Musical Comedy
Doggerel for Dilettantes

The Sonata

Like a Classical sonata, our day opens with a theme,
Whether thrown from bed by thunder or lulled softy from a dream.
With our breakfast comes a second theme, which contrasts with the first,
And includes both toast and cereal and juice to slake our thirst.
Next, we leave the house to go where we will study, work, or play
While a closing theme transitions to the business of the day.
Now our day begins in earnest as the themes weave in and out
As we multi-task and juggle on a circuitous route.
As the day unfolds we find the themes develop even more,
‘Til we find our way back home and step inside through the front door.
Now the sunrise theme returns as we prepare our evening meal
And we’re serenaded as we eat our veggies, rice, or veal.
Then the second theme appears while we relax and watch TV,
Or perhaps we read a book or listen to a good CD.
Then at last the final theme returns and like a lullaby
It transitions to a coda as we bid the day good-bye.



Note: The poem should be read as a sarabande—very slowly with the rhythmic pattern being:











The Minuet

The dainty minuet is set
In elegant three-quarter time.
It’s sometimes played by a quartet
And once was thought to be sublime.

The sixteen measures of the dance
Are followed by a simple “Trio.”
Tempo (sometimes left to chance)
Is almost never scored con brio.

Ladies, Lords in powdered wigs
Would join the dance at a soirée;
But those once-coveted shindigs
Are not so popular today.


The Fugue

Fugues are common music themes which twist and wind
About like ramen—vying memes each trying to find
A tonic ending. Fugues are common music themes
Which twist and wind about like ramen—vying memes
Each trying to find a tonic ending. Fugues are common
Music themes which twist and wind about like ramen—
Vying memes each trying to find a tonic ending.
(Note: Add gin to make the tonic more mind-bending).


Poet’s Note: Some years ago, in an attempt to gain a better appreciation of the music of Bach and Handel, I researched and then composed a faux Baroque Suite. A digital recording is below. Among other things, the suite includes examples of a Sarabande, a Minuet & Trio, and two fugues. For an example of (the first movement of) a sonata you will have to look elsewhere.”



James A. Tweedie is a recently retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He likes to walk on the beach with his wife. He has written and self-published four novels and a collection of short stories. He has several hundred unpublished poems tucked away in drawers.

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15 Responses

  1. Amy Foreman

    What fun, James! I thought the fugue especially clever . . . really, they should all find their way into a Music Appreciation and History textbook, to lighten and enlighten students of these forms!

    And the accompanying original composition was Baroque “suiteness” itself! Bach-esque and beautiful. Loved every bit!


    A Delighted Dilletante, who must rush off to walk her doggerel . . . 😉

    • James A. Tweedie

      Amy, thank you for taking the time to write an inspired smile. Like yawns, smiles can also be contageous!

  2. David Paul Behrens

    The Sonata reminds me of a Moody Blues album called Days of Future Passed, taking us on a journey of experiences which happen to us during a single day. I wish I’d thought of using that theme. Not that I could ever even come close to creating what you have with this entire posting, which is beyond adequate description. How about fabulous, amazing, tremendous, outstanding or beautiful? There are not enough words in the dictionary to describe the greatness of this poetry and music. Very enjoyable!

    • James A. Tweedie

      Wow. I have never received a compliment on steroids before. Thank you, David.

  3. David Watt

    I love the way you liken the movements of a sonata to the activities we transition through each day. In this way you demonstrate that Music and Life exist as notes on the same page. Thank you for taking the trouble to cover such an interesting range of musical forms.

  4. Mark Stone

    James, Hello. In The Sonata, I think “softly” is misspelled in L2. Also, I read L8 as an anapest followed by six iambs. I would want to put the stress on “cu” in “circuitous” rather than on the “i”, so I would move “circuitous” one syllable to the left, such as: As we multi-task and move on a circuitous, new route. Finally, I would delete the commas after “Next” and “work” in L5 and after “rice” in L12. I enjoyed the poems, and I very much like the concept of presenting a poem on sheet music.

  5. Mark Stone

    James, I like this poem, but if I were to edit “The Minuet,” I would change it to an 8-6 (alternating 8-syllable and 6-syllable lines in iambic meter). This would tighten it up with little loss of content. There is a name for this form of poem, but I can’t remember what it is. My suggestion is:

    The dainty minuet is set
    in sweet three-quarter time.
    It’s sometimes played by a quartet
    and once was thought sublime.

    The sixteen measures of the dance
    are followed by a “Trio.”
    The tempo (sometimes left to chance)
    is rarely scored con brio.

    Ladies, Lords in powdered wigs
    would dance at a soirée,
    but those once coveted shindigs
    aren’t popular today.

  6. James A. Tweedie

    Mark, You are true to your name with your comments being right on the mark! I frequently find myself excising excess commas from both my poetry and prose. The fewer the better. “Circuitous” IS a bit of a stumble and I confess I let it go instead of resolving it. I like your rewrite of Sonata—it is quite successful, I think. But if I do any revision I will keep what I have and simply correct the iambs missing at the beginning of lines 7 and 9. Your comments and suggestions are helpful and greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  7. James Sale

    James – I am mega-impressed – the poem is great fun, but with the music too! Wow. Is that a first for SCP? you certainly have incredible ability. In listening to the music it sounds so authentic. Well done. A great achievement.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Thank you, Mr. Sale. I am tickled to know that you not only took the time to listen to my music but that you also enjoyed it! Oddly enough, in spite of my poem by the same name, I am particularly fond of my Sarabande.

  8. William Krusch

    Mr. Tweedie, you must compose music. As someone who was trained as a classical musician and who studied trumpet, theory, and (some) orchestral conducting with musicians from the Pittsburgh, Boston Pops, Cincinnati, Honolulu, and Charleston Symphony Orchestras, I must say that your suite possesses many merits. While the inner movements occasionally experience some odd harmonic movements and voice leading, the overture and fugue demonstrate better part writing than many of the works I have heard from composition students at major summer music institutes. Perhaps the inner movements are a bit slow for my taste, but that is no critique against the music itself. I highly recommend you continute to write music. I will send your suite, if you do not mind, to my friend who studied at the Peabody Conservatory and now conducts the Charleston Symphony and Hong Kong Sinfonietta to see what his opinion is. There is serious potential in your work – you have an ear for counterpoint.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Mr. Krusch, Thank you for your encouraging words. I did my undergraduate work with two majors, one of which was Humanities the other being Music (a non-performance degree). Composition has always been an avocation of mine. It proved useful in my ministry but I had few venues for performing music of the sort posted with this poem. The use of the word dilettante in the title of my poem was, in part, autobiographical. Alongside the poems hidden away in my drawers is a great deal of music of all kinds, much of which has never seen the light of day. I am, of course, delighted that you enjoyed my faux Baroque Suite. You may feel free to share it with anyone you would like.


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