I have always been fascinated be the quietest sounds on the guitar and the lute, the subtle resonances around the threshold of hearing. In Lachrymae, I wanted to recreate the glow of sound that is often present in lute music, the diatonic cluster of harmonics from the bass strings that resonate in sympathy with notes played on the upper courses. For this piece, I chose a number of melancholic songs by John Dowland and, from them, selected several closely related melodic fragments to use as my raw material. These fragments are combined and transformed to create delicate, fragile textures that never rise above pianissimo.
The Dowland pieces used in Lachrymae are the songs: I saw my Lady Weep, In Darkness let me Dwell, Flow my Tears, and Come Heavy Sleep and the five-part viol versions of the Lachrymae Pavan in Seven Tears or Lachrimae. The piece lasts between four and five minutes.
Stephen Goss, February 2001
Lachrymae was written for the TETRA Guitar Quartet and first performed at the Guildford International Music Festival at the Electric Theatre, Guildford on the 21st March 2001. It has been recorded by TETRA on their album Carmen (CADCD 0460 ˝ 2004)