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Wiser’s Wramblings-Going Right Into Winter Winds & Songs

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Music, singing, medical terminology, and thank you to the Beef Haus

By Chuck Wiser, I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels

That title is a teaser for upcoming news and entertainment carried in on the winter winds and adding warmth to pre-winter days in a musical way. You will have to wait for my November 23rd Wrambling to get the rest of the story.

As long as I’m hinting at music, I might as well share something that has challenged me and frustrated me more than anything else related to my singing or writing ever did. My participation in barbershop chorus and quartet singing as a member of both the Enchanted Mountain and Maple City barbershop choruses, required the learning, and memorizing the songs, to be performed “off book.” That term implies that you are not reading written music, but rather singing memorized music. As I get older, keeping track of my current activities alone is a challenge, as many brain cells have overloaded and died. It became more and more difficult to memorize the songs, and I presently am on a hiatus from those groups and now only sing in the Grace United Church and “Praise” choirs. I am also currently an active member in the Genesee Valley Chorus. (GVC). That singing is typically done “from the book,” so we can read our music even as we perform. There is one exception to that with one song we are learning to be performed in the upcoming December 3rd concert. Our director would like us to memorize the song “Still, Still, Still” for this concert.

I will veer off and Wramble for a bit here by explaining that I am, or at least was, when able, a strong proponent of performing music “off book.” Being able to watch the director 100% of the time while performing a piece is not only more enjoyable, but it enhances the performance immeasurably. Seeing all of the “cues” from the director improves the mechanics of the song to a much higher level of proficiency. Ultimately it improves the overall performance of the piece. In addition to being able to watch the director, it also allows the singer to gaze or look at the audience, and to make eye contact with them. The feeling and communication that gives the singers and visitors in the audience enhances the experience for both.

Back in the 80’s, Anthony “Cappy” Cappadonia directed the GVC and our schedule ballooned to 22 performances during one season. Cappy had us memorize the music that year and although it was difficult at first, were all glad we did as it made performances that much better. It also facilitated “off schedule”, impromptu performances any and every place we visited for an after-performance bite to eat or a beverage. We ended up entertaining at nearly every establishment (or watering hole) that we visited. We were heartily welcomed for an afterglow at many of the places where we entertained and performed extemporaneously for the enjoyment of all.  

I’ll Wramble back onto the track now and get to the point of the topic. I have worked harder on this song Still, Still, Still, than on any song ever learned before. I have spent countless minutes, if not hours, trying to memorize this piece. For some reason, that I’m not sure I understand, the lyrics for this song do not work well for me to memorize. In the past I could come up with little memory tricks using word association, or the rhyming patterns of songs, to help me memorize them. Song lyrics are typically built to rhyme the ending words repeatedly through a piece.

This song, in particular, is divided into three themes that dictate its development. The first line of each section starts and then is repeated as the last line. There are two middle phrases that follow tradition by rhyming the last word of each phrase. Following is the lyric of the song divided into its three sections.

Still, Still, Still, one can hear the falling snow.                                                                              

For all is hushed the world is sleeping,

Holy Star its vigil keeping.                                             

Still, Still, Still, one can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep, ‘Tis the eve of our Saviour’s birth

The night is peaceful all around you, close your eyes let sleep surround you

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep, ‘Tis the eve of our Saviour’s birth

Dream, Dream, Dream of the joyous day to come.

While guardian angels without number, watch as you sweetly slumber.

Dream, Dream, Dream of the joyous day to come.

The middle two phrases do end  with words that rhyme. The last word(s) of each phrase are; “sleeping” and “keeping”;  “around you, surround you”; then “number” and “slumber.”

I readily accept the challenge and will eventually get the lyrics memorized as directed. Our director has given me a “pass” should I fail in that endeavor. I’ve already made the excuse if I fail, using my age to be at fault. The tune itself, is beautiful musically, and is stuck in my head.

I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one with the characteristic of having a tune stuck in my head, even carrying over into my sleep, as somehow related to or triggering a dream.

With the passing of my former music writing friend and musical colleague Dave Dunbar I am in search of a new partner. My job, coming up with the words or lyrics is the easy part for me. Not always true with musical composers. If you are one who can write music, including the musical “score” notes and parts, I would welcome contact from you. I know there are quite a few out there that can come up with a musical tune, as can I, but I need a collaborator that can actually write the music, in four part SATB verses including Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass parts. Please contact me at IM.Wiserdad@gmail.com if interested.

One thing I inherited from the maternal side of my family is being prone to arthritis. It is hereditary as I learned. Following is a list of medical terms such as those I’m blessed with noted, such as “osis” as in stenosis, and “ectomy” as in vasectomy. The suffix indicates the family or category of medical issues.  Here is a list of a few common ones.

-algia (pain or painful condition); -centesis (surgical puncture); -logy (study of);

-ectomy (surgical removal of body part); -emia (blood condition); -itis (inflammation);

– oma (tumor or mass); -osis (abnormal condition); cide (death); tropy (condition of;

– plasty (surgical procedure); -scope (instrument or viewing).

The above terminology terms were researched and collected from Wikipedia, and/or other sources and my own instinctual interpretation.

Over the years I had won various “gift certificates” and as per usual they get tacked or taped inside of a cupboard door. One such was recently discovered and there was no date noted as to its longevity. I called the Olean Chamber of Commerce to check on its validity and gave the lady its serial number. She advised that it was issued in 2018 and despite previous practices to have a termination date that was strictly adhered to, many are still accepted. There once was a decrease in value prorated over a number of months (or years) for late presentation for redemption. I was informed that they are no longer going to be so stringent. I now can collect my $20 and $5 awards using the certificates.

Motivated by a recent visit of various family members, our efforts to accommodate our guests and at least provide a beverage of their choosing and preference. Satisfying their needs related to items such as coffee or beer was challenging.  Using coffee as an example, you can flavor it to taste like just about anything ranging from fruits, spices, or even bitter medicines. Coffee is now my beverage of choice at least until noon. Knowing, or shopping for the individual choices is best left to the visitors.

During the visit I decided to treat the family to a dinner at the Beef Haus in Wellsville. We hadn’t been there since pre-Covid so it was a treat for us as well. After we had a cocktail and had ordered our meal owner Bob Insley came around and asked if any of us were veterans. We replied two veterans and one active, and he promptly gave us generous meal tickets. That capped off a very enjoyable Veteran’s Day and showed how much class yet again another Wellsville business establishment had. Here’s a hearty, public thank you to the Beef Haus and in particular Mr. Insley.

This picture was a little staged and taken by one of my students. I’m pretty sure I remember which one but won’t hazard a public guess for fear of being wrong. The rectangular object on the desk, however, is the start of a clock designed, and machined on our Maho Computer Controlled Machining Center by Anne (Lucey) Ganguzza, a former student who has been mentioned herein before. That may very well have been the one that when finished was presented to the former Governor Cuomo.

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