7.50 am. A number of emergency admin tasks were undertaken. 9.00 am. Variously, back to yesterday’s sound work and to further ruminations on the new theme for the conference. When confronted with a compositional impasse (as indeed I am), the following 10-point strategy is deployed:
- Sleep on it; (only so much can be achieved in one session).
- Remove one element; (either temporarily or permanently).
- Remove another; (either temporarily or permanently)
- Make one element more prominent.
- Make the remaining elements do more.
- Insert either a new element or one that was excised early on in the compositional process
- Compress the composition; (keep it as short as necessary).
- Interrogate the composition’s rational; (all of one’s decisions are questionable).
- Eradicate the predictable; (formulaism is a manifestation of laziness).
- Listen to a very different type of composition by another artist; (attend to the production values, in particular).
11.10 am. I served as a tour guide to our piano tuner, Mr Backhouse. After he’d tweaked our domestic ivories, I escorted him to the two other loci of my life: Holy Trinity Church and the School of Art to do business with their respective baby grands:
More generally and habitually, in the process of sound composition I:
- review the original samples to determine whether they’ve been over-processed. Ideally, the original recordings should remain as true to their source as possible, sonically. (This is a lesson which I’ve learned by example from Pierre Schaeffer‘s principles for musique concrète);
- work on the beginning and on the end of the composition alternately to ensure that the logic of the one mirrors that of the other;
- divide the whole composition into 20 second sections, and develop each of them in turn and in isolation, and, afterwards, as a continuity;
- isolate a track and work as though the whole composition depended upon it;
- pay attention to the position of each track within in the stereo field.
4.00 pm. The composition is taking shape, but lacks something — like unsalted food. Sometimes, there’s simply not enough ‘air’ between the layers of sound:
4.30 pm. I can no longer hear the wind for the breeze. I must do something else, and return to the work tomorrow. Reading:
7.30 pm. Sourcing equipment purchases.