At the tavern

 

 

At the Tavern - (2012)    

Paul Laurence Dunbar

for medium voice and piano


 

A lilt and a swing,
And a ditty to sing,
Or ever the night grow old;
The wine is within,
And I'm sure 't were a sin
For a soldier to choose to be cold, my dear,
For a soldier to choose to be cold.

We're right for a spell,
But the fever is – well,
No thing to be braved, at least;
So bring me the wine;
No low fever in mine,
For a drink is more kind than a priest, my dear,
For a drink is more kind than a priest.

3 pages, circa 2' 00"


Paul Laurence Dunbar

 

The text is found in Dunbar's collection, Lyrics of Love and Laughter (1903), available at the very fine Wright State University Libraries online Dunbar Collection. For other song settings of Dunbar's texts, click here.

 

 

The little vignette is of two characters "at the tavern," that soldier as the text identifies and the "dear" to whom this proposition is addressed. Alternative versions might assign the second verse to the woman as to the soldier. This is left to the invention of the performer, as is so much in song interpretation. The two strophe setting employees both a music hall style with the so-called blue notes additional musical commentary on the scene offered in the accompaniment as in the closed mouth hum as notated for the singer.

 

 

The score for At the tavern is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.

 

At the tavern