Push to Protect Canada’s Freshwater

Emma Lui, the National Water Campaigner for the Council of Canadians, suggests that the federal government should establish a Water Minister who could be a voice to protect all of our waterways. A fantastic idea! That would likely have improved the flawed Bill C-69 which does not restore protections and implement the necessary safeguards for our lakes and rivers.

Let’s help Emma and her colleagues continue this campaign to get parliament to take action to protect our water.



Music Code by sonic(K)

I realized recently that a sonic(K) repository on Github was not the best way to share my Sonic Pi code. So I’ve rearranged things and moved the coding examples to my gists area.

Each gist contains the code in a text file and references the corresponding audio file on Sound Cloud.


Oh! Good luck in the new year!

Lyrics for “Silent Scream”

Silent Scream (music on Soundcloud)

I want to scream
Do you know what I mean?
A big silent scream
In a very long dream, dream

In a very large crowd
Not terribly loud there/their
All looking down, for
Their very own crown

And the crown’s not there
But no one seems to care
Cause it’s never been there
And it’s never been theirs

I want to dream
Do you know what I mean?
A small violent dream
In a very long scream

Let’s think a thought, and …?
Or maybe not then
They’ve all been thought and
I had forgotten

But pushing on then
Go and spin that baton again
Push that button on and off again
Until the button’s back on my friend

You know it never goes off and
It can never go dark and
It can never go slow again
It can’t even slow down my friend

Yet the button’s not there
And no one really cares
Cause it’s never been there
And it’s never been theirs

And it’s still not there
But no one seems to care
Cause it’ll never be there
And it will never be theirs

I want to scream
Do you know what I mean?
A big silent scream
In a very long dream, dream
In a very long dream
In a very long dream
In a very long dream
A very long dream
A very long dream
A very long dream
Very long dream
Very long dream

Very long dream, dream
Very long

Very long
Very long dream

A Silly Parade with Circus Clowns

When I wrote the tune A Silly Parade in May 2013 I had an internal image of clowns and people walking along in some sort of parade. The piece was probably the first piece I created in Pro Tools using manual MIDI note input linked to instrument plugins.

I thought I’d try my hand at creating another music video using Live Movie Maker this time using some stock footage rather than stuff I’d shot myself.  I found a few likely candidates in the Prelinger Archive. This archive was founded in 1983 by Rick Prelinger in New York City and contains thousands of historical films.

I decided to use three circus related films from the 1940’s:

The result is called, not surprisngly, A Silly Parade.

A Silly Parade

It’s about three and a half minutes long. Hope you find it interesting …

No Shortage: The Video

Hard to believe it’s been nine years since Silent K released the critically unacclaimed No Shortage EP (a second CD is in the works but finding the time to master and pull it all together has been difficult). One thing I had always meant to do was create some visuals to go along with the title track.  I’ve been playing around with the Windows Live Movie Maker software and thought I’d give it a go.

And here are the results; my first music video:  No Shortage

No Shortage


This piece suggests movement and/or travelling to me. I had visions of a car kicking up some dust on an unpaved country road framed by large oak trees. I didn’t have anything like that handy so instead I used three short vignettes that I’d shot in the past:  a subway arriving at the platform; some highway traffic at night filmed from the backseat of a car; and a goofy section of me entering the house with the camera looking down at my feet.  

The videos have been cut up and looped in ways that hopefully reinforce the musical structure. I used various cartoony settings and adjusted the brightness levels to get some slight variation in the looped presentations, mostly transitioning from lighter to darker scenes.

For a long weekend experiment I think it’s turned out pretty well … 

If you are inclined to give it a watch I hope you let me know what you think.

Thanks for listening!

Lyrics for “Cyberspace”

I posted my new tune Cyberspace on Soundcloud about two months ago.  The lyrics were taken from a passage in William Gibson’s Neuromancer.  If you haven’t read this book I recommend it highly. [1]

I thought some might be interested in seeing the original words so I’ve reproduced a copy of the page I used as my cue sheet when I recorded this song.  If you look closely you can see the pencil markings that, in addition to Gibson’s punctuation, guided my phrasing of this paragraph.



[1] “Here is the novel that started it all, launching the cyberpunk generation, and the first novel to win the holy trinity of science fiction: the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award and the Philip K. Dick Award. With Neuromancer, William Gibson introduced the world to cyberspace–and science fiction has never been the same.”

Echoes of “Different Trains”

Have you heard that great piece by Steve Reich called “Different Trains”? It’s a wonderful work for string quartet and tape written in 1988. Reich’s parents split when he was a toddler and one lived in New York the other in L.A. He spent a lot of time riding the train with his governess in the early 40s visiting his parents.

train_tracksTo recreate this experience he recorded interviews with his governess (then in her seventies), a retired pullman in his eighties, three holocaust survivors and period recordings of American and European trains. It’s a very moving piece commissioned for the Kronos Quartet and if you’ve never heard it, or haven’t heard it for a while, have a listen to the their fantastic performance. [1]

The interesting thing about this piece is the way Reich imitates the snippets of dialogue that he selects from the interviews. It makes you realize how musical our speech patterns really are. He captures the melodic and rhythmic nuances of each of the voices and transforms them into lines for the string quartet. The rhythmic motion and sounds of the train are also reproduced by the quartet to create a wonderful sensation of riding the rails.

I was reminded of this piece by two cultural events I attended this past week.

The first was a concert at the Wychwood Barns last Friday night featuring the music of Nicole Lizée.  It was the world premiere of her Hitchcock Etudes that reminded me of Reich’s Trains. Lizée likes to explore technological glitches hoping to “capture and replicate those beautiful mistakes.” In this piece for string quartet, percussion, tape
and film, she deconstructs and “damages” the soundtrack of a few middle period Hitchcock films notating the results so the quartet can recreate them. There was a particular passage from Psycho where Anthony Perkins is looped and stuttering along with the quartet that brought Reich’s piece to mind.

The second event was the play London Road written by Alecky Blythe with music by composer Adam Cork at the Bluma Appel Theatre last night. The play is about the affects of a series of murders that took place in Ipswich, one of the oldest towns in England. Blythe interviewed and recorded the “beleaguered residents.” To create the actors’ parts she had them use the edited recordings as the basis for their performances rather than learning their parts from a script. [2] Cork added the musical element which produced an effect very much like that achieved by Reich in “Different Trains.”

Great performances by all with an excellent musical ensemble under the direction of Reza Jacobs. Still time to see this show, it’s running until February 9th.

A couple of good nights out to be sure and an interesting synchronous experience where both independent events produced a wonderful echoes of Reich’s “Different Trains.”


[1] Here’s part one on Vimeo, ‘America Before the War
[2] For more information about this play and the “verbatim technique” see this
study guide for London Road

image: Scott Stensland