Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Songs and Sperm Donors


Between 1982-1986, I studied music at York University for my B.F.A. It was a seminal experience for me. The emphasis on improvisation, new music, and ethnomusicology solidified my suspicions about music and opened up my thinking. I studied with David Mott, James Tenney, Steve Otto, Bob Witmer, Casey Sokol, and Trichy Sankaran. At the same, I was also studying creative writing with bpNichol and Frank Davey.

One day, Bob Witmer showed us some transcriptions he had made of --I think they were Blackfoot -- songs that he'd recorded during field research. I immediately set about creating an imitation, carefully notating my imagined song in the particular notation that he'd used. I also invented a pseudo-language and a translation. Today, while searching through some old boxes, I found the English text to my authentic 'Second Nations' Song.

I loved the simplicity of the original texts, the resonance of their archetypic plainspeaking words. I tried to replicate this in my song. I was also enthralled by bp's work. And I discovered Fred Wah's Pictograms from the Interior of BC. Also, at this time of my writing life, I was fascinated with imagery of birth and pregnancy. My father is a gynaecologist and obstetrician and our house was always filled with imagery of mothers and children, birth, pregancy, and photos of sperm donors.


SONG

old mother
do you know me?

i have not swam with you for years

i have been silent
these words i have learned
they are not words to trust

we were together when the moon rose
when my fists were soft as my tongue

old mother
here there are stars on the sky's wall

you did not expect me to live

i have said it
i will live

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