June 25, 2015

8.05 am. As I was preparing breakfast, the theme of the next sound conference arrived in my head. Such things come, like the biblical thief in the night, at a time you least expect. 8.30 am. I received an email from a PhD student at venerable Scottish university asking whether I’d review a sample of their writing on theology and one of the visual arts. Having written on and practiced the subject, and been an external examiner for, and supervisor of, theses in this interdisciplinary field, I know how hard it is to develop more than competence in that area that lies beyond one’s native training and expertise. I wrote:

What a fascinating project. You’re boldly going where few have gone before. And, no doubt, having undertaken the project, you now understand why. Studying theology in an interdisciplinary context inevitably means that you (and your supervisor) will have one foot on thin ice.

8.50 am. At the School, I posted off the postgraduate monitoring forms. My collection of sci-fi desk toys is now graced by a model Tardis:

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9.30 am. On the walk home (ambulation is a great lubricant for the mind), and following the lead presented by my ‘revelation’ at breakfast, one word pressed itself upon me. I measured its definitional dimensions with my magnum Compact Oxford English Dictionary:

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The word perfectly encapsulates all four parameters of the new theme. A gift! My only uncertainty is whether to use its noun or adjectival form.

10.30 am. I returned to the sound studio to continue mastering the new album’s tracks:

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Afterwards, I picked up a sample that I’d previously rejected for inclusion on the album. I’m giving it one last chance before consigning it to the Studium site. The recording captures the close of a long and evidently exhausting service of Christian demonic deliverance involving children and adults. In the (vaguely post-coital) aftermath, two girls offer a prayer of thanksgiving, one in English and the other in what may be tongues. Their quiet adoration is set against the distant and ubiquitous presence of ‘worship music’, here abstracted to a plaintive motif. I’m attempting to resolve the composition counterintuitively by superimposing, what I would otherwise consider to be, irreconcilable sound sources.

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7.30 pm. Something is opening up. I’m playing a sample of  the two girls’ voices in a loop against an adult male voice reading a litany of different medical ailments. The contrast between relative stasis and movement, repetition and variation, works well. Noises made by the tape recorder on which the original recordings were made were added to the composition, along with isolated fragments from samples that recall voices embedded in EVPs.

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