Monthly Archives: July 2017

deja vu

When I first walked into the classroom at Centennial College I noticed students on their computers while I was speaking. I spent time dreaming up these lectures but now they’re on Facebook or Snapchat and not paying attention to the planned discussion – aren’t they students enrolled in a course ostensibly to hear what the teacher has to say? Where do I know this problem from before? Oh right, live performance.
Audiences making noise is a real strange experience – aren’t they an audience that paid an admission ostensibly to listen to the work you showed up to perform? Someone is loudly eating a bag of chips or arguing with their buddy the quality of the story from a movie last night. If you stop and address it directly, it might silence people but then there are new problems. You might seem like a prima donna, you might in fact be a prima donna, you might be sidetracked with regret for your emotional outburst and then feel more layers removed from what your work is about in the first place, the reason you are there but you were also layers removed because of their noise making. Also they might resume their noise making soon after you return to your performance making your request for consideration all the more impotent.
I improvise after all that’s what I do. I’ll ask a student a question they won’t know the answer to because they were on their computer. It makes everyone look at them, it makes for some embarrassment, seems fair to me like this is now the lesson. Same with the audience member who’s loud. I’ll musically imitate them or make up lyrics about them and sing it. This means a certain amount of audience or students will think I’m an asshole, maybe I am an asshole but maybe it’s a creative response either way it’s a distraction from why I’m there and it’s not what I want to do. I just want to deliver the goods, dignity intact.


Crazy fact I was clueless about before starting music school at York.

Our Western system is based upon 12 notes that repeat in higher and lower positions. We call the distance between each of those 12  notes “semi tones” but in South Asian music they play “quarter tones” as well.

They use 24 notes instead of 12.

That’s like finding out people also can breathe underwater and nobody told you while growing up.

A Few Responses

Message  [re:July 26] You know you really really should tell people you are on that song. You only live once. What don’t you do it?

Me:  It’s just a little surreal and even if I did what would it mean? The “cuteness” of it is the same if it’s alone in my head or if I tell a stranger. In fact it would probably be weirder if I tell a stranger.


Message: [re:July 24] Did you fix the computer? Do you need help?

Me: Yes I did it, easy peasy.


Message: [re: July] 24 hours from Tulsa is a great song, why are you such an idiot?

Me: It’s my blog. Get our own idiot blog.


Message: [July 23] Did you know Jim was into mystical Islam also?

Me: Yes I heard Sufism. Not surprising someone who imparted a spiritual awakening to so many was into a spiritual method.


Message: I’m curious what has led to your posting so frequently and candidly (and entertainingly)

Me: I’ve been writing a few years on my website but in June I started pasting it to Facebook. That’s the main thing new.


Message [re: July 17] Are you into Sri Chinmoy? Did you study him? Why did you write about him?

Me: I was writing about musicians who were uncomfortable with the situation of how Sri Chinmoy played music before a large audience. I was more interested in their response and hostility. No I never studied Sri Chinmoy.


Message [re: July 12] Your Italy touring diary is great stuff Bob. Is this a tour right now or years ago?

Me: It’s about touring there in 2010.


Message: [re: July 9th] I’ll never ask you about Blue Rodeo don’t worry.

Me: I’m not worried. I was simply pointing out the common weird “tone” people adopt when asking me about it, wasn’t looking for counselling.


Message: [July 8] Are there any simulation plug-ins you like?

Me: Yes quite a lot. It’s overwhelming at this point and Leslie simulation has become amazing.

Message: [re: July 1] How does this equate when you have spent 40 years researching and writing a libretto and an opera, pay all the performers (orchestra and singers and conductor with a contract they says that the purpose of the gig is to generate a CD) the going rate, pay the CD company its 16k and some of the performers STILL want a cut? I say, when I turn a profit AFTER the $40k I’ve invested (which doesn’t include ANYTHING for my years of work, btw) we’ll talk!!!!!

Me: It doesn’t equate with that.