Eloquence in May

Eloquence in May

The beautiful and eloquent columbine grows in the fields and meadows and blooms its delightful swag in May in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia…

© 2007, D L Ennis, All rights reserved.

NOTE: Permission for the use of my images is granted for personal websites and blogs but is to include a link back to this site and proper credit given to me, D L Ennis. Link to be used…(Visual Thoughts https://dlennis.wordpress.com/)

NOTE: Commercial use, and the creation of prints, must be purchased! For more information you can contact me here.

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Traditional Music and Instruments of Appalachia

Music has always been at the center of life in Southern Appalachia. The people that settled in this region are descendants of Scottish-Irish, English, Welsh, German, and French, as well as people of African American and Native American heritage. An oral musical tradition came with these people, many of whom were laborers, servants, and farmers. Primarily, because of isolation from the outside world, the people of Southern Appalachia have preserved and developed their style of music to a fine degree, which to this day, upholds the charter of the people, culture, and history that it is about.

The most frequently heard vocal form of music from this region is the ballad—a song that tells a story. Each singer sings a ballad in his or her own personal way. Sometimes new words are sung to an old melody. A ballad can be based on an event in history, a humorous situation, a tragedy, happiness, a religious topic, a heroic deed, or the supernatural. Because most of the original European settlers of Appalachia could not read, the stories contained in ballads were used to teach the history, ethics, and morality of the community.

The Southern Appalachians is known for its instrumental traditions, particularly the music of the mountain dulcimer, fiddle, banjo and the limberjack.

The mountain dulcimer is one of the earliest North American folk instruments. The body extends the length of the fingerboard and traditionally has an hourglass, teardrop, triangular, or elliptical shape (also called the galax). A courting dulcimer has two fretboards allowing two players to closely sit across from each other to perform duets, hence the name. The mountain dulcimer has three or four strings; contemporary versions of the instrument can have as many as twelve strings and six courses. The melody is played on the highest-pitched string, and the other strings are the drones.

The fiddle was brought to America by settlers from the British Isles. It was used as a solo instrument and to accompany dancing. The Appalachian fiddle is often held against the upper chest, not under the chin, and the bow is held a bit in from the end. It is known that rattlesnake rattles have been placed inside the body of the fiddle for a percussive effect.

The banjo typically has five strings: four full-length strings and a shorter fifth “thumb” string running to a tuning screw halfway up the neck. The banjo originated in Africa and was brought to America in the 17th century by black slaves. Early banjos had fretless necks, a varying number of strings, and, sometimes, gourd bodies. Adopted by white musicians in 19th-century minstrel-show troupes, the banjo gained frets and metal strings. The five-string banjo, plucked with the fingers, is common in folk music and commercial bluegrass bands.

A unique percussion instrument of Southern Appalachia is the limberjack—a wooden doll-like figure attached to a stick on the back. The player sits on one end of a board and suspends the doll over the free end of the board. When the player hits the free end of the board it moves up and down, hitting the doll and causing it to bounce around. The sound made by the bouncing wooden doll is similar to that made by Appalachian clog dancers.

It is a fascinating journey through time when you take a look at the music of Southern Appalachia. You can experience a living oral tradition that in some ways has not changed at all from the time settlers came over from Europe.

Copyright © 2006, D L Ennis

One Blue Door

One Blue Door

This is an old house, complete with outhouse, found on a back road in Nelsen County, Virginia…in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This may have been a two family dwelling…there are two front doors…I found it to be an interesting place!

An HDR image…

© 2007, D L Ennis, All rights reserved.

NOTE: Permission for the use of my images is granted for personal websites and blogs but is to include a link back to this site and proper credit given to me, D L Ennis. Link to be used…(Visual Thoughts https://dlennis.wordpress.com/)

NOTE: Commercial use, and the creation of prints, must be purchased! For more information you can contact me here.

The Dance

The Dance

An artful expression…Lilly

© 2007, D L Ennis, All rights reserved.

NOTE: Permission for the use of my images is granted for personal websites and blogs but is to include a link back to this site and proper credit given to me, D L Ennis. Link to be used…(Visual Thoughts https://dlennis.wordpress.com/)

NOTE: Commercial use, and the creation of prints, must be purchased! For more information you can contact me here.

Meditation #2

Meditation #2

A more artsy look at my last image entitled “Meditation.” Personally, I like it better!

© 2007, D L Ennis, All rights reserved.

NOTE: Permission for the use of my images is granted for personal websites and blogs but is to include a link back to this site and proper credit given to me, D L Ennis. Link to be used…(Visual Thoughts https://dlennis.wordpress.com/)

NOTE: Commercial use, and the creation of prints, must be purchased! For more information you can contact me here.

Meditation

Meditation

On Otter Creek, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in winter…January, 2007.

© 2007, D L Ennis, All rights reserved.

NOTE: Permission for the use of my images is granted for personal websites and blogs but is to include a link back to this site and proper credit given to me, D L Ennis. Link to be used…(Visual Thoughts https://dlennis.wordpress.com/)

NOTE: Commercial use, and the creation of prints, must be purchased! For more information you can contact me here.

Isle of Serenity

It was November 1963, two weeks after the assassination of President, John F. Kennedy. Just the month before, Vince had been made aware of how fragile life was when his grandmother, who he had always said was his best friend, passed away.

Little Vincent, that’s what all the adults in the neighborhood called him, was a frail, sickly nine year old who looked no more than six. He had been sick since birth and had already come to terms with the thought that he would not live to adulthood. But, when he went, he wanted it to be of natural causes; not like in scary movies where a vampire, werewolf, or some other monster was looming around the next bend.

Death seemed to be on his mind all the time these days, but I guess a large graveyard and an old spooky church in the back yard would make most people uneasy.

It was Sunday, it had been raining all day and Vince had spent most of the day in his bedroom, daydreaming. He did a lot of daydreaming and paid for it in a most embarrassing way, too many times, in school. Vince suffered from depression that was every bit as debilitating as his physical ills and daydreaming offered some relief from the reality that was his life.

After supper he went back to his room, sat on his bed, and stared out the window at the old church and graveyard. The rain had stopped and the graveyard was shrouded in an intense fog that lay low to the ground in placid rolling waves, but in an dissonantly intimidating manner.

Nine o’clock arrived and Vince was off to bed. When his mother turned off the light and left the room, shutting the door behind her, he noticed the light of a full moon was illuminated the opposite wall. Shadows from the weeping willow outside his window performed a soothing ballet in a moonbeam spotlight, as a slight breeze provided the verve for the dancers.

In spite of the comforting dance and the gentle breeze, tension still crowded his thoughts as he sat up and looked out the window at the lingering fog that seemed to be rising slowly, revealing only the tops of the tallest tombstones. Wave after wave of the pallid vapor rolled by, inspiring Vince to take refuge under the covers.

He tried to think of pleasant things, of sailing on his own boat, on a calm sea under an enlivened, deep blue sky. He dreamt of an island paradise with no sickness or evil of any sort, and there would certainly be no school. He knew from first hand experience that kids could smell a weaker of their kind and would impose a tax of abuse in their attempt to prove Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest.”

He would call his island Serenity; his grandmother called her gardens, “Serenity Gardens” and it was a place where he spent the happiest days of his life. On the Island of Serenity his grandmother still lived, his mother and father never fought, and his father wasn’t ashamed of him: even his sister was tolerable.

Suddenly, Vince was plucked from his dream by a thump against his window. He waited a minute under the safety of his covers, then sat up and peaked out to see if anything was there. He slowly got out of bed and moved stealthily up on the window from below. As his eyes met the glass he saw nothing but the willow, the old church, and the graveyard which seemed to be sinking in the sea of fog. Spooky, but he saw no walking dead or any other monsters. He turned back to his bed and a more dense shadow streaked across the still moonlit wall. He turned back to the window just in time to see a bat slam into a moth that had been lingering on his windowsill. The shear power of the shock, energized by his already frightened psyche, knocked him to the floor. He rolled over on his stomach and was face to face with the underside of his bed; he sprang to his feet and leaped into bed and the safety of his covers.

He lay there under his covers trying, with all of his imagination, to escape the horrid frightfulness of this night, but the longer he lay there the further he drifted from Serenity Island.

A couple of hours had passed and curiosity began to out way fear. He sat up and from the foot of his bed he could look out the window and see the church, which was by now, half buried in the ocean of fog. The dark side of his imagination took complete control and he knew without doubt that the heavy rains of the day had swollen the ocean and it was now moving inland. He knew that they were all going to drown, his family in their sleep and he in his fear. He knew what he had to do, in spite of the monsters under his bed and all of the other things that go bump in the night and waited just outside his window, was to wake his family so they could all get to higher ground.

He tried to leap from his bed and run to his parents but he couldn’t, something was holding him back. He tried hollering to wake them, but nothing came out of his mouth, not even a whisper. The only thing left to do was crawl back under his covers. He knew now that this was the end and there was nothing that he could do about it.

He laid there under his covers, crying and shaking within his fear, and after a while he felt the house moving beneath him. The rising water must have lifted their house off of its foundation; it was only a matter of time now before the ocean would swallow the house with him and his family helpless inside.

The strain of the night had exhausted him and he was overcome by sleep. He dreamt of sailing to his Island of Serenity and exhaled his final breath.

The next morning their neighbors brought flowers and wreaths and placed them on the front porch. They stood and talked, some of the women cried and the men all smoked and huddled around the morning paper discussing an article that read, “Family of four die in automobile accident when their car left the road and sunk in Harmony River.”

Vince was finally unchained from sickness and had moved on to his personal paradise, his Island of Serenity.

Copyright © 2004, D L Ennis