Thomas Tallis

This post is an easy-to-swallow musical vitamin pill.  This tasty round, or canon, can get your ears and fingers doing new things. Written by Thomas Tallis, court composer to King Henry VIII, it’s timeless, beautiful, and can be played in four parts.  It’s super simple because there are no rhythms in it except quarter notes. ‘Simple’ is not quite the same as ‘easy’, however; in order for this piece to ‘blossom’ musically, the steady beat must be rock-solid.

If you’re not familiar with Tablature, or Tab for short, any number of internet sites can show you the basics of this play-by-number musical road map.  I’ve written it here in the key of C, in standard treble clef notation and six-string Tab for guitar. Ukulele players, you can play from this tab too.  ( key of F on ukulele).

Practice tips:

  • Play through the melody slowly several times to familiarize your fingers with where the pitches are on your instrument.
  • Once your fingers know their respective jobs, play one section at a time, focusing on keeping a smooth, steady pulse.  Repeat until you’re very comfortable before moving on to the next section.
  • You’re ready to put it all together when your eyes can move easily across the written music without losing your place OR your steady beat.
  •  To keep the meter intact, before you play, count out loud “ 1,2,3, 4,1,2, 3…..”  then play the first pitch played on the next beat, “4”. Trust me, this is important. Do it this way consistently.
  • When you can play it through two or three times without a stumble, you’re ready to invite your friends to play with you!  IMPORTANT: The Second player begins at the beginning, when player One is on beat four of the first full measure. Likewise, a Third player begins when player Two is on beat four of first full measure, and so on.

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