chatting, harpsichords, & hangings

Eileen and had a nice chat with Sarah today. Saturday is our usual day to zoom with her. Eileen’s morale is slightly improved. She is making some good headway with her new loom. I think that helps. The house stuff has really gotten her down. I will think of more ways to shoulder some of this responsibility. We discussed me contacting the builders who installed our upstairs screen door and the siding. I suggested we should badger them and threaten to go public on Facebook with our complaints. We’ll see. They may not be at fault or at least not legally responsible.

My friend Rhonda texted me a question about my harpsichord (Is it an 8′?). I’m not sure if she is going to end up using it. I will contact her next week and find out. Since if she is planning on using it she has already told me they could return it to my home instead of the church. This would save me figuring out how to get it from the church to the house.

Eileen and I could easily move the marimba by ourselves since it disassembles into manageable sections. I would dearly love to get every little thing out of the church since it’s been a while since I retired.

If I have to move it myself, my next step is to call Mary the administrator and find out if Jen or Jim received my texts from before Thanksgiving and if they have thoughts about who could help me move the harpsichord.

Either way I will probably check with Mary about recommendations for someone to repair our broken window.

I have been learning about the history of public hangings in the U.S. I’m reading The Death Penalty by Stuart Banner. I had no idea that public executions were the kind of event they were. I was surprised to learn that public sermons were usually an important part of this event. In the American South, these sermons persisted at public hangings into the 20th century.

Banner points out that unlike executions in England which were carried out by a public executioner (who was often despised), executions in the U.S. were usually the responsibility of local sheriffs who did not relish this part of their duties. Often sheriffs did whatever they could to get someone else to take charge of it and build the scaffolding, run the execution, and then dispense with the corpse. Sometimes people who had been sentenced to die were able to commute their sentence by serving as an executioner. This is more understandable when you factor in the many trivial crimes which resulted in death by hanging.

Banner meticulously documents hanging after hanging. After a while I realized that the period of these deaths is also the period of many of the folk songs in my Child Ballad collection. I read through some today and found at least one reference to a hanging.

I am still very interested in the melodies of these ballads. I continue to entertain composing some settings maybe along the lines of what Bartok did with folk melodies or even some modest attempts to emulate Copland.

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