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Flow My Tears is a lute song (specifically, an "ayre") by the accomplished lutenist and composer John Dowland.
Originally composed as an instrumental under the name Lachrimae pavane in 1596, it is Dowland’s most famous ayre, and became his signature song, literally as well as metaphorically: he would occasionally sign his name "Jo. Dolandi de Lachrimae".
This arrangement is for Recorder Quartet.
Like others of Dowland’s lute songs, the piece’s musical form and style are based on a dance, in this case the pavan. It was first published in The Second Booke of Songs or Ayres of 2, 4. and 5. parts (London, 1600). The song begins with a falling tear motif, starting on an A and descending to an E by step on the text "Flow my tears". This may have been borrowed from an Orlande de Lassus motet or Luca Marenzio madrigal,(this type of motif was common in Elizabethan music to signify grief) in addition to other borrowings in the piece. Anthony Boden calls the song "probably the most widely known English song of the early 17th century.
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