Drop, Drop Slow Tears – Gibbons arr. James Webb
This is a piece we’ve published in the last few days for SSA and piano (or organ – look out for the upcoming blog post on that subject!). It’s an arrangement of Gibbons’ exquisite Drop, Drop Slow Tears, and was written to be performed at the 2010 Easter Service of Wimbledon High School for girls.
The vocal lines are simplicity itself. Verse one is a solo, and then verses two and three are in three simple parts, and there’s nothing in any of them that would surprise Gibbons. But it’s in the piano interlude between verses, and in the introduction at the beginning, that James Webb’s own contribution is distinctly heard.
Gibbons it ain’t. It’s dissonant and it relies very heavily on some quite extreme and precisely notated dynamics. James remarks in the programme note that the pedalling indications should be followed exactly. None of that makes you think particularly of 17th century vocal part-writing.
And yet, the Webb piano part complements the Gibbons very well, despite the two being separated by 400 years of evolution. The atmosphere created by these few short bars gives the familiar Gibbons tune a perfect start, and then once the voices are in, the accompaniment continues, supporting the voices in Gibbons’ own pure and unbusy style. The whole is enchantingly beautiful in its simplicity.
The piece is not taxing and it’s ideal for small choirs – all you really need is enough singers to divide into three simple parts. Copies are just £1.20 each.
You can preview the score with Sibelius’s Scorch here.