the city is immortal

The city chooses to bear the traces of its citizenry. Somehow these traces – smooth and shiny and rounded – lend the city a legitimacy and presence in the world. Maybe the city takes on these traces in an effort to gan a foothold on the earth, that without them it remains only an idea.

The city finds its way into its inhabitants in more ways than one. It forces itself not only into the neural pathways of its citizens – their thoughts and dreams – but also into their physical systems. The city forces its way into the lungs, ears, eyes, encompassing absolutely every single atom within. The city-conglomerate inhabits the totality of its space, depositing traces on every surface, inside and out, in an effort to be carried beyond its own boundaries. It doesn’t offer any choice but this – to enter a city is to acquiesce to this arrangement.

In the body, the city rests. It settles, is carried, permeates. It asserts itself throughout its own parts, expressing a character and identity readily parsed no matter who observes. Within the confines of itself, it is omniscient, knowing and updating itself to remain à temps and evolving in response to the state of its systems and actors.

Mote by mote the city expands its footprint farther and farther, trailing on shoes, in lungs and throats, embedded into the synapses of travellers – spreading like a living organism through myriad vectors across the surface of the planet and in the inner hearts of the people who pass through. In this way the city courts immortality yet again.


and see
radios /

A Suggested Perspective of the Body

– a porous field of energy, constantly replenished and diminished by the fields of energy encompassing it

– a finite and definite boundary

– multiple systems of informatino transfer, housed within a structure of questionalbe durability

– the repository of its own history, a library of experience that is built on every moment and then carried further; a fossil record it its movement through space and time

– an intricately designed and efficient infrastructure, the sole purpose of which is to protect, support, and enable a thinking and feeling apparatus, the brain

– a sparse grouping of probability waves, slightly denser than the waves surrounding it

– a study in causality and the inexorable unfolding of the laws of the universe

– a random event triggered by cosmic rays

– a complex structure for manipulating physical matter through space

– a collection of periodic and aperiodic cycles, the collective execution of which mark the rate of decay of the system

– a gathering of innumerable binary forms – physical switches that, in aggregate, complete behaviours thought to be intricate and multiplex

– an engine that drives and is in symbiosis with articulations of ideas, many of which are not able to be expressed with verbal language

– the rude form that belies the various and delicate sensations within it

– constant and regular pulses of various intensities

– secretions of molecules in multiple states, either for purposes of maintenance of stasis or dissemination of information

– sensors designed to interact and relay information to a central processing instrument, even when dormant or in stillness

– a continuing, non stop scan of data that is constantly updated and acted upon in the short and long term

– the first step in a complicated process of parsing the world and extrapolating increasingly abstract and finer ideas about the laws governing space time and how the universe functions, ideas that become more and more difficult to express using conventional communication systems and rules that were developed to describe observed phenomena or behaviour

i have nothing to say and i am saying it

I like to tell stories. I’ve begun to see a pattern in the many projects I undertake – a desire to tell stories. These are not always the stories that have a beginning, a middle and end – sometimes they are the stories that I carry in my body and hands.

I recently played a concert that was the kind of presentation that is more conventional than the ones I often find myself in – a large hall, filled with people and with a band on stage. I realized that even here there is a story I am telling when playing a piece of music as part of an ensemble. It is the story of the years of practice, of (sometimes) frustration and (often) joy, and the slow dawning of the realization that I cannot be all things, I can only be myself.

I used to feel bad that I was “untrained” and feel that technique was lacking. That may be true, but in the many many years that I have been working at my craft and art, a kind of understanding has arisen, an understanding that I, myself, have a voice and a story to tell as part of the accumulated experience of my heart, mind and body. And that story is one that is worth sharing, because it is unique – mine and only mine.

So the theatre work that I do, the many artists that I collaborate with, the sound art and radiophonic works I create – they are all part of this unique story of me. And while this post is in danger of sounding self aggrandizing and egoistic, this is only because I cannot put into words properly what this story means in the larger world around me. It has meaning, and it is only one small cell in the giant organism of sound and being.



A story can be read many ways – it is strongest when it is open, allowing many streams of interpretation at once. To discover and present these streams to the viewer through sound is my job.

In creating sound for drama, and in particular on the stage, we have 2 concurrent sets of demands – those addressing logistics of the performance space and those addressing storytelling. These 2 sets must work together, so that sound highlights aural characteristics that are integral to the setting while at the same time participating in the development of the arc of the play – the emotional journey of the characters and the id of the story. Sound becomes one of the collaborators in the performance of the text, be it on stage, through a speaker, or on a screen.

Radiophonic art is also a kind of theatre, a theatre for the listener wherever they might be.  My lessons from the stories I’ve accompanied  often make themselves felt in these poetic spaces. The rhythm of the text. Where and what becomes emphasized. These are decisions I get to make when shaping these works, and the theatre artists (and musicians and dancers and choreographers and filmmakers) I have collaborated with over the years participate through the moments I sculpt as a composer.

Stories are strongest when they are open and distilled. They contain secrets that are revealed through unexpected channels – a look, a word, the sound of a footstep or the echo of a hallway, the fall of light across a floor. I look for and discover these secrets, and they guide my hand and ear in the making of the music. They whisper to me, and I whisper back. Together we offer our small contribution to the many pieces of the story that comes to your eye and ear, and moves you.


new year

I suppose that basically every blog on the Internet is going to be doing a post such as this, but anyway: happy new year, and I hope to post more regularly.

sound and performance

there is a lot about digital sound, a particular kind of sound world that holds much fascination for me. in many ways the fascination is expressed in the act or process of making the sound around us audible, the exposure of the mystery that is in our atmosphere all around us, every day.

but being a musician, and maybe more so a percussionist, also demands a kind of engagement when i make and construct this sound into a work. and in the end, the process is fulfilling but not visceral—an important part of my connection to creating sound is lost through the keyboard, the midi controller, the mouse.

which is why i am so happy to have built tetsuo kogawa‘s radio transmitters, thanks to the help of naisa and hector centeno. for the first time in many years i have direct access to working with this world, a way to engage my whole being in the exploration of this mysterious realm.




Canada Council funding new works in 2012

I’ve just received notice that the Canada Council for the Arts will fund the creation of a new text/audio work in 1.1 (mono speaker + subwoofer) entitled hati.  the piece will have life as a static installation/playback work, a performance and who knows-what-else.

conceived as a piece that looks at the infrasonic communication of elephants and the re-imagining of the Hindu god Ganesh, hati has been brewing in my mind for close to 4 years now.  i am thrilled to be able to put aside time to work on this piece thanks to the council.

stay tuned…

the light

i’ve been working on text for a new long form audio work, and thought i would share some here.  production begins in august.  let me know what you think, i’d be happy to hear from you.

Curve (2)
Space is curved.  Somewhere, in a library, probably in on one close to where you are sitting now, the math is there to prove it.  I tried to read the equations once, pages and pages of symbols that curve and slash.  It’s beautiful.  Pictures of the universe, approximations of matter, of heat and black holes, exploding stars.  The math necessarily imperfect, but approaching perfection.  Infinity expressed with integrals, Greek letters.

I wish I knew this language.  How to bend my tongue and shape my mouth around these words—are they even words?  What would be a vowel, a consonant—a star, a comet, a galaxy?  What are these symbols saying to us?  How do I take this page of curves and explode it outward to the far corners of an expanding universe?

It goes that far.

Each summation, each equation and set has a sound, a hum, a kind of vibration that finds resonance in matter.

There are languages that derive their sounds from the harmonics of planets moving, that are based on the path of stars and the resonant hum of the universe.  To err in its pronunciation is to be in dissonance with the pulse of reality, to be a parent who pushes his child’s swing too soon, before it reaches the end of the parabola defined by the length of chain from which it hangs.

For one who speaks this language, who was born into it, the shape of lip and tongue is easy, defying explanation or parsing.  It takes an outsider to break it down to its component parts, to expose the secrets of how air is shaped to give meaning.

What, then, are we, when we try to speak the language of planets, of particles?

the light

just received word that i have been awarded a grant from the ontario arts council through their new media program for mid career and established artists.

with the funds i will be producing a new feature length (approximately 1 hour) audio work entitled the light, an exploration of the properties of light and the quest for light within.  it will have a radio broadcast version, a surround sound mix, and a performance version.  i’m currently working on the text….writing text is very, very hard…..

thanks to the OAC and the jury for granting the funds, and to all the other recipients as well.