(fl 1597–1615). English composer. He graduated BMus at Oxford in 1597. In 1600 he published the first of his five books of lute-songs, and in 1601 contributed a madrigal to The Triumphes of Oriana (RISM 160116). His single collection of madrigals is dated 1607. On 4 January 1610 Jones, together with Philip Rosseter, Philip Kingham and Ralph Reeve, was granted a patent to ‘practice and ex'cise in the quality of playing [a group of children] by the name of Children of the Revells of the Queene within the white ffryers’, and on 31 May 1615 the four men were permitted to build a theatre for these children on the site of Jones's house near Puddle Wharf in Blackfriars. However, objections were raised by the civic authorities, who successfully petitioned the Privy Council for the demolition of the nearly completed building.
Although Jones's five books of ayres all belong to the early years of the 17th century, they reflect only faintly and very occasionally the heightened expression that some other English composers were already exploring. Indeed, certain features of Over these brookes from his second collection (1601), such as its grave manner, imitative lute preamble and general leisureliness, are more redolent of the viol-accompanied solo song. Jones issued the entire contents of his first collection in alternative versions for four voices; yet despite the employment of some melodic points which were clichés of the canzonet, the restrained manner of these songs seems more akin to that of the pre-madrigalian English partsong. In general Jones avoided particularized expression, except of the most obvious kind, such as the bird noises in Sweete Philomell. In his second collection he intermittently essayed a more pathetic vein, but the results are feeble when compared to the models that Dowland offered him. In the prefatory material of his first volume Jones stated: ‘ever since I practised speaking, I have practised singing’, and the strongest feature of his best songs is the felicitous union of the text with attractive melody. On the whole Jones's simplest songs are the best, for when he ventured to expand he frequently encountered serious difficulties with the accompaniment, the harmonic structure faltering or losing a purposeful direction, and the lute part becoming sketchy with the linear implications of the accompaniment being left badly incomplete. At times Jones seems harmonically almost illiterate, though it is clear that some of the crudities arise from the large number of printer's errors that fill all Jones's publications. In fact, Fellowes suggested that a hack must have devised some of Jones's lute parts.
With such obvious blemishes Jones gave ample material to his critics, and he clearly suffered some strong censure, as is revealed by his bitter ‘greeting’ to ‘all musicall murmurers’ at the beginning of his fourth collection of songs (1609). This collection, like the third (1605, entitled his Ultimum vale), includes duets as well as solo songs; in both collections some of the solo songs appear in alternative four-voice arrangements while others occur in solo versions only. The fourth book contains a varied selection of poetic texts, incorporating both serious and humorous poems, and the collection concludes with two Petrarch settings in which Jones attempted a more up-to-date italianate manner, demonstrating how deficient was his grasp of even a remotely monodic style. In his final book (1610; the contents appear solely as solo songs) Jones turned back towards the type of simple ayre that had dominated his earlier collections, but the freshness that had characterized the best of these is now almost entirely lacking.
Only the cantus and bassus books of Jones's single madrigal volume have survived, though nine pieces from it exist complete in manuscripts. Jones modelled his style on the Morley canzonet, and he appears to have handled this most successfully in the six three-voice works (these are among the incomplete pieces). Jones's technical limitations prevent him maintaining the few attractive ideas he does display, and these works leave an overall impression of unskilful mediocrity.