The Music of ” kanata “

September 25th, 2013

So a bit of the ole Irish last week and this week I thought I should focus on Canada. When I first began to research the national instruments of Canada I couldn’t find any? According to many websites I visited including the Canadian Museum of Civilization, there was no music in Canada before European settlement!

Oh really!

For those readers who don’t live in Canada, let’s have a look at this map


This is just the southwest corner of British Columbia and look at all the First Nation communities. And guess what? They were playing music long before Europeans ever set foot on what was to become Canadian soil.

As you would expect, prehistoric instruments were mainly rhythmic in origin and were made from the natural surroundings. Rattles were very popular as basically anything that was hollow could be fashioned into one. Hides, bark, reeds and wood were all good rattle-making materials and I have heard that buffalo scrotum makes a nice sound. Rattles range from very simple


To very ornate


Drums, to me, are synonymous with First Nations musical traditions and there are many variations. However, the frame drum can be found from coast to coast and the Innu frame drum is slightly bigger and lighter.

Beautiful frame drum


Innu frame drum


The great thing about a frame drum is that anyone can play one. If you can walk, nod your head or breathe – then you have rhythm and you can keep a simple beat. So it’s more a generalized instrument and many people can play at the same time or just one main person.
In terms of playing and singing, this drum is associated with the West Coast and the singing style is very different than pow wow drum singing. Here’s a good example of the West Coast style…

Coast Salish

As cedar is readily available on the West Coast, some drums are made from it exclusively and drummers play with their hands wrapped in cedar strips.

Box Drum

Leaving the coast and heading to the plains we have the pow wow drum. A large drum with hide stretched on both sides and played by many singers with drumsticks.

Catawba PowWow April 14 2012 033

from St. Mary’s pow wow

In central Canada, the Ojibwa and Iroquois also use water drums. The drum is partially filled with water and the tone varies with the amount of water used.


water drum being played

And finally the Arctic region drum with only one head and usually made with seal, whale or deer / caribou.


Lovely Inuit song

So as you can see and hear, music has been alive and well in Canada thousands of years before Europeans landed on the beach decreeing this and that. If you drum, the spirits will come!

Yo Danny Boy!

September 19th, 2013

I thought today I would start a series of blogs about the native instruments of the world. And lucky for you, I’ll begin with my ancestral home – Ireland.
Now some of you, I’m sure, are conjuring up images of someone using a shelale to rhythmically beat on another’s skull in 4/4 time. And while that image amuses me, that’s not the instrument I’m talking about.
If you saw this instrument out of context, you’d think that it was the result of some mad artist trying to create some kind of Frankenstein like steam punk weapon. Pretty it is not but the beauty is all in the playing.
It’s the Uilleann Pipes (pronounced ill-yin, from Irish uille, elbow).


“ The distinctively Irish type of pipe emerged about the beginning of the 18th century. Its distinguishing features are:
(i) the bag filled by a bellows, not from a blow pipe; 
(ii) a chanter or melody pipe with a range of two octaves as compared with a range of nine notes on the older pipes; 
(iii) the addition of regulators or closed chanters which permit an accompaniment to the melody.
The modern full set of pipes comprises bag, bellows and chanter, drones and regulators. The tenor or small regulator was added to the set in the last quarter of the 18th century. It was spoken of as a recent addition, not yet in general use, in 1790 and it was the only one referred to by O’Farrell in his tutor for this instrument, which was published about 1800. The middle and bass regulators were added in the first quarter of the 19th century.
These pipes are now most commonly known as Uilleann pipes This name was first applied to the instrument as last as the beginning of the 20th century when it was foisted on the public in 1903 by Grattan Flood who then proceeded to equate it with the ‘woollen’ pipes of Shakespeare, thus providing for the instrument a spurious origin in the 16th century.
Pipes are made in various pitches. In the older sets the pitch is usually a tone, sometimes more, below concert pitch. Among players such pipes are known as ‘flat sets’. The bottom or fundamental note of the chanter is called ‘D’, irrespective of the pitch. This custom of calling the bottom note of their instrument ‘D’, irrespective of the actual pitch, is also common among flute and whistle players. “

The Uilleann Pipes are also known as the Irish War Pipes and it must have been quite the feeling for the enemy to hear them being played before battle. But they were also used to promote dancing and I dare you to keep still while watching the next video.

Right then, meet me at the pub in one hour and don’t forget your shelale’s!

I know what you’re doing in there!

September 12th, 2013


“ Excuse me sir but can I talk to you about your catathrenia? “

“ My what? “

“ Your annoying Catathrenia! “

“ What are you inferring, that I need some help with my man bits? Why I otta…“

Isn’t it annoying when all that you want to do is help people with their nocturnal groaning and they mis-interpret your intentions? Happens all the time!

So today it’s all about nocturnal groaning which is not the same as snoring, It’s even got a fancy name – catathrenia and most people don’t know they do it until a partner or family member tells them.

So what is it?
“ Catathrenia is described as sleep related groaning, moaning or just ‘making funny noises’. It is characterized by repeated episodes of monotonous moaning or groaning sounds in prolonged expiration, preceded by deep inspiration. These episodes last between 2 – 50 seconds and end with a sigh or arousal. There has been no known health consequences reported which is why it is considered to be a social rather than a medical problem. However, this condition often presents with a morose or sexual connotation that can cause a social problem for some patients. “

Well they don’t come right out and say it but I think the sexual connotation is that it sounds like you are having sex and more specifically an orgasm. Lucky bastards!

So what causes these moans of ecstasy, I mean sleep related groaning – nudge, nudge, wink, wink!

” 1/ Partial closure of the vocal chords in REM sleep and reactive forced expiration to overcome this resistance.
2/ Critical narrowing of peripheral airways during expiration in REM sleep.
3/ Functional and/or anatomical lesions involving neurological structures that control ventilation.

Respiratory dysfunction can lead to prolonged exhalation and an increase in intrathoracic pressure due to lack of expiratory muscle activity. This gives rise to the typical pattern of deep inhalation followed by prolonged exhalation. However, it does not explain the groaning/moaning sounds. It is thought that the sounds may occur due to partial glottic (part of the larynx associated with voice production) closure. This has led some authors to believe catathrenia is a sleep related breathing disorder (SDB) rather than a parasomnia.”

I know you want to see and hear for yourself so here is a video. I was going to mix in “ Relax “ by Frankie Goes to Hollywood but thought better of it – copy write infringement and all that!

Relax, don’t do it! When you want to get to it….Ha ha now that I’ve implanted that song in your brain, just who is likely to be a moaner?

“Catathrenia seems to be three times more frequent in men than women with the average onset at around 19 years. Although a family history of catathrenia and other sleep disorders has been documented the evidence to date is inconsistent. However, most researchers have found familial sleep disorders such as bruxism, sleep walking, sleep talking and night terrors to be prevalent in more than half of their subjects.”

The only cure seems to be Continuous Positive Airways Pressure (CPAP) as no current drugs or surgeries seem to be affective. However it doesn’t seem to be as debilitating as sleep apnea and moaners seem to be more concerned about the social impact than anything else.

So moan away my friends!

Video – Corporate

September 4th, 2013


This week’s blog is more of an announcement rather than a look at some odd aspect of the audio world, although audio is included and related.

I have cliff dived into the boiling cauldron of Corporate Video. Well, kind of timidly dipped my toe in to see how cold it is! Lol Just kidding. I have completed three video so far and everyone is very pleased – even the Queen!
Completing one project might be luck, but having three under my belt makes me a corporate video guru. Ohm…….

It’s funny how it all came about actually. My friend and colleague, Christina Szokendi from Pivotal Concepts
emailed me about an acrylic art demo that was happening on the North shore and would I be interested in shooting. “ Damn Straight “ I replied and the rest as they say is history.

Some of you might be wondering what a left-wing freak like me is doing in the corporate world? Good question and the answer is two-fold. One: money! Two: even more money! Again I’m just joking. This is all part of my master plan. I realized soon after I started composing music for other peoples films, that it would be great fun to  score my own films and follow my creative vision from start to finish.  So I am really moving, slowly but surely, towards becoming a film director and producer. And to be a good director, I believe you need to know all of the film components inside and out.
So for me, first came film scoring, sound design and scriptwriting. And now I am a videographer, video editor and video director. All the skills I learn in the corporate video world are transferrable to the documentary and dramatic world.

I am enjoying the corporate video work and the bonus is that I get to learn about something new with each video.

Thus far, I have offered small budget package deals, which include shooting, editing, sound and original music. Follow the link below for some samples of what I have been doing and please give me a shout if you have a project that needs video.


Where am I?

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