This is a simple keyboard setting by Byrd of an Italian melody known as Italiana
in English and Scottish lute sources, such as the Rowallen Lute Book
in the Edinburgh University Library. (It also existed in the now-lost ‘Chilesotti Lute Codex’, and from there found its way into Ottorino Respighi’s well-known first suite of Antiche arie e danze per liuto
, 1917.) In the lute version, the simple tune is presented with an even simpler drone accompaniment. Byrd’s setting can be seen to be considerably more complex than the original. His harmonies add variety, and after the two strains of the dance have been heard, each with its repeat, he adds a further complete version, with extra ornamentation, exactly along the lines of his other volta, BK90 and the three almans BK10, 11 and 117.
from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999