An interesting followup to yesterday’s Moon in the Window – a post on my work being plagiarized:

Dear Old Dad shared the post with the Facebook clawhammer banjo group. It was immediately met with accusations of unsubstantiated accusations – which was interesting because I went out of my way not to throw names around. Then came demands that we name the people involved. Then my father was banned from the group.

It is not a big deal. The group was increasingly turning into an advertising platform for its delusional moderator. What bothers me is watching my father take yet another public beating simply for being my dad.

How can such a fun and simple folk instrument attract such horrible people?

The Moon in the Window

Scrolling through Amazon today I ran across a banjo book with material cut and pasted directly from my book, The How and the Tao of Old-Time Banjo.

Since I started teaching online way back in 1997, the beautiful people of the banjo community have been slandering, harassing, threatening and liberally stealing from my work. Some of these soulless party clowns posing as musicians are quite famous. Hell, there are a couple of Grammy winners involved.

It puts me in a funny position. Calling out the individuals will simply end up generating traffic, sales and free promotion to the tainted works in question. Dealing with it directly won’t help because punching a turd only gets your hands dirty – and it would be wrong anyway.

My Christian upbringing orders me to forgive. That is not easy to do. I mean, these people literally went out of their way to mock my work publicly while simultaneously profiting from plagiarizing my work. My Pennsylvania Dutch grandfather called people like this a “son-of-a-pitch-me-out-the-window-come-back-out-to-help-me-in-again!”

The Pennsylvania Dutch have a multitude of nice ways to put a @#$%#$%^& on you.

In the end, I’ll take a lead from one of my heroes, Ryōkan Taigu.

Ryōkan lived in a little hut where he spent his time meditating, writing poetry and getting buzzed on wine. A Buddhist monk, Ryōkan lived on what he could beg on his daily rounds.

One night, Ryōkan was sitting alone in his hut and a thief barged in. Ryōkan had nothing worth stealing, so the old man gave him his clothes. Bewildered, the thief took the monks robes and left.

Looking at the moon through his window as he was sitting naked in his hut, Ryōkan wrote one of his most famous poems.

The thief left it behind:
the moon
at my window.

You see, in the end things are just things. The people who take from my work don’t understand that for every idea, lick, phrase, graphic or whatever else they steal, they will never be able to do/create/be as I do. Music is not a gimmick for me. Teaching is not a publicity stunt. No matter what is stolen, they always leave behind the moon in the window.

Samuel The Hero

Sven in Norway wrote me a truly nice email yesterday including a picture of him with his infant son, Samuel. I usually write lullabies for my friends children, but I have been to Norway and seen its majesty with my own eyes. It seemed more appropriate to compose something more in line with epic tales of viking conquests and great stony mountains.

So, last night I wrote this tune. A theme song for adventures Sven and Samuel will have in coming years.

4/4 time, G tuning, key of G. Em, D, G and C chords.