Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

No Frets Shirt

October 12, 2017


no_frets_tshirtOccasionally I put a new shirt design up on CafePress. In this case I was trying for something that was about violins, but didn’t necesarily say that the wearer plays the instrument. In my new job as a repairer of violins and cellos I obviously know how to bow and pluck the strings so that I can test the instrument, but as of now I cannot be said that I actually have the ability to play the instrument.

If you like this shirt design and would like one, they are available via CafePress here: [link]  There are styles available for men and women, plus mugs!


Time to fiddle

March 20, 2017


Back in the 1990s I took some violin lessons, but eventually gave it up. I kept my fiddle though, even loaning it to my neice when she took lessons for a time in school. I still have everything that came with the kit, a violin kit from Sears which cost a little over $100. I added a metal chrome colored mute and a pitch pipe to the kit as well as a cleaning cloth, white hankerchief and shoulder rest. (more…)

The Compac Song

January 24, 2013

For 3 years I worked at a factory known as Compac Corp. in Stanhope, NJ where the main product was reinforced insulation backing paper.  One of the operators of the machine I ended up on was Don Davis (not the actor.) One time when I came in for my shift, he handed me a piece of paper and said that he wrote a song about Compac and that it took him all of 5 minutes to do it. Somehow I remembered it all of these years, though I did have to wrack my brain a bit to do it. I place before you the song he wrote with some clarifications of what the heck he’s talking about at the end.

Don has since passed beyond.  I know that many of his co-workers disliked his surly attitude, but he never did me any harm. In the microcosm that Compac was, I only ever found one individual that had no redeeming qualities.

The Compac Lament

by Don Davis

to the tune of “Detroit City”

I wanna go home. I wanna go home

Oh how I wanna go home.

Today I worked a shift here at Compac

And  tell you that I think it was a sin.

Number 2 fell apart, Number 8 would not start.

Where’s the help? The wheel wrapped up again.

I wanna go home. I wanna go home.

Hey John, I wanna go home.

Night shift really sucks here at Compac.

Just look around there’s clowns ev’ry where.

There goes a foil ball through the air, and a firecracker over there.

Where’s the help? the foil broke again.

I wanna go home. I wanna go home.

Hey Frank, Let me go home.

One day I’ll quit working here at Compac.

I’ll get a job and work 8 hours ev’ry day.

I’ll make money by the ton, and I’ll have lots of fun.

And I’ll never say ‘Where’s the help?’ again.

I wanna go home. I wanna go home.

Hey Charlie! I’m gonna go home.


  • The machines in the lamenation department were all numbered with even numbers. Don Davis was working on machine #10 at the time which was in the same ‘room’ with laminators #2 and #8. #10 was the newest machine at the time.
  • The wheel wrapping up refers to a huge wheel on #10 that contained spools of fiberglass string. The spinning wheel created a diamond shaped pattern in the product and added strength. Occasionally one or two of the strings would break and sometimes grab a few others. Sometimes the entire wheel of strings would start winding around the axle assembly and the machine would have to be stopped and each string restrung.
  • John was the foreman on the day shift.
  • Frank was the night shift foreman.
  • Charlie was the plant manager at the time.
  • The lamenations department operated on two 12 hour shifts, day and night.
  • The product was manufactured by gluing together aluminum foil and paper wit the fiberglass strings between the layers. Occasionally the foil (or paper) would break and create a mess of varying degrees.  I either case it required the full crew of (usually 3 men to get the machine running again.
  • As mentioned, the shifts were 12 hours long. Many of us wished for 8 hour shifts.

Real World Harper Songs

April 4, 2012

I’m guessing your first question is, “What is a Harper Song?” In Anne McAffrey’s fictional series, Dragonriders of Pern, Harpers are the teachers, judges, and advisers of the people.  Much of their education is in the form of Harper ballads or teaching ballads which are used to teach the common folk about their duty to the dragonriders and about the menace of Thread.

A while ago, I began searching YouTube to find examples of songs that could be used as teaching aids in the real world.  I began with such historic ballads as Sink the Bismark and Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I found many sources ranging from the comical yet educational Animaniacs and Schoolhouse Rock tunes from the 1970’s to  many historical ballads sung by Johnny Horton and Fess Parker.  Very recently I happened upon a British based collection from Horrible Histories.

A history teacher in Hawaii has also joined the fray, creating historical music videos of varying quality based on popular songs in the best harper tradition.  I’ve collected many of these tunes in a playlist in no particular order on youtube. Real World Harper Songs.

An Esperanto/English Duet

October 4, 2010

The Sunday before last, I was approached by one of our congregation’s eldest members. He’s one of the one’s who just loved my solo in Esperanto last month. He asked if I would sing another song because they were celebrating his wife’s 90th birthday and wanted to hear me again (blush.) So I checked with the church’s music director (my wife as it happens,) and she said OK. After service I mentioned that it would be cool if we could do a duet I’d been thinking of and she agreed.

I found sheet music which closely matched the YouTube video where I learned the melody and created a bilingual song sheet for us. The plan was to volley back and forth between English and Esperanto, yet share the refrains.

It was a fun thing to do, and I only hope my church continues its indulgence of me in singing offertories which are not in English. My next stint should be during Advent, God willing.

Singing in Church

September 6, 2010

I had some fun yesterday in church. My wife is THE music person in our church, so I had a bit of an advantage doing this. I’ve been learning a few hymns in Esperanto from my Esperanto hymnal Adoru over the past months. During the offertory my wife has had our daughter play a short piece on the piano, to general good reception.

I approached my wife with the idea of singing my favorite Esperanto hymn during offertory and she was in favor of it.  We went over it together to be sure we were on the same page. I’ve been singing the song by myself a capella for some months, and I wanted to be sure I hadn’t strayed far from the music I learned the song by from youtube.

So we kept it a secret until the moment I stood to sing the song. I belted out ‘Ni Plugas la Kamparon‘ verses 1 and 3. It went well.

This just about floored everyone in our small congregation as I’m about the quietest one there. My pastor exclaimed, “Who would have expected this from our silent deacon?” Everyone was amazed and generally pleased. Seems I may have found another way to ‘give’ to our church.  I’m just unsure if I’ll be allowed to sing only in Esperanto.