Elizabethan pop

I’m writing a new book, this one set entirely in the past, and intended to be a historical psychological thriller (must think of a snappier term!), and like all new books, this one necessitates a whole lot of research.

I’ve been looking in particular for a haunting tune that will run through the story and be heard or remembered at psychologically critical moments.  My knowledge of Elizabethan music is minimal to non-existent, but I’m fortunate to have two friends who know a lot more about it, and I asked them for a popular tune that would have been sung or hummed in the late sixteenth century or played on everyday instruments.  They came up with ‘John, come kiss me now’, which is mentioned in Thomas Heywood’s play, A Woman Killed With Kindness:

Woman Killed with Kindness

The words are usually attributed to Robert Burns, but it was obviously a traditional song as well as a tune, so I’m working on the assumption that the words would have been more or less the same.

And thanks to the internet, I can even hear the song! I can’t find many versions with words, although there are plenty of instrumentals, and this one is a little more mannered than I imagine it being sung in my story, but it’s interesting nonetheless to get an idea of how it would have sounded.  Have a listen and see what you think!



4 Responses

  1. Sparkly Jane says:

    Two songs from Elizabethan times : “Pastime with good company” and “Ah Robin Gentle Robin, show me how my layman doth and thou shall know of mine”. Worth a look on YouTube.

  2. Quantum says:

    I liked the music idea, for an audio version of the book. If there should be a religious element to the story you might consider something by Palestrina (a favourite of mine). Enjoyed your post at the Word Wenches!

    • Oh, yes, some music in the audio version would be great, wouldn’t it? No religious element to the new book, I’m afraid – personally I find it much too sticky a problem to tackle even at the end of the 16th century so I tend to steer well clear – but I am always up for some inspiring music of the time to inspire me as I write.

      Glad you enjoyed the Word Wenches post too – it is a brilliant blog, I think, and a bit of an honour to be there with Susanna Kearsley too!

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