Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund

 

 

It's drink that uplifts - (2007)     

Turlough O'Carolan

for high voice and piano


 

He's a fool who gives over the liquor,
It softens the skinflint at once,
It urges the slow coach on quicker,
Gives spirit and brains to the dunce.

The man who is dumb as a rule
Discovers a great deal to say,
While he who is bashful since Yule
Will talk in an amorous way.

Liquor is quicker!

It's drink that uplifts the poltroon
To give battle in France and in Spain.
Now here is an end of my tune-
And fill me that bumper again!

[ 3 pages, circa 1' 55" ]


 

Turlough O'Carolan, also called Terence Carolan (1670-1738), was one of the last Irish harpist-composers and the only one whose songs survive in significant numbers as both words and music, with over two hundred documented and researched. The son of an iron founder, O'Carolan became blind from smallpox at the age of eighteen, and was befriended by the wife of his father's employer, who apprenticed him to a harper and supported him for the three years of his training, then gave him money, a guide, and a horse. As an itinerant harper himself, O'Carolan traveled widely in Ireland. Though not considered a master performer, he was highly regarded as a composer of songs and improvised verse. His tunes appeared widely in 18th-century collections.

 

 

Written for fun after an evening with friends in a small east Belgian village which ended with Irish whiskey, this poem had for some time amused me. It seemed apt therefore while recovering from the effects of "drink" to write in praise of it by employing O'Carolan's joyous text. The accompaniment makes its own sort of sense, but sometimes breaks into a composed "sloppiness."

 

 

As a short respite from the strophic form of the poem, the praise of "It's drink!" signs out repeatedly. There are some "wrong note" moments in the accompaniment, such as at measure 52, wherein the A and A flat coexist as if an error.

 

 

The score for It's drink that uplifts 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.

 

It's drink that uplifts