that’s the way it ’tis

I had an assignment due recently for students: write a bad song accompanied by a 2500 word essay re: why it is so bad, how they made it, how they recorded it and anything from our class exercises in haiku, perspective or eavesdropping. A great pleasure when someone brings in an angle that surprises, at least two did so far. In one, the songwriter used lyrics generated by software and in the other, the songwriter made the focus of their bad song a very negative situation. Sometimes I encounter critics from the student body who are confounded by the idea of writing a bad song. They get upset even hostile that I’m requesting they do something that they see no value in doing.


When I started to use dissonance freely my parents thought I was breaking the piano, a response I got used over the years. One time, playing a benefit in Hamilton accompanied by Wayne Cass (guuuuuy), a woman in the audience stood up and stopped the show, believing I was damaging the grand piano (she was also its owner). I love working with clusters of sound, shaping it, making it followable. I don’t break pianos. The people who are upset about it sort of sum up life. World is filled with lines in the sand and people positioning themselves believing either it’s all black and white or the other camp where people realize life’s possibilities are so much more. The so-much-more camp can’t convince the black and whites. It’s like the words of that famous Winnipeg philosopher who gave birth to my mother, , “That’s the way it ’tis, Bobsie”.

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