November 3, 2017

6.30 am: I could sleep no longer, and so attended to bits of admin that I was too tired to clear last night. 7.45 am: Following breakfast, a communion. 8.30 am: Further admin arising from admin completed last evening. (‘Of the making of [emails] there is no end’.) 9.15 am: Studiology.

The objective over the weekend was to complete the composition arising from the Turn Table project. Most of the elements were in place. I needed only to complete an extraction of further aggressive and tospy-turvy table turning, and to integrate that into the collage. To the decks, then:

I didn’t know what type of wall I wanted to build. But I did know what type of bricks were required. That was sufficient at the outset of the endeavour. You can only know what you know at any given time. And knowing something is better than knowing nothing. By 11.00 am, I’d nearly half an hour of useable material with which to build.

The first pass over the material involved deleting all the silly Alvin and the Chipmunks sounds resulting from manipulating the disc at too high speed. This is easily done on a disc that’s designed to rotate at only 16¾ rpm. Sounds which were too closely associated with the culture of DJ turntabling were also omitted; most of these were either predictable, cliched, or otherwise inappropriate to the tenor of the composition. I was searching for something darker and more unsettling. 12.00 pm: The studio was getting cold; on with the oil heater.

1.20 pm: I find it harder to turn order into chaos than vice versa. What I had in my ‘mind’s-ear’ was something that sounded dislocated, up-ended, and scattered … and yet remained, fundamentally, deliberate and coherent. Our life’s experience can sometimes be like that: furniture is over turned, objects fly passed our heads and smash against the wall, the carpet is pulled from beneath us, and little about us makes sense. However, behind the furore and disarray we suspect that there’s a principle at work, the pattern and shape of which will become clearer with time. We just have to endure the present and wait patiently.

2.00 pm: Once all of the ‘cards’ were on the table, I could begin to shuffle them. ‘Ah! Cards’, John. I consulted my Oblique Strategies. Advice (with a choice):

I opted for the former, and endeavoured to integrate all the extracted samples. 2.30 pm: A thought: What if I assigned the sound samples to cards, shuffled them, laid out the cards in the order in they’d been chosen at random, and assembled the samples accordingly. A chance procedure, then … just to kick things off:

I don’t believe in chance as a general principal of life. ‘Things don’t just happen’ (as the old hymn goes). I don’t consider myself an unwilling victim of the arbitrary and fortuitous, blind fate, or impersonal destiny. Such concepts don’t fit within my world view. However, as a method for non-intentional decision making, I’m all for chance. The outcome of the shuffle presented me with a linear and discontinuous set of statements. This I could work with; this I could disrupt. Thereafter, I played it by ear.

By mid afternoon, I could sense the growing darkness, as a, now, prematurely closing and overcast day entered the studio. The onset of winter has its own peculiar melancholy. I’d been asked to advertise on the School’s social media sites events to advise students on dealing with sexual harassment. I was more than happy to. The recent rash of disclosures about inappropriate contact perpetrated by male government ministers and celebrities has appalled me. Men in power are not above decency. And truly powerful men have mastery over their passions.

4.40 pm: I and one of my colleagues were booked to present a talk on blogging at 5.10 pm (the final class of the day; the graveyard shift). Karen and I did a sequential double-act.

6.00 pm: Finished. Hungry. 6.30 pm: Following dinner (quick to cook; quick to eat), I uploaded the afternoon’s teaching materials.

7.30 pm: I returned, briefly, to the turntables to generate a little more ‘noise’ in order to offset the clarity of the speech recordings (which had been captured directly from the vinyl, without digital processing):

Back, then, to sample sequences that I’d begun to assemble during the afternoon. The composition doesn’t need to be resolved; it’s only one contributor to a greater whole that has to be resolved. It was raining outside; I could hear the irregular and somewhat manic pitter-patter of raindrops falling from the troughing. The sound was both a comfort and an unwanted distraction.



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