August 8, 2018

Tears sealed in a clear glass jar and cast into the sea: transparent fluids of different densities, one within another

Last night, as I fell towards sleep, Kate Bush’s The Man With the Child in His Eyes haunted my internal sound world. Does the memory throw up such things arbitrarily? Or is the mind talking to consciousness – endeavouring to either understand or express a felt response to matters of the heart and soul that cannot otherwise be processed or articulated internally?

5.30 am:

When, during the early hours of the morning, sleep eludes me, I either lie on the study floor or sit in my rocking chair, in the hope that a different environment may send me back into Morpheus’ arms:

8.00 am: A communion. 8.45 am: Admin. 9.45 am: Studiology and a review of yesterday’s work. Johnny Cash’s ‘The Man Comes Around‘ (2002) (which I referred in yesterday’s entry) is bookended by readings from ‘The Revelation of St John the Divine’. In this way, Cash divides the source text from the imaginative and expository application of such (the song), in between. I wondered whether this might be a solution to one of my compositional dilemmas. I’ve wanted to include the biblical verse on which ‘Write the Vision … ‘ is based while, at the same time, containing it. In this way, the conceptual integrity of the piece (an articulation of the source text using only the sound of writing) would be maintained, and also explained. Cash’s reading from the Bible is curious. It sounds as though he’d captured his voice using a lo-fi medium, like a mono cassette recorder, in a non-studio setting. Moreover, there’s a distinct scratching sound in the background (perhaps caused by some mechanical binding within the recording machine), not unlike that made by my pencil on the paper support as I wrote.

I digitised the Habakkuk verse, re-equalised the capture so as to reflect some of the same sonorities as Cash’s recording, and divided it into two parts:

Once inserted into the DAW’s session, I underwrote the sample with a repeating scratch, derived from the acoustic writing recording, following the example of the Cash extract. The idea worked well. How strange that this solution should’ve arisen from a casual act of listening to music during a car ride home. (It’s in the wider sphere of life that answers to the questions of art are frequently found. The reverse is also true.)

After lunch, I began dividing up the first part of the Habakkuk recording in order to better accommodate the speech to the beat of the scratch sample. 3.30 pm: Then, I returned to the turntables to generate a final layer of samples using one deck only. This operation required precise control. But, first, I limbered up with an improvisation that, unexpectedly, suggested yet unconsidered possibilities. (Sometimes, you just need to lose control in order to find a way.):


7.30 pm: I sifted through the files I’d made, and extracted useable samples for the next layer of composition. My concern, presently, is that the composition is too flat, dynamically. It needs to climax … but not at the end of the piece (which is represented by the thunderous section). A sound composition of this type finds it’s shape in the process of being put together – just as does an abstract painting, where there’s no pre-ordained system or structure; just as our life does, if it’s lived with an open hand.

An evening passed to the west:





Previous Post
August 7, 2018
Next Post
August 9, 2018