November 6, 2017

7.45 am: A communion. 8.30 am: Full-throttle admin and state of the week review. There’s so much to pack in (again). Planning is half the battle; anticipating, a further quarter; and doing, the remainder.

9.00 am: Studiology. The task was to try and reconcile several alternative approaches to the Turn Table composition, without creating the proverbial dog’s dinner. First, I regularised the rhythm pulse (8-repeat base) of what would be the spine of the piece. The sample was created at the recent gallery event, and comprises the looping of the lead-in groove on one of the gospel discs. Creative wisdom is, in part, knowing what can be left out, even the really good material,  in order to allow other really good material space in which to breath. What can be left out didn’t belong there in the first place. In the end, ‘enough is enough’. For, it’s the whole rather than the parts that counts. There’s a logic to compositional structure (be it a sound work or a visual work; be it discerned rationally or intuitively) that determines the development and resolution of the whole.

10.30 am: I had something that was listenable. However, the sample that I’d evolved initially – for which all the subsequent samples were designed as adjuncts – wasn’t part of the whole any longer. Like the first stage of a Saturn V rocket, it had taken me into orbit and could, now, be jettisoned. Perhaps, I’ll deposit it, and one other groove-based sample, on my Studium site. 10.45 am: Tea time:

For the next hour, I jiggled sub sections of the samples around the beat track. There were times where the voice track needed to enter right on the beat; but, for the most part, it could ride alongside it, casually. As in life, one must know when to assert and when to back off. Dynamic and differential volumes were, then, modified to secure continuity of loudness throughout, while key moments were emphasised with discreet amplitude boosts.

12.30 pm: The sound system for Turn Table could now be dismantled:

1.00 pm: Off to School with an oat bar for lunch. Turns out that the oat bar had been dropped at some point in its lifetime. It poured from the packet onto the table like coarse sand. Talk about spoon fed. 1.45 pm: An afternoon of second-year Personal Tutorials, with a pile of admin at my elbow to undertake in the spaces created by absenteeism. I can appreciate why some don’t turn up. I’m like a GP who asks patients to visit the surgery when there’s nothing ailing them. I’m constantly astonished at the capacity of some students to overcome the deep-dyed disadvantages and traumas of their past. They deserve a medal, as well as a degree.

Throughout the afternoon, I punched my keyboard in a bid to fight off the backlog of small but pressing teaching prep and admin ‘to dos’ that had accumulated on my Post-it washing line:

5.00 pm: A consultation with the dementia project working party. We need to be more assertive about our contribution to the endeavour

5.30 pm: Home and a rummage around for dinner materials and tool. ‘Where did I put all the tea towels, and the oven glove, and washing-up liquid and …’.

6.30 pm: Back into the study for the evening (with David Bowie’s Black Star in the background):

I wrote down, for the working party, the undertakings we had agreed at this afternoon’s consultation. On, then, with choosing a shortlist of music for the radio broadcast recording on Wednesday, I wanted to address the prescription regarding ‘Christian’ music only a little more obliquely and broadly than might be anticipated:

  1. J S Bach, Choral Prelude BMV720 ‘Ein Feter Burg ist Unser Gott’.
  2. John Tavener, ‘The Lamb’
  3. John Harvey, ‘Preach to the Beat’
  4. Steve Reich, ‘It’s Gonna Rain’ [extract]
  5. Gaelic Psalm Singing: ‘Psalm 79’
  6. G F Handel, ‘Zadok the Priest’ from Solomon
  7. Philip Glass, ‘Hymn’ from Akhnaton [extract]


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