April 11, 2018

David, on the Death of Jonathan

told him
slay me: for anguish is come upon me
they mourned, and wept, and fasted
the beauty fallen
tell it not
lovely and pleasant in their lives

I am distressed
thy love to me was wonderful
passing love.

6.00 am: Still. No bird song. Nothing. Only the sound of my own movements. The clock above the study window, which had been losing time over the last few months, had stopped, finally. (‘Losing time’.) There’ve been a very few and significant mornings in my life when I’ve awoken to a world that felt subtly but discernibly and yet indefinably different to what it’d been like yesterday. It’s as though I’m experiencing it through the consciousness of someone else. Gradually, this awareness recedes and the familiar tone of reality reasserts itself. Today was one such. 7.00 am: A communion.

Yesterday, I began marking my portion of the Art in Wales project submissions, had an appointment at the hospital to review my recent operation, and began to re-equalise one of the stretched samples of the ‘Moon’ verse collage. What remained of that day, cannot be uttered.

8.00 am: I returned to assessing Art in Wales papers. Each takes an hour to complete. I’ve never been able to process text submissions any faster. 9.30 am: A doctor’s appointment, via a quick ‘shop’ at Morrisons. (Should that have an apostrophe ‘s’?) 11.00 am: A helpful consultation with referrals in the offing. Back to the project assessment for the remainder of the morning.

After lunch, I reviewed a one and a half hour stretch of the 6 minute and 18 second sample that had be processed overnight. The file was nearly 5 GB in size. The new rendering is half as long again as the previous stretch:

The sonorities are more mellow, spatial, layered, emphatic, and frightening. Better all round. The ‘fear’ factor was unanticipated. Nevertheless, it does summon a sense of the vastness of space and the Moon’s forbidding desolation. There was a completeness to the outcome. My instincts said: ‘Do not touch … much’. (Guild not the lily.) But it was too long both for the purposes of the CD, and in proportion to the other compositions (individually and as suites) on that ‘side’ of the album.

It’s curious how some of my compositions evoke sounds heard on TV programmes in childhood. On reviewing the stretched sample, I recalled Barry Gray’s music/soundscape for the closing sequence of Gerry Anderson’s sci-fi serious UFO (1970) which, in turn, was evidently influenced by the soundtrack for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1964). My composition also drew me back to a sequence of reversed sound at the close of the opening titles to Patrick McGoohan’s and George Markstein’s The Prisoner (1967). Such relationships are fortuitous or coincidental in the case of this sample. (These days, I’m revising my view of coincidences.) For it’s the outcome of a concept and a process acting together, with minimal intentionality on my part.

I decided to divide the sample into 10-15 minute sections, and then edit out from each those parts which are either uneventful, or repetitive, or too abrasive to the ear.


I began work on section 1. Rigour and critical dispassion were the call of the hour. The aim was to identify salient sonorities, ‘highlights’, and variations. After the tenth play through, it became far easier to identify what was dead weight and retarding the forward momentum of the composition. I suspect that the whole will proceed through three movement, with no division between them.

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