January 21, 2016

8.30 pm. An early morning kerfuffle concerning a planned viva voce this afternoon, which has had to be postponed until tomorrow. Round and round the problem travelled from one email correspondent to another — forwarded, copied, resent, and replied — and from phone to phone. It took two hours and much goodwill to resolve. At such times, I remind myself that I’m being paid for this. 11.00 am. I had three quarters of an hour before a pre-semester tutorial. I returned to the sound studio and familiarised myself with the narrative movements for section 6. In the source text, there’s much movement on the part of both Moses and God — ascending and descending — and a great deal of loud noise. First, however, the counterpoise of a serene and solemn interlude (section 5) required resolution.

11.45 am. Off to the School. My amaryllis is prospering. The office is as hot as a greenhouse during the winter and spring (I cannot turn off the radiator because the regulating tap has been painted over and seized up), so I’m exploiting the environment by introducing pot plants:

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1.40 pm. Further administrative preparations for the rescheduled viva were required. 2.00 pm. Drones and voice samples for section 5 were manufactured. I needed to maximise a sense of quiet constancy and stasis while, at the same time, maintain an intensity and tension. The voice in my head said: ‘Make the composition uneventful, but fulsome; chaste, but yearning; short in length, but wide in scope’.

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6.30 pm. Practice session 1: an exploration of tones using a heavy compression. 7.30 pm. I reviewed the afternoon’s work on section 5. ‘Pair it down; strip each sound of its excess of frequencies; find the pattern in the drone, and stress it; discover and define the undergirding logic; work with and against that logic; two things are enough, when one isn’t’; one thing is enough, when nothing isn’t’; make less do more’, the inner-teacher insisted. (I’m as much his victim as my students are.)

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