The Hundred Days

WWI was the bloodiest war the world had ever seen. Snipers, artillery and machine guns made passing the enemy line difficult, and military leaders on both sides struggled to devise new tactics and strategies to deal with this kind of warfare. Many times, soldiers were simply sent “over the top” to charge the enemy trenches head-on in attacks that cost many lives with no significant gain. As a result, the Allies were struggling. In 1918, Germany started launching a series of major offenses that pushed the Allied lines back to within 70 kilometers of Paris. This was to be Germany’s last major effort to win the war because they had overextended their army. After years of war, their resources of men and supplies were getting low. At the same time, the Allied forces were being reinforced by American troops with the entry of the United States into the war. All of these circumstances combined allowed the Allies to regroup and begin making their own major push to end the war. Their efforts and successes would soon be known as The Hundred Days.

Canada’s success through battles such as Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele and gave Canadian’s the reputation of the best attacking troops on the Western Front. Their abilities were so well-known that even their presence on a section of the front would warn the enemy that an attack was coming. This meant that secrecy was of utmost importance while moving Canadian troops in preparation for the attacks. Before a crucial fight in France that would mark the beginning of The Hundred Days, Canadian troops were sent Belgium in an attempt to trick the Germans into thinking that a major attack would occur their. This tactic was successful, and the Germans were completely caught off guard when the Canadians secretly rushed back to the Amiens sector for the real attack.

On August 8th, Canada led an offensive that advanced the Western Front twenty kilometers in just three days. This attack was launched without a long preliminary artillery bombardment as was usually done, which typically warned the enemy that an attack was coming, and the Germans were caught completely offguard. This breakthrough crushed enemy morale, with the Geman high commander at the time calling it “the black day of the Geman Army”. This victory and the hopes of the war ending soon motivated the Allies to continue their attack. The Canadian’s were moved to Arras with the goal of breaking the Hindenburg Line,  the enemy’s main defense line at that time. After a week of fighting against some of Germany’s finest troops, in terrain that gave the enemy the advantage, the Canadians broke the Drocourt-Quéant Line in front of the Hindenburg Line by Sept. 2.

The next step was the Canal Du Nord, which formed part of the main Hindenburg Line. The Canal was only partially completed, which made it a difficult place to attack. But Canadian Corps Commander Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie and his men, along with a British division crossed a 2500 meter wide dry part of the canal. However, this spot was a bottleneck that could cause allied troops and equipment to bunch up and become easy targets. To cover the advance, Currie release the heaviest single-day bombardment of the entire war. The Canadians broke three lines of German defense and captured Bourlon Wood. With the help of other successes along the British front, the Hindenburg line was breached.

After further heavy fighting, Canadians helped capture the town of Cambrai and by October 11 the Corps had reached the Canal de la Sensée. This was the last action taken by the Corps as a whole but the individual Canadian divisions continued to fight, overcoming stiff German resistance and helping capture Mont Houy and Valenciennes by the beginning of November. The armistice was finally signed on November 11, 1918. Canadians fought to the very end with the war’s last Canadian combat death—Private George Lawrence Price—happening just two minutes before the fighting officially ended. The war was finally over.

The Canadian army was quite unique in several respects when compared to other countries’ troops involved in the first world war. For example, it was an all volunteer force.This meant that they had a very different profile to the industrialized ‘slum dwellers’ of Manchester or the estate workers of Germany. Canadians were “unaccustomed to showing respect and deference to anyone who could not stand firmly on their own two feet without the support of wealth or title.” (John J. Pershing). The Canadian troops strongly represented Canadian identity at the time. They were a young country full of misfits that immigrated from countries where they felt they couldn’t express themselves. Despite their ‘rag-tag’ nature, the Canadian troops were extremely successful throughout the world war. According to Arther Currie, the Canadian troops “[showed] that even in trench warfare it is possible to mystify and mislead the enemy”. The confidence that Canada gained through their successes in the World War would significantly impact their national identity, as it proved that Canadians were truly a force to be reckoned with.

All of the Canadians involved in the attacks during The Hundred Days were proud to represent their country and portray their national identity.  When Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie was questioned about Canada’s role in the war, he replied: “I am a good enough Canadian to believe […] that Canadians are best served by Canadians.”. Furthermore, Stephan Leacock wrote that despite the growing losses and increasing intensity of the war, “ The spirit of Canada [rose] to meet the danger as the sea bird rises before the blackening storm.” This shows that although the war was full of tragedy and loss, the Canadian’s never gave up hope and continued to fight for the safety of their country and the rest of the world.

Between August 8 and November 11, more than 100,000 Canadians advanced 130 kilometres and captured approximately 32,000 prisoners and nearly 3,800 artillery pieces, machine guns and mortars. The importance of Canadian troops within the first world war significantly increased their social and political autonomy and independence. Although Canadians fought as allies of the British, Canada soon became well known for their own abilities. “By 1918, the self-governing colony that had trusted it’s fate to British statecraft was not only committed to speaking with it’s own voice in the world, it had won on the battlefield the right to be heard.” (Morton and Granatstein, 1989). Canada’s accomplishments had earned it a newfound respect, both at home and around the world, and a recognition as an independent country. An example of this is represented through Canada’s separate signature on the Treaty of Versailles that formally ended the First World War. The war also served as an example of the country’s commitment to defend peace and freedom, a value that they would continue to demonstrate in the years to come.

That being said, the Canadian triumphs during The Hundred Days came at a high price. More than 6,800 Canadians and Newfoundlanders were killed and approximately 39,000 wounded during the last three months of fighting. By the end of the First World War, Canada, which at the time was a country of less than eight million citizens, would see more than 650,000 men and women serve in uniform. The conflict took a great toll, with more than 66,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders dying and 170,000 being wounded. The sacrifices and achievements of those who gave so much in the effort to restore peace and freedom are not forgotten.

Math Art with Functions! Desmos Project

Link to my project: Ferb

This is a picture of the artwork that I created using functions and relations on Desmos

This is a picture of the artwork that I created using functions and relations on Desmos.

This is the picture that I used for reference to create my project.

This is the picture that I used for reference to create my project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my Desmos graphing project, I chose to recreate a picture of Ferb, from Phineas and Ferb. I chose to recreate Ferb for a few reasons. First, I loved watching Phineas and Ferb as a kid, and recreating him using functions and relations was quite a nostalgic experience. That being said, I also chose to create Ferb because he is made up of many different types of lines and shapes that I thought would be challenging and enjoyable to try and replicate on Desmos. I feel as though my choice of drawing to recreate was appropriate for the time given and my skill level.

In order to keep my work organized I separated the different parts of my artwork into 5 categories: eyes, ear, head, hair, and clothes. I made the eyes solely using the (x-p)^2+(y-q)^2=r^2 relation . To replicate the ovular shape of the eyes, I multiplied the x value outside of the bracket to make the circles longer vertically.

To make the ear, I used the same relation, but this time I multiplied the y value to make one of the circles wider horizontally. Furthermore, I set the domain and range to cut the ellipses in half. I also used the function y=mx+b to create diagonal lines.

In order to make the shape of the head I used a variety of functions and relations. I used y=mx+b to create the diagonal lines on the back of the head and neck above the ear. I used x=y to the front of the neck and a small portion of the nose, and to create horizontal straight lines for the bottom of the lip as well as part of the nose I used y=x. I used the function y=a(x-p)^3 to create the bottom curve of the nose and the slightly slanted line between the lip and the bottom of the nose. By increasing or decreasing the value of , I could make each parabola wider or narrower. By increasing or decreasing the value of , I could move the parabola horizontally, and changing the value of  would move the parabola vertically. Furthermore, I used y=a(x-p)^2+q and y=-a(x-p)^2+q to create slightly diagonal lines to create the forehead, the top of the nose, and the bottom of the neck. I used the circle relation again to create the top curve of the nose as well as the curve of the lip. I used y=a√(x-p) +q to create the middle of the nose because of the slight curve. Similarly, multiplying x manipulates the width of the parabola, and changing the value of p and q will move the parabola vertically and horizontally

I initially struggled to decide what functions to use to create the hair. I used circle relations to create most of the strands of hair. I also used y=-a(x-p)^2+q to make some of the less curved lines. In some circumstances, two of the curved lines that I used didn’t meet, so I used y=mx+b to create diagonal lines that could connect the two curves. I used y=a√(x-p) +q on one of the strands of hair that didn’t curl under itself. I also used y=sinx to create part of one of the strands of hair. In order to do this, I divided sin by 16 to make the curve longer horizontally.

In order to create the collar of the shirt, I made straight lines by using the function y=mx+b and y=x. I used a circle relation to create the button of the shirt. Lastly, I used y=a(x-p)^3+q and y=a√(x-p) to create the curve of the shoulders.

I also spent some time working with inequalities, but I didn’t include them in my final project because I couldn’t figure out how to create an inequality with an empty circle inside of it (to make the eyes black without filling in the smaller white circle). I also struggled to learn how to make an inequality to go in between two functions without leaving any empty space or going out of the lines. I will continue to research and practice using inequalities in my spare time because I thoroughly enjoyed trying to learn how to use them.

Functions and Relations Used:

  1. x=y and y=x
  2. y=mx+b
  3. y=a(x-p)^2+q
  4. y=a(x-p)^3+q
  5. y=a√(x-p)
  6. y=sinx
  7. (x-p)^2+(y-q)^2=r^2

 

Before completing this project, I had very little experience with using functions and relations, especially on Desmos. As a result, I faced many challenges as I tried to complete this project. When I began working on my project, I didn’t know how to use sliders effectively. As a result, I wasted a lot of time trying to create accurate lines while manually adjusting them. With the help of my peers and Mr. Salisbury, I learned how to use sliders to increase my efficiency. This was definitely an ‘aha’ moment, because I was growing increasingly frustrated trying to plot lines without an accurate ‘starting point’ to work off of. Furthermore, at the beginning of this project, I struggled to remember the impact of each variable on the position and shape of my line. This was quite frustrating as I would accidentally move a line horizontally rather than vertically, ultimately furthering me from the place that I wanted it to be. That being said, through lots of repetition, moving my lines became muscle memory, which increased my efficiency and accuracy.

I feel as though my general ability to estimate the slopes and coordinates that I needed to use improved throughout this project. Initially, it took me a while to orient myself within my picture to choose where to put my lines. Through increased experience and practice, I improved in my ability to accurately guess the general area that I should place my line. Additionally, this project has allowed me to begin easily recognizing the formulas of basic functions and relations. at the beginning of this project I struggled to remember what each function looked like. I had to input each of them into Desmos in order to determine whether or not I should use them. Throughout this project, I gradually began to remember what each function looked like, which allowed me to become more efficient when creating my project. I believe this skill will also help me in future math classes.

Gord Downie Speech

 

For decades, Canada has been invisible to both itself and others within the music industry. We’re talking about the country that didn’t get around to choosing an official national anthem until 1980; 113 years after Confederation. “Many Canadians see this dilemma as unique to their country, caught between their colonial mother and their bullying big brother to the south” (p. 7) At the time that Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip released their debut EP in 1987, Canada was barely an imaginary presence in popular song. Through reading The Never-Ending Present by Michael Barclay, we can see that the prominent Canadian values in Gord Downie’s music and his willingness to stay true to his Canadian Identity allowed him to sing Canada into existence.

 

The raw, no-frills sound of The Tragically Hip stood apart from typical music of the time. However, it was Downie’s lyrics that truly set them apart. “His words wove tapestries of imagery, with narratives that blurred the lines between personal, historical, and fantasy.” (p. 24) To him, every syllable was important. The Hip released three albums between 1989 and 1992 which became three of only 25 Canadian records to sell more than a million copies domestically. Their most popular album, Fully Completely, was also the album in which Gord Downie’s writing was most explicitly Canadian. His lyrics reference the constitutional referendum, the federal election, Quebec separatism, the Oka Crisis and even the end of the Cold War.

 

As soon as he started performing with the Tragically Hip, Downie’s Canadian identity was branded on a national level. His subject matter was always broader than he was given credit for. In reality, his American and international references outnumber Canadian ones, but it’s “easier for people to latch onto songs about hockey and “a late breaking story on CBC”” (p. 9). These things provide signposts that can tweak interest in local geography, history and culture and sing a country into existence – especially a country rendered invisible when most of its cultural icons are willingly absorbed into the United States. It wasn’t that Downie elevated Canadian geography and mythology to the level of mystical; it’s that almost no one else did.

 

Interestingly, the hip were reluctant rock stars, suspicious of celebrity. The entire band valued their privacy, Downie especially. This humility, typically Canadian, is believed to have allowed Downie to write the unadulterated truth. He was not tightly choreographed like Michael Jackson or Madonna, nor was he a strutting peacock like Mick Jagger or Freddie Mercury. Rather, Downie’s appeal as a performer was like the band’s music, enigmatic. It’s something that seems unlikely to work, but it does. “Maybe that’s a Canadian thing. Maybe it’s just the mark of intangible singularity.” (p. 55)

 

In 2015, Gord Downie suffered from a seizure. An MRI revealed glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer. It was on his left temporal lobe, affecting short-term memory and speech. At the same time, Downie announced his own project called Secret Path, an album that features the story of a young indigenous boy named Chanie Wenjack who passed away while trying to escape from a residential school. Downie wanted to “channel the nation’s sympathy for a rich white privileged rock star and redirect it towards the greatest victims of the Canadian experiment” (p. 476). Downie had touched on many political issues in songs over his career. The wrongfully convicted in “Wheat Kings”, Bilingualism in “Born in the Water”, Environmentalism in “Titanic Terrarium”. But this album was much more intense. Through Secret Path Downie discarded the poetic imagery he had become known for and simply told the truth: his country was guilty of an original sin, that the smug “angel complex” was a lie, that there were evil and corrupt pieces of our past that we’d been trained to ignore. Perhaps this was due to the parallel of Chanie’s tragedy with his own.

 

Gord Edgar Downie died at 9:15 pm on Tuesday October 17. That day, the flag on the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill flew at half-mast. There was a moment of silence in the House of Commons. The carillon bells of Parliament played ‘Bobcaygeon.” Prime Minister Trudeau shed genuine tears during a brief media scrum. Downie will forever be remembered as a kind and talented man who represented his country proudly within an industry that largely ignored Canadian cultures and values. He never allowed his patriotic fans to stop him from writing about the real social and political issues within Canada. To conclude, I’ll leave you with this quote from Downie following the release of Secret Path:

 

“This is about Canada. We are not the country we thought we were. […] I have always wondered why, even as a kid, I never thought of Canada as a country… I never wrote of it as so. The next hundred years are going to be painful […] as we find out about ourselves, about all of us – but only when we do can we truly call ourselves ‘Canada’”. (p. 501)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Question of Canadian Values: The Removal of John A. Macdonald from the Public Sphere

Statues and monuments are often erected to commemorate people or events that are meant to inspire future generations. They tell a story about a nation’s past and present values and beliefs. As Canada starts to focus on truth and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and continues to identify as a culturally diverse nation, many of the controversial decisions of governments in the past are resurfacing in the eyes of the public (Farber). In August 2018, Victoria became the first city to remove a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald from their City Hall due to his contentious legacy (Chase). Supporters of the movement believe that Macdonald’s prejudiced and intolerant movements should not be positively recognized, whereas those who disagreed with the removal of Macdonald’s statue argue that his accomplishments as Canada’s first Prime Minister outweighed his negative decisions. Although it’s undeniable that Sir John A. Macdonald laid the foundation for Canada as it is today, he did so by abusing Indigenous communities and Chinese immigrants. Due to his racist and bigoted views that do not correlate to the common values of the past or present, Macdonald’s name and likeness should be removed from the public sphere.

John A. Macdonald’s central role in establishing genocidal laws against Indigenous and Chinese peoples have significantly impacted generations of people within Canada. Macdonald believed that “the cross of [our races], like the cross of the dog and the fox, is not successful; it cannot be, and never will be” (Wherry). One of the most well-known racist programs initiated by Macdonald is residential schools. These schools took Indigenous children from their parents and forbade them from speaking their native languages or practicing the religions they grew up with. In 1883, Macdonald justified the idea in the House of Commons, stating that “Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men,” (Brown). Over 6,000 children died in these schools, according to the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Less well known, are the policies that Macdonald put in place that excluded Chinese from entering Canada and ensured those who were already in Canada were denied all basic rights granted to other Canadians. Under his watch, Chinese people were stripped of the right to vote. Additionally, Macdonald implemented a program that charged Chinese immigrants a $50 fee ($1445 in today’s currency) to enter Canada. This caused decades of untold financial hardship for tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants and their families. Therefore, due to the lasting harmful impact of Macdonald’s central role in mistreating Indigenous and Chinese peoples, he should not be praised or represented in the public sphere.

On the contrary, experts in support of keeping Macdonald in the public sphere argue that his racist policies were in line with the general values of the time and that it is incorrect to hold him to the social norms of the present. However, John A. Macdonald held some of the most extreme views of his era. Even members of his own government did not share his extreme views. He was the only politician in parliamentary debates to refer to Canada as ‘Aryan’ and to “justify legalized racism on the basis not of alleged cultural practices but on the grounds that ‘Chinese’ and ‘Aryans’ were separate species” (Stanley). Furthermore, he was the only member to argue that Asians and Europeans were separate species. In contrast, the second prime minister of Canada, Alexander Mackenzie, had earlier refused discriminatory proposals on the grounds that they involved invidious distinctions that were “dangerous and contrary to the law of nations and the policy which controlled Canada,”. Moreover, Macdonald’s secretary of state and the Quebec lieutenant, Joseph-Adolphe Chapleau, was also against Macdonald’s views and “went to some lengths to show that they did not accept prevailing anti-Chinese views”. Excusing John A. Macdonald’s discriminatory views as being in line with the norms of the time is misguided; they had the same impact on those involved in the past as those targeted today. There needs to be a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination that includes removing symbols of racism from the general public.

In 2018, Victoria became the first city to remove a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald from their city hall due to his involvement in inhumane laws and actions against Indigenous and Chinese peoples (Brown). When one considers Macdonald’s controversial legacy and the lasting impact that his racist views and actions have on many minority groups in Canada, it becomes clear that he should be removed from the public eye. Removing John A. Macdonald’s statues and monuments would allow for Canada to tell a more complete story about his history that both celebrates his contributions as the country’s first Prime Minister while acknowledging the harm he caused. We cannot erase Canadian history, but we must ensure that it is portrayed in the first place, in a way that is true, accurate and leaves no detail behind.

 

Sources Cited
Ballingall, Alex. “Sir John A. Macdonald: Architect of Genocide or Canada’s Founding Father?” Thestar.com, 24 Aug. 2017, www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/08/24/john-a-macdonald-schools-should-be-renamed-elementary-teachers-union.html.

 

Brown, Scott. “Victoria Removing Sir John A. Macdonald Statue from City Hall.” Vancouver Sun, 9 Aug. 2018, vancouversun.com/news/local-news/victoria-removing-john-a-macdonald-statue-from-city-hall.

 

Farber, Bernie M., et al. “Should Statues of Sir John A. Macdonald Be Removed? Yes.” Thestar.com, 21 Aug. 2018, www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/thebigdebate/2018/08/21/should-statues-of-sir-john-a-macdonald-be-removed-yes.html.

 

Stanley, Timothy. “John A. Macdonald, ‘the Chinese’ and Racist State Formation in Canada.” Journal of Critical Race Inquiry, vol. 3, no. 1, 2017, doi:10.24908/jcri.v3i1.5974.

 

“Comment: John A. Macdonald Statue’s Removal Is Overdue.” Times Colonist, 13 Oct. 2017, www.timescolonist.com/opinion/op-ed/comment-john-a-macdonald-statue-s-removal-is-overdue-1.23064384.
National Post. “MacDonald, Dan & Farber: John A. Macdonald Was a near Genocidal Extremist Even for His Time.” National Post, 11 Jan. 2015, nationalpost.com/opinion/macdonald-dan-farber-john-a-macdonald-was-a-near-genocidal-extremist-even-for-his-time.

 

 

Final In-Depth Blog Post!

Summary of my Learning:

I have spent the past four weeks finishing my last project and beginning to create my final project that I will present on In-depth night. I learned a lot about editing vocal tracks throughout the past few weeks. I was supposed to record with Sarah, but she was too busy with rugby, so instead I asked my sister Grace to record with me. Through some trial and error, as well as some advice from my mentor, I learned that it is extremely important to stand at a specific distance and angle from the microphone. When Grace stood too close, there was lots of popping and sibilance. Popping is the sound of the extra air produced when you say words with the letters ‘P’ and ‘B’, and sibilance is the excessive hissing sound when pronouncing ‘S’ and ‘F’ sounds. That being said, when she stood too far away from the microphone, the recording sounded weak and the quality became poorer. My mentor suggested that we look at the angle that Grace was singing into the mic at, instead of simply focusing on the distance away from the mic that Grace stood. I found that the recording sounded much smoother and clearer when Grace sang at an angle and turned away slightly when breathing or pronouncing aggressive syllables. This also made my post-production editing much easier.

Here’s a link to my Something Just Like This cover: Something Just Like This

For my final presentation at In-depth Night I have chosen to present a cover of the song ‘Africa’ by Toto. I have started researching to find sheet music online that I will use to record each different layer of music. This project is definitely going to be a challenge, as the song is quite iconic and there are many intricate layers of unique instruments in it. I am beginning to lay out the different parts I will need to record, and I am also trying to schedule a day to record the vocals with my friend Evan. This week I plan to begin recording the percussion as well as some of the bass parts.

How to Have a Beautiful Mind:

Concepts:

According to De Bono, concepts act “like road junctions that open up several other roads (p.88). This accurately represents the way that I have been learning to use GarageBand throughout the past few months. When learning a new skill, I start with general research about one concept, and this concept will give me the skills and abilities to begin learning about another concept. For example, learning how to record and edit tracks with software instruments gave me the tools that allowed me to begin recording with real instruments. Furthermore, I have found discussing the concepts that I am learning with to be very helpful when trying to break down large ideas into smaller and simpler ideas. Some of the skills that I have been learning with my mentor have felt overwhelming or complicated, so it has been crucial for me to establish the main concept and then break it down into all of the smaller aspects.

Alternatives:

My mentor has offered me a lot of alternatives throughout this project. For example, she acknowledged by experience with playing and reading music and offered to speed through the process of learning how to use software and real instruments. This allowed us to spend much more time editing and fine-tuning of my projects which I found really useful. Furthermore, my mentor’s experience with me allowed her to give me more freedom and autonomy in my learning. For the most part I created my projects by myself and brought my finished product to my mentor who could offer me suggestions for how to make it better. I think that this process allowed me to learn a lot through trial and error because there were many times in which I had to try to problem solve using my existing skills and knowledge.

I believe that my mentor was able to offer alternatives so early in my learning because she has worked with me for many years. If I was working with a mentor that didn’t know me as well and didn’t realize how much experience I have with music theory and playing music, they may have offered less alternatives. Additionally, if I didn’t know my mentor as well, they would not already know that I am most successful when I am given the opportunity to explore ideas individually. As a result, they may have been stricter and might have given me less liberty to figure problems out by myself.

In-depth Night Presentation:

On In-depth Night, I will be doing a presentation on the stage rather than a learning centre. I chose to do this because my project this year can be better represented by projecting one of my projects up on a big screen and having the whole audience listen to it at once. Furthermore, it may have been difficult to listen to my work at a learning centre while there are many people walking around or presenting their projects. During my presentation, I am going to give a short explanation of what I worked on throughout the past few months and give some context as to why I chose to present ‘Africa’ by Toto. I am going to focus on the three main concepts that I learned (software instruments, real instruments, and vocals) and explain some of the challenges that I faced throughout my learning. I will then play a time-lapse that will show a recording of the process of creating my final project from start to finish. Last, I will play as much of the song as possible with the time remaining. I hope that the audience learns that there is technology available to everyone interested in music that they can use to pursue their passion. Although it is quite difficult to make my presentation interactive because I am presenting on stage, I feel as though my time-lapse is interactive with the audience because it shows them what it gives them a first person view of all the different layers of instruments and editing that goes into creating a project on GarageBand.

 

Gord Downie – Canadian Autobiography Check-In

“I want no part in propagating or galvanizing or burnishing some of the stupid mythology in this country. That we’re this clean, pristine place, that we know what’s best for the world […] so these things I write about I try to think are the real Canada” (pg. 11)

Personal Interest: The Tragically Hip are one of the most adored and cherished bands for Canadians. They have evoked such a strong emotional connection between their music and their fans because of the plethora of references to Canadian culture throughout all of their songs. Sometimes the connections were quite clever and unique, like the expression “drop a caribou on you”, referring to the tail side of a Canadian 25-cent piece, which was the cost of a payphone call at the time. Sometimes they were an attempt to address the current political events at the time, like name-checking Sault Ste. Marie’s city council decision to ban bilingual signs. Sometimes they were thoughts and questions about Canadian mythology, like the disappearance of painter Tom Thomson in 1917. I find this quote from Gord Downie very interesting because it seems to go directly against the values that most people would expect from the lead singer of The Tragically Hip as. Much of The Hips external identity was built around nationalism, and much of their support came from patriotic Canadians who were excited to finally be recognized in pop culture. I believe that this shows that Gord Downie wrote his music from his experiences as a Canadian to raise awareness for true Canadian culture. Many people took his lyrics at face-value and used them to fuel their Canadian pride and identity, but those who took a closer look at the different interpretations of his lyrics would find more pressing issues or values within Canada.

Canadian Identity: This quote shows that Canadian identity is portrayed as living in a clean and pristine place that does everything right and knows what’s best for the world. It also shows that many Canadians want to be identified as more than a nice, clean-cut country, and bring awareness to the issues and imperfections within our country, while also allowing for true Canadian cultures and values to be shared with the world. Gord Downie didn’t elevate Canadian geography and mythology in an idealistic or sugar-coated way, he expressed thoughtful yet unseen social and political issues within Canada through motifs and metaphors in his lyrics. He wanted Canada to be seen as more than a two-dimensional ‘theme park’ of a country. On the other hand, I understand that many Canadians feel connected and comforted by the surface-level, stereotypical Canadian meaning behind Gord Downie’s words. I believe that this shows a strong desire for Canadians to feel connected and be able to identify uniformly with pop-culture references.

“Rock’n’rollers are supposed to dip their cigarette butts in the plates and throw them against the wall, but they are just very, very fine young men. […] no matter who you were with, Gord was always the guy doing the dishes. […] Gord might be the epitome of hard work.” (pg. 14)

Personal Interest: I found this quote particularly interesting because it paints Gord Downie and the rest of the band in a very unique way. Celebrities within the music industry, especially rock and roll, are expected to be loud, disrespectful, arrogant and arrogant.  At the time that this quote was recorded, the Tragically Hip was growing in popularity at an incredible rate and quickly becoming one of the most well-known bands in Canada. Yet, they did not let their quick rise to fame get to their heads. They all remained humble and polite, which I find very interesting.

Canadian Identity: This quote further perpetuates the timeless stereotype within Canadian identity that all Canadians are extremely polite. I think it also shows that in the past, Canadians never became popular as musicians unless they assimilated to the American lifestyle and culture because stereotypical Canadian culture completely opposes that of ‘rock culture’. All of the members of the Tragically Hip grew up in small towns in Ontario. This means that their values and morals are quintessential examples of the true Canadian identity of the time. This quote shows us that their truly Canadian personalities completely juxtaposed the expected personality of a rockstar. This shows that Canadian identity was strongly rooted in our polite and quietly hard-working nature.

“The most explicitly Canadian song on Fully Completely, “Wheat Kings” is […] about the release of a man wrongfully convicted of murder.”

Personal Interest: I believe that ‘Wheat Kings’ portrays an incredibly interesting story. It’s about David Milgaard, a Canadian man who served 23 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Milgaard was convicted of raping and murdering a woman named Gail Miller when he was 16 and sentenced to life in prison. It was a travesty of justice, as the case against him was built on flimsy evidence. Milgaard’s family believed he was innocent and fought for him while he was in jail. His aunt contacted the Tragically Hip and when she told them about the case, the band helped them get signatures for a petition to help reopen the case and raise funds for his defense. Milgaard’s case was overturned and he was released on April 16, 1992, prompting the band to write “Wheat Kings.” The title is a reference to the farmers in Saskatchewan, where the crime took place. They were known as “wheat kings” after developing a popular strain of wheat that fueled the area economy. I believe that what makes Gord Downies lyrics special is that they very open to interpretation. His real artistry was his ability to take his experiences, diarize them, and put it in a lyrical form that resonates on a universal level. This pure talent allowed him to turn this awful political issue into a rock song sung by thousands of Canadians.

Canadian Identity: This quote represents the hidden parts of Canadian identity at the time this song was written. “Wheat Kings” represents the passivity of the populace in the face of injustice. Additionally, I think this quote as a shows Canadian Identity as being quite naïve or ignorant. Many Canadians have claimed this song as being one that represents Canada and listen to it proudly. It seems ironic that so many people have given this song such extreme patriotic value when it is about one of the most infamous wrongdoings of the Canadian government. I believe that Canadian society’s ability to turn this song about a man wrongfully convicted of murder and rape into a Canadian anthem opens Canadian identity up to lots of criticism and scrutiny.

“Of course, as the girl in “Fireworks” illustrates with such beautiful profanity, a love of hockey is a fallible construct on which to frame a monolithic Canadian identity – much like the Tragically Hip’s music itself.”

Personal Interest: This quote quipped my interest because it explicitly states many of the ideas about Canadian identity that I have been inferring through my reading of this book. Regardless of what the song in its entirety speaks to, Canadian listeners wanted to be a part of the community that understood and had witnessed the hockey references. Most listeners never considered the potential meaning of the rest of the song: the idea of getting rid of your own patriotism for love, of realizing “what you can accomplish / When you don’t let the nation get in your way”. Furthermore, this song is interesting to me because it seems completely unpatriotic, but nevertheless The Tragically Hip is still considered the most Canadian band of all time.

Canadian Identity: I believe that this quote signifies that Canadian identity has been narrowly defined into a few ideas. Both ‘hockey’ and ‘The Tragically Hip’ are key examples of these stereotypes. This isn’t necessarily a negative concept, as they both provide interest in local geography and history and culture that can, in fact, bring a country into existence in the eyes of the rest of the world, especially a country rendered basically invisible when most of its cultural icons are absorbed into the United States. That being said, identifying a whole nation based on a few key pop culture references can lead to creating a very narrow and inaccurate depiction of what it means to be Canadian. Many people get sold on the romantic notion of being united as Canadians. It is easier to identity Canadian identity when all Canadians care about something as a nation, such as hockey, that is unique and special. However, if we strictly use these stereotypes to create our perception of a whole country we create an identity that is shallow and inaccurate.

“Are you Canadian? Only Canadians can move up. No Americans.”

Personal Interest: This quote is taken from someone at a Tragically Hip concert in the United States. I think this is incredibly interesting because it shows the smug nature of proud Canadians. Cultural nationalists like to brag that there’s something inherently Canadian about the Tragically Hip that Americans will never understand. Most bands and musicians that start up in Canada move to the United States once they grow more popular, and many Canadians are upset by this. As a result, Canadian fans want to believe that The Tragically Hip are “too Canadian” to make it in the States only to validate our own self-worth. The Hip are often written about as if they only ever had fans in Canada. For a lot of people, that gives the band extra value in a country that doesn’t have a lot of that, a country where a lot of people are always scrambling to be elsewhere.

Canadian Identity: This quote shows that Canadians in the past and present have an incredible need to prove themselves to the United States as well as the rest of the world. Canada is often overpowered by American media, and as a result it is difficult to maintain a distinct Canadian identity. Furthermore, Canada has fewer resources than most countries to preserve a separate national culture as it is relatively young, small in population, and isolated geographically. Not only that, but most of the talented and popular artists in Canada migrate to the USA so that they can increase their influence and popularity. This has led to a lot of insecurity within Canadian identity. As a result, when Canada finally has popular celebrities to stand behind, people tend to become boastful or overprotective. This is interesting because it seems to directly oppose the traditional Canadian stereotype of being meek and over polite.

Theme: If one remains true to one’s beliefs and values, it will eventually create opportunities for success.

Gord Downie will forever be remembered as a kind and talented man who represented his country proudly within an industry that largely ignored Canadian cultures and values. He did not allow himself to fall into the trap of a typical ‘rockstar’ lifestyle. Instead, he stayed true to his values and beliefs by remaining a polite, down-to-earth gentleman. Furthermore, rather than moving to the United States to chase further fame and fortune. Rather, he lived the majority of his life where he grew up in Kingston, Ontario. Gord never allowed his patriotic fandom to alter the style of his songs and continued to write about important political and social issues within Canada.  I can connect to Downie in many different ways because we are both people who have a strong core set of values that we feel strongly about maintaining. Throughout lifer there are many instances in which it is incredibly difficult to stand by one’s morals, especially when it seems that changing our values may lead to more success. However, Downie has shown me that staying true to my own identity will allow me to have much more success in the future.

In-Depth Blog Post #5

Progress Review:

This week I am developing a new project that includes vocal recordings. I have created the track that will accompany the vocals, and I am organizing to record the vocals this week in my mentor’s studio. Sarah F. has agreed to sing for this project, so I will be recording her vocals and then editing them and adding them to my project. I have attached a link to the background track that I created this week.

I was quite disappointed with my last project; it didn’t come together quite how I wanted it to. That being said, I am extremely proud of this new project so far because I feel as though I have implemented more of my skills to create a more complicated and accurate sounding cover of ‘Something Just Like This’ by the Chainsmokers and Coldplay. I wanted to try using GarageBand in a slightly different format, so I created this project on my iPhone. I found this much easier than using my laptop. It’s much easier to make simple adjustments, and the instruments and loops are much easier to find. I focused especially on finetuning each recording to sound as close to the original recording of the song as possible.

This week I have also been researching how to implement vocals into GarageBand projects in preparation for my recording session with Sarah. I’ve learned about some of the most effective ways to create a portable system that helps isolate your voice from the reflections bouncing off the walls. I also learned a lot about gain staging. Gain is the ratio of the output of your recorded voice, to the input of your recorded voice. There’s a minimum and maximum range of gain before the quality of your recording becomes extremely poor. This range exists at every stage of recording. It’s important to stay within the proper range at every stage to maintain a professional quality recording.

I will be posting the final version of this project later this week, but here is the finalized copy of the backtrack:‘Something Just Like This’ Backtrack

How to Have a Beautiful Mind:

During my last meeting with my mentor, I was careful in trying to pay attention to the different hats that my mentor was using so that I could try and use the same hat. I found that this parallel thinking helped me understand the way my mentor was thinking about a situation and allowed me to get more out of our discussions. This is the conversation that I recorded with my mentor. She was teaching me about what gain staging is and how to use is effectively. Within the transcript I have made notes about which hats are being used and why:

 

Me: While I was researching different techniques for recording vocal tracks for GarageBand I found some articles about gains staging. I was wondering if you could show me how to use gain staging effectively?

Adrienne: Sure. Let’s go over the basic ways to use gain staging and then I’ll show you some examples from some of my old projects.

During this part of the conversation, my mentor and I both used the blue hat. I defined the focus of the conversation by asking about gain staging, and my mentor set up a sequence of hats by explaining how she was going to teach me about it.

Adrienne: So, gain staging is basically the process of managing and adjusting the volume of any track in your project, but we’re going to be practicing gain staging vocal recordings.

Me: Ok. When I’m adjusting the volume of my instrumental tracks, I can just adjust the volume lever left or right to make it louder or softer. How is adjusting the volume of vocals different?

During this part of the conversation, I realized that my mentor was ‘wearing’ a white hat. When she explained what gain staging is, she was telling me a hard fact. She also explained how I’m going to get the information I need when she said that we were going to practice gain staging on vocal recordings. When I realized what hat she was using, I decided to add to the conversation by stating what I know, which is how to adjust the volume of regular instrumental tracks. I then asked a question related to the information that I need to know, which is how gain staging works in vocal recordings specifically.

Adrienne: It’s different because there are more variable that need to be adjusted. This is where a lot of people mess up when making GarageBand projects. It’s easy to just start twisting random knobs until you think the vocals sound right. This usually screws up your gain staging and will lead to your project sounding less clean or professional.

Me: Yeah, when I was just starting to learn how to adjust the resonance and echo or the treble and bass of the tracks in my projects I did that as well. In my opinion that strategy doesn’t work very well at all.

I think that this part of our conversation used both red and black hats. My mentor was using a black hat to point out potential problems for using gain staging. Additionally, we were both using our red hats because the information we were sharing was based on intuition. Adrienne believed that many people are tempted to change the volume settings ‘randomly’ until they find something that sounds right. She used her intuition and emotion to say that this wouldn’t be the most effective strategy. Additionally, I used my emotions and past experience to agree with her statement.

Adrienne: The idea of gain staging can seem really complicated to beginners, but it’s actually quite simple if you compare it to pixels on your TV or phone screen. When you record quietly, you will have to turn up the volume later on in your project. This is just like saving a really tiny image and then stretching it out onto your TV screen.

Me: It’s going to be blurry and out of focus.

Adrienne: Right. So how would you fix this problem?

Me: I’d save the image at the right size initially so that I don’t have to stretch it later.

Adrienne: Exactly. This is why it’s important to record your vocal tracks at the right volume first so that you don’t need to make any major adjustments later.

I believe that this conversation was using the green hat. The green hat helps with creativity, and my mentor’s use of this interesting analogy allowed me to see gain staging from a different perspective. I also think that this conversation used the yellow hat, because Adrienne’s TV metaphor showed me the value of recording with proper audio. Furthermore, it explained why recording with the right volume is so important for gain staging.

From this conversation I learned that there are so many different ‘hats’ that are used in one conversation. I also learned that multiple hats can be worn at once and may be more effective when they are worn together. I believe that recognizing that hats that other people are wearing during your conversations with them is very enlightening and allows for you to adapt your own style of communication to compliment theirs.

Is Canada A Post-National State?

The mosaic of diverse cultures, religious beliefs, environmental biomes, and political views has shaped Canada into a post national-state. Unlike most countries in the world, Canada “has never pursued or developed a single national identity” (Bernard, 2008). When Canada was founded, both the English and the French were involved. These groups of people had very different cultures, religions, histories, and languages, and as a result Canada was immediately faced with the problem of trying to accommodate both groups as equals. This concept has remained crucial in Canada and has allowed this country to develop into a post-national state that gives people of different background the opportunity to coexist peacefully and respectfully. Currently, Canada is one of the most accepting countries for immigrants and refugees. According to an article from The Guardian, Canada accepted 300 000 immigrants in 2016, 48 000 of which being refugees. This ‘almost cheerful commitment to inclusion’ has become a natural part of the growth of the country and has significantly shaped Canada’s identity (Foran, 2017). Canadian immigration policies have developed into a “universal point system […] irrespective of country of origin or racial background” that welcomes immigrants from a wide range of countries to Canada and further increases the variety of cultures and religious backgrounds that shape Canadian identity (Li, 2000). An example of this increase in multiculturalism is evident within a 2011 Census of Population study, that found that ‘more than 200 languages were reported as a home language or mother tongue’ (Evans, 2013). Additionally, Canada is the second largest country in the world by area. It also encompasses some of the most diverse and varying ecosystems and natural biomes in the world. These environmental differences and our wide variety of natural resources significantly impact job availability and lifestyle within each region of Canada, which makes it difficult to assign a universal Canadian identity. In conclusion, Canada is a post-national state that thrives on its ability to accept a patchwork of different lifestyles.

Citations:

https://canadianimmigrant.ca/guides/moving-to-canada/diversity-in-canada-an-overview

https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/csj-sjc/jsp-sjp/rp02_8-dr02_8/rp02_8.pdf

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11f0019m/2008319/s13-eng.htm

https://www.businessinsider.com/canada-could-be-the-worlds-first-postnational-country-2017-1

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/04/the-canada-experiment-is-this-the-worlds-first-postnational-country

In-Depth Update

Here is the link to my finalized project! This project took more time than expected because it was incredibly difficult to arrange all and record all of the different parts on a real keyboard. Furthermore, it was also challenging to sync the timing of each overlapping part. Now that this is completed I will begin working on my next project which will incorporate vocal recordings.

In depth project: Apologize by One Republic

In-Depth Post #4

Throughout the past three weeks of in-depth, my progress on my project has been slower than I had initially hoped. This is because I am learning how to record using a real keyboard, and I need to use my mentor’s studio to record because I don’t have a keyboard at home. That being said, I will be visiting my mentor’s studio this week to finish the project and will be posting it on my blog later this week. Although the completion of my project has slowed down, I have used my time at home to research new strategies and techniques. Right now, I am focusing on learning how to fine-tune my projects with Smart Controls.

Smart Controls edit the sound of tracks in your project. They can be used with software instruments, drummer tracks, and recorded audio. My mentor explained to me that learning how to use Smart Controls is crucial because adjusting a single screen control can change one or more aspects of the sound of a track and completely alter the feeling of a song. So far, I have learned how to use EQ or tone controls, reverb and some other controls specific to the type of track or instrument. For example, the Smart Control for synthesizers includes screen controls for choosing the waveform and adjusting the resonance and filter cutoff, while ones for string instruments include controls for changing the articulation.

How To Have A Beautiful Mind:

While working with my mentor, I tend to ask lots of questions, as I am very passionate about and interested in learning how to create music. That being said, I also have a tendency to talk a lot while learning from my mentor. De Bono says, “If you listen carefully and attentively you will get more value from listening than talking”, so throughout my last few meetings with my mentor, I have focused on asking many questions and listening attentively to the response and asking follow-up questions where necessary. Here is an example of one of the questions I asked my mentor at our last meeting:

Me: While editing my project I’ve found that my electric guitar track sounds really screechy and out of place. What technique would you typically use to fix this?

Mentor: Well, when the quality of a track or loop seems out of place in your project, one of the best ways to fix it is using the EQ control. If you want to lower the treble and boost the middle frequencies and bass in your guitar track, you can adjust them by moving the coloured circles on the EQ line.

Me: Oh okay. How will I be able to tell if I’ve edited the track correctly?

Mentor: You can click the ‘solo’ button to hear the track by itself without the rest of the music in your project to listen for a difference. Another thing you can do is click any of the dots to reset them to their original position. In my experience, I have found that editing the EQ too much can make the piece sound unnatural or imbalanced, so it’s best to only make small edits and continuously check to see how the track sounds with the rest of the music to ensure that you don’t edit it too much.

EQ is a very detailed and difficult piece of software to use. I am still figuring out how to use it correctly. As a result, it is crucial for me to ask many questions and listen attentively to my mentor’s response. Furthermore, by asking follow-up questions I can gain more in-depth knowledge about the techniques that my mentor is explaining. Through this conversation, I learned more about EQ than I had initially known to ask about, because I continued to ask questions that allowed my mentor to elaborate. Here is another example of an interaction that I had with my mentor:

Me: The three adjusters don’t all work the same way. The mid changes symmetrically, but the bass and treble controls don’t. They just taper off all the way to the left or right of the panel. Why is this happening?

Mentor: That’s because the bass and treble act more like shelving adjustments. Basically, when you move them you’re setting a cut-off point for the top or bottom frequencies and choosing the gradient of that cutoff.

Me: I’m still not quite sure I understand. How can I effectively use this to create balanced tracks?

Mentor: It’s definitely a little bit confusing at first. Let’s look at one of my old projects and see how the EQ effected the piece.

By opening myself up and telling my mentor that I didn’t understand the concept we were discussing, I was able to create an opportunity for my mentor and I to work and learn together by listening to one of her old projects. I now have a much stronger understanding of using EQ.

As mentioned earlier, I will be finishing my next project this week and it will be posted in a few days. After this project is finished, I will be learning how to incorporate vocals into GarageBand projects. I am very pleased with my progress so far and I am excited to continue learning.