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Renaissance Guitar Piece

Packington's Pound

The Renaissance guitar piece Packington's Pound remains a popular tune to this day although it is probably at least 400 years old. Written in the Renaissance era it reputedly first appeared around 1596 in the "New Book of Tablature" by William Barley. Indeed, the tune has had many "guises" as there are estimated to be over one hundred songs of the time, which, used this particular melody! In terms of guitar history,  its provenance is also somewhat "muddied" as it is an anonymous tune and of which the subject cannot be determined.

It is probably impossible to determine whom the subject of this Renaissance guitar piece is, but generally there are three persons, which the tune, may be written. They are Sir John Packington (1549-1625 a favorite of Queen Elizabeth), Sir Thomas Pakington and Thomas Paginton.

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The tune as I have arranged it is in 3/4 time and indeed should be treated as a dance form of time. Although this piece could be played at least twice as fast as I have performed it, and still sound good, I have elected to play it slower so as to get the full effect of the strong chords played on the first beats of each bar. They are not too difficult to play and even rolling the chords (notes played quickly in succession similar to a strum) adds to the "mood" of the piece.

There are two introductory sections of 8 bars each (repeated) which open the Renaissance piece and establish the mood of the piece. This is followed by a longer 24 bar section the themes and "mood" are consolidated. You'll notice if played with purpose and conviction that the piece has a somewhat serious yet playful feel.

I suppose it's the ability of music to express such contrary emotions or ideas simultaneously and yet be convincing. This is one of the reasons this piece is so pleasurable to play.

Here is a YouTube video of the piece...

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Play bars 17 to 24 quite forcefully and then play 25 to 40 almost as a "response to an argument" in a conversation, and you'll see just what I mean. In a sense, it's almost like a conversation between two people (probably husband and wife!:)), and if you can express this while playing it seems to add more character to the piece.

Make sure you hold the bass note (dotted half note/minim) when playing the upper melody (quaver or 8th notes). You can see examples in bars: 9; 11; 13; 32; 34; 37. There are also several dotted minim chords that last for the whole bar e.g. 8, 16, 24, 32 and 40. The Renaissance guitar piece Packington's Pound really is a fun tune to play. I hope you enjoy it!

Here are a few related resources in which you may be interested...

To find out more about the Renaissance go here...

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