Return to Ruscomb – My Finished Pieces

Well, the pieces that I referred to in my last post are done. There are actually two versions — one broadcast on CBC Radio’s Living Out Loud, the other played in concert at the Deep Wireless Radio Art Festival

Here they are through my Soundcloud site:

After Exile CBC Radio Version:

After Exile Concert Version:

Love to hear your feedback. These two pieces are the hardest ones I’ve ever done. But really rewarding too.

My Next Sound Journey

My next sound journey takes me back home to the place where I was born.

The little train station in the picture was just down the road from the little village of Ruscomb, Ontario. That’s the village where I was born. Four generations of my family lived either in Ruscomb, or within ten miles.

Five years ago, I discovered to my surprise that a notable poet named Raymond Knister was born in Ruscomb. He was a contemporary of both of my grandfathers. His family, and my family were two of six families from Germany who cleared the land and established our little place in the world. That was back in 1830.

Raymond Knister died in a drowning accident in nearby Lake St. Clair in 1932. He was only 33, yet his literary output was outstanding. He is credited by Canadian literature scholars as being the father of modern imagist poetry in Canada. For me, his poetry keeps our small place in the world alive.

There’s not even a sign on the road anymore. Just an old, rundown cemetery and Raymond Knister’s poetry.

My piece, based on his poem “After Exile” will be broadcast nationally on CBC Radio this month. I’ll post the time and date.

Listening to the Hometown

Next week I’m going to be visiting a place which is very familiar and yet, maybe not familiar at all.

I was born in the tiny hamlet of Ruscom, a farming village near the city of Windsor. I lived there until I was eight, my parents, my grandparents and great grandparents lived there all their lives.

People in the community still know me (or maybe by now they just know OF me).

I’ll be recording the contemporary sounds of the community. I don’t know what’s there anymore …

The journey back will be just as valuable as the sounds I collect.

Happy World Listening Day!

Today, July 18th is a day to remind ourselves to listen to the world around us.

Listening means a lot of different things. To me, it’s a time to really focus in on what I’m hearing. To try to hear things in unusual ways. As my colleague and mentor Hildegard Westerkamp says “to get inside the sound”

I celebrated the day by listening to some of the sounds I gathered last week when I was in Toronto .. sounds that we take for granted all the time — streetcar sounds, street festivals, people talking to each other on the street, that one bird whose chirps and tweets rise above the sounds of the cars, other birds, dogs barking, sirens screaming.

Come to think of it, a poem I wrote a few years ago describes it perfectly:

Be here …
Amidst the soughing of the trees
The clicks and whirls of summer cicadas
gentle swish of the waves
On the distant shore Be here
Not there
In the centre of metal upon metal
Low grumble of machine
Hysterical wail of sirens
responding back to the wails of the world

Be here now
With closed eyes
With ears opened
To the possibilities of a world which hears its own heart.

- Victoria Fenner 2003

Back from Roaming

The sounds that go along with that picture .. sizzling of grills, people buying food (in Spanish), sounds of rattles and noisemakers …

This picture was taken outside Iglesia La Mercedi (Mercy Church) in Antigua, Guatemala. Every Sunday during Lent, a different village up in the surrounding mountains make a long procession carrying this huge, heavy platform with Christ on the Cross mounted on it. It involves hundreds of people all dressed in purple robes, drummers and men wearing sousaphones (they are dressed in tuxes). After they get to town, they process throughout town ALL DAY.

And yes, I got the sounds. I will be doing a podcast today (promise!) with this sound sequence and a whole bunch of other sounds I gathered while in both Honduras and Guatemala.

The documentaries I am doing can also be heard at The Green Planet Monitor

More reflections over the next few days. I love being here and listening to my sounds of there