The concept of melancholy is inextricably linked to questions about the nature of the human psyche: emotions and feelings. In spite of different views as to the origins of melancholy, descriptions of this condition throughout history are generally similar, and differ merely in details. It is a frequently employed, highly suggestive term, aptly describing a certain kind of reality. It has come into such use because of its wide conceptual range and strong emotional charge. Describing emotions contained in music is a difficult enterprise. While it is not difficult to establish the general character of a musical composition (sad - cheerful), when one attempts to describe more complex emotional qualities a number of uncertainties arise. Is it legitimate to speak of the presence of melancholy in a musical composition, and if so, how does it manifests itself and how can it be studied? Melancholy is a term which appears very frequently in the context of discussions of Dowland's work. This aspect of his compositions, gloomy and full of pain, has drawn the attention of the majority of scholars and performers of his music. The aim of the interpretation undertaken in the article was to discover the extent to which the conviction that melancholy is present in Dowland's music can be demonstrated through analytical method. There are good reasons why the vocal music of this composer constitutes apropriate material for study, as the verbal text suggests precisely a subject area and meaning references which go beyond music. Following from the premises adopted here, the text of the article has been divided into three parts. The first one presents the issues relating to our understanding of the concept of melancholy, based on statements of various authors, from antiquity through to the twentieth century. The second part, devoted to the search for a method which would allow one to interpret Dowland's vocal music, brings in a number of deliberations from theory of music, both in relation to the problems of musical analysis, and to the possible interdependence between melancholy and music. On the other hand, the third part provides an example of the interpretation of a musical work, the song In darkness let me dwell, in the context of the analytical premises presented in the earlier part.
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