Underneath the deceptively simple Ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la scale, the other player has a lively time, racing around the keyboard and incorporating two popular Elizabethan songs: in Variation 3, The Woods so wild and in the middle of Variation 4, The Shaking of the Sheets. Dowland similarly playfully introduced the Woods so wild melody into the last strain of his Earl of Essex galliard.
Byrd may here have been influenced by the three-hand piece Upon ut re my fa soul la by Nicholas Strogers found in the same source that contains Byrd’s Christe qui lux a few pages earlier (Christ Church Musical MS 371, f. 20). Strogers’s work was probably written in the late 1550s, and Byrd’s in the 1570s. In Stroger’s work, the cantus firmus is presented four times, in Byrd’s, five. In both, it must be played by a second person at the top of the instrument, at the same pitch. Byrd’s work ends rather abruptly and inconclusively in Tomkins’s manuscript so I have added a final chord, comparable to the additional closing chords often found in other English manuscripts of the period such the FVB.
from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999