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:
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!