July 11, 2017

But what if the way loses you?

The story so far …

Yesterday. I presented my paper ‘One-to-One-to-Many: sharing the fruit of individual instruction with the learning community, using social media’ at B20 Llandinam, as part of the university’s annual learning and teaching conference. The audience’s response and the discussion that followed were positive and generous. Several ideas that arose were worthy of further elaboration:

Digital technology and social media extend the possibilities offered by analogue technology and modes of communication. The former does not obviate the latter. Indeed, we appreciate the peculiar characteristics of analogue equipment, processes, and products in the light of the digital equivalents far more than we did before the revolution. The ideal is to remain open, and creatively adaptive with respect, to both systems. In my experience, significant opportunities lie at the intersection of the two.

On this occasion I took with me a portable music stand to serve as a lectern. (It’s presence suggested that I might sing the lecture.) The ‘Star Trekky’ consoles, in the lecture theatres and seminar rooms of HE institutions today, don’t provide space for a reading stand on their table tops. The furniture prioritises the needs of the technology rather than those of the speaker. An ill-considered design. Job done!

Today. 6.00 am: A wakeful morning. I published the sound samples composed for Mr Ruddock’s artwork 2A. 9.00 am: studiology. I reviewed the first complete section of ‘The Blind Leading the Blind’ sound piece. This may yet turn out to be the totality of the work. I’ve no sense whatsoever of the shape and structure of the whole project. This unnerves me. All that I can perceive is the way in which one part touches another. But, better to be in unchartered waters than repeating oneself. There are times when those securities to which we cling need to be ripped away from us in order for the unexpected and unlikely to occur.

Steve Parry made contact with me via FaceBook. Like me, he’s an experimental guitarist, originally from the south wales valleys.

He lived in Pontypool and I, in Abertillery. Our towns were divided by a mountain range – the Coety. Steve would have grown up looking at one side of it and I, the other. Two complimentary perspectives on the same thing. This is the seed of an idea:

Mynnyd Coety © Google Earth (fair use provision)

11.00 am: I began a sound work based on the two accounts of blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10.46–52, Luke 18.35–43). The texts are interlaced in such a way as to reveal commonalities and differences. The process involves segmenting the recording of each account and mapping the pieces together, alternately. This method of harmonisation can produce some astonishingly poignant results.

A new microphone for field recording:

I’m planning to record the sounds on top of the Arael Mountain, which overlooks Abertillery. I have not listened there for decades:

Steve Parry’s evocation of the acoustic sonorities of the valleys chimes with my own experience and memories:

The mountains where sound echoed throughout the valley, hair on the back of your neck sounds where bird-song often would be accompanied by the sound of an industrial hammer and the chiming of a distant church bell. This remained the sound of youth – the sound of church and choir and an environment with heavy industry (Steve Parry / Hwyl Nofio 13 Questions).

During the evening, I familiarised myself with the microphone and its connection with my digital recorder. Whoever wrote the manual …. !!!!!



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