August 21, 2018

This life. Today. These moments.

Morning:

 

Afternoon:

 

Evening:

 



August 20, 2018

Thy precious time misspent, redeem,
Each present day thy last esteem,
Improve thy talent with due care;
For the great day thyself prepare
(Thomas Ken, ‘Awake My Soul’ (1674)).

Sunday. Too much cheese too late in the evening, perhaps. I woke around 2.45 am. (This is getting to be a habit.) Mercifully, I fell back into sleep shortly afterwards. An answer to a question I’d been asking came to me, out-of-the-blue, upon waking in the early morning. But I couldn’t for the life of me remember it afterwards. It had something to do with an elegant separation of two things.

Lunch:

Monday: I dreamt of someone whom I once worked with. In the dream, they’d suffered a severe stroke and couldn’t remember who I was. (‘Ageing anxiety, John!’) 7.00 am: I woke my younger son. He was going to catch a train and visit his girlfriend. I used to perform the role of his human alarm clock when he was in school. Now, he’s about to embark upon his first job. 8.00 am: A communion.

8.30 am: Administrations to prepare my timetable for the week ahead. The art of compacting and compressing comes to the fore. ‘Redeem the time’. Make the day count. On with uploading CDs to iTunes on the periphery. I came across a CD given to me by the pianist Margaret Leng Tan (my cousin-in-law). She’d been John Cage’s muse during the latter part of his career. The personal inscription on the insert read: ‘Serenity, Beauty, Ecstasy, Angst’. That’s a heady combination of mutually antagonistic experiences. Perhaps she was implying that you couldn’t have one without the others: Light and darkness was present at the primordial Creation. They’ve been present at every subsequent act of creation. Like love and unlove (which is not the same as hate), togetherness and departure, the moment and the memory, and access and denial, both must be experienced before a resolution can occur:

John Cage and Margaret Lang Tan, Daughters of the Lonesome Isle (1994)

Margaret had also given me one of a series of miniature grand pianos which she’d made out of individual New York City Metro tickets:

I wanted to begin writing the paper, starting with a topic that I felt confident had sufficient shape and substance to be fleshed out. Where this section will lie in the overall structure of the paper can be decided later. Rarely do I begin at the beginning. If writing is deferred for too long, the research becomes an end in itself and one’s confidence in the being able to make something of it, ebbs. Having written around this topic before, I’ve also had to reacquaint myself with the ground that had been already covered. Otherwise, I was liable to either reinvent my own wheel or, at worst, unconsciously self-plagiarise. For example, I’d initiated a discussion about silence in visual artworks in my The Bible as Visual Culture: When Image Becomes Text (2015). The paper would, in part, provide an amplification of this theme. (A louder silence!, as it were.):

Ideas emerge like a murmuring of starlings: following one another, assuming varieties of form but, presently, having no fixed structure. Writing tests whether the writer has fully understood the content of their research, developed sufficiently cogent ideas, and enough evidence in support of them. Often, I find that I’ve undertaken too much research in one area and not enough in another. Writing exposes this imbalance.

1.40 pm: After lunch, I pushed on with the graft of constructing sentences and joining them to form paragraphs. It can be a painfully slow business. I wasn’t writing up findings; rather, I was finding out things through the process of writing. Writing = thinking. It’s about finding your way in the dark, while searching for the light switch. (And we could all do with a bit of illumination, now and again.) 3.00 pm: A moment of tea-fuelled respite and reflection:

6.45 pm: Off to my other life: the Holy Trinity Church committee at the Vicarage.

 

 

‘The silence to come’


August 18, 2018

I saw, through a curtain of loosely-woven black netting, a room filled with an intense and expanding light (2.40 am)

I woke every few hours from what seemed like a continuous dream about desolate rooms. On putting down my feet on the bedroom carpet, I recalled the photographs that I’d taken in 1987 of my primary school in Abertillery, prior to its demolition. The resemblance was remarkable:

Photographs of places that, and of people who, are no longer either extant or accessible have a power and melancholy independent of the image’s quality. Indeed, an artless or poorly executed photograph is sometimes all the more potent for that. It’s a residue or remnant of what has been removed: precious and irreplaceable. Often, the photograph is also the visual embodiment of memories, not only of the moment when it was taken, but also of the many associations one has with the represented place or person before and after that event. To view the photograph is to, variously, return to or reconnect with the subject.

I mistakenly applied shaving gel to my hair this morning. But it worked. Cereal and two slices of toast for breakfast. (‘John, you are becoming positively reckless!’) 8.45 am: A communion. 9.15 am: On with the paper, and a discussion about Samuel and Eli (1 Samuel 3). I continued uploading CDs to my decimated iTunes library in the background. In so doing, I reconnected with the end-credits theme from David Lynch’s wonderful, if flawed, sci-fi film Dune (1984). (Music is like photography in this respect; it can both encapsulate and trigger powerful memories.) ‘Take My Hand‘ embodies the best in 80s pop music. I’ve never been sure what emotion it articulates for me. Perhaps it’s a longing; or a sadness that catches you up only later on in life; or a regret about something that either was not or could not; or a secure and gentle affection in season. On with studies: visions and auditions:

After lunch, I speed-walked into town to stretch my muscles (with particular emphasis on the Achilles’ tendon), deposit money, and find solitary respite at my local watering hole. The establishment often plays 1940s and 50s Bebop. I sat down with Miles Davis, black coffee (decaf), and granola cake. Now, this was cool sophistication. It’d started to rain when I entered. Others followed seeking shelter. My customary perch was occupied … again. (‘Take it like a man, John!’):

2.30 pm: Back at my desk, I took up the cause of the morning’s inquiry for a further hour. I’d not yet got to the core reasons why the research needs to be undertaken and how the findings may be applied. Presently, my endeavour is driven by a curiosity to know for knowledge’s sake. From the outset, I’ve realised that this study will throw up more questions and possibilities than can be addressed in the paper. I’m opening a field, while at the same time trying to gather relevant academic studies within its boundary. One must attend to the bigger picture even as the smaller part is placed under the magnifying glass. 4.30 pm: I returned to the conference overview. Whatever other targets I’m aiming at, this one needs to be hit firmly at the bullseye.

5.20 pm: I wound down to Petula Clark’s I Know a Place (1964). So many memories are contained within that song. I wish I knew such a place.

 



August 17, 2018

I am putting myself to the fullest possible use which is all, I think, that any conscious entity can ever hope to do (HAL, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)).

2001: A Space Odyssey (courtesy of WikiMedia Commons)

Fifty years ago, Stanley Kubrick released his magisterial 2001: A Space Odyssey. I was nine years old, and remember the poster distinctly. At the time, the film was slammed by the critics for being, to their mind, boring, confusing, and pretentious. (It’s now widely acknowledged as a masterpiece of twentieth-century cinema.) Unable to persuade anyone to take me to a screening, I had to wait until the late 1970s, when the film appeared on TV. So began my love affair with the work. If, with a gun to my head, I was asked to name my all-time favourite film, then, this would be it. (There are works by David Lynch that come within a hair’s breath.) When I first saw 2001, I experienced something akin to David Bowman’s encounter with the monolith, as he travelled through the Star Gate towards the end of the film: utter bewilderment mixed with sublime astonishment.

The film taught me about metaphor; intellectual, visual, and musical abstractions; and the essential visuality of cinema. (Its first and last 20 minutes has no dialogue.) Subliminally, I learned that great art (and this film truly is) neither compromises form, craft, content, vision, seriousness, and aesthetics, nor panders to the limits of an audience or critics. (When has an artist owed anything to either?) Kubrick pushed the boundaries of the medium, the genre, and, as significantly, how the sound design could profoundly transform one’s apprehension of the moving images, and vice versa. The compositions of the avant-garde Hungarian composer György Ligeti, which the director drew upon extensively, not only opened my mind to new musical forms but also influenced the way in which I conceive of sound composition. People who are passionate about the film have something in common: they prefer questions to answers, mysteries to explanations, and have a deep-seated conviction or hope that humankind and the universe are overseen by someone of incomparable beneficence and transcendence. (Small wonder, then, that the Roman Catholic Church gave the film an award in 1969.)

I set apart the morning to complete my sound-word studies of the scriptures, with Ligeti’s Requiem (1965) in the background:

Ligeti is a master of silence (musical space). He distributes notes sparingly and sparsely, like small graphic marks on an extensive sheet of pristine white paper. But he can also organise dense clusters of sounds, like galaxies surrounded by thick dark empty space. The works are often a tension between complexity and simplicity, much and little, and something and nothing. (I hope, one day, to be as brave.) 12.15 pm: An early lunch (a reduced English Breakfast) before my elder son took his train back to London, a new career, and another phase in his life:

1.45 pm: An Instagram update, followed by studiology. (I should write an extended blog about my uses of, and attitudes towards, Instagram.) Back to ‘Write the Vision …’. I wanted to explore how far apart I could push the tonal spectrum. I aimed to range from 24 semitones below to 24 semitones above the native pitch. At this point in the compositional process, each constituent component has to make a case for its continued inclusion. I was also asking searching questions: ‘What am I avoiding?’; What’s missing?’; and What’s insufficiently challenging? Even if the audience (assuming there’s one) hates the work, I’d like to leave them with the impression that it wasn’t easy to achieve:

There’s a ferocity in the piece that I wasn’t anticipating. It sounds, in part, like a mortally wounded wild beast taking its last stand against the assailant. This isn’t an expression of my feelings. Rather, it’s a result of the process and, appropriately, a reflection of the venom in the source text. On with the cans for the first of several stereo-field mixes. All the time, I’m trying also to breathe space into the piece, and tease apart tones. In tandem, I mulled over the outcome of my turntable free-fall a few days ago, when I manipulated the recording of Scourby reading from Habakkuk and the acoustic writing of the same, together. Before, closing down my machines, I challenged myself to start and finish a composition in only 10 minutes, using this material. This exercise is a helpful counterpoise and antidote to endeavours that seem to take an age. ‘Incognito (for Jane and Sean)’:

 

7.30 pm: Responsibility for this Sunday morning’s Holy Communion intercessions had fallen to me. A preparation.

 

 

 

 



August 16, 2018

When sleep her balm denies, My silent spirit sighs (Anon., ‘When Morning Gilds the Skies’ (1828))

5.30 am: Did I sleep at all? Or, did I dream this restlessness? My mind, it seemed, had been neither in nor out of consciousness. I sat in the study, hoping to drift into the ‘land of sleep’, as the Theosophists would say:

8.00 am: A communion. I struggled and failed to keep awake. 9.00 am: ‘Where am I?’ It felt oddly late in the day. Back, with haste, to the paper and a review of yesterday evening’s efforts on the composition. I began a first draft of what’ll become a taxonomy of sound in the Bible:

11.40 am: Off to School to conduct a Skype tutorial with one of our PhD Fine Art student:

1.00 pm: After which, I had lunch with another.

One of the many privileges of teaching at this level are the encounters I’ve experienced with the mature and able people who’re behind the students. (The ‘student’ is merely one manifestation of, or role derived from, of a more complex and interesting totality.) Some of them have had to battle with insuperable challenges in their lives on occasions, while maintaining a footing in their studies. Their endeavours are admirable. Back at home, I continued my exploration of sound-related words in the Old and New Testaments. In the background: The Who’s I’m Free (1969) and Andy Williams’ Can’t Get Used to Losing You (1963). As a pre-teen, these were two songs that would stop me in my tracks, whatever I was doing, when broadcast on the radio. I loved their syncopations, and often wondered whether the latter had been an influence on Pete Townsend’s own song. 4.00 pm: Refreshments:

7.45 pm: In the evening, I stayed in word-search mode. Patterns and proclivities were emerging. I was intrigued. There are, too, expressions of sonic reality that I’ve either never read before or else overlooked. Reading the Bible for sound has given me a fresh insight into how the narrative representation functions, as well as ideas for compositions in the future.

 

 

 

 



August 15, 2018

The skies sent out a sound (Psalm 77. 17)

8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: Postgraduate admin and a rationalisation of my teaching timetable, to ensure that I’ve uninterrupted blocks of time for research during the next few weeks. 9.00 am: I reviewed yesterday’s work on the PowerPoint design, and further considered the nature of the ‘new’ Diary, which will supersede this one in its present from. I’ve not fully persuaded myself of the need for a continuing public account. Perhaps, I should return to an entirely private rumination. 9.45 am: Off to the School for an appointment review meeting. The building was resplendently empty:

A good meeting; all were in agreement. In the course of the discussion, we reflected upon a cluster of questions that’re becoming increasingly fashionable to ask at job interviews: ‘What decision have you made in the past that you now regret?’; What one thing would you now do differently?’; and ‘What are your weaknesses?’ Boy! An honest response would require a considerable degree of self-cognisance and humility on the part of the candidate. To each one of them, I’d reply: ‘How long have you got?’

11.30 am: Back at homebase, I considered my priorities for the hours until lunchtime and for the remainder of the day. Every part of each day must count. To begin, I created a sample slide of one of the paper’s illustrations. This will need to be tested at the School’s lecture theatre and seminar rooms. I need to know what this’ll look like in a variety of viewing conditions and on a range of equipment. It’s the same policy as I adopt for listening to audio mixes. And there’ll be sound samples imbedded in the PowerPoint to audition too. For my performance piece at the conference, I’ll take my own amplifiers and speakers. I wont risk my efforts being heard on inadequate technology; it’ll undermine the integrity of the piece. One must take control of that over that which one has control:

After lunch, I returned to the studio for the afternoon to review two compositions, whose ambitions have not yet been fully realised, and to reduce my performance rig as far as possible … for portability. This is an important consideration. The first sound performance I gave was at the close of a paper on my visual art entitled ‘An Anti-Icon: A Protestant Art Now’. It was delivered at the Department of Fine Art, University of Calgary, Canada, on September 23, 2009. I played ‘The Second Commandment‘. This was the first version of the composition:

The piece’s second outing, also recorded live, in a somewhat different arrangement, was at Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, USA on April 15, 2011. (The track opens the second CD on The Bible in Translation album (2016).) On both occasions, I’d schlepped a headless guitar, pedals, a pedalboard controller, power supplies, and cables in a heavy suitcase across two continents. (You can imagine what airport security made of all those little boxes of electronics.) The point is that you don’t want to carry more gear than necessary over great distances and on public transport.

The reduced version of the rig is centred on the MacBook, which supplies power to both the VirtualDJ controller and the sampler pad. The laptop will also record their inputs. The iPad will provide me with a map of the composition, which I’ll follow like a music score. The output from the computer will be sent via a Bluetooth connection to a pair of Bose Revolve+ active speakers in stereo formation. These have enough volume and sub-woofer ‘uumph!’ to unseat the conference delegates. (I’m out to shock!) All the electronic units can be operated on their internal batteries. This minimises cabling and is, therefore, an ideal arrangement for a short performance within a small space:

A little putting away of gear followed. A tidy studio is an efficient one.

7.30 pm: I examined ‘Write the Vision …’ with a view, now, to dividing up the components and inserting them into the sampler, in order to reproduce the composition live.

 

 



August 14, 2018

I slept poorly (again). Sleep eluded me for the first hour or so of the night. Following the pattern of the last few weeks, I woke around 3.00 am, as though something was beckoning me to attend to a matter.

8.30 am: Off to the Old College for a pair of finalising MA Fine Art tutorials. Both students were on track and on time. The deadline looms, and they must maintain nerves of steel. Like their predecessors, they want to give only of the very best, and to acquit themselves as consummate professionals. The closer the students get to the deadline, the greater the pressure, anticipation, and expectation. Which is why it’s important that they trust in their tutors’ confidence. We none of us get through this life unaided.

10.30 am: Back at homebase, PG Tips to hand, and (as a result of my teaching) fired to continue with my own work. I took up the reigns of the PowerPoint design. I’ll not be completely at ease until this is settled. (This is my Linus blanket.) In tandem, I returned a letter of correspondence to the conference convenor. Moses’ burning bush is fast becoming a theme of the paper (Exodus 3.1–17). There’s a small bush, the size of the bramble referred to in the biblical text, close to the rear of the School. I’d photographed it several times for my Instagram account. This would serve as the starting point for front-page’s design:

After lunch, and having now broken into the task, I stayed with it. The architecture and significance of the overall design and elements began to fall in place. Of course, one’s efforts can be scuppered by a poor projector or an inadequately darkened room at the venue. All subtly will be lost. But, on this occasion, I anticipate that professional conditions will prevail. The front page of the PowerPoint ought to encapsulate both the content of the paper and the attitude in which the topic will be explored. It’s the audience’s first impression. 4.00 pm: Draft 1:

On, then, with the image slide design.

A message from a man from the Isle of Man, to say that he’s ‘prohibited’ from reading the Intersections blog. Teething problems, alas. (If anyone is in the same boat, please send me your public IP address, and I’ll let you in manually. It’s only by notifying me that I’ll know you’re having difficulties. You can discover your IP address easily using the IPLocation site.)

7.30 pm: Back to the job applications. I’ll be meeting with the Head of School and Manager of the Institute to draw up a shortlist. For which I need to marshal my notes and pecking order. A chore for the remainder of the evening:

 

 

 

 



August 13, 2018

Extrication sometimes requires a severance of the many connections associated with a root problem. Like a malignant tumor, it has to be removed fully, and with surgical precision, from the organs surrounding it. This may involve cutting away perfectly healthy tissue too, in order to ensure that all traces of the disease are excised. 

Sunday. 12.10 pm: Fracture, Llanbadarn Road. (The metaphors proliferate.):

2.30 pm: A ‘rubbish’ run to Llanbadarn Church and back. I’d missed lunch, and so was insufficiently fortified. Between my ears, I listened to Public Image Ltd’s Metal Box (1980) album on the outward journey, and the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds (1966) on my return:

Monday. 8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: I dealt with the weekend’s email. (In the background: Burt Bacharach’s love songs.) 9.30 am: Studiology (briefly). I reviewed last week’s conclusion to ‘Write the vision …’, and listened again to ‘Lesser Light’. Had I put my brush down on the latter too soon? My perception of the earlier album tracks is changing in the light of the subsequent ones. Therefore, I’m committed to remaining open and responsive until after the final composition is complete. Only then will the whole set be nailed down.

10.00 am: I’d set aside the week to work on the conference paper. The programme is now published. It provided a steer to my own contribution. I now know what I needn’t do, because others are doing it, and what I must do in order to either fill any conspicuous gaps in the contributions, or venture beyond the boundaries of expectation. By the end of the process of writing, I want to know something about my topic that I don’t already know. I must first learn before I can teach others:

Composing a conference paper is no different than, say, writing an essay, except that it’s written to be spoken and accompanied by a para-discourse (the PowerPoint presentation). This includes (in my way of doing things) images, animations, text amplifications, and sound samples. Ideally, text, image, and sound ought to grow together as the argument is prosecuted.

After lunch …

On with biblical studies: the Vulgate, Hebrew, and English texts, and associated commentaries. I’m loath to say any more, lest I give the game away. I saw patterns and connections both within the topic at hand and to my preoccupations more widely. That was not only uplifting but also reassuring. I was on the right track.

My children have been mining their cupboards with a view to turfing out the contents. They’ve both reached that time in life when they must ‘put away childish things’. (Or, at least give them away to charity shops.) Naturally, it’s a slow process. Exclamations such as ‘Oh! Look … Wow!’ ‘We kept all these!’, ‘I remember this!’, and ‘Does it still work, do you think?’ drifted up the stairwell to my study. So many memories are embodied in, and triggered by, the our childhood toys and games. And it’s hard to let go of them. ‘Save some for your own children’, I implored. My elder son passed on to me his failed attempt to construct a guitar fuzz box. I believe this was one of his end of year school projects. Following in his old man’s footsteps:

Over dinner,  I regaled my boys with stories of how, as a prepubescent, I mutilated my toys in Dad’s shed at the bottom of the garden. Matchbox cars were slowly crushed in his metalwork vice; Corgi cars (along with ants’ nests) were filled with methylated spirit and set on fire; and small plastic soldiers, slowly erased against the orbital sander. I was a dreadful child. Small wonder that my parents didn’t allow me to keep small furry animals. Mercifully, none of these, admittedly highly satisfying, mutilations ever found their way into either my adult life or real-world behaviour. (Honest!):

7.30 pm: I’d not advanced as far as I’d hoped during the afternoon, and so pressed on with the ideation of the first part of the conference paper. I made notes related to the broadest context of the topic. I find it helpful to move from the micro to the macro and back again throughout the course of composition. It’s important to keep the whole and the part in relation and due proportion. I played Keith Jarrett’s Hymns/Spheres (1976) in the background. I suspect it was the sonorities of the church organ together with the melancholy of the declining light that cast my mind back to the year in which the album was released. I remembered the walk that I’d take, then, from my home to Blaenau Gwent Baptist Church, Abertillery, on overcast autumnal evenings. And I recalled, too, those friends of my own age whom I’d meet there, who’re no longer in this world: Katherine, Lyndon, Lisa, and Linda. How strange it is to be here still, when they are not:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



August 11, 2018

He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass (Psalm 72.6)

Saturday. A lazy start to the morning. I indulged a little sleep catch-up to offset my nights of stolen slumber, this last week. I’d been asked to look over a set of job applications. The post has been made vacant by the retirement of a staff member. In the context of Higher Education austerity cuts, the opportunity to make an appointment is becoming increasingly rare. (I never had the occasion to appoint a new staff member when I was Head of School. But those were different times, with other challenges.) Too often the responsibilities of the ‘departed’ staff member are absorbed by those who remain. The School of Art, which invariably punches above its weight, continues to be in a healthy position with regard to undergraduate and postgraduate recruitment. ‘More tea, please!’:

‘Specialised but not fossilised’, was one comment that I made. When I applied for full-time academic posts, having completed my PhD Art History in 1990, openings were few and far between. This was the beginning of an upheaval in higher education that I’ve lived through throughout my career. It was the end of the ‘golden age’, I was told. More changes have taken place since then, than in the previous century of university culture. The demands made on academics, today, are colossal. We work far, far harder than our predecessors. In an earlier generation, a professor may’ve waited until their retirement to publish their magnum opus . Today, they’re expected to have completed four major works every six or more years, and also to be an exceptional teacher and administrator. Small wonder they, along with other academics, suffer mental health problems, broken marriages, estrangement from their families, early burn out, and suicidal tendencies. Until relatively recently, academic contracts stated that employees had ‘no hours of work’. Of course, that meant that the diligent among them laboured every hour that God gave. Today, academics are contracted for 37 hours per week. Many work twice that long, of necessity.

After lunch, I pressed on:

In the background, Krysztof Penderecki’s Paradise Lost (1978). Its heartening to have so many very worthy applications to look over. I’m rather glad that I’m not on the selection panel. While I was grimly slogging away in the study, my children were gleefully constructing a version of me in the lounge:

Those beard and glasses have had pulled me out of the queue for security checks at airports, ‘randomly’, more times than I care to remember. I look dodgy; that’s the only conclusion I can draw.

5.20 pm: ‘Cease from strife’!

 

 



August 10, 2018

Things don’t make sense. You have to make sense of them.

7.45 am: A communion. 8.15 am: Postgraduate admin, before moving out to the School for a MA Art History dissertation tutorial with with one of Professor Cruise’s charge. (May he enjoy a long, happy, and fruitful retirement.):

9.45 am: I had an impromptu discussion with an intending BA Fine Art applicant. It takes more guts and gall to contemplate becoming a student when you’re in your middle years and beyond than when your eighteen years of age. Younger people come into education searching for a career; older students come, searching for themselves. Generally speaking, mature students have less confidence than their post-school counterparts at the outset, but a welter of experience, wisdom, determination, commitment, and energy. They know what they want, and are painfully conscious that this might be the last opportunity they’ll have to grasp it.

10.15 am: Studiology. I replaced the bacon-sliced introduction of Scourby reading the first part of the Habakkuk text with the original integrated version, and also a modified version of the scratch loop. So much better. (‘What were you thinking, John?’) From this point onwards, the layers of the composition would need to be stacked and reconciled on a moment-by-moment basis. In essence, the problem was that straightforward to resolve. But I still needed a climax prior to the thunderously mellow ‘afterglow’:

Punch in; punch out; punch in. Move (fractionally). Adjust volume. Listen. Listen. Stack. There’ s always a reason why a something works, finally. You need to study and learn from the solution, discern the underlying principle, and apply it, subsequently, in other the contexts of the work. At every point I asked myself: ‘What can I take away?’ What is the simplest expression of the proposition?’ The composition should only as long as is required to realise its possibilities. And, therefore, as short as possible.

After lunch, I continued to edit and compress, while paying particular attention to the moments of silence in the piece. Silence can be quite terrifying when placed immediately after a loud or volatile passage. It may signify either rest and cessation, or the calm before an even greater storm. Silence may be ambiguous. And therein, in part, lies its power. Today, the longed-for climax was the silence. By mid afternoon, having attached the second part of Scourby’s reading to the end of the thunder section, the composition was more or less in the bag. I needed, now, time away from the piece before finalising the mix.

I returned to the turntables:

The improvisation on August 8 had suggested a further set of possibilities. I wanted to manipulate, together, the recordings of the acoustic writing and Scourby reading, using the same modulation filters as I’d deployed on the previous occasion.

7.30 pm: Onto the decks for open-ended exploration of an idea:

My aim was to freewheel, while keeping one step ahead in my mind regarding the strategies and technological methods of manipulation. I reckoned that for every twenty minutes of playing I’d generate thirty seconds of listenable (as distinct from useable) material. This is what the work required of me. Who was I to demur?

 

 



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