Droning a drowsy syncopated tune (1)
Most syncopated tunes aren't considered drowsy, because syncopation makes the rhythm bounce in a lively way. Honky-tonk music is the exception and was played in bars with bad reputations; like the one in the poem. Such a "low" form of music is an interesting contrast to the "high art" of lyric poetry.
He did a lazy sway…. He did a lazy sway…. (6-7)
In the poem, Hughes employs some typical blues forms. The repetition keeps the song simple, but lets the performer improvise some fancy guitar or piano riffs the second time around.
With his ebony hands on each ivory key He made that poor piano moan with melody. (9-10)
Being creative is hard work. The act of putting your body and soul into making the best song can be a painful process. Here the singer is putting his own frustrations into the music, and his instrument seems to telegraph the pain to the audience.