Ancient Music

I watch a fair number of documentaries about ‘ancient’ cultures & often wonder what sort of music did they have? For some, all we know is the instruments they played,  as there was no notational system for writing music – it was an ‘oral’ tradition. I’m always amused by the music that gets played by court orchestras in movies about ancient Greece or Egypt. A modern sense of harmonics is imposed – this could be right. On this mp3 cd collection I have – Atrium Musica de Madrid’s Ancient Greek Music – ignores that modernizing & with an fun raucous approximation that feels close to authentic. Plucked lyres, discordant choirs & ragged percussion. More punk dissonance than movie soundtrack sweet. 

Guillaume de Machaut (1300-1377) French ars nova style in Medieval music. We have his music thanks to his own involvement in his manuscripts’ creation and preservation.  Sacred & Secular Music – Messes de Notre Dame; Le Jugement du Roi – an early hint of opera as a partially narrated but mostly sung dialogue between characters. I enjoy Medieval music – this is a good recording by the Ensemble Gilles Binchois  though the narrated portions of du Roi are much quieter than the sung parts.

The Baltimore Consort: The Food of Love – Songs, Dances, & Fancies for Shakespeare; &, The Musica Antiqua: A Cheerful Noise – Medieval And Early Renaissance Music – are both the music of the people – not sacred but what was sung in pubs, by travelling bards & was, I suppose, the pop music of their times. Songs about harvest, courting & valour. Though I do find these to be a little too ‘tidy’ – the voices are trained not average folk carousing cheerfully.

Finally on this cd is the Kyiv Chamber Choir: The Masterpieces of Ukrainian Choral Music – Medieval, Baroque, Classical, Romantic periods. Stunning harmonies, transcendent & one doesn’t need to know the language to be lifted by the spiritual seeking in some of these songs. 

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Telemann for Dinner

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681 – 1767) is a German Baroque composer & is one of the most prolific composers in history, as a result of his productivity his music was often seen as second-rate & not up to Bach’s standards. I have as stand-alones: Oboe sonatas 1 2; Recorder sonatas 1 2; Water Music; Paris Quartets 1 2; Darmstadt Overtures 2 cd; Twelve Fantasies for traverse flute; Concertos/Tafelmusick (lp to cd transfer); Partitas (lp to cd transfer); Twelve Fantasies for Flute/Sonatas (lp to cd transfer).

Telemann did not write for the concert hall but for relatively small ensembles for private court musicians. It was meant, for the most part, to be background music: Tafelmusick was for dining to not for dwelling on the mysteries of a spiritual life. He rarely wrote to express emotions or to create pastoral images.

In some ways we’ve done some periods of classical music a disservice by reducing to concert halls or radio broadcasts where we feel trapped or compelled to listen to it without distractions, without being able to do anything but listen. It was meant to be interacted with not worshipped.

Telemann was a journeyman composer who could write an elegant march for your walk down the aisle, or background for the the opening of your water fountain display. In the salons off the day people would walk around, chit-chat whiles the music was being played or danced to – it was meant to create an ambiance not pull focus to itself.

His work is soothing, elegant & sometimes sublime. My favourite are his Twelve Fantasies for Flute – I have two different recordings, one on transverse flute & the other on recorder. Both are a delight & perfect dinner music 🙂

All Is Well

it’s not me it’s them

it’s a war zone out there

no safe haven 

to stop and breathe in

who wants to breathe 

the air out there

stand in what sort of shit

no place to rest 

to put down the gun 

for even a minute

random bullets materialize in the air

when you are down the street

to look for a burger joint

for a corner to piss in

and bang

if the bullets don’t get you

the burgers will


you’re all out to get me

people everywhere cough sneeze

wipe damp hands 

on door handles I have to touch

grimace at me

at my gun

over their newspapers

crank up their mp3 players

so I can’t hear mine

daring me to shoot 

as they light up a cigarette

as they push ahead of me 

to get their death burger faster

fast food being too slow for them

tear off price tags

rip books to shreds

push their way 

down crowded stairs ways

jump at me with atomizers

when I enter a department store

try this sir

what’s your favourite blood 

I like the smell of 

cosmetic salespersons blood

do you have anything like that

or something that smells 

like fast food counter help

that empty fried fresh aroma

that tingles the taste buds

something that makes people hungry 

when they smell me


it’s not me it’s them

I set out peaceful almost serene

avoid the unscooped spots on the sidewalk

even manage a smile at the barista

who would smile back

if she weren’t afraid it’d slow her down

the swish my coffee enough

to make sure the lumps of milk 

and sweetener have dissolved

I’m happy for the first sip

until the lid pops off 

and I have to watch 

the slick scum cling 

to the sides of my cup

as I sip sip sip to the last drop


I am now ready for anything and everything 

that is out to get me

I won’t fight back too much today

I want to be a power of calm

in all this mindless 

that staggers 


hurrys me

to step out of the way

resist have a nice day

resist fuck you too

resist kicking cars 

that stop in the crosswalk

as if they owned the damn streets


it’s not me

I know that even if this a war zone

all is well with the world 


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Locatelli Lully Plus

On my classical shelf  are three cds of lps to cd transfers all from MHS recordings. The first of which is Jan of Lublin: Tablature and Introduction to Medieval  & Renaissance Music. For decades I thought Lublin was the composer’s last name, but it where he is from. These are transcriptions from organ music to guitar. I don’t have my original lp so have no idea who did these transcriptions or who is playing the guitar. I didn’t realize these were originally organ music until I tried to get more & all I could find where organ pieces – even then they were scattered. There was no one lp of the organ music.

Jan is a renaissance composer & I first heard a piece  of his on the MHS compilation Introduction to Medieval  & Renaissance Music. I love these Introduction lps for the range and quality of the music. All selected from MHS releases – so it was easy to track down the Lublin. Good luck on finding these transcription but they are well worth having.

Another composer I first heard on an MHS compilation was Pietro Locatelli. here I have his music for  Flute and Guitar; Two Violins; Oboe and Guitar; Two Flutes; along with Johan Stamitz’s Flute Concerto. I love Renaissance flute music and these two composers wrote delightful, playful and sometime relaxing chamber music. The Locatelli was intended for living room entrainment in which the children would play his music. Life before radio.


The last is a pair of Baroque composers together on a cd of MHS lps: Jean-Baptiste Lully: Suites; Georg Philipp Telemann: Flute Trios. Lully was a French court composer & his music is sweet, a bit busy but charming. He also wrote a few operas that are still performed today. Telemann was a German court composer. Here I have a sonata of his flute trios which are soothing & also charming. I have more  Telemann but that can wait until I get to ’t.’

Just Start

‘I’ll start by explaining ….’

‘Why don’t you just say what you are going to say. Don’t explain it to me. just start.’

‘Yes, but …’

‘Just start and once you’ve done you can explain, if I don’t get it. Okay.’

Dave had an address to give the local PTA. Not often were gay fathers asked to address anyone expect lawyers and case workers, so he was rather nervous.

‘Ahem,’ he gave a little cough. ‘ Do you think this is what I should wear?’

‘Bad start, Dave. Don’t ask these parents what you should wear.’

‘Steve, that is not the start of my talk. I was asking you, if you thought this is what I should wear.’

White shirt, unbuttoned at the collar, black dress pants, black loafers. Neat and tidy.

‘I don’t know.’

‘What do you mean?’ He looked himself up and down.

‘Let’s see your undies. You can’t do this in those …’

‘You want to heard how I sound or what.’

‘Of course. I think you are worrying way too much. Those that get it will, and those that don’t, will never get it. It won’t matter how conservative you dress, how polished or even-handed you sound they’ll stop hearing you after you say homosexual or gay. So let’s hear it …’

‘Ahem,’ another throat cleaning. ‘I’m David Bradly and both my son and daughter are in classes at this school. Jan is in third grade and Cliff in sixth grade. They’ve both been here at Cedar Grove Public school for the past two years. …. Good so far?’

‘Yes. Go on.’

‘Do you think I need to tell them more, like how we came to move here, as opposed to staying in LA or …’

‘Yes, and while you are it, you might bring an overhead projection of our financial portfolio and notarized copies of our bank statements, as well.’

‘No, I just mean, I don’t want them to think we dropped in here out of the blue to invade their community.’

‘Dave, you know very well we aren’t the only gay couple in Cedar Grove.’

‘We aren’t?’

‘If you’d stop trying to fit us in like a normal hetero couple, you may have noticed. There’s the two women over on Green Crescent.’

‘Yes, but they don’t have any kids in this school. Do they?’

‘No. But one of them is on the town council.’
November 1 -30

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto

every Tuesday

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

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Hands Up for #Handel

Hands up, what did Handel write besides the Messiah? Who has heard more than the Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah or more than the highlights? Oh, yes, there’s The Water Music – those were the days, when one would commission a composer to write music for your collection of water fountains, or for your private fireworks display.

Being the music compulsive I tend to be I came across his Masterworks at a good price – over 36 hours! Spread over 5 cds it includes 01: Water Music/Solomon/Organ Concertos 4 5 6 7/Dixit Dominus/Trio Sonatas/Salve Regina. 02: Concerto Grosso/ Hercules/ Organ Concertos 8 9 20 11 12/ Concerto Due Cori/ Dittingen/ Flute Sonatas/ Nisi Dominus/ Trio Sonata. 03: Organ Concerto 13 14 15 16/ Messiah/ Trio Sonta/ Sontata for 2 Violins/ Israel in Egypt/ St Cecilia’s Day. 04: Concerto Grosso/ Judas Maccabaeus. 05: Royal Fireworks/ Organ Concerto 1 2 3/ Giulio Cesare/ Coronation Anthems/Flute Sonata. Whew 🙂

He deserves his reputation as one of the greatest composers of the Baroque era. I used ‘includes’ to describe this collection, as it doesn’t represent everything he wrote. When did he sleep? He once stated that he had no time for marriage. Was he ‘gay’? Well, he did start out as church organist. He was never involved romantically with women. Personal papers are non-existent.

The music is as Baroque should be. Fussy at times, emotional at others. He could write anything expect a drunken barroom ditty. His oratories are marvellous, the chamber music a delight – often quite soothing. The organ music sonorous. If you are unfamiliar with him skip the big hits & try some of his charming Concerto Grosso or any of his many trio sonatas.

We Protect

From were he stood on the crest of a small hill Tom could only hear fragmentary phrases. A group of voices chanting in the night. The wind broke up the chant, as did the trees between him and the sounds. The voices rose and fell almost with the rise and fall of the waves that crashed at the base of the cliffs. The timing had to deliberate yet how could it be?

‘What are you listening to?’ Steve asked.

‘Can’t you hear it?’

‘Sounds like the wind in the trees.’

‘No. It’s more than that. Voices.’ Tom said

‘More like some drunken kids howling at the moon.’

The wind dropped suddenly. There was a cool stillness around them. A figure stepped out ten feet in front of them A teenage boy with a sloppy smile and even sloppier clothes.

‘Yo, watcha gawkin’ man. Take a good look while you can. There’ll be nothing other than the moon and you between the snake and its skin soon soon.’

Several other teens stepped out around them. Each repeating the same phrases.

‘We seem to have …’

‘Yo, man, no say anything. We protect. You be needin’ protection.’

The circle of teens pressed closer. All boys, about fifteen or sixteen years old.

‘We should be getting back to our hotel.’ Steve said.

‘You be stain’ at Casa Trib’mana?’

‘Yes.’ Tom flexed his hands, ready.

‘Not to worry, man, we’ll not harm you. Others would be doing that, but we aren’t like that. We protect. Protect the foolish likes of you.’

In the dim light Tom couldn’t make out the faces of these teens clearly, but as they came closer, he saw streaks of scarlet had been drawn around the eyes, several short dashes of green along the chin.

‘You look at our whiskers.’ the first teen said. ‘We make our selves fit the world. You see this world.’

The boys spread out and vanished except for the first boy.

‘You better be head, back. A night like this isn’t one for strangers. You know my meaning. Not for strangers who have no idea where the world is headin’. You need help ask for Rumba. I be Rumba.’

‘Thanks.’ Frank turned around. They headed back up the path.

‘Did you get all that?’ he asked Tom.

‘I think so.’ he tapped the bag that held the video camera. ‘That was best we’ve gotten so far.’

chapbooks for sale


HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam


June – dates t.b.a – Capturing Fire 2018 – Washington D.C.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice cream in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

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The Seven Mercies came up on the TVO series Baroque when discussing Caravaggio’s painting The Seven Works of Mercy. I love lists of things like this. The Seven Fold Path, the Seven Deadly Sins. I also love obscure writing prompts of connected things such as the seven mercies. I had no idea what they were and did my research.

danger: blue sky blue water
danger: blue sky blue water

In the past I’ve written pieces based on the titles of Montaigne essays, on each canto of Dante’s Inferno & Purgatory – his heaven was too dull to inspire me. So I was excited to tackle yet a new list. Better yet there was two lists – Corporal and Spiritual.

nature's fountain
nature’s fountain

Usually the way I write is in an intense ten to twenty minute burst that is littered with typos as I fling everything out. The faster I write the less my inner editor gets in the way. Sometimes I repeat a phrase to re-stir the pot and keep things going if I run out of steam.

clean enough to drink from?
clean enough to drink from?

New Wives’ Tale is from the second of the corporal mercies: ‘To give drink to the thirsty.’ This was also my second run at that mercy. The first was okay but  the writer in me got too in the way. I let it simmer more overnight and gave it another go. This version is relatively unedited – fixed the typos and smoothed things out a bit but it is still a very rough draft.

A recent overheard conversation played into it – someone was going on about how buying bottle water condoned and further encourage the privatization of water. The playground bit comes from a visit to Stratford and walking though the playground to get to the washroom and to find out that there was a covering of thick rubber over the entire area – under the swings, the slide etc. I was tempted to go on a bit about how dangerous soil is – full of bacteria – so we better cover all of it to protect our innocent, fragile children from contamination – but I’ll save that for another day.

my coming attractions
my coming attractions

September 8 – Sunday – attending – Cabaret Noir


September 18 – Wednesday – attending – Guys and Dolls

inner space flight
inner space flight

September 20 – Friday – attending – Racket at the Rocket

September 25 – Wednesday – attending – Measure For Measure


September 26 – Thursday – hosting – The Beautiful and The Damned


October 11-13 – attending Gratitude Roundup


June 6-8, 2014 – attending – Bloody Words

writing sample
writing sample

New Wives’ Tales

my mother says

I can’t come here to play

with with your kids anymore

because you always give us water from the tap

only someone who doesn’t care

for the safety of their children would do that

you know

she says only bottled water

expresses a mother’s love

that if you cared for your children

you would never ever use tap water

who knows where that water has been

the pipes are full of germs

you know

mouse poop gets in there

and you let children drink that

and my mother says you should be ashamed

for not buying bottled water

to make sure

we kids are protected from diseases and such

you know

and another thing

your hardwood floors

are child endangerment

she says until your house is carpeted

there’s no way

even she is going to set foot in here

in case someone falls

you know

that’s why I’m not allowed

in the playground anymore

because the ground is too hard

and they better get padding under the swings

if they don’t want to get sued

and so

even though I am thirsty

I have to say no

to that glass of water from the tap

and go to my house

where I can get a bottle

of clear germ free water

bottled by coke-a-cola

a company that really cares about children

unlike you

your heartless bitch

who thinks tap water is good enough

well if it’s good enough for your kids

then your kids aren’t good enough

to be my friends

so I’m out of here.

fine porcelain?
fine porcelain?