Sometimes I Wonder


Sometimes I Wonder - (2009)    

Mark Twain

for high or medium voice


Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run

   by smart people who are putting us on

   or by imbeciles who really mean it.

[ 1 page, circa 50" ]

Mark Twain


tessitura for high and medium voices


This adage seems rather apt in an era which, while one might call it modern, is experiencing the same foolishness which previous generations have endured. From economic crises brought about by mismanagement coupled with private and government greed, to the cultural wars in which old foolishness is touted over again as "new and modern," and somehow against what one politician recently complained of by asserting, "the old ways of thinking and the old ways of acting just won't do." [ 1 ]   As we see from Twain's acerbic quote, this is not new. It is old, the reference to new ways of doing things -- imbecilic ways which forget the lessons of the past.


Abraham Lincoln observed that it is "better to remain silent and be thought a fool that to speak out and remove all doubt." In the same way, Mark Twain chides us to choose between the world's leaders as either "people putting us on" or "imbeciles." Yet another American, humorist Will Rogers, would likely have added in a similar comment about politicians, "but, I repeat myself."  [ 2 ]


The setting features increasing piles of diatonic seconds, which culminate in the complete scale sounding simultaneously, ending with the statement of the tritone.



The score for Sometimes I Wonder 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.


Sometimes I Wonder

high voice


Sometimes I Wonder

medium voice




[ 1 ]    Rather the obverse has been seen true for millennia. "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:9-14.


[ 2 ]   The joke began with Twain, as he quipped, "Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress but I repeat myself."

          Echoing this Will Rogers hammered politicians in noting "We have the best Congress money can buy," and "there's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you."

          The simple fact is that for generations, humorists have found the obvious faults of government to the applause of audiences and the disapproval of politicians.  For this even a politician of the last generation, Senator Daniel Pat Moynihan, observed, "The single most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence, because it is so rare."