Thursday, October 05, 2017

A kibbutz day

I didn't work yesterday, as the evening was the first night of the Succot festival - office workers don't normally work on such days; the day is deducted from our holidays. Even so, I was up at 5:30 am, walked the dog and went to the kibbutz mini-market to buy some dairy products; two people said how much they enjoyed my song at the Yom Kippur evening.

After that, I went to the Occupational Psychologist, where I worked for a few hours programming bonuses into their 'ERP' program. I had programmed a module which allows a percentage bonus provided that certain criteria had been met; unfortunately the OP promised a psychologist a bonus which couldn't be expressed as a percentage (two different activities having different increases). So I figured out a way of allowing this and then programmed what was necessary. I had problems checking what I had written due to a rather stupid mistake; once that was corrected, I verified that my code was correct.

Then it was to the kibbutz graveyard for the funeral of a member aged 87. We had worked in the same office during the 90s and had remained in contact ever since, although in the past few months his illness had prevented him getting about. I had heard the news the day before and immediately wrote a small eulogy which I hoped I would be able to read at the funeral; I have never done this before, mainly because I've never been that close - or felt that much contact - with the deceased. When we got to the graveyard, I informed the organiser - the man who reads whatever prayers are said and tells the life story of the deceased - that I wanted to speak; he was only too pleased. I discovered why later on: after the immediate family spoke, another elderly kibbutz member rambled for a while, then I was 'on'. My short eulogy was very well received. And that was it, apart from one distant relative. Thinking about it later, I was quite surprised at the few people outside of the family who spoke. Several more people approached me before the funeral, saying how much they enjoyed my song (see first paragraph).

The sons and daughter were very touched by what I had to said and thanked me after the funeral. I have just returned from the traditional condolence visit and they thanked me once more, even though I protested that I had said virtually nothing.

As mentioned at the beginning, the evening was the first evening of Succot, with a short ceremony, a communal meal and light activities planned. We received a message in the morning that the bereaved family wanted the evening to take place as planned, although as a mark of respect, the jugglers have been postponed until Friday. So we sat on the lawn outside of the kibbutz dining room - once a frequent activity, now sadly rare - and waited for the ceremony to begin.

There was a small musical group - acoustic guitar, tenor recorder and three singers - who sang three or four songs throughout the ceremony. They were passable, but wearing my record producer's hat, I felt that there was so much that they could do to improve their performance with only a little effort. The guitarist was so-so; he should learn how to play with syncopation. The recordist is very good (she's a music therapist) but she played the tunes along with the singers which is a total waste! She could have played an introduction, then played fills when the singers weren't singing. And if she had to play when the singers sung, then at least she should have played a harmony line instead of doubling the tune. The singers weren't bad (they weren't wonderful either) and every now and then one even sang harmonies; this could have been timed better to make the harmonies stand out (for example, singing the first chorus in unison then singing harmonies on the second chorus, or singing one line in unison followed by one line in harmony). The problem is how to tell them. I don't come into contact with any of them so it's a bit difficult to even get to point of telling them how to improve. 

A few more people told me how much they enjoyed my song and told me how well I play and sing. Doesn't anyone realise that I didn't play a note? The computer made the music, although I wrote the notes. I don't remember many problems when singing, although I did correct the singing via software. I also added a harmony via software on one line. I wonder whether any of the people mentioned in the previous paragraph were at the Yom Kippur evening; they would have heard that I know how to arrange a song. I think that I will make a copy of my last cd for one of the singers - he's been abroad for several years but was here at the end of 2013 and said something complementary to me.

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