This work survives slightly incomplete and without its galliard. It is a ‘16-bar’ pavan, its six sections running to 96 semibreves. The three strains start on the chords of G major, F major and C major, clearly stressing its G-Mixolydian nature. The varied repeat of the second strain is missing, so I have supplied it here. It is particularly interesting to listen to the pavan after hearing the second and seventh pavans of the Nevell
sequence, both of which are also in G. The second Nevell
pavan is a shorter work, built on an ‘8-bar’ scheme and its opening strain shares certain melodic and structural features with the present work, as if Byrd were working out the same idea but, by adopting the 16-bar format, allowing himself more breadth of scope. There is no place here for the strict canonic bass in double augmentation that is so striking a feature of the perfect opening strain of the second Nevell
pavan. However, the first phrase in the soprano and alto is here in strict canon ‘two parts in one at the fifth below’ and the canonic writing is carefully maintained into the varied repeat, similar to the strict canon found in the seventh Nevell
pavan. Curiously, in the present work this first strain seems rather stilted, perhaps as a result of the constraints of the canon, but as usual when Byrd deliberately limits himself, it is in order the more to free himself later. The harmonic language, the subtle contrasts and the rhythmic variety in the other strains all suggest that this work dates from no earlier than 1580.
from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999