Author Archives: Bob Wiseman

About Bob Wiseman

Writes songs, tours the world, makes movies, accompanies them live, produces records, arranges music, scores tv serials and films, acts in theatre (but really not a very convincing actor) and empties cat litter way more than his wife. HOW DO I BOOK BOB FOR A CONCERT? In Canada (Bob Wilson) In America (Matt Suhar) In Italy (Monica Melissano) HOW DO I HIRE BOB TO WRITE MUSIC? In North America – (Ian Arnold)

going slow

Saw Coco the other day, that’s two children’s movies in one week. Used to envy those Hollywood musicians, and who wouldn’t want a shot like that, not to mention the orchestral budget. But it is as likely to come my way as Trump would be washing feet of homeless people. On way to the cinema, driver was too close to other highway cars. Snow and ice plus we’re in the fast lane. Wanted to say can you drive slower, can you leave more distance between yourself and the other cars – could I do that without being thought of as an asshole? Nope, there is no middle ground. If I say something critical they will think I’m a backseat driver and if I don’t speak up and we have an accident the story will be why didn’t you speak up? Like in bands with someone always blaring, trying to decide whether to speak up and ask could you turn down because I can’t hear my thoughts or stay silent, remaining friends but all along asking yourself is being nice really worth getting tinnitus? The animated details in Coco were powerful especially the rendering of the junk guitar with frets made of nails and tactile cartoon wood grain. If movies hit the right notes, I get teary. The last time I was outright balling and not sitting in a theatre, was after a hit and run took Matt’s life, Matt who booked me in America. Matt whose placed in Chicago I stayed at often and who supplied the faxes to help cross the border, referencing evil subjects from my songs as though they were studio collaborators. Customs requires evidence substantiating that I was on my way to spend money in America rather than make money (even though I was performing for nothing and spending $200 a day to keep up). “Douglas Christie is very excited to be producing your new work and we will have the electric zither in the studio by Wednesday”. Matt was one in a million. In the Castaneda books Don Juan was recorded saying things like death is always present, just sitting on your left shoulder ready to be introduced. Animals understand that, they can smell death nearby, they’re alert in a different way because of that. I’m in Winnipeg on icy roads, in the lane on the right, going slow.

Best Concert, James Tenney

Interesting to hear more land acknowledgements this year. Opening remarks at public events stimulate thought even though some people read it without much life in their voice. Guess you can’t force people to wake up but you can supply information, not be silent, let them do with it what they will. When I was young, studying with Casey Sokol, if he recommended something I wouldn’t forget. Once, he came to class stoked about a concert the night before, music by James Tenney. “I love the way that guy hears music”, said Casey. Note to self – James Tenney.
I only got around to exploring him this year when the Music Gallery presented a retrospective of his work, it was my fave concert with one caveat, they removed Ain’t I A Woman, (based on Sojourner Truth’s 1851 speech). I looked it up and read Tenney’s notes from 1992, “Black women have always been doubly disenfranchised in our society, and Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) was one of the earliest and most eloquent voices speaking out against both racist and sexist forms of oppression.” The composition is based on string instruments imitating the human voice, specifically her speech….”In this piece I have tried to simulate certain acoustical properties of the words in Sojourner Truth’s speech, as read and recorded for me by Michele George….the fundamental (or first harmonic partial) of the voiced sounds is taken by the first cello, while the first formant region in the spectrum is represented by the violas, and the second and third formants by the celesta and violins, respectively….These various acoustic components of the speech sounds are introduced gradually – incrementally – in an effort to facilitate both an “analytical” and “synthetic” hearing of the material-and perhaps a more profound meditation on the social implications of the text.”
I get a little thrilled when musicians travel down political roads, because most hide under rocks and I believe art can affect change so I was excited. “A more profound meditation on the social implications of the text.”
Incredible, adventurous, unusual, revolutionary music. Just what the Music Gallery is about ….right? I think the public explanation was that they removed it because there was concern about stories by Black people being told by White people who have not had to struggle with same issues like accessibility, racism, etc. But isn’t that partly why he wrote the piece? Why then didn’t they remove his anti war piece Viet Flakes despite the fact that he wasn’t Vietnamese or a soldier. They didn’t remove the anti nuclear piece Pika-Don despite the fact that he wasn’t identified with the people from whose accounts he quoted. He wasn’t a scientist, priest, general or a Japanese women or a Japanese child or someone who actually experienced a nuclear bomb. Nope, he was just a guy who wanted people to think about real shit.
The evening started with a land acknowledgment that makes people consider colonial history, consider the bigger picture re: what happened and where we are. Didn’t understand then why not apply same sensitivity before performing Tenney’s piece if understanding the background was the point. I do love the Music Gallery and I think the people currently at the helm have been making it compelling which is awesome but something about deleting a piece from a retrospective didn’t sit right. Left thinking about Kurt Vonnegut and his story about the future where smart people wear ear pieces and loud train sounds go off every 20 seconds to interrupt their line of thought and make the world a more level playing field intellectually.

Tranzac March 2018 Raffle

The Tranzac has a raffle coming up in March to raise money for soundproofing between rooms, improving the place. I reached  out to some friends and associates to see if they would donate anything for the raffle and have a small list so far. Anyone else want to get in on retailing themselves? Send me a private message if so, thanks.

  • voice lesson with Stella Walker (value of $65)
  • write your music video with Freddie Rivas​
  • ​poetry book​ by Robert Priest​ (value of $25)​
  • string arrangement on your song (value of  $300) ​
  • ​Tom Henry will include your name in a joke (priceless)​
  • Pete Thorne pet photo shoot, value is ($299)  They will get one signed 8×10 print, and 3 digital prints.