January 29, 2016

8.45 am. I pay heavily for a night off! During the first hour of the working morning, podcasts were uploaded for students to access, tutorial appointments issued, next week’s teaching diary filled, meetings set up, and correspondence resolved. This was academic housekeeping. 9.30 am. The morning was dedicated to conspectus development. If I made reasonable progress on the project, I would allow myself back into sound studio after lunch. 10.30 am. I descended to the ground floor for some tea-lubrication:


11.00 am. My head in now in the right place now; I had searched for an opening, and have found one. Within, there’s a breadth of potential research perspectives that were not conceivable this time last week. I suspect that many of my students whose art practice is through writing assume that academics can breeze through the process of conceptualisation, composition, and articulation. They don’t. Well … I don’t. My experience of writing, today, is little different to what it was when I was completed my undergraduate dissertation (lovingly typed my dear Mam, in a day when word processing wasn’t even conceivable):


I still find it an immensely dispiriting slog at times: ideas fail to emerge, concepts won’t coalesce, the expressions are either leaden, cumbersome, vaguely pompous (and just plain vague, sometimes), or otherwise inelegant; and, the whole process takes me far too long. But I’ve got better at it.

1.40 pm. A spot of studio clearance before returning to Image & Inscription, section 6. I slowed down the underlying pulse. (It now sounds somewhat like the ‘thumper’ in David Lynch’s Dune (1981).) The attack and decay on the static sample were increased, the sine wave tone lengthened, and low-tone drones introduced. 3.45 pm. A review of section 5. It sounded as good as I remembered. 4.00 pm. Back at section 6 until the end of the afternoon:


7.00 pm. I had the central spine of the section resolved. The next challenge was development. This necessitated reviewing the source text and my library of recorded samples. (Gather your materials before you build!) To work with sound and noise requires an innate musicality. There’s no avoiding it. By 8.45 pm, the first part of section 6 was complete. The second part may be the dramatic centre of the whole composition: the sound of trumpets — loud and long.