December 11, 2015

6.10 am. I couldn’t see myself getting back to sleep and again, so I mopped up small admin tasks. (I wanted to dedicate the best part of the day to the important stuff.) 8.30 am. A final edit and formatting of my talk about the Nativity in Art, for Sunday afternoon. 10.30 am. Back into the sound studio to review the three recordings that I’d derived from the fragments of My Heart of Broken in Three. While this was not the most important project to be going on with at present, it’s the one for which, this morning, I had the clearest vision/audition. Sometimes, considerations of this nature have to take precedence over all others, for there was no guarantee that like perspicuity would grace me on any other day. By the lunchtime, I’d made significant headway:

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 15.39.29

1.40 pm. Onto the last stretch of the initial compositional construction. By 2.00 pm, the process was complete. The next stage was to adjust all the sound samples to maximise cohesion and to ensure that the whole work fitted within the 6 minute and 18 second time frame. The final stage of development, prior to mastering, involved a balancing of the volume across all the samples. This involved a deep listening (which is rewarding in and off itself) to the tracks’ beats, rhythms, and transitions. The process had to be undertaken over headphones; exclusive concentration was of the essence. 3.00 pm. It was time for an initial mixdown of all the tracks and a minimum of remastering. I wanted to preserve the sonic quality of the source intact. My golden rule is to interfere as little as possible with the original material.


One of the intriguing characteristics of the source recording is its stereophony. While the record is monaural, the playback cartridge on the turntable  is stereo. Consequently, scratches and glitches on the disc’s surface are rendered on two channels, thus endowing the recording with a broad left to right field presence. The only mastering required was a significant hard limiting of volume peaks produced by loud bumps and the imapct of the stylus with the edges of the fragments. This ‘warmed’ the core sounds of the composition considerably. (I’d not experienced this phenomenon before.)


After EQing the track, I launched it to my sound website in order to achieve a degree of objectivity on, and distance from, the composition — to hear in as an audient, rather than as its maker.

6.15 pm. I attended a retirement ‘do’ held in honour of Professor Len Scott, at the International Politics Department. Len was on form. His parting speech was sugar, salt, and vinegar applied with humour, panache, and decorum. He must have been a winning lecturer:


7.30 pm. It struck me with a degree of blinding obviousness that this project should be made up of three pieces or compositions, rather than one only (as I’d originally intended). One of the new pieces should be today’s completed recording digitally speeded up to the equivalent of 78 rpm. The final composition is likely to involve a recording made of all three fragments playing simultaneously.

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