April 13, 2018

7.00 am: A communion. 7.30 am: Admin, and preparations for the week of teaching ahead. Managing time takes times. There’s a great deal of teaching to done, admin to initiate, and research to progress. I aim for a balanced proportion, where at all possible. The pace of the School will accelerate during the weeks leading up to the final BA and MA fine art shows (mid-May). This is the last lap, and the most invigorating period in the academic year.

In the background, Miles Davis’ Go Ahead John (1974) was playing. (I always turn to music as a lubricant when undertaking admin tasks.) The composition, which is a collage of overlaid takes – deftly produced by Teo Macero (one of the great masters of the mix) – was dedicated to John McLaughlin, the guitarist featured on the recording. I’ve often turned to this track as a commendation to myself when I’ve either lost momentum or needed to take courage and move forward against the odds and discouragement in my life and work. The central section is a double-trumpet blues. Achingly beautiful. I hear my heart in it. (And, yes, I too have noticed that I’m referring to the emotions far more these days. Whatever happened to ‘Mr cold, steely, detached, and rationale’?)

In between substantial tasks, I battled with a problem, caused by the recent MacOS Sierra update, logging into the university’s various portals. Sometimes, the tools of one’s trade rebel. I engaged a sporadic email conversation with our Information Services department, to try and find a fix. By lunchtime, the small fry had been dealt with, some student submissions reviewed, and my list of ‘things to do’ contracted to the span of a medium-sized Post-it. The remainder could be done only when my computer problem was solved.

1.30 pm: I reviewed the final edit of ‘The Lesser Light’, listening for stereo field placement and balance, and awkward or too aggressive volume/hi frequency incidents. In several of the quieter passages, I can hear something that sounds like choral singing. Perhaps, I conjectured, I’d found the solution to a project which was conceived only notionally some years back: ‘the singing in the air’. This is a supernatural phenomenon, supposedly, that many witnessed during times of religious revival in Wales and elsewhere. Believers claimed to have heard what sounded like heavenly choirs either in the sky above villages or the rafters of chapels where revival was about to break out.

2.00 pm: Off to town for a haircut. I don’t usually indulge this monthly ritual on a weekday unless absolutely necessary. Aberystwyth has been cocooned in a light fog since the early hours. The distant formations of the land were entirely covered. The Irish Sea dissolved into the sky:

The hairdressers was filled with women bedecked with layered tin foil strips, looking like components from a NASA satellite assembly workshop.

3.00 pm: Back at my desks, I continued the struggle to rectify my computer’s and the Aberystwyth University website’s relationship problems. Alongside, I made further adjustments to volume spikes on ‘The Lesser Light’. (What a bizarre sentence!) Balancing a sound composition is no different in approach to resolving a painting, in my experience.

7.30 pm: I returned to admin. The computer problem had, after much head scratching, been solved. The big fry could now be addressed: postgraduate admissions decisions and a response to the Module Evaluation Questionnaire for our two exhibition modules, which were each scored at 100% satisfaction:

I played The Bible in Translation (2016) in the background. I enjoy listening to my own work. It’s what I want to hear; that’s why I made it. The new album feels as though it’ll be a synthesis for the first two parts of the trilogy, in terms of sonorities and techniques.

The recent gang rape of a young Muslim girl, Asifa Bano, in India has appalled me. Rape at any age is a contemptible act, and a horrific experience for the victim, who may very likely be scarred for life. No one submits to rape; that is, in part, what defines the violation. But when someone so very young and utterly defenceless (as are all rape victims) is set upon by eight men (one for each year of her life) the crime assumes altogether new proportions.

8.30 pm: I returned to reviewing the adjustments made to ‘The Lesser Light’. Some of the sounds remind me the screech made by Tube trains as their wheels bind against the tracks when taking a curve.

 

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