 07
Cosens f.10v 

Pavane (Cosens) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 06
Cosens f.19v

Galliard (Cosens) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 06
Cosens f.33

Untitled Piece (Cosens) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 06
Cosens f.35v

Lachrimae (Cosens) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 07
Cosens f.36v
This version of Dowland’s Lachrimae Pavan has the initials CK attached. These initials occur several times throughout the MS and it has been suggested may represent the initials of the book’s compiler, though his identity is unknown.

Fantasy (Cosens) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 08
Cosens f.39
Another piece with the initials CK attached.

Lady North’s Galliard [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 06
Cosens f.46v


C) The Folger Dowland Manuscript

My Lord of Oxford’s Galliard [Scorch] [pdf] Anon Grade 04 This short galliard is one of the pieces in the manuscript that is probably not by Dowland. For this arrangement I have revoiced some of the chords and raised the repeated G in bar 25 one octave.


D) The Hirsch Lute Book

Ground [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 05
A nice set of divisions over a ground bass though, though not typical of the genre. Many such pieces from this period construct divisions (variations) over a strictly repeated sequence of bass notes. In this piece the descending bass figure (D C B flat A) is itself varied and threaded in among other material.

Fantasy 51 [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon (Hirsch LB) Grade 06
A direct transcription of this piece would put it in the key of E major. In this arrangement I have chosen to raise it to A major; in doing this I have dropped the lower part by an octave in many passages.

Fantasy 29 [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 06

Galliard 7 [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 05

Galliard 11 [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 06


E) The Marsh Lute Book 

Sellenger’s Round [Scorch] [pdf] Anon Grade 06 (subtitled ‘The Beginning of the World’)
The well known version of this tune from the Margaret Board Lute Book appears at below. The present version (note the different spelling) is a very different harmonisation. This transcription can be played either with the third string retuned to F# or in normal tuning.

Doomp  [Scorch] [pdf] Anon Grade 05                

One of the pieces discussed in this section.

Lord Strang’s Galliard [Scorch] [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 07
The title given in the manuscript is Gall Lord Stra so it could equally be Lord Strange’s Galliard. For this arrangement I have rebarred it in 3/4 (barred in 6 in the MS), corrected the 1st chord in bar 17 (the scribe wrote the bottom two notes on the wrong courses), revoiced some of the D minor chords to make them playable in guitar tuning (F natural on 2nd string instead of 4th) and put the bass E in bar 45 up an octave, adding a bass E in bar 46. The curious voicing of some D major chords (with a 6th string bass F sharp) is retained as it strongly influences the character of the piece (see similar voicing in the Anthony Pavan, below). Arguably this voicing may have come about from a scribe copying a 7-course lute piece to 6 courses, but I can see no other evidence for this.


F) The Margaret Board Lute Book

I made the first three arrangements using Wayne Cripps’ files at are direct transcriptions of the lute tablature and are easier to play by retuning the third string to F#. Joan to the Maypole is presented in two versions, the first being a direct transcription, the second a tone higher, can be played in normal tuning (it requires some barre chords, but is otherwise straightforward to play.) Sellinger’s round is presented in D as an alternative to the more usually found transcriptions in G or A. 

The Gillyflower [Scorch] [pdf] Anon Grade 04

The Eglantine Branch [Scorch] [pdf] Anon Grade 05

The Wood Bynde [Scorch] [pdf] Anon Grade 05

Joan to the Maypole - in D: [Scorch] [pdf] Anon Grade 04 : in E: [Scorch] [pdf] Grade 06

Sellingers Round [Scorch] [pdf] Anon Grade 06 *
*See above for another version of this tune; this version is found quite widely, including in Playford’s collections and a version by William Byrd in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.


G) Matthew Holmes Manuscripts

This series of manuscripts, now kept in Cambridge University library in the UK, is the richest source of English lute music containing many of the best-known lute pieces from the end of the 16th century. There are nine Holmes manuscripts, four of which contain mainly solo lute music. They are numbered by library shelf mark: Dd.2.11 (which is the largest), Dd.5.78.3, Dd.9.33 and Nn.6.36. These MS have been dated respectively, 1590-95, 1595-1600, 1600-1605 and 1605-15 (Spring, 2001, pp115-122). The manuscripts have been digitised and are freely available at:

A Downe [Scorch] [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 06 This piece comes from Dd. 2.11 (folio 94) and a modern tablature version can be found in the music supplement of The Lute Society’s Lute News, no. 62, June 2002. I arranged it initially in A and later added the version in G that appears here as it is easier to play. There is a recording of the piece on Paul Odette’s lute CD The Royal Lewters, Harmonia Mundi HMU 907313, where he implies that a downe is similar to a dump (see The Dump). I recommend anyone who tries this piece to listen to the Odette recording as an example of how to invest a simple piece with musical meaning. 

The Duke of Milan's Dump [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 05 From Dd.2.11. This appears to be a simplified version of the Duke of Somerset’s Dompe (see below) - itself based on an Italian Padoana.

Galliard [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 06 

A galliard (from CUL Nn.6.36) originally written for bandora

Galliard (Untitled) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 05 An untitled piece with the form of a galliard from Dd.5.78

Pavan [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 07 

A pavan from Dd.5.78.3.

Sick, Sick and Very Sick [Scorch] [pdf]  Anon Grade 06 

This is an anonymous set of variations on a tune that may have been sung to the refrain:
Syck sicke and to towe sicke
And sicke and like to die
the sickest nighte thst euer I abode
god lord haue mercy on me.

This is the refrain to a Child Ballad known as the Ballad of Captain Car. This version of the tune is found in Dd.9.33 and has been published as facsimile and in grand staff transposition in Elizabethan Popular Music It is a very catchy tune for such a sombre subject, its character perhaps deriving from the way it jumps back and forth between major and minor tonality.

Mrs EB Teares [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Anon Grade 07

Teares [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 07

These two pieces are found together in Nn.6.36 and their titles suggest they are laments. In the first piece, for ease of performance on the guitar, a number of notes have been raised an octave: the D sharp and F sharp in bar 17 (17;13 and 17;14) the B and D sharp in the echoing phrase in bar 18 (18;13 and 18;14) and the bass G in bar 20 (20;1). In addition the bass voice in bar 29 and the beginning of bar 30 has been raised an octave. Conversely a D in bar 29 (29;5) has been dropped an octave. The second piece is transcribed unchanged.

Grimstock [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 04
This dance tune in 6/8 metre was evidently quite popular as it is found in several manuscript versions and in John Playford’s The Dancing Master (first published in 1651).

Jour Desiré [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 06
From Dd.1.11. An arrangement of what was presumably a popular tune but I haven’t found anything about its provenance.

Southwell’s Galliard [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 05
From Dd.2.11


H) The ML Lute Book 

These pieces are taken from the facsimile edition edited by Robert Spencer and available from Ruxbery Publications

Poor Tom of Bedlam [Scorch] [pdf] Anon Grade 06
“Poor Tom” or “Mad Tom” appears in song:
“For to see Mad Tom of Bedlam
Ten thousand miles I travelled
Mad Maudlin goes on dirty toes
To save her shoes from gravel.
Still I sing bonny boys, bonny mad boys
Bedlam boys are bonny
For they all go bare and they live by the air
And they want no drink nor money.”
and in literature, eg Shakespeare uses him in King Lear where Edgar disguises himself as poor Tom of Bedlam, a demonic madman, who believes the is tortured by the foul fiend. Bedlam, of course, refers to the Bethlehem Hospital, established in Bishopsgate, London in the 13th century as a hospital for the poor. In the 14th century it began treating “lunaticks” (the mentally ill) and later became exclusively what was then called a lunatic asylum, so that the name “Bedlam” became synonymous with lunacy. The name lives on today in the Bethlem Hospital, now situated in Beckenham, Kent. Neither this tune, nor “Mad Tom of Bedlam” (below) seems to suit the above version of the words (which can be found to yet another tune, sung by Steeleye Span on the album Please to see the King [1971]).

Mad Tom of Bedlam [Scorch] [pdf] Anon Grade 05
The title ostensibly refers to the same character as ‘Poor Tom’ but the tune also appears as ‘Gray’s Inn Masque’ in other sources (though there is also another tune with this name that appears twice in a different keys later in the ML manuscript). Certainly the piece does sound as if it might be masque music and part of it is similar to Lord Souche’s Maske (below). The masque was an entertainment that developed in England during the 16th and 17th centuries around a masked dance. Masques were usually based on allegorical or mythological themes and involved poetry, music and elaborate sets. They were arguably the forerunners of the semi-operas of the Restoration period.

John Come Kiss Me Now [Scorch] [pdf] Anon Grade 05
This is a song known in a version by Robert Burns (to a different tune):
“O John, come kiss me now, now, now;
O John, my luve, come kiss me now;
O John, come kiss me by and by,
For weel ye ken the way to woo.”
It also appears in Playford and in a version by William Byrd among others. The tune in the ML book appears to be a version of the passamezzo moderno ground and is unusual in that 14 divisions (variations) are written out.It also appears in Playford and in a version by William Byrd among others. The tune in the ML book appears to be a version of the passamezzo moderno ground and is unusual in that 14 divisions (variations) are written out.

French Tune [Scorch] [pdf] Anon Grade 05
This appears untitled and unattributed in the ML manuscript; the tune appears to have been popular as a song by the French musician Pierre Guedron entitled Est-ce Mars and it appears with a variety of titles in several sources.

Lord Souche’s Maske [Scorch] [pdf] Anon Grade 05
Probably named after Edward La Zouche (?1556 - 1625) who became Lord Zouche in 1569. 


I) The Mynshall Lute Book

The Flat Pavan [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 06

The Flat Galliard [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 06

Paired pavans and galliards, sharing the same thematic material, are commonly found in English lute manuscripts, though there were many more of each found without a corresponding pair. This pair of pieces is clearly similar to the similarly named pair found as duet arrangements in the Jane Pickering Lute Book and well-known to guitarists from the versions found in Frederick Noad’s The Renaissance Guitar.  The duet versions are attributed to John Johnson, but there is no indication of the composer of these solo versions.


J) The Jane Pickering Lute Book  (fx = folio x)

Some pieces in Pickering are attributed; where the attribution is unclear or doubtful I have included them here. 

Mal Sims (f26) Anon ?Hassler Grade 07
Arrangements of this tune are common in the lute literature; Mal Sims is thought to be a girl’s name, Mal being a form of the English name Molly. This version is attributed in the source to the German composer Hans Leo Hassler (1564 - 1612). This attribution seems unlikely to me; he was a keyboard and choral composer; though some of his music was intabulated for lute by others he seems unlikely to have composed for the lute.

Allemande (f29) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 05

Allemande (f40r) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 07

Allemande (f45v) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 08

Allemande (f46) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 05

Courante (f39) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 06

Courante (f44)  [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon ?Gaultier Grade 05
(see note below on Gaultier)

Hornpipe (f51) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 05

Jig (f50v) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 05

Nightingale (f48) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon ?Gaultier Grade 07
I’m puzzled by the attribution of this piece to Gaultier. Craig-McFeely (2000) lists it as by Gaultier and Gerbode ( attributes it to Ennemond Gaultier. However it is not at all like Gaultier’s piece Rossignol found in the continental Barbe lute manuscript. So is it, perhaps, by Jacques Gaultier (no relation) who was for several years a lutenist at the court of King Charles. The tablature, as it appears in Pickering seems incomplete; to remedy this I have added 5 bars of music at the end of the piece.

Sarabande (f46) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 05

Sarabande (f46v) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon ?Pinel Grade 05
In this case the attribution in Pickering is to the French lutenist Germain Pinel (1600 - 1661)


K) The Willoughby Manuscript

Quando Claro, Quando Claro [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 07

This arrangement is made from a grand staff transcription in Ward (1992). The piece is unattributed in the manuscript. Craig McFeely, in her detailed work on English Lute Manuscripts Craig-McFeely (2000) lists it as by Guillaume Morlaye a French lutenist and composer born around 1510 (Dobbins 2005) but Ward distinguishes this work from a similar version by Morlaye found elsewhere and regards it as superior. It is very clearly a version of Conde Claros a ground of Spanish origin deriving from a 15th Century ballad. This is known in versions by Luys de Narvaez, Alonso Mudarra, Diego Pisador and Enrique de Valderrabano (Hudson 2005). To my ears the present version is particularly fine. It differs from Narvaez and Mudarra by being in triple time, though the Narvaez version does break into triple time for the last section. (I haven’t seen the other two versions.) 

The Anthony Pavan Anon Grade 08
3 version, Guitar [Scorch] [pdf], Lute Tablature[Scorch] [pdf]: 4 version, Guitar [Scorch] [pdf]
This piece may be by Anthony de Conti or perhaps Anthony Bassano (Ward 1992). There is an excellent (lute) recording by Paul Odette on “The Royal Lewters”, Harmonia Mundi HMU 907313. I made an initial arrangment from Ward’s grand staff transcription and then looked at the tablature, which Ward reproduces in facsimile. The piece illustrates some of the problems in transcribing lute music. The tablature is divided into sections, but not otherwise barred; the irregular lengths of the sections make it difficult to be clear what rhythm is intended, though the title 'Pavan' leads one to think that it should be four in a bar. Ward bars it mainly in 4, but with some bars in 2 and some in 6. In doing this he assumes that the scribe has made some rhythmical errors in the tablature. This is a common finding in tablature sources; often it is possible to compare different sources of the same piece and correct errors, but this is the only known source of this piece. However the piece is written clearly and in a neat hand (even where the scribe has crowded tablature on to the end of a line) so my approach has been to assume that the scribe was being reasonably careful but that the piece is metrically irregular. As well as this, a discussion with the lutenist Lynda Sayce led me to try barring the piece in 3 and I have therefore presented versions in 3 and 4 as alternatives (including a lute tablature copy of the version in 3). The version in 3 is (to my ears) less convincing, but assumes less scribal errors. The following assumptions are made about scribal errors:
1) Version in 4:
In bar 16, the note values in the short figure at the beginning of the bar are halved (by analogy with bar 22); bar 23 is taken as beginning with two quavers rather than semiquavers (notation unclear in the original); a rhythmic error is assumed in bar 32, the quaver of the second beat appearing as a crotchet in the original; bar 29 begins with 2 crotchets rather than two quavers; bar 32 ends with a crotchet - in the original this is the equivalent of a minim. It is necessary to begin first strain variation on the 4th beat of a bar, despite the first strain itself ending on beat 4. The other strains run on from each other without irregular barring, though only between the second strain and its variation is this explicitly suggested by the tablature. Wrong note in bar 24 (E in the guitar version corrected to F).
2) Version in 3:
The basic structure of the piece seems to be 8 bars long, though the sections vary between 9 and 7 bars. Bar 29 is taken as ending with two quavers rather than semiquavers (notation unclear in the original). A rhythmic error is assumed in bar 32, the quaver of the second beat appearing as a crotchet in the original. A rhythmic error is assumed (minim instead of crotchet) in bar 42. Wrong note in bar 31 (E corrected to F).

Brewster's Pavan  [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 08
The name Brewster’s Pavan may refer to the composer, but this is uncertain and nothing is known of his identity.

Fansie (Fantasy) [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 06

Galliard 15 [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 07
This galliard is straightforward in structure, but the required fingering is tricky in places; for example where a short phrase in G sharp major modulates to C sharp major (such as bars 15 to 16). Here the best solution seems to be a barre at 4 followed by a move to position 1. Alternatively, tune the guitar in lute tuning, with the 3rd string tuned down to F sharp.

Hall’s Galliard [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 05
Hawles galliard (in the original spelling), like the Anthony Pavan, is a piece exclusively found in the Willoughby MS where it is described as ‘set out by Richard Green’ (spelling modernised). Green was a lutenist in the household of Francis Willoughby; he was one of the scribes of the MS but it is unclear whether he was the composer of the piece.

A New Almaine [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 06
This almaine is also unique to the Willoughby MS

Alman 13 [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 05
This Alman is atypical in having four sections with varied repeats rather than the three more usually found.


L) Varietie of Lute Lessons
Varietie of Lute Lessons was one of the first English printed collections of lute solos. It was compiled by Robert Dowland (son of the lutenist John Dowland) and published in 1610. More about…

Guilforde's Almaine [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Anon Grade 08

M. Saman, his Coranto [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Anon Grade 08

First Queen's Maske [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Anon Grade 07

Second Queen's Maske [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Anon Grade 07

Third Queen's Maske [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Anon Grade 08
The mask, or masque was:
“A genre of entertainment that developed in England during the 16th and 17th centuries around a masked dance. Based on allegorical or mythological themes and involving poetry, music and elaborate sets, its finest achievement was in the court masques of the poet laureate Ben Jonson and stage architect Inigo Jones from 1605 to 1631. A lesser-noted but nonetheless important type was the theatre masque of the same period, which survived the demise of the court masque and reached its highest development in the dramas and semi-operas of the Restoration (1660–c1700), especially in the works of Dryden and Purcell.”
Lefkowitz (2001). These pieces are presumably music that was used in masques.

Volte 1 [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Anon Grade 08

Volte 2 [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Anon Grade 08

Volte 3 [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Anon Grade 08

Volte 4 [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Anon Grade 07

Volte 5 [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Anon Grade 07

Volte 6 [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Anon Grade 07

Volte 7 [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Anon Grade 07


M) Other Manuscripts

The Duke of Somerset’s Reverie (Dompe) Anon
In D [Scorch] [pdf] Grade 07; in E [Scorch] [pdf] Grade 08
This piece appears in a manuscript in the British Library known as BL Royal Appendix 58 with the title "The Duke of Somersettes Dump" (see: "The Dump" in Music Topics). The Duke of Somerset referred to in the title was Edward Seymour (brother of Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife) who was executed in the Tower of London in 1552. The piece is very similar to, and presumably based on an Italian Padouana that appears in the Capirola Lute Book (c.1517) and is available in a guitar arrangement by John Duarte (Duarte 1976). The present arrangement is based on a grand staff transcription by John M Ward (Ward 1992 vol 2 ) with modifications suggested by the lute playing of Paul Odette on the CD "The Royal Lewters" (Harmonia Mundi HMU 9073130) especially in relation to the rhythm of the bars 36 through 39 and the repeated section. The version in D requires retuning the 6th string to D and the third to F# and, to my mind sounds better with a capo at fret 2 or 3. The version in E needed some chords reorganised and is slightly more difficult to play.

Pastyme [Scorch] [pdf] Anon Grade 05
This setting of the song tune Pastyme with Good Company comes from one of the MSS in the British Library, republished by the Lute Society in the June 1996 edition of Lute News music supplement. The song itself is attributed to King Henry VIII as it appears in the Henry VIII manuscript containing 14 of the king’s works that is held in the British Library. The present arrangement is taken directly from the tablature, though the key is changed from G minor to E minor to suit the guitar and I have changed the octave of some bass notes.

Chacone [PDF] [MXL] [MIDI] Anon Grade 08
The Hendar Roberts Lute Book  is an English source containing 17th century French music, of which this anonymous Chacone is fairly representative.

Militis Dump  Anon
In G [Scorch] [pdf] D06; in A [Scorch] [pdf] Grade 06
This is another Dump that appears in some English lute books (eg the Willoughby MS), but the meaning of its title is obscure (?Milady’s). I initially posted a version in A, but later decided it plays better in G and I have added this version.

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