Records and All That Dusty Stuff
By Dick Killian, Las Vegas, Nevada
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Donna's original dream was to get all of the old dusty stuff, collected over forty-five years of folk dancing, organized and in use at the same time. This is how the dream came to be the Folkdance Jukebox.
Dreams are realized every day by those persistent enough to follow through on those pesky images or wild ideas dreams that many of us experience. My spouse, Donna, is, if anything, persistent. She and I are probably most easily identified as "the couple from Las Vegas" occasionally attending folk dance events in Arizona, California, Oregon, Utah, Texas, and Washington. We are both founding members of the Ethnic Express International Folkdancing Club of Las Vegas, Nevada. It was started in September of 1978. This Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc. member club hosted the "2001 Out of California Statewide Folk Dance Festival." I was the Statewide chairman that year.
Donna's dreams were rampant then too! In 2001, the theme was "Little Green Men" and outer space. We all had fun with those wild ideas too. Area 51 is just north of Las Vegas. The Extraterristrial Highway passes to the north and east of it. These wild ideas and images led us to develop the Folkdance Jukebox with the expertise and involved help of our close neighbor Joe. He is very competent with computers. We expressed the needs of the folk dance community to the best of our ability to Joe and he provided combinations of freeware and nagware features now included in this laptop application. Freeware programs cost nothing and are available on the Internet. Nagware is a program which, if you don't send a small stipend to the author, will keep popping up a message asking for a donation until you do! I paid $9.95 for Pacemaker (nagware), the feature when combined with WinAmp that allows changing the tempo with no distortion of the pitch neither up nor down. Additionally, just the pitch may be adjusted to match any musician's already tuned instruments so that all of them may learn to play folk dances by ear. The music may be slowed to assist those wishing to learn at an easier pace. I've used a 105% speed to train an ensemble on the premise that if they can do it faster than normal they will be able to perform adequately when needed. A four-toggle control allows a single dance to be played and then stop. Or play a list and stop. Or play the whole list and repeat the list. Or play just one dance over and over.
A contiuous chronologically oriented log is generated as every dnce is played on the "1by1" program. A list of every dance played may be printed using the "1by Log." The "1by1" program is an easily accessed list of folk dances. It is displayed in large letters for the sight challenged by just pressing the first two letters of a folk dance name in quick sequence. This action brings your cursor close to, if not exactly to, your choice. A printer option, recently developed, allows any of the dance notes, syllabus covers, indexes, maps, etc. to be printed while the music is still playing! Adequate sound is available through most common boom boxes while, if your choice is a more sophisticated amplifier, the Folkdance Jukebox can easily supply input to that too.
This development period took two years of refining choices of the features as represented now for the complete package which includes a carrying case. The dream laptop has no moving parts other than when a CD is used in the E-drive and that is very rarely needed. In fact, a USB portable flash drive can be used instead. A DVD reader option may be added if requested and, of course, costs more money. There is no spinning hard drive as it has been replaced by an internal solid state compact flash card. Here, then, is the ultimate in reliability. Along with over 800 popular folk dances included in alphabetical order with countries from which they originate are over 1000 dance notes, festival syllabus covers, indexes, maps of countries, sheet music, songs translated and in their native language, and costumes this unit is efficient and compact.
Any choice of music can be instantly selected while not interrupting the music being played. No play list needs to be preassembled but the Log will chronicle every dance in the order played along with the date and time the session began.