Monthly Archives: February 2014

For The Morning Light

The crystal ball of email presented me two requests this week to make string arrangements which is a nice problem to have.

I like to find within the song some essential part and mirror one voice after that. For instance if it is a singer-songwriter thing, and often it is, I will tune into the main instrument probably guitar or piano, and try to use a lower voice like cello or viola in an identical way to the main instrument. Then if I mute the guitar or piano I still feel like I’m hearing the musical mind/ intent of the original voice (did you follow that?). Then the remainder of the arrangement is built up from there to harmonize or play with that first voice. What’s good about that is it blends with the feel of the leader of the song.

What’s bad is it isn’t yet in the realm of great string arrangement. Not organic and spontaneous enough. Not sure I know how to make great arrangements but absolutely certain about the how to’s of making horrible shit – I can do horrible easy. Simplest way is to play sampled strings or horns as though I’m a pianist. Very easy because – I’m a pianist. My wife Magali helped me figure that out.

I was writing a string part in 2010 for that strange mystical creature known as Anhai and while feeling very proud of my first sketch for two violins I played it to Magali, who doesn’t play much piano and she responded,

“It sounds like something I would do”.

She meant it sounded simple and like someone playing string samples from a keyboard. I was crushed. Now every time I replayed it I only heard someone playing string samples.

So being the spiteful, vengeful, competitive Juno award winner that I am – I started to try things which in my mind Magali couldn’t possibly do. No way. No how. Whacky chords, strange intervals and blind stabs like a free improvisor searching and then I started to land on ideas which were more believable and authentic sounding (at least to me).

My next trick will be how, without enough money,  to get real players to experiment/ record with me.

2morrow is still 2day

the fool,

the sun,


B” on  my way

2 the waiting

little birds

4 the morning  l-eye-t

4 the morning  l-eye-eye-t

4 the morning  l-eye-eye-eye-t….

i’ll B there,

we’ll B there,

we’ll B there!

in the twilight’s bloom,

deepest bloom,

golden light,

and all is new….

green + red

meets the heart

so warm & happy

so warm & happy

a  fresh  start!

i’ll B there,

we’ll B there,

we’ll B there!

and in rain,

or in snow,

and in the way

the wind blows,

or the storm,

or in the still….

feel the heart,

feel the heart,

feel it?

i feel the wind….

i’ll B there,

we’ll B there,

we’ll B there!

for the morning l-eye-t

for the morning l-eye-eye-t

for the morning l-eye-eye-eye-t

2morrow is 2day,

B4 the sunrises….

i’ll B on my way

2 B waiting

with the birds

4 the morning  l-eye-t

4 the morning  l-eye-eye-t

4 the morning  l-eye-eye-eye-t….

i’ll B there,

we’ ll B there,

we’ll  B there….


transcription (poetical) by MEG*m.e.grey


Midi Police Are Looking

In an interview from the 80s with Keith Jarrett regarding electronic instruments he said “I just feel as though I’m in a room with a smoker”. That pretty well summed it up for me too. Didn’t like the sound of most sampled sounds or midi controlled sounds as they emerged.

Over years various sales people in music stores demonstrated the latest sampled piano sounds. Enthusiastically they would play them surely I would be floored but it didn’t happen that I was convinced until the 2000s. Plus the other sounds, the ones that aren’t trying to imitate an acoustic instrument were becoming wild and gorgeous.

The second or third television series I ever scored was Wildside on Nickelodeon produced by the peerless Dale Burshtein and I remember in early meetings playing her a variety of sounds in my growing library and she responded favourably to the midi instruments. This was great and also weird. Great because it meant I was free to use the horn sounds or string sounds since they worked for her ears and presumably everyone else. Weird because they weren’t believable to me – but that didn’t matter, Dale was in charge and liked it so I felt I had a green light to proceed. Almost at the same time my opinions changed about sampled sounds after I heard I’m Your Man by Leonard Cohen which is filled with midi instruments, ridiculous ones… and it’s perfect.

At the concert for that record at Massey Hall each musician had a keyboard in addition to their other instrument. It was funny. The oud player had a keyboard, the background singer had a keyboard and of course our hero played the midi horn solo from his own keyboard from centre stage in I’m You Man  it was hilarious and glorious. I grew new parts thanks to his amazing album and Dale’s enthusiasm.

In Memorium



This is Giuseppina Pasqualino or (Pippa Bacca). A performance artist from Italy who in in March 2008 started a pilgrimage/ performance to hitchhike from Milan to Jerusalem – wearing a bridal gown. She wanted to demonstrate that she trusted people, local people and that people have to get along if there ever is to be peace and trust otherwise it’s all pointless pain. She also organized meetings with midwives along the way who she wanted to greet and wash their feet. I guess she wanted to marry the the goodness in people.

Another performance artist friend, Silvia Moro traveled with her, also hitchhiking in a bridal gown. Together they went through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Bulgaria and Turkey.   Their hope was in the end to go through Palestine and Israel showing how people are just people. Silvia was a little freaked out by one of the last rides they took. She didn’t like the feeling of the three men who stopped but Pippa insisted they take it. The ride was safe but it strained their relationship because Pippa’s philosophy was to accept whoever offered and Silvia didn’t want to neglect her gut feelings.

After that experience they made a new plan to rendezvous 3 weeks later in Beirut and in the meantime separate.  Pippa was murdered days later in Turkey by a man who picked her up, she was 33. He was caught later when he used her simm card. Now it is the 8th anniversary of that trip.