The Tune


Printing Block 1

History of the Tune: The tune to Marlowe’s ballad has a rich and interesting history. The original tune was composed by William Corkine in 1612 before the printing of the broadside ballad. It was followed by other compositions going on until the end of the 19th century. Here you’ll read about the Corkine tune including an analysis of the tune, the questioned authenticity of the tune, and the standardization of the tune by Simpson.

The Tune’s Beginning: William Corkine

The tune of Marlowe’s ballad Come live with me and be my love was composed by William Corkine (or Corkyn?) and published with many lyre-viol lessons at the end of his Second Book of Ayres (1612). William Corkine was an English composer, lutenist, gambit and lyra viol player. Along with his Second Book of Ayres he also published a first book in 1610, a Book of Ayres to Sing and Play to the Lute and Basse-Viollin. The Second Book of Ayres is notable in that thirteen of the songs are without tablature accompaniment or alternative part-song versions, but are instead marked to be sung “to the Base-Violl alone.”2

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.49.24 PM

Figure 1: lyra viol3

The song Come live with me and be my love is one of many composed to be played with a lyra viol. The viol itself was a popular instrument in Europe starting in the mid-15th, and early 16th century in Spain, growing popular in England during the early 17th century. A sister to the viol, the lyra viol (pictured on the left) is a small bass viol and was of “great historical significance […] as the connecting link between two aesthetic ideals of instrumental sound and function. It could approximate to the polyphonic textures and self-accompaniment capabilities which helped to raise continuo instruments such as the harpsichord and lute to a high level of esteem during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.”4


William Corkine tune5

The lyra viol (Figure 1), with its size and ease, was popular among musicians. The lyra viol was not small like a viola but merely a small version of the bass (the typical bass is about the size of a cello). “Lyra” in Latin means “harp.” The lyra viol music was also commonly written in tablature (in comparison to notations, tablatures indicate instrument fingering rather than musical pitches), as we can see with Corkine’s composition. 

In the Renaissance, patronage was essential for the production of literary works as well as art and music. William Corkine dedicated many of his books, and individual compositions, to a number of patrons and patronesses. In his Second Book of Ayres, he dedicates the “few songs and lyra lessons,” including Come live with me, to the “two truly virtuous and discreet gentlewomen,  Miss Ursula Stapleton (1586-1623) and Elizabeth Cope, daughters to the right worthy knights Sir Robert Stapleton and Sir Walter Cope.”Half of Corkine’s book is dedicated to these ladies, while the other half is dedicated to Sir Edward Dymcocke.7 

Come Live With Me: Analyzing the Tune
co-written by Erik Bell

Listen to the Tune, sung by Erik Bell and Jessica Sparks. After you listen, read about my experience recording the ballad and check out the Project News. The next recording is a slower version of the bass viol to the song.  Additionally, you can enjoy an instrumental version of the tune, played with a lyra viol.


Below is a video of a transcription and scansion of the first stanza by Erik Bell, Music Specialist at the English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA). All bold italics represent the strong emphases, italics represent somewhat-strong emphases, while regular text are weak syllables. This scansion, for the time being, only takes into consideration the hierarchical metric structure of the music, based on the recording. It does not yet take into account other musical features within a tne that could add to or subtract from a note/syllable’s metric strength. If you want to, you can play the ballad from the embedded SoundCloud above and read along to get a sense of the scansion with the lyrics. The video has a bass viol playing the tune slowly so you can follow along. 

The singing of the ballad is much different from the way the poem is spoken. The meter of the poem is iambic tetrameter. The following graphic presentation illustrates the meter of the first stanza (1861 Golden Treasury version):

Come live  |  with me  |  and be  |  my love

And we  |  will all  |  the pleas  |  sures prove

That hills  |  and vall  |  eys, dale |  and field

And all  |  the crag  |  gy mount  |  ains yield

There are slight differences between the stressed syllables in both versions, and the verse that is sung has the more complicated stresses. 

Listen to some versions of Corkine’s tune:

With a lute, viol, and voice: “Come live with me” by William Corkine (arrangement by Ron Andrico) Helen Atkinson – lute / voice, Esha Neogy – viol. This video is on YouTube.
With a lyra viol: “Come Live With me And Be My Love” lyra viol. Played by Fernando Marín: Corkine: The Second Booke of Ayres called Each Lovely Grace by Canter all Viola. The video is on YouTube.
Recorder/lute: “Come live with me”  for recorder and lute. This video is on YouTube.

Questioning the Original Tune

In Claude W. Simpson’s “The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music” (1966), Simpson mentions the tune by Corkine, as well as another by Sir John Hawkins.8 Both of these I have found in other written works on the tune. According to One Hundred Songs of England, the tune Come, live with me and be my love was discovered by Sir John Hawkins (1719-1776) in “a manuscript as old as Shakespeare’s time” and was printed in Johnson Steven’s 2nd edition of Shakespeare (1778) on page 298. Sir John Hawkins was an English music historian and wrote quite a bit on music history.The tune that Sir John Hawkins found (Simpson notes that the original source is unknown) was reprinted in Joseph Ritson’s A select collection of English songs (1783), Volume III and labeled as the “original music.”10 This tune was different from the tune composed by William Corkine. 

Simpson also mentions another tune I have not come across: “According to an allusion in C.T.’s Laugh and lie down: or, The worlds Folly, 1605 (reprinted in The Works of Cyril Turner, ed. Allardyce Nicoll, 1930, p.284), Marlowe’s famous lyric was sung to the tune “anew my Deere.” If this air has survived, it is not known by that name.”11 The meter in the poem “Anew my deer anew” does not match the Marlowe lyric nor is there a tune accompanying it.

Another work referencing the ballad/tune is “Musical Illustrations of Bishop Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry” by Edward Francis Rimbault, published in 1850. Edward Rimbault was an English organist, musicologist, book collector, and author. The version of the tune printed in this book was directly translated from the Willam Corkine tablature in his Second Book of Ayres.12

The ballad and tune is also mentioned in William Chappell’s “Old English and Popular Music: Volume 1” printed 1893. In his footnotes he writes: “The first stanza of the original broadside is so rough and unsuitable to the tune that it was thought better to substitute the more uspal version.”13 An earlier version of Chappell’s book, printed in 1859, and another with no date, entitled “The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time: A History of the Ancient Songs, Ballads, and of the Dance Tunes of England, with Numerous Anecdotes and Entire Ballads Also a Short Account of the Minstrels, Volume 1” by William Chappell, also feature the tune notation.

You can click here to listen to renditions of Come Live With Me and Be My Love.

Stepping Back: A Standard Tune & Its Many Ballads

The tune Come live with me and be my love is what is called a ‘standard tune,’ according to Claude Simpson’s The British Broadside Ballad and its Music.14 In his book, Simpson arranged the tunes alphabetically, using standardized titles, with an index that cross-references tunes with multiple titles. There are a number of ballads with the tune imprint Come live with me or whose tunes are listed under the standard tune of Come Live With Me. The majority of these ballads are about Jane Shore (Figure 3). What is most curious about these other ballads that share the tune of Marlowe’s pastoral love lyric is that they speak of lost love, death, and sorrow—very unlike the poem by Marlowe, which inspired the tune with its hopeful words of courtship. 

View all ballads with the standard tune Come live with me and be my love

The Jane Shore & Banstead Downs Tunes

Jane Shore

Figure 2: Copper engraving by F. Bartolozzi RA, 1807.15

If you aren’t an expert on early modern England, haven’t read Shakespeare’s history plays, or you don’t happen to be a fan of the Philippa Gregory’s novel/TV show “The White Queen,” here’s a little introduction to Jane Shore.

Elizabeth “Jane” Shore (Figure 2) was one of the many mistresses of King Edward IV of England. She was born Elizabeth Lambert in 1445, the daughter of a prosperous merchant, and received a great education for someone of her status. She married William Shore, a goldsmith and banker, in 1467, and their marriage was annulled on the grounds of impotency in 1476. Coincidentally, it was during this same year that Shore began her liaison with Edward IV after his return from France.16 Jane was the King’s official mistress up until his death, after which she briefly became the mistress of Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset and son of the Queen (Elizabeth Woodville) by a previous marriage. When King Edward died, he left two sons, Edward and Richard. The young Edward, Edward V, was the heir to the throne. Richard III, brother to the late King, wanted the crown, and so he declared his nephews illegitimate. Richard III was then king.

What does this have to do with the infamous Jane Shore? The political fallout of the Richard III business led to the arrest of the supporters of the dead King Edward and his children; this included Jane Shore. Richard III accused the Queen and Jane Shore of Sorcery and Witchcraft and it was declared that “Edward’s wife, that monstrous witch, has plotted with Jane Shore to waste and wither his body.”17 However, the charges against Jane could not be proved and while she was in prison she earned the love of Thomas Lynom, the kings solicitor. She received a pardon from Richard, who was intent on preventing Lynom from falling into what he considered an inappropriate marriage. In spite of his efforts,  the rest of her days were spent in marriage to Lynom with whom she had a daughter. She died in 1527 at the age of 82.18

Shore’s beauty was infamous. According to the Jane Shore ballads, she was described by Thomas Moor as “poor and aged, her stature was mean, her hair of a dark yellow, her face round & full, her eyes gray, her body fat, white and smooth, her countenance cheerful, like to her conditions.”19 However, the death of the king had a great impact on her.  After the kings death she was described as “old, lean, withered, and dried up, nothing left but wrinkled skin and hard bone.”20 in Moore’s The History of King Richard III. Her beauty and intelligence earned the admiration, and sometimes jealousy, of those around her. However, while she was admired, her wonton ways were the main subject of the ballads written about her. The ballads about her usually entitled similarly to the following: “The woful Lamentation of Mistris Jane Shore, a Gold-smiths Wife of London, sometimes King Edward the Fourth’s Concubine who for her wanton life came to a miserable End.” Ballads such as this make an example of Shore’s life to “all wicked livers.”21 

Like the Jane Shore ballads, the Banstead Downs tune is also associated with lamentation and the wrongful death of sailors. Unlike the feelings of wooing and idealistic love, these other ballads have nothing to do with beauty or love. Below is an example of one Jane Shore broadside ballad.

rox_album_3_896-897_2448x2448 - Crop.jpg

Figure 3: Jane Shore Ballad, British Library, Roxburghe 3.897, EBBA 31268 22

Reyna, Rosendo. Printing Block, Digital image, Music Printing History. Rosendo Reyna, 2016. 
Diana Poulton and David Greer. “Corkine, William.” Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online.
Figure 1: Traficante, Frank. “Lyra viol.” Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online.
4 Playford, John. Music’s rcreation on the lyra viol being a choice collection of new and excellent lessons for the lyra viol, both easy and delightful for all yong [sic] practitioners : to which is added some few plain directions as a guide for beginners. 1652, Early English Books Online.
5 Corkin, William. Second Book of Ayres, some to sing and play to the Basse-Violl alone: others to be sung to the Lute and Bass Violin. Early English Books Online, H1r sig.
6 Corkin, William. Second Book of Ayres, some to sing and play to the Basse-Violl alone: others to be sung to the Lute and Bass Violin. Early English Books Online.
Price, David Clive. Patrons and Musicians of the English Renaissance. Cambridge UP, 1981, Google Books, p. 194.
Ritson, Joseph, 1752-1803. “A Select Collection of English Songs.” London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1783, H3.
Simpson, Claude M., The British Broadside and Its Music. 1966, pp. 119-122. (p154-157 in the PDF).
10 Bantock, Granville Sir. One Hundred Songs of England. For High Voice. Ditson, O. Ditson, 1914, Google Books.
11 Percy A. Scholes. “Hawkins, Sir John (i).” Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online, University Press.
12 Rimbault, Edward. Musical Illustrations of Bishop Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry: A Collection of Old Ballad Tunes, Etc. Chiefly from Rare Manuscripts and Early Printed Books. Cramer, Beale, and Company, 1850, p. 11.
13 Chappell, William. “Old English Popular Music: Volume 1.” 1983,  Internet Archive, pp. 123-125.
14 Simpson, Claude. The British Broadside Ballad and its Music. Rutgers University Press, 1966. 
15 Figure 2: Bartolozzi, F. RA. Copper engraving of Jane Shore (1807)Shakspeare Illustrated, London, 1811.
16 “King Edward IV’s Mistress, Jane Shore, Just Who Was She and Why Did She Wield so Much Power?” Intriguing History.
17 Alcuin, Linda. “Jane Shore.” Medieval Life and Times, Siteseen Ltd, June 2014.

18 Alcuin, Linda. “Jane Shore.” Medieval Life and Times, Siteseen Ltd, June 2014.
 The Woful Lamentation of Mrs. JANE SHORE, a Gold-smith’s Wife / of London, sometime King Edward the Fourth’s Cancubine, who for her Wanton Life came to / a Miserable End. Set forth for the Example of all wicked Livers. British Library, Roxburghe 1.162-163, EBBA 30101, English Broadside Ballad Archive.
20 Moore, Thomas. “The History of King Richard the Third.” The Center for Thomas More Studies, The University of Dallas, 1513, p. 49.
 The Woful Lamentation of Mrs. JANE SHORE, a Gold-smith’s Wife. British Library, Roxburghe 1.162-163, EBBA 30101, English Broadside Ballad Archive.
22 Figure 3: British Library, Roxburghe 3.897, EBBA 31268.