September 2016 - "Beautiful Dreamer"

Dulcimer Player Deluxe

In honor of the memory of legendary dulcimer virtuoso and instructor David Schnaufer this month's tune is and arrangement of the Stephen Foster classic "Beautiful Dreamer". Published shortly after the composer's death in 1864, and thought to be one of the last songs he ever wrote.   David originally recorded this on his 1988 album titled "Dulcimer Deluxe", which was released in cassette tape format.   A few years later, he combined it with his follow-up recording "Dulcimer Player", had them digitally re-mastered, and released them as a single CD titled "Dulcimer Player Deluxe".


Stephen C. Foster (1826-1864) is often referred to as the "father of popular American music". As a songwriter, he is primarily known for his parlor and minstrel music. Foster published over 200 songs in his lifetime. Many of his compositions remain popular more than 150 years after he wrote them. Some of his better known works include "Oh Susanna", "Camptown Races", "My Old Kentucky Home", "Swanee River", "Hard Times", and "Beautiful Dreamer", which has become one of America's most beloved serenades. Written just before the end of the Civil War, it was popular among soldiers in both the Union and Confederate armies. It was said that General Grant banned the tune from being played or sung in the Union army camps, for fear that it would lead to feelings of homesickness among the men leading to increased rates of desertion.

David's performance of the tune is a richly arpeggiated finger-picked version that perfectly conveys Foster's original score. It is in the key of G out of D-A-d tuning, but does not require the use of a capo.

Here is a link to an mp3 file of a sample of David's recording:

The arrangement I’ve provided here was inspired by David’s playing, and I’ve also added a separate bass part. Enjoy!

Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,

Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;

Sounds of the rude world heard in the day,

Lull’d by the moonlight have all pass’d away!

Beautiful dreamer, queen of my song,

List while I woo thee with soft melody;

Gone are the cares of life’s busy throng,

Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!

Beautiful dreamer, out on the sea,

Mermaids are chanting the wild lorelei;

Over the streamlet vapors are borne,

Waiting to fade at the bright coming morn.

Beautiful dreamer, beam on my heart,

E’en as the morn on the streamlet and sea;

Then will all clouds of sorrow depart,

Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!

Tull Glazener