This is Musicworks’ final issue of 2018, our fortieth-anniversary year. You will find no best-of or top-ten lists here, no reprints or “where are they now” pieces. The retrospective activity, both casual and curatorial, has largely taken place offline, so to speak, at gatherings where music-listening, story-swapping, and artifact-handling (old newsprint is delicate!) have brought together former Musicworks contributors, long-time readers, and new audiences. As someone whose job is mostly focused on the future—what’s around the corner, new ideas, the next issue—I have particularly enjoyed and appreciated learning about Musicworks’ history through the enthusiasm, work, and “curious ears” of younger readers, i.e., people born during the first decade or so of the magazine’s existence (the DIY years).
The ball started rolling way back in early 2016 when two grad students, Emily Cluett and Ariel Sharratt, curated “Musicworks: The Cassette Years,” a look-and-listen exhibition copresented with OCADU and the Music Gallery (Toronto’s centre for creative music and our oldest partner–friend) as part of its fortieth anniversary. In 2017, cratedigger and filmmaker Brandon Hocura (founder of the reissue label Séance Centre) began the process of gathering materials and conversations for reissue and documentary projects about Musicworks. And this September, local archive-jammers Fahmid Nibesh and Joe Strutt also raided our archives in preparation for hosting “Is it a MAGAZINE + CD or a CD + MAGAZINE?,” a conversational space featuring “hands-on perusal and memory-sparking.”
Although not intentional, the pages of this issue and the tracks of its companion recording reflect the subtle influence of this milestone-marking period on my planning. In two very different first-person stories, it’s who’s telling the story that (for me, at least) connects to the magazine’s origin as a vehicle for artists to express their work or ideas directly or in dialogue with creative collaborators.
Bass clarinetist Heather Roche’s diary-style feature about the composer–performer relationship, “A Hushed Workshop,” charts her various reactions, challenges, and emotions as she works with composer Luke Nickel on his latest “living score”; our subscribers will be among the first people to hear the beautiful result of this unique collaborative process.
After appearing in the magazine in a label profile and, later, as the second-place winner of our 2015 Sonic Geography writing contest (“Ocean Bug and Bird Songs,” Musicworks 125), Darcy Spidle makes his feature-writing debut in this issue. In “Trauma of My Mouth,” he introduces us to the thousands-year-old history of the jaw harp and—with passion, humour, and intimate detail—describes the avant-garde style of his jaw-harp music and its wear-and-tear on his body.
This past summer, Glasgow-based Canadian artist Josh Thorpe found himself in a large field of competitive bagpipers and immediately thought of Musicworks. The soundscape inspired him to capture the experience not only in words but also in a field-recording piece, which is the weird and absolutely perfect opening track of the Musicworks 132 CD.

I think we can all agree that the current dimensions of the magazine are not as splendid a showcase for graphic scores or score excerpts as the original broadsheet, newsprint format. But we still want readers to “see” the music they are listening to from time to time. And so (with a little creative flourish from art director Heshaka Jayawardena in a couple of instances) readers of this issue can peruse the first three segments of André Cormier’s Liens intimes et problématiques, bounce along with Lina Allemano’s energetic Sometimes Y, and examine the graphic score of in memoriam… Mary Cecil, Victoria Callihoo (née Belcourt), and Eleanor (Helene) Thomas Garneau, a work composed by Postcommodity and Alex Waterman as part of a project initiated by the Ociciwan Contemporary Art Collective.

Like my editorial predecessors, I am delighted that people are continuing to discover and appreciate Musicworks. The future sounds inspiring.  


Top photo (Musicworks archival cassettes) by Claire Harvie. Bottom photo (rehearsal for recording of Ociciwan Contemporary Art Collective's in memoriam . . . project) by Rita Taylor, courtesy of the Banff Centre.