April 2, 2016

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A morning trip to town to procure meat, vegetables, and other basics. My deeper instinct convicted me that I’d made a minor compromise while finalising the last section of the composition yesterday. Likely or not, no one else would be able to hear it. But, to me, it’s now as offensive in my ears as deep scratch on a treasured vinyl. One must attend to every malady that’s curable. And this one was, easily. Often, the deficiencies of a creative work, once attended to, give rise to more intriguing and successful solutions than would otherwise present themselves had the work had been ‘perfect’. Which is why we should honour failures, in all departments of our life. They’re blessings in disguise:

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After lunch, I revised the track information list. While the sections’ titles required little adjustment, the subheadings weren’t sufficiently fleshed out, succinct, and ordered. Perhaps one should do everything at least twice, as a matter of principle. It’s like a return journey: travelling from the destination back to the point of embarkation, you notice things that didn’t address your attention on the outward trip. And, you don’t experience that vague anxiety that you may not arrive at the right place at the right time, on the homeward stretch. It’s a far easier ride.

My amendments to the text implied that several minor changes would need to be made to the compositions. This was to be expected, and, in a measure, to be hoped for. Sound and text must be fully reconciled.

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I decided to summarise the main points of the text for each section, rather than only those parts of the texts that inform the composition. For the purposes of this project, it’s helpful to show the audience the whole map, as well as the route that I’ve taken. After all, today, few folk have a cultural knowledge of the Mount Sinai story, either in part or as a whole.

 



April 1, 2016

March 2016: in the interim: some observations and principles:

  • When you have both the ability and the opportunity, then you’ve also the responsibility, to act.
  • Ideas have a way of finding their own form and medium.
  • Sometimes, we realise that we knew where we were going only upon arrival.
  • Without a struggle there’s no growth. (Struggles are growing pains.)
  • Begin simply and move towards complexity. Begin complicatedly and move towards simplicity.
  • The blessing of limited options. Some people are paralysed by the shear over abundance of possibilities.
  • One cannot teach commitment any more than one can teach intensity of application, determination, perseverance, or fulfilment. For they are attitudes rather than abilities.
  • The painter maketh the draughtsman. In other words, how we paint may determine how we draw, rather than vice versa.
  • What we want to do isn’t always what we need to do. What we need to do is what we should do. And, often, what we should do becomes what we want to do. Duty inspires desire.
  • Just because you have a need, doesn’t mean that it either should or can be fulfilled.
  • One may desire to be, for a while, someone other than oneself.
  • The majority of missing socks turn up, eventually.

During my blog-sabbath, the composition of all ten sections constituting Image and Inscription were completed. The last two weeks have been dedicated to post production: levelling volumes within and between tracks (always a challenge), enhancing the variety of sonic dynamics, defining the stereo image and sonic depth-of-field, removing mush, simplifying, clarifying, compressing, pressing the beat forward, tweaking fades, removing clicks and spikes, applying principles consistently throughout, and keeping tracks and sample out of the red zone on the master volume metre. This process cannot be completed in one go, in my experience. Rather, it takes a number of success passes over the whole composition before unity and pareto efficiency are achieved. For, the ear takes time to adjust to the nuances (listening is an act of learning); the mind, to the logic; and the heart, to the ‘wound’ of the sound:

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I don’t believe that either the artist can always do, or that an artwork can always be, better. (This is a philosophy of despair.) Nor do I hold that an artwork is never finished. (This is the philosophy or irresolution.) When is an artwork finished? When one cannot add or subtract a single part without diminishing the whole. A finished artwork need not necessarily be a great one, though. Because greatness pertains not only to the artwork’s resolution but also to the quality and ambition of its conception.

The ten sections are landscapes of sorts. In my mind’s-eye, I visualise a mountainous terrain seen from above, dark and brooding, sublime of aspect, essentially monochrome, and reminiscent of Victorian engravings depicting Moses on Sinai:

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John Martin, ‘Moses Breaketh the Tables’ from Illustrations to the Bible (1833), mezzotint on paper (courtesy of Tate Britain, London)

Throughout the day, I transferred the annotations from my compositional map of Image & Inscription to the outline of the track information list. I had to ensure that all seven accounts of Moses’ ascent and descent to and from the mount were represented in the composition, and to clarify the chapter and verse span for each section. In tandem, I made a trial mixdown of each session. I’ll listen to these in a variety of sound contexts and formats, and on a range of equipment — from the expensive and sophisticated to the cheap and cheerful — during the coming week. If the mixes pass muster everywhere and on all, then, and only then, will they be certified complete:

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Thereafter, I’ll need to finalise the album descriptors and write a research account of the project. Quite possibly, only then will I be fully aware of what has been achieved. Comprehension is often ex post facto to the creative act. Moreover, we understand best what we explain most perspicuously.



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