Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund



Punch, Brothers, Punch - (2008)    

Mark Twain

for low or medium voice and piano


VERSE         Conductor, when you receive a fare,
                    Punch in the presence of the passenjare!
                    A blue trip slip for an eight-cent fare,
                    A buff trip slip for a six-cent fare,
                    A pink trip slip for a three-cent fare,
                    Punch in the presence of the passenjare!
CHORUS      Punch, brothers! punch with care!
                    Punch in the presence of the passenjare!

[ 4 pages, circa 1' 30" ]

Mark Twain


From the story of the same name, Twain tells of the verse which one cannot get out of one's head. "Passenjare" is a dialect written out for "passenger." Punching or validating a ticket with a hole punch is still practiced on railroads. When I came across this in reading Twain, I found the text most amusing for its faux-teamsters tone and the kind of instruction once given to conductors as employees of a transit company.


tessitura for low or medium voices


The fact that Twain had noted a "chorus" and the several lines for different colored tickets representing different ticket prices, I thought to break apart these lines and make the form an additive song style. The simple parallel descending chords are lightly spiced with the diatonic seventh added throughout as a lowest voice. The repetitive chords, such as at measures 12-13 refer in part to the clattering as a rail car might cross welds in iron rails. The first "verse" only mentions the "blue trip slip."



A second verse adds the "buff trip slip" before the chorus.


A final statement after a third verse and chorus adds all the fares together again in order as Twain noted them, as part of a coda for this amusing setting.



The score for Punch, Brothers, Punch is available for low and medium voices 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.


Punch, Brothers, Punch

edition for low voice


Punch, Brothers, Punch

edition for medium voice