July 23, 2015

9.00 am. I extracted further, short, and loopable samples from The Wounded Heart Ministries sound source, disinfected my inbox, and settled to the first lecture. When writing a lecture for verbatim delivery, I try to envision myself speaking the lines. Otherwise, the text sounds too bookish and austere. In this sense, the text is equivalent to the actor’s script. There’s a low ratio of text to illustration. This is deliberate. Ideas need to be constantly grounded in images (to which, IMO, art history should always return the listener/reader). So, I use pictures (and sounds, sometimes) liberally, but purposefully:

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One’s own experience of lecturing is always the best tutor. What has either bored or enthralled me in the lectures that I’ve heard? What was memorable, and what made it so? At what points did I lose interest in the lecture? Who was to blame: the lecturer or me? (We are all prone to lazy inattention. We each have a responsibility to actively work at a lecture. It’s not a passive experience.) How did the lecture’s connect with who and where I was? And, how did the lecturer address ideas that were either bigger than, or outside of, and illuminative of, art? (That’s always been my intent.)

1.40 pm. Music is one such idea. It’s an adaptable analogical foil for visual art, one that, along with architecture, I’ll be drawing upon often on this module. To write a module is to tell a story. Each lecture, like a chapter, advances the plot. (Why can’t art history be a good yarn?) And, as in a book that you can’t put down, there needs to be the occasional plot twist, an unexpected encounter, a strange beginning or ending, a cliffhanger, a non sequitur, and a shocking revelation.

6.20 pm Practice session 1. 7.30 pm. Attention needed to be paid to two back-burner projects: the My Heart is Broken in Three disc and the ‘singing nun’ [working title] track. The latter is based upon sections of instrumental music sampled from the 33 rpm soundtrack of the film The Singing Nun (1966). The samples have been recorded directly from the deck, in reverse, at low speed, and with the pitch dropped significantly:

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The extraordinary melancholy of the recomposition struck me immediately and forcibly. The strings, heard against the click and hiss caused by a combination of static, mould, and scratches on the vinyl, sound like those of an underpowered Mellotron (the first playable sampling device). The sadness of the music is not out of keeping with the circumstances surrounding the life of French nun Jeanne Deckers (1933-85), on whose early experiences the film is very loosely based. She and her partner, Annie Pécher (both Roman Catholics), committed suicide together in a response to financial difficulties which Decker incurred following the decline of her musical career. Deckers sang to the accompaniment of a guitar. For this reason, I have in mind writing an extended electric guitar solo to accompany the recomposition, samples towards which I’m presently deriving from the soundtrack (which will be out of copyright next year).

Curiously, I’d chosen The Singing Nun soundtrack from the family’s collection of vinyls merely to test the setup of my two DJ decks, and on the surmise that the album was least likely to render anything useable. Well, there you go …

 

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