Melanie Spiller and Coloratura Consulting

Escapades in Early Music, Writing, and Editing

Composer Biography: John Lloyd (also Floyd or Flude) (c1475-1523)

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Not much is known about John Lloyd, but he was part of the important Chapel Royal, court musicians to English royalty, in the 16th century, and his name comes up frequently when researching other composers during Henry VIII’s reign.

Lloyd was either English or Welsh, and he was a priest. He served the parish of Munslow in Shropshire from 1508, and not long afterward, in 1510 or so, he became a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal and went to court.

He wrote at least one Mass. It was highly florid and melismatic with soaring melodic lines and euphonious counterpoint, much like music on the Continent had been before Henry VII’s time and how it became again after Henry VIII and the Reformation. The chant (O quam suavis) on which his Mass is based is very long.

Henry VIII made efforts to end English musical isolationism, and in addition to arranging marriages and other diplomatic efforts, he took members of his Chapel Royal to Europe and encouraged his musicians to exchange knowledge. Lloyd probably went with Henry VIII to meet the Burgundian Chapel of Margaret of Austria with the rest of the Chapel Royal in 1513, and in 1520, to the Field of the Cloth of Gold, where they met the French Chapel of Francis I. While they were there, it was Trinity Sunday and they sang the movements of a Mass alternately, first the French Chapel Royal and then the English Chapel Royal and so on. When they all returned to England, Lloyd left the group and went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Just as we don’t know much about his life, we also don’t know much about his compositions. He wrote two puzzle canons (where much of the melody and how to sing the piece must be worked out by the performers) that are preserved in King Henry VIII’s Manuscript (see my post On Henry VIII’s MP3 Player for more on that), and in them, we hear the last remaining relics of medievalism.

His Mass that I mentioned earlier, O Quam suavis, has a tenor line that provides the solution to the puzzle of a Latin canon.


“The Concise Oxford History of Music,” by Gerald Abraham. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1985.

“The Norton/Grove Concise Encyclopedia of Music,” edited by Stanley Sadie. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1994.

“A Dictionary of Early Music from the Troubadours to Monteverdi,” by Jerome and Elizabeth Roche. Oxford University Press, New York, 1982.

Written by Melanie Spiller

September 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm

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