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Prof. Cipriani’s Song Featured on NPR

NPR featured the musical composition of Frank Domenico Cipriani, specialist professor in the Department of World Languages and Cultures, as part of an episode of its program, “All of It,” on May 6. Cipriani submitted the song in 2023 to NPR for its contest, “The Public Song Project,” which encouraged composers to draw from songs in the public domain. Although the song did not win the contest, the producers featured his adaptation of the 19th century Scottish work, “Jessie, the Flower of Dunblane.” In Cipriani’s version, “Lisa, Sweet Weed of My Day,” he repurposes the lyrics of the love song to reflect the Early American Literary scholarship of his wife, Lisa Vetere, associate professor of English at Monmouth University. 

The recording derives from his search for a song that reflects the period that Vetere studies, which may have been heard in salons in the early 19th century in Philadelphia and New York. Cipriani wrote the song, arranged the composition, composed a chorus, and his purely fictitious band, (In A Box), It´s Only A Dog Tick, provided the instrumentals and backing vocals. 

Frank credits Monmouth University Professor of English and Beatles expert Ken Womack’s books on producer George Martin for initially sparking his interest in recording his own music, and acknowledges the creative undercurrent that prevails on campus as an inspiration. “In terms of talent at Monmouth, I am not worthy to loosen to the guitar strap of even the most casual musician I have heard on campus, yet the energy around songwriting and production is part of Monmouth’s DNA,” he said. “How could I not want to participate despite my own limited musical ability?”

A recording of the analysis and a snippet of the song can be heard at around the 15-minute mark of the NPR broadcast.

In addition to teaching Spanish and communication, Cipriani also hosts the World Languages and Cultures monthly multilingual song circle, Folk/Folklórico, every third Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the Great Hall Auditorium throughout the year, except in August. The song circle welcomes all students, faculty, and community members, whatever their musical ability, with a shared love for songwriting and world music.

Cipriani (center right) at a recent songwriting workshop at The NJ Folk Project