John Farmer (c 1570?c 1605) was an English composer, mainly of madrigals. He is probably one of the less well-known composers of the English Madrigal School. He was under the patronage of Earl of Oxford and he dedicated his collection of canons and his late madrigal volume to his patron. In 1595, Farmer was appointed Organist and Master of Children at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. In 1599, he moved to London and published his only collection of four-part madrigals. One of these was "Fair Phyllis". His work "Diver and sundry Waies of Two Parts in One" displayed his mastery of two-part canon and cantus firmus.
Among his works:
Fair Phyllis I Saw Sitting All Alone
Fair Nymphs, I Heard One Telling
A Pretty Little Bonny Lass
Take Time While Time Doth Last
John Farmer uses clever word painting in his works. For example, in 'Fair Phyllis', the opening line is 'Fair Phyllis I saw sitting all alone'. Farmer had only a single male soprano voice sing since she was 'all alone'. Then, to show the flock beside her, three other voices join in and it may represent the sheep. All voices used in his time were male.
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