Music for a While
Music for a While is a song for voice and basso continuo by the English Baroque composer Henry Purcell. It is the second of four movements from his incidental music (Z 583) to Oedipus, a version of Sophocles' play by John Dryden and Nathaniel Lee, published in 1679. The song was composed for a revival of the work in 1692.
The voice is accompanied by an instrumental part featuring an ascending ground bass. Additional harmonies would have been supplied by the musicians playing continuo. The Basso Continuo is different in this piece because it is only three bars long, instead of the traditional four.
The piece is also called a dramatic recitative, or a da capo aria.
The text is
Music for a while
Shall all your cares beguile.
Wond'ring how your pains were eas'd
And disdaining to be pleas'd
Till Alecto free the dead
From their eternal bands,
Till the snakes drop from her head,
And the whip from out her hands.
The third section repeats the first two lines.
The piece was published posthumously in Orpheus Britannicus.
Music for a While is also featured as a UK GCSE (9-1) set work.
- Music for a While: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
- Music for a while from Oedipus. BBC. Extract from a performance by Alfred Deller (countertenor) and Walter Bergmann (harpsichord).
- Scott Horton Dryden/Purcell–“Music for a While” Browsings. Harper's Magazine's blog, March 8, 2009
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