The first thirty bars are a sort of introduction, calmly imitative, like a prelude; they serve as an intonazione
to set the tone (Mixolydian G major). There follows a passage recalling (or rather anticipating) polychoral imitation; a passage is heard first played by the high ‘choir,’ then an octave lower. Another high passage (a duet) is heard, imitated an octave lower, then extended throughout the whole texture, leading to an involved polyphonic discussion. Less serious discourse then leads through a more virtuoso section to a dance, first presented with complicated cross rhythms. Particularly characteristic of this work, which probably dates from the 1570s, is the technique of decorated repetition, applied to various paragraphs of music. Ever unwilling to repeat himself literally, Byrd always enriches any material he repeats. In the final paragraph, the piece unwinds to a calm repose.
from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999