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Radio ›› Songs & Dances from The Muted Note
Songs & Dances from The Muted Note
As Ten, As Twenty (2011), 3m24s [excerpt]
CD: Ambiances Magnétiques (2015) AM 227

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Songs & Dances from The Muted Note (Ambiances Magnétiques 227) is a 2015 studio recording of a suite of eleven songs by Scott Thomson, settings of poems by P.K. Page (1916-2010), one of Canada’s distinguished literary figures. They are performed by The Disguises, Scott’s quintet with Susanna Hood (voice), Yves Charuest (alto saxophone), Nicolas Caloia (double bass), and Pierre Tanguay (drums). The suite is the basis of The Muted Note, a 2014 stage work featuring Susanna’s choreography with fellow dancers, Ellen Furey, Alanna Kraaijeveld, and Bernard Martin; live music by The Disguises; and lighting design by Paul Chambers. The dances, like the songs, are made to be animated by solo and group improvisation, and to activate the poems, which speak (sing) of Page’s loving attention to the nuances and delights of the world around her. In addition to the stage work, The Disguises have had numerous quintet performances of this material — typically in a club context — which feature Susanna’s dance improvisations in addition to her vocal contribution.

Scott’s notes on the songs:

  • As Ten, As Twenty is a secular hymn about love’s infinity. It is dedicated to Christine Duncan.
  • The Understatement is a breezy quasi-samba that I wrote with the elegantly understated Toronto musician, Doug Tielli, in mind.
  • Star-Gazer is a nocturne that is now indelibly linked to Ellen Furey, who danced to this song so soulfully. It is dedicated to the sculptor and painter Jeff Schlanger who, as a boy growing up in East Manhattan, would grind his own telescope lenses so that he could watch the night sky. Bernard Martin danced The Disguises and his solo aptly embodies the poem in its combination of restless searching and wonder. The song is dedicated to Gordon Allen.
  • The Masks are Made by Hand and Show is a brilliantly concise poem offering an eternal wisdom in simple, almost folksy language. The song is dedicated to Richard Marsella, with whom I have shared many delightful masquerades.
  • Preparation is a breathtaking poem that ‘pares’ the self down to its essence, likely a product of Page’s deep engagement with Sufism. The song is dedicated to Ken Aldcroft. With The Metal and the Flower, I sought to evoke the stillness of a garden where both love and longing grow, silently and in abundance. It is dedicated to Rob Clutton.
  • Picking Daffodils is dedicated to choreographer Holly Small, who tends to her garden with a dancer’s grace and to her dances with the nurturing passion of a horticulturalist. The dance/drum duo of Alanna Kraaijeveld and Pierre Tanguay on this one has been a showstopper every time.
  • The Mole starts down low, thanks to Nic Caloia’s peerless expertise in the domain of the profound. The song is dedicated to drummer Jack Vorvis, whose brilliant work is underground in more ways than one.
  • This Heavy Craft is a gem of a poem and was the first song in the suite that I wrote. It gave me the sense of what may be possible as this project unfolded (including, and not necessarily despite, the occasional crash to the ground). It is dedicated to Joane Hétu, who has been so generous with and steadfast in her support.
  • Blue is surely the only blues to contain the word “delphinium.” It is dedicated to Julia Hambleton, who inadvertently reintroduced me to P.K. Page’s poetry in 2010, and whose grandfather Ronald — unbeknownst to me when I wrote the song — edited the first volume to include Page’s verse, in 1944.

Track Listing

    • 1
      As Ten, As Twenty (2011)
      • 2.0
        • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      4m23s
    • 2
      The Understatement (2011)
      • 2.0
        • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      5m57s
    • 3
      Star-Gazer (2011)
      • 2.0
        • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      5m59s
    • 4
      The Disguises / The Masks (2011)
      • 2.0
        • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      6m05s
    • 5
      Preparation (2011)
      • 2.0
        • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      5m58s
    • 6
      The Metal and the Flower (2011)
      • 2.0
        • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      5m44s
    • 7
      Picking Daffodils (2011)
      • 2.0
        • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      3m21s
    • 8
      The Mole (2011)
      • 2.0
        • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      10m07s
    • 9
      This Heavy Craft (2011)
      • 2.0
        • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      6m23s
    • 10
      Blue (2011)
      • 2.0
        • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      4m20s
    • 11
      As Ten, As Twenty (Solo) (2011)
      • 2.0
        • Stereo 2.0 (44 kHz • 16 bits)
      1m36s
Total duration: 59m47s