By contrast with the spacious first pavan in a dark minor key, the second one is a short ‘8-bar’ work, in Mixolydian G major (untransposed), its six sections running to only 48 semibreves. The opening 8-bar phrase is one of Byrd’s most perfect, concentrated paragraphs. Written in 4-part counterpoint, the soprano, alto and tenor discuss a little 6-note melodic phrase, each presenting its own slightly different rhythmic version. This whole discussion takes place over a double augmentation, in the bass, of exactly this same motive in long notes: G, D, B, C, D, G. The melodic cell thus provides both the harmonic and the melodic material for the paragraph of music; or, put in another way, the imitative polyphonic discussion on the theme is harmonised by the theme itself (a procedure Bach would no doubt have appreciated).
The rhythmic variety in the galliard is unique. The rather stolid first strain deliberately prepares the way for the jolting cross-rhythms and wild triplets in the second strain, and for the displaced strong beats in the third. These are just the sort of rhythmic games Byrd enjoyed playing in his youthful works.
from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999