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GOOD FOR YOU! It must be one of your lucky days. We hope you’ll have many more.

This is the website of Byte-town Fyfer. It lists the currently available musical and other works of Sjef Frenken. If you want to know a bit more about him, click on BIO. But he won’t mind if you don’t.


Three items – two big, one small (some might even say minuscule), to wit:

THE LAMP AND OTHER STORIES -- a fourth collection of short stories and some other ‘stuff’ thrown in for good measure to give the book heft. Some 237 pages, with one page of errata, gratis.

SONGS TO ELEVEN WORD WEAVERS OF MY ACQUAINTANCE – Sjef Frenken’s eighth album, this time with his musical settings of poems by people he’s met in the course of his life. Almost 50 minutes worth of songs, some of them sung by the word weavers themselves.

Finally, there is JACK’S LITTLE COW BOOK. Meant to serve as a stocking-stuffer, it is on 3½ by 3½ inches in size, 28 pages, not including the cover. Illustrations by Laura Lynn Eggleston. Because the cost of mailing it would far exceed the cost of its purchase, we’ve decided to make this item available only to folks who live in the Ottawa area. Not because they are special, but because we are frugal and eco-conscious.

EVEN MORE NEWS (not as big as the news above, but still kinda big – medium big, let’s say):

In answer to several requests, The Byte-town Publysher has reprinted PIET SOER AND OTHERS OF THE OLD EAST-INDIES LINE, the original edition of which had quickly sold out. This is a short run of only 20 copies. If you are interested in purchasing one, don’t wait. Because of the few books printed, the unit price should be higher, but we will stick to the old price.


The projected album of SONGS TO GABRIEL SETOUN is on track – the fifth album in the SONGS FOR THE INNER CHILD SERIES. Editing and mixing are done, but some touch-ups, here and there, are still required.

You, quite justifiably, ask: who the &%$@ was Gabriel Setoun? Despite the nom de plume he was a Scotsman whose birth handle was Thomas Nicoll Hepburn. Little is known about him except that he was born in 1861 and died in 1930. He had one foot in the Victorian, the other in the Edwardian era. His THE CHILD WORLD was very popular in his day. It’s from this collection that the 20 poems selected have been put to music.

Because measures have had to be taken to prevent the composer from ending up in debtors’ prison, this CD will be available in limited edition and modest format – minimal insert; lyrics available at this website, and duplicated rather than replicated.


A word about the concept behind the series SONGS FOR THE INNER CHILD:

Ever since 1962, Sjef Frenken has searched out the best in English-language poetry for children for the purposes of setting these gems to music. Most of these verses date from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. This was a time when (in the words of John Updike*)... in England Lewis Carroll, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Rudyard Kipling all wrote stories and poems for children to read. They did not do it offhand, or with a sly smile, but in earnest, with all the skill and wisdom they had, as if their lives depended upon it which in a way they did.” This was a time when children of the well-to-do were reared by nannies whose tasks included introducing their charges to the world of poetry. And while these poems were written for youngsters, there is a lot of material that will appeal to adults: recollections of their own youth as well as poignant and beautiful language from the pens of some of the world's greatest wordsmiths. The music has elements of the folk tradition as well as links to the light classics. Percy Grainger comes to mind.

* from Updike’s Introduction to The Young King and Other Fairy Tales by Oscar Wilde, Macmillan, 1962.

The collection of songs totals more than 250 so far. Now that the Lear CD has been released, there will still be more than 150 songs left to record. The composer hopes to live long enough to finish the task.


Some of our acquaintances are asking “why do you still have CDs manufactured; they’re obsolete.” I could respond “Look at LP’s, they’re making a comeback.” But I won’t.

In the course of my life we’ve had 78s, 45s, LPs, cassettes and CDs; record players, wire recorders, reel-to-reel tape recorders, cassette players, and CD players. With each invention the quality of the recordings got better and better, as were the machines to play them. The pinnacle remains the CD.

But progress has taken a strange turn: instead of listening to high quality media through high quality apparatus, most people listen to their music via tinny ear buds or the tiny speakers in laptops and even smaller portable devices. The apparent need for a constant musical accompaniment (however low its quality) to their daily activities outweighs their need to hear music in its fullest glory.

We prefer to publish CDs with accompanying informative notes and lyrics (where possible), hoping that there are still some discriminating music enthusiasts who appreciate quality.

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