The original pavan and galliard of which this is an arrangement is a lute work; this accounts for playing them here on the harpsichord’s muted lute stop. One of the earliest lute sources (the Willoughby
Manuscript, dating from the 1570s) explains the title by calling it ‘a paven to delight’; it appears therefore to be simply a piece intended to give pleasure. (The Elizabethans were as prone to melancholy delight as they were to merry delight.) The FVB
attributes the lute original to Edward Johnson, but this is an error for the more eminent lutenist John Johnson. Since the Delight
pavan survives in over thirty different manuscripts, in one version or another, this was clearly one of the most popular pieces of the time; it is therefore particularly difficult to establish an ‘original’ text for the lute version, due to this plethora of different readings, but a comparison with versions known suggests that Byrd may have not hesitated to make alterations, by modifying the harmonic language and reworking the melodic lines to fashion a different climax. But perhaps he only had access to an early version of the work; Johnson himself seems to have revised it in the 1590s. Byrd’s arrangement probably dates from the 1580s or early 1590s.
Johnson’s Delighte inaugurates Byrd’s exceptionally rich contribution in this area. It is is a ‘16-bar’ pavan, its six sections running to 96 semibreves; the second strain starts in F major, reinforcing the G-Dorian modality. The sprightly galliard reworks in triple metre the key scheme and many of the melodic ideas presented in the pavan, a technique which Byrd avoids in his own original galliards; nevertheless, the practice was common at the time, and is used to excellent effect here. In John Ward’s words ‘Johnson draws us on by the ways in which he manipulates chords; he was a harmonist’. Byrd, while being an excellent harmonist, was also a fine melodist, as becomes quite clear in his varied repeats.
from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999