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Owen Sound

Owen Sound, the sound-performance poetry ensemble, began its life inspired by watching and hearing The Four Horsemen.

In 1974 Michael Dean, David Penhale, Steven Smith (now Steven Ross Smith) and Richard Truhlar began workshopping ensemble sound poetry explorations in a Toronto framing studio on Dupont Street operated by poet and framer Brian Dedora. Dedora was initially involved in these explorations. Before the group had a name, the workshopping led to the collaborative composition of pieces suitable for performance, and in 1976 the quartet, now calling itself OWEN SOUND [sometimes O(we)n So(u)nd], began performing publicly at an event at Fat Alberts Coffee House in Toronto, Ontario.

Over the next four years, they performed as a four-person group but also included solo and duo works in their repertoire. Their work as a quartet reached a peak in 1978 at the 11th International Festival of Sound Poetry in Toronto (hear live recordings "Stories & Music For Children", "Kinderspielgesange" and "1' 54" To..."), which included performances by The Horsemen, jgjgjg, Dick Higgins, and Bernard Heidsieck.

After that Dean, Smith, and Truhlar continued under the Owen Sound name, again performing in solo, duo and trio configurations, until 1985. Smith and Truhlar often performed together until 1986, but not under the Owen Sound name.

Over their nine years together, Owen Sound presented their works in over 30 performances, including events in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Amsterdam (Stedelijk Museum), London, UK (Canada House and the National Poetry Centre), and even in Owen Sound, Ontario. Along the way, they collaborated with jazz musicians and other artists including composer Susan Frykberg, performers The Four Horsemen, and poet Sean O'Huigin. Owen Sound’s final performance, featuring Dean, Smith and Truhlar, occurred at Ultimatum: The Montreal Urban Poetry Festival (see the original event programme, courtesy of producer Alan Lord) at the Foufounes Électriques in May 1985, following bpNichol and Steve McCaffery.


Sleepwalkers, Cassette Side A, Underwhich Audiographic Series (Toronto), 1987

The following recordings were composed and performed by Steven (Ross) Smith and Richard Truhlar.

"Stereoscopic For André Kertész & 2 Unknown Passengers," "Spiral of Forgotten Intimacies" and "Improvisation" were recorded live as part of the performance Two Brains: One Mind in the Kontakte Writers in Performance Series, Toronto, February 23, 1985.

Read original liner notes from No. 32 of 150 copies issued for more information about the recording of each track.

  1. In The Cells (4:32): MP3
  2. Detail from As Loud As (H)ours Sleep (4:28): MP3
  3. Stereoscopic For André Kertész & 2 Unknown Passengers (6:26): MP3
  4. Headlines (5:03): MP3
  5. Sleepwalkers #1 (3:01): MP3
  6. Spiral of Forgotten Intimacies (3:10): MP3

complete recording (27:05): MP3

Sleepwalkers, Side B, 1987

  1. After Edward #2 (6:22): MP3
  2. Intraference (5:45): MP3
  3. from The Road to Peccari-Tampu (2:32): MP3
  4. Improvisation (4:27): MP3
  5. Eel (3:58): MP3
  6. Instructions For Escape (3:07): MP3

complete recording (26:16): MP3


Sign Language, Cassette Side A, Underwhich Editions (Toronto), 1985

"A Porcelain Cup Placed There" is performed by Dean, Smith, Penhale, and Paul Dutton, and conducted by Richard Truhlar. (Percussion: Memo Acevedo; Trumpet: Mike Malone; Electric Piano: Don Naduriak; String Bass: John Taylor.)

"Mnemonic Wallpaper Pattern" is a vocal adaptation of Jonathan Williams’ concrete poem “Mnemonic Wallpaper Pattern for Southern Two-Seaters.”

Read original liner notes from No. 60 of 100 copies issued for more information about the recording of each track.

  1. Meaford Tank Range (11:15): MP3
  2. A Porcelain Cup Placed There (8:25): MP3
  3. Htuom (4:31): MP3
  4. Mnemonic Wallpaper Pattern (2:20): MP3

complete recording (26:35): MP3

Sign Language, Side B, 1985

"She Was A Visitor" is a seven-voice adaptation of the work by the late American composer, Robert Ashley. It is performed by Dean, Smith, Penhale, Truhlar, Paul Dutton, Steve McCaffery, and bpNichol.

  1. 1' 54" To... (4:41): MP3
  2. Shale (7:31): MP3
  3. Bingo (2:07): MP3
  4. Standard Table of Vowel Equivalents (7:21): MP3
  5. She Was A Visitor (4:53): MP3

complete recording (26:37): MP3


Various Throats Volume I, Cassette Side A, Underwhich Audiographic Series (Toronto), Electronic Acoustic Music Association studios, London, UK, 1982

Steven (Ross) Smith, Bob Cobbing and Keith Musgrove perform on all pieces. "Ouph/Voicings No. 5" includes E.E. Vonna-Michell.

Read original liner notes from No. 30 of 100 copies issued for more information about the recording of each track.

  1. Prelude: Clearing (Smith) (3:11): MP3
  2. White Sound Cycle No. 5 (Smith) (3:43): MP3
  3. Fugitive Poem (Cobbing) (4:17): MP3
  4. The Dream As Real (Musgrove) (2:25): MP3
  5. Quatz (Cobbing) (3:20): MP3
  6. Ouph/Voicings No. 5 (Cobbing with E.E. Vonna-Michell) (4:07): MP3

complete recording (21:07): MP3

Various Throats Volume I, Side B, 1982

  1. Duplicator Print (Cobbing) (6:49): MP3
  2. Cranes of Different Heights (Musgrove) (5:05): MP3
  3. So Long (Geronimo) (Musgrove) (6:12): MP3
  4. Coda: Re-clearing (Smith) (0:13): MP3

complete recording (18:30): MP3


Beyond the Range: Owen Sound 1976-1979, Cassettte Side A, Underwhich Audiographic Series (Toronto), September 1980

The recordings of "She Was A Visitor," "Giotto’s Painted Loci" and "Kinderspielgesange" include former member of Owen Sound, David Penhale.

Read original liner notes from No. 40 of 100 copies issued for more information about the recording of each track.

  1. She Was A Visitor (4:56): MP3
  2. Giotto's Painted Loci (22:55): MP3
  3. Knights Of Meaford (3:48): MP3
  4. Three Native Texts For Richard Huelsenbeck (4:01): MP3
  5. White Sound Cycle #12 (3:00): MP3
  6. Stories & Music For Children (5:47): MP3
  7. Disguises (2:42): MP3
  8. Glass On The Beach (7:59): MP3

complete recording (1:03:18): MP3

Beyond the Range, Side B, 1980

  1. Contract (1:25): MP3
  2. Kinderspielgesange (10:00): MP3
  3. Intervals 7 Elevations II (25:40): MP3

complete recording (37:33): MP3


Meaford Tank Range 7" Vinyl Record, 33 ⅓ RPM, Wild Press, Sheridan College, Oakville, ON, 1977

Read the 30-page book of the same title the record was made to accompany, including Biography, Posters, Scores, Correspondences, Photograph (above) and Record Insert. Designed by Michael Dean. Illustrated by Janine Mather.

The following recording features David Penhale, Michael Dean, Richard Truhlar, and Steven (Ross) Smith. It was recorded by Kevin Courier at Sheridan College and manufactured by Fantasy Sound.

  1. Simultaneous Translation (Side A) (5:36): MP3
  2. Kesawagas (Side B) (4:41): MP3

complete recording (26:37): MP3

These sound recordings are being made available for noncommercial and educational use only. All rights to this recorded material belong to Owen Sound: Michael Dean, Steven Ross Smith, David Penhale and the Estate of Richard Truhlar. © 2014 the authors. Used with permission. Distributed by Lori Emerson/PennSound.