Saturday, January 31, 2009

Western Carolina mountain dulcimer winter weekend and 10th annual June dulcimer week on campus in Cullowhee

An email message from Lois Hornbostel to participants in the WCU Winter Weekend at Lake Junaluska:

Dear Friends,
Thank you for attending our 4th annual WCU Mountain Dulcimer “Winter Weekend.” It was our best ever, and I have so many good memories from it … Marie Shelton’s slide show in the lobby. Being entertained by the humor or Mike Anderson and Wayne Seymour, and the activities they added to our event. Getting energized in the early-morning T’ai Chi with Don Pedi. The morning skills refresher classes taught by wonderful instructor-players. The playing by ear class I taught and the others I enjoyed attending. The food! The Dulcimer Orchestra. The scenery. Hearing some especially exquisite music in a late-night bowed dulcimer jam. The Saturday night sharing circle music and stories.

As is common, I couldn't send this to everyone because some of our attendees’ e-dresses bounced back or are outdated. It will be good if you let us know if your e-dresses are changed or blocked so you can keep active on our mailing list.

We’re already preparing for our 5th Annual Winter Weekend, and you should receive the brochure next Fall. Let me know if there are class subjects or other activities you would like to attend.
Marie Shelton asked that I pass along the message to those who ordered group photos that they should be mailed out early in the upcoming week.

I have just completed the catalog for our 10th WCU Mountain Dulcimer Week June 21-26, 2009, which should be mailed to you and the rest of our mailing list in the second half of February. This longer event offers over 250 hours of class choices, including the following in-depth 13-hour skill building and specialized courses:

1. Beginners (no experience required) with Anne Lough and Sarah Borders
2. Beginner-into-Novice Skills with Paul Andry and Paul Henderson
3. Novice skills with Bill Taylor and Paul Henderson
4. Intermediate skills (with a focus on fingerpicking) with Linda Brockinton and current National Champion Mountain Dulcimer player Nina Zanetti
5. Intermediate-into-Advanced Skills with Leo Kretzner and Jerry Rockwell
6. Advanced Skills with Stephen Seifert and Jerry Rockwell
7. 2009 edition of Traditional Music for Mountain Dulcimer (Novice & up players) with this amazing team of teachers:
. Don Pedi
. Joe Hickerson (former head of the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture)0
. Susan Boyer Haley
. Wilfried Ulrich (German hummel maker and player)
8. Ensembles for Mountain Dulcimer (for Novice & Intermediate players) with Larry & Elaine Conger
9. 2009 edition of Bowing the Dulcimer (for those with experience bowing; those without will have an afternoon elective Intro to Bowing) with Kenneth Bloom
10. Build Your Own Dulcimer, with John Huron and Homer Phillips (New builders and experienced alike get a lot of individual coaching in this small class.)

Afternoon electives will offer 88 hours of afternoon electives that include coaching for newer players, many music styles, playing styles, Dulci-Jo lessons, a Field Trip, Dulcimer Builders’ Forum, and much more. Two-afternoon mini-courses on Arranging with Larry Conger, Music Theory with Elaine Conger, and TablEdit with Stephen Seifert.

We will have modern Norton Road Residence Hall with its individually air conditioned rooms and large lobbies for evening jams, and an economical room/meals package and tuition.

If you would like to spend a little more time in our beautiful summer mountains, we are coordinating 2-day discount packages for before and after our Week on mountain cabins and attractions with a local tourist organization. More details in the catalog.

Lois Hornbostel, Director
WCU Mountain Dulcimer Week, June 21-26, 2009
WCU Mountain Dulcimer “Winter Weekend”

Thursday, January 29, 2009

HUM 221: Migration, origin ... theories, myths (Plan B for class discussion Monday)

In class Monday, we will talk about different ways of knowing how the world began. I'm calling it "Plan B" because all of us weren't able to do the background reading and I started improvising in class today (Friday). . Here are the questions I put on the screen. We'll use your answers to them as a starting point in class Monday.

Post your answers to these questions as a comment to today's blog post:
1. What does this DNA research tell you about the way the first people got to Alaska and how they lived? Link to

2. What does this story about Raven tell you about the way the first people got to Alaska and how they lived? Link to
Read each other's comments. We will discuss in class Monday.

Here's today's (Friday's) original post:

How did human beings get to North America? Depends on who you ask.

Ask Larry J. Zimmerman and Brian Leigh Molyneaux, authors of our textbook "Native North America," and you'll get the discussion on pages 14-17. I don't want to deprive you of the joy of reading it, so I'll just point it out to you. It'll tell you about archaelogical evidence of human activity dating back about 15,000 years, giving rise to a theory that human beings migrated from Asia across what is now the Bering Strait to America. But it'll also tell you about Native American origin stories that say "people have occupied the land since the beginning of time" (16). In a word, it's a controversial subject.

It's even more controversial if we try to frame it in terms of science vs. traditional mythology.

Here, for example, is a myth about some of the Northwest Coast Indians received food and drink from Raven in the time of creation. Raven is sort of a trickster god, and it's a great story. Raven is a favorite character in Northwest Coast and Eskimo mythology, in fact, but his stories are not a scientific exploration into the origins of culture along the coast.

(Tangent: Diane Tipton, a Montana fish, wildlife and parks information officer, has an interesting article suggesting ravens are pretty cool birds, and suggesting the "Raven Myths May Be Real." They are cool. When they caw, they sound almost human. It's eerie. Tangent No. 2: I really like ravens.)

In almost every one of these Native American origin or creation myths, the people have always been in the same place. And in most, the Creator specifically put them where they are now. There's nothing in them about migrating from Asia, and traditional storytellers resent it when they're told their stories aren't true simply because there's not scientific evidence for them.

In a website on Native American Languages that I recommend highly, Orrin Lewis discusses how he reconciles science and mythology surrounding the Bering Strait theory. Lewis, who is Cherokee, compares the myths to the Hebrew creation story in the Book of Genesis and says:
If you asked most Indians in some respectful manner, I think you'd find most of them wouldn't have a problem reconciling a philosophical belief that we have lived here since time immemorial with natural evidence that we arrived here at least 20,000 years ago. Why shouldn't they both be true? The Creator is great, we don't always understand the whole world.

But now the problem is, most of us have not been asked this in a respectful manner. ...
The main thing, to me, is the science and the mythology can be reconciled. Link here to a post on this blog suggesting some of the Northwest Coast Indians came from the sea and followed the coast to South America. It doesn't disprove the Bering Strait theory. It just adds to it.

Important footnote. Zimmerman and Molyneaux also discuss a different attitudes toward time held by people in cultures derived from Western Europe -- including ours as Americans -- and most traditional, or indigenous, peoples worldwide. We see time as kind of a straight line. It started way back then, and it keeps going up to now. And it'll keep on going into the future. But indigenous people including "many Indian groups conceive of the passage of time not as linear but as circular, marked by the birth, growth, maturity, death and regeneration of all things that share the earth -- plants, animals, people" (12). Past and present don't mean, in a traditional world view, exactly what they mean to us. It's not that one's right and one's wrong, they're just different.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

HUM 221: Haida language and culture links

Since we're reading a Haida story, the one about "Salmon Boy" linked below (Monday), I'm posting some links on the Haida language and the Northwest Coast Culture broadly shared by the Haida, Tlingit, Eyak and Tsimshian peoples of Southeast Alaska and western Canada.

We will not become "instant experts" on these people; I think it would be disrespectful for us to even try. But perhaps by knowing something about how important salmon fishing is in the Northwest Coast culture, we can better appreciate the "Salmon Boy" story. And when we know that only a few hundred people are native speakers of the Haida language and it is in danger of dying out, we can get a sense of what a fragile resource a language -- anyone's language -- is and how important it is for the people who speak it.

Then we're going to go back to Monday's blog post. So far three students have posted reactions. Way to go! And the rest of us can open Google accounts and post today. I'll add some instructions to Monday's post below.

Monday, January 26, 2009

HUM 221 links -- 'Salmon Boy' and Alaska Native values

Here are the links to the story and to the webpage on Alaska Native values put up by the Alaska Native Knowledge Network at UA Fairbanks. (By the way, the term "Alaska Native" includes both American Indian peoples like the Haida and three or four distinct peoples that we lump together as Eskimo.)

Salmon Boy

Alaska Native Values

Here are some questions I want you to think about as you read the legend -- and the information about the Haida language and people -- and post answers to:
1. What specific values mentioned in the UAF webpage -- like respect, for starters -- do you find reflected in the story?

2. Coming from another culture, how much do you share these values? Which would you say are universal human values? Which do you think would reflect a sea-faring culture that lives in close harmony with nature?

3. What do you think of the story, just as a story?
Read each other's responses. Feel free to agree, or to go out on your own ideas. You have my permission to be all over the map.

How to post your response

Scroll down to the bottom of this post. On the right side of the last line, there will be a link that says "___ comments" (with a number filled in where I've left a blank, depending on how many comments have been posted). Click on that link and fill in the comment field on the right. Sign in (and make a note of the username and password you choose because we'll keep on posting to the blog, and if you don't make a note of it, you'll be out of luck). Review your comment if you wish, and publish it by clicking on "Publish Your Comment." It's relentlessly user-friendly.

Friday, January 23, 2009

'Snake River Reel' - score and soundclips

Very nice D mixolydian tune.

A PDF file and a sound clip are available on the San Diego Folk Heritage (SDFH) Community Band (CB) website at ...

Springfield's own Erich Schroeder has a clawhammer banjo version at

Fiddler's Companion []: "SNAKE RIVER REEL. Old-Time, Breakdown. D Major. Standard. AB. Composed by Peter Lippincott of St. Louis, Missouri, a musician and dance caller. Source for notated version: Stephanie Prausnitz [Silberberg]. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; pg. 146. Marimac 9054, The Ill-Mo Boys - "Fine As Frog Hair" (1992). Dan Levenson – “Light of the Moon.” Boiled Buzzards – “Eat at Joes.”

Peter Lippincott: PDF file carries copyright © 1985.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

'Spirit Like a River' [mp3 sound bite]

At there's a 45-second sound bite of "Spirit, Like a River" by David Lantz III (music) and John Parker (words).

About Spirit, Like a River

By David Lantz, John Parker. For Choir. (SATB (with Opt. Soloist)). Choral Octavo. Sacred Choral Series. Sacred. Level: Level 4 (grade L4). Choral Octavo. 12 pages. Published by Alfred Publishing. (25666)

Your choir and congregation will love this vibrant celebration of the Spirit's power to flow into our hearts as living water, guiding us, reviving us, and nourishing our souls with God's grace. The opening two measures are a quiet, free invocation, and may be sung a cappella. Then, it flows easily into a steady yet relaxed tempo as the more...choir sings in frequent call-and-response. The optional rhythm accompaniment is a decided bonus, and your congregation will want to sing along!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

'A kind of swampy Delta rhythm' in Roseanne Cash's inauguration story

From a blog in The New York Times featuring songwriters' memories of how they came to write a song ... this by Roseanne Cash, a reminisence of the time she played at an inaugural ball in 1993 and her father sat in with the band on his song "Big River." Highlight:
We had rehearsed Dad’s “Big River” that afternoon, without him, and the band kicked it off.

Dad was supposed to come in after four bars, but he just stood at the front of the stage, strumming the guitar I had lent him in an absentminded-way, and surveying the crowd. I felt a surge of alarm. Four more bars went by. Had he forgotten the words? Forgotten where he was supposed to come in? I even whispered loudly to him, “Dad!”

He looked back at me over his shoulder and gave me a little self-satisfied smile. He started tapping his foot, swinging his ankle back and forth, in a way that was so iconic, so him: the sultry internal rhythm of a boy from the Mississippi Delta. He was grooving with the band. He let another 8 bars go by as he settled in, and then he sang the first line of the song.

After the show, Dennis, the drummer, came up to me. “I’ll never forget that. I’ll never forget the way he tapped his foot,” he said. I never will, either.
I hadn't known this before, but Roseanne Cash is as good a storyteller as she is a songwriter. There's a lot else in the story. A memory of her children with Mister Rogers, the TV children's performer, and Johnny Cash's views on politics. (He was an astute observer of so many things.) Including this, looking ahead to today's inauguration of our first African American president:
We had a discussion about world leaders not long before his death in 2003, and I decried the lack of women in high office. “A black man will be president first, before a woman,” Dad said authoritatively. “People in this country are more prejudiced toward women than they are toward black men.” He paused. “But you’ll see both in your lifetime,” he said quietly.

I felt a twinge of sadness. The implication, of course, was that he himself would see neither. He has proven to be prescient. A black man is about to be president, before a woman, and I am here to see it. Dad is not, but I can imagine his foot tapping, his ankle swaying, to a kind of swampy Delta rhythm, which is a kind of African beat, by way of America, in a kind of insouciantly confident way, a way that mesmerizes those who witness it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Marty Haugen congregational singing workshop in Springfield

Leading the Song Workshop Reminder

The registration deadline for the Marty Haugen “Leading the Song” workshop is February 1. Please share this information with your worship leaders. Informational brochures are available by contacting St. John’s Lutheran Church, 2477 W. Washington, Springfield IL 62702 or by calling 217.793.3933. The information is also available on the church’s web site at If you have questions about the workshop, please call Jean Welch at the church office. We look forward to seeing you at the workshop.

* * *
Leading the Song of God’s People
April 23—25, 2009
St. John’s Lutheran Church
2477 W. Washington, Springfield, Illinois

Thursday—April 23

Registration begins at 6 pm.
At 7 pm—”Entering into the Song of God’s people” followed by evening prayer.
Friday—April 24
8:30 am —Fellowship followed by worship/sessions. Breakout sessions during the day. Lunch provided. Dinner on your own.
Concert/Songfest at 7 pm—open to the public.

Saturday—April 25

8:30 am —Fellowship followed by worship/sessions. Breakout sessions during the morning. Lunch provided.
3:30 pm dismissal.

[Fwd: CSIS: Reminder Announcements]
Cindy Koonce, Office Manager
Central-Southern Illinois Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

'The Snouts and Ears of America'

Both a PDF file of the music and a MIDI file of that lovely old fiddle tune "The Snouts and Ears of America" on the website "Old-Time Fiddle Tunes" ... a collection of, well, fiddle tunes from old recordings and workshops, transcribed by John Lamancusa of Pennsylvania State University.

Lancusa, who teaches biology at Penn State, also has PDF files of Sam Bayard's Hill Country Tunes (1944) on his website. Index at ... "Snouts and Ears" is at No. 58.

This from The Fiddler's Companion by Andrew Kuntz:
SNOUTS AND EARS OF AMERICA, THE. American, Reel. USA, Pennsylvania. D Major. Standard tuning. AABB. Bayard (1944) knew of only this version of the tune but noted that it was possible it was a derivative of the familiar jig "The Irish Washerwoman" recast in 4/4 time, and with the order of parts reversed. Editorializing, he thought it made a distinct improvement on the suspected original melody. Breathnach (1976) also noted the similarity. Source for notated version: Mrs. Sarah Armstrong, 1943 (Derry, Pennsylvania) [Bayard]. Bayard (Hill Country Tunes), 1944; No. 58.
March 2009. It's now on YouTube in a nice, slow fiddle version by Linda Vik.