This curious piece in galliard rhythm is clearly an early work, probably from the 1560s, and has little of the jig about it. It starts as if it were a short ‘4-bar’ galliard, each phrase being followed by its varied repeat. Such galliards are rare but not unknown in Byrd: one such is the G major galliard, BK87, and the last strain of the G minor galliard, BK4 is also built on repeated 4-bar sections. But by the end of the third phrase (and its varied repetition) of the Galliarde Gygge
, when a normal galliard should be finished, the music has not yet reached the home key of A minor, being still in C. Byrd repeats the second phrase, thereby bringing the music home after 32 rather than 24 bars. The ‘galliard’, despite being unusual, thus follows the principles outlined by Morley for always composing galliards in multiples of four bars. However, the most unusual aspect of the work is that Byrd subjects these first 32 bars, his ‘galliard’ with four strains, to a further complete variation, as in several of his almans, turning the work into a kind of germinating ground, based on a 32-bar scheme. No doubt Byrd could have gone on improvising many other variations in the same vein. The work is similar in structure, rhythm and mood to the Qui passe, for my Ladye Nevell
(BK19), built on a repeating Italian bass, where a rather more complex 40-bar scheme is subjected to not one but two complete variations.
from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999