Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

A Reader Writes: How Do I Start A Blog?

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Dear Lindsay:

Setting up a blog for yourself is really pretty simple. First of all, you need a website and domain name. (Picking a name that isn’t already in use is a challenge. But – with a little creativity – you can find one that hasn’t already been claimed.)

Next, you must find a service (I’m very happy with WordPress) that provides the template – the permanent aspects of your site, such as the look of your Home Page. After that, try to come up with a short, pithy name that accurately conveys your point of view. Again, the more creative you are, the better.

Next, decide how often you want to write – from whenever the mood strikes you to several times a day. Include a feedback mechanism on your site so that those who wish can respond. By linking to them, you increase your visibility on the World Wide Web. “Ezine” is one of many services that reprints blogs on a wide variety of topics. You can also google your chosen topic to see what other sites appear. By corresponding with them, people who visit their sites will learn about you. This increases the dialogue potential exponentially.

Finally comes the grunt work of writing the blogs themselves. I recommend short, highly focused, paragraphs on very specific sub-topics of your general theme. And by short, I mean brief enough for your readers to enjoy without scrolling down.

At times, you’ll feel like you are the only one reading what you’ve written. But then, someone from across the country or around the world will respond, and you will realize the enormous potential at your fingertips.

Blogging pay is lousy, but for me, the satisfaction level is pretty high. After all, it gave me the opportunity to respond to you.

Good luck from your fellow blogger, Dave Tanner

How A Melody “For Just One Night” Has Lasted 190 Years

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

190 years ago today, Father Josef Mohr had a musical/mouse problem. Rodents had chewed through the leather bellows of the pump organ at his tiny Church of St. Nicholas in the village of Oberndorff, high up in the Austrian Alps. The hymns of his Christmas Eve midnight mass would have to be sung a capella. The organ was going to be silent.

Unfortunately for Father Joe, he had chosen this particular Christmas Eve to write a poem which he hoped to have the church organist, Franz Gruber, accompany. When Franz told him about the busted bellows, the good father was so disappointed that Gruber made a very unusual suggestion for that day and age. It seems his wife had recently given him a guitar, and he could now – sometimes – play 4 chords (which, when you think about it, is more than Elvis needed for two decades.)

At Fr. Joe’s urging, Franz agreed to compose a simple little melody that would would suffice for this one Christmas Eve. Next year, when the organ was working again, he promised to create something lasting, grand, and glorious.

And so it was – on December 24th, 1818 – the congregation of the Church of St. Nicholas first heard Gruber’s temporary tune. It must have made a wonderful impression – the congregation has continued the tradition of singing the hymn to guitar accompaniment every Christmas Eve since.)

Over the next 25 years, the song spread, but not the story of its creation. Ultimately, it was published in sheet music form throughout Europe. But every version listed its composers as “Anonymous,” “Traditional,” or “Unknown.”

Then, in 1843, a music salesman stopped in at the tiny church in Oberndorff. Even after all those years, Franz Gruber was still the organist and choir master. As Franz thumbed through a folio of the salesman’s songs, he was astonished to see his melody prominently displayed. Only then did he learn that his simple little tune had become famous. And only then could we know that this beloved Christmas musical treasure was written at a moment when desperation and inspiration collided head-on.

And an organist with no organ to play (and only 4 chords on his guitar) lovingly crafted a melody “for one night” that we still sing every Christmas season: “Silent Night.”

Thanks To Henry VIII For A Christmas Not-So Favorite

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

One of the holiday tunes I have traditionally least enjoyed playing is “The 12 Days Of Christmas.”

Long before we ever get to those “lords a-leaping” and “maids a-milking,” I’ve always been pretty well ready to move on to “Deck The Halls.” But – it turns out – there is much more to this song than meets the ear.

Henry VIII’s infatuation with Anne Boleyn led the Catholic monarch to form a new, official state church cleverly called “The Church Of England.” After searching throughout his realm for someone qualified to lead his fledgling religious undertaking, Henry chanced to look in a mirror – saw himself – and knew he’d found his man.

Thus began 100 years of Catholic persecution in Britain. Many of the faithful left the country. But others went underground, becoming nominally Anglican (but really closet-Catholics.) In order to teach their children the catechism without being outed as “papists,” they wrote a ditty which carefully hid religious instruction between the lines.

The “true love” who bestows all these wonderful gifts is God. But why “a partridge in a pear tree?” Well – any bird will fuss if you come too close to her nest, but partridges will sacrifice their lives for their young. Picture Jesus on a tree.

The two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments, three French hens (gifts fit for a king) are gold, frankincense, and myrrh, while those four calling birds are named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

And on it goes, including the Beatitudes, faithful disciples, and Days of Creation – if you know how to decode the lyrics.

Now that I have a basic understanding of the inventiveness (and faithfulness) of these poor people whose only sin was being on the wrong side of Henry’s libido, I don’t have the heart to call their song my least favorite any more.

So – for now – that bumps “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” up to Number 1 on my Yuletide Yuk List. (That is, until someone convinces me that Grandma represents traditional values, while the reindeer stands for the crass commercialization of Christmas, run amok.)

And You Thought “John Smith” Was A Common Name…

Monday, November 17th, 2008

A former classmate of mine wrote recently to commend me for co-authoring a book called Swimming After 50. There was just one eensy-teensy problem: the Dave Tanner who actually wrote it is a Physiology professor – not a piano player.

Today, I heard from someone looking for my Big Band arrangement of “Night And Day.” The trouble is, that Dave Tanner is a Jazz guitarist and arranger in England – not Texas.

Nor am I the upright bass-playing Dave Tanner of the Latin-Country fusion group “Brazilbilly” – although I sure do wish I’d thought of that name and concept before they did.

And – needless to say – I’m neither the UK coach, or the rugby player, nor the California insurance-selling Dave Tanner. To my eternal regret, I’m also not the inventor of “Famous Dave’s Tanner.” (If my Mom and Dad had known there would be this much confusion, they’d have probably named me “Dweezil” or “Moon Unit.”)

However, I’m happy to report that – as nearly as I can tell – all bearers of the name David (it means “beloved” in Hebrew) Tanner (it means… well, you figure it out) have done a good job in their chosen fields, and have not disgraced the name for the rest of us. I mean, somewhere in the world, there’s probably a very nice guy called “Lee Oswald,” or “so-in-so Hitler.” Through no fault of their own, they’ve gone through their entire lives being on the receiving end of suspicious stares every time their names are called out.

The Dave Tanners, on the other hand, are still welcomed by polite society throughout the US and UK. At some of the nice places I play, they don’t even count the silverware when I leave – any more.

Now – if only I can get all those Tanner boys to point the folks who mistakenly contact them, but are looking for me – to throw that business my way, I should be set for life.

After all – we Dave Tanners are like Starbucks – there’s one of us on almost every corner!