06: The Three Ravens for solo guitar

The Three Ravens is an ancient English folksong. It was included in English Renaissance composer Thomas Ravenscroft’s Melismata, published 1611. The dark, sad text speaks of three black ravens observing a “slain knight under his shield … in a green field,” who is lifted by a fallow doe on to her back and carried to a lake and buried there. The doe is a courtly reference to his lady, and the text ends with “God send every gentleman such leman.” Leman is an archaic word for sweetheart or lover. The current piece is a transcription of the composer’s version for violin and viola (on Dana Recording Project Nemus Records CD 2002). It is a set of variations with extensive original invertible counterpoint.