September 24, 2015

7.30 am. The big day; the long day. The prisoner ate a hearty breakfast before acting upon several good ideas that broke his sleep at 4.30 am this morning. 9.00 am. On the mark, Mr Garrett arrived to ship my gear to the National Library of Wales. I was astonished that it all fitted into his hatchback with space to spare. 9.30 am. Unpacked, installed, and readied to unbox:

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9.45 am. The next phase is always the most stressful: putting the kits together, pressing ‘on’, and hoping everything works as well as it did in the studio. (The whole system was fully tested before dismantling. But that may mean nothing now.)

11.3o am. With the set up completed, I put into action a thorougher operational run, component by component:

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12.00 am. My 24-hour open studio had begun. Immediately, members of the public poked their heads around the door. I found the conversations encouraging. They grasped and enthused about the concept, and seemed to genuinely engage, emotionally, the sounds that were being produced:

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It takes a little time to acclimatise to a different working environment — in effect to be simultaneously fully aware of, and oblivious to, it as one works. At 1.00 pm, Drs Noland and Roberts made a supportive visit. We discussed how a project such as this could be considered ‘research’, and the possibility of returning to this venue with the project in a performance capacity.

2.00 pm. I fielded the questions from more visitors. Nothing wrong with that; that’s the whole point of an open-studio event: public engagement. I soon realised that most of the serious work would only take place once the library had closed, at 6.00 pm. I concentrated on developing my turntable dexterities, and made slow-motion sound capture from both units simultaneously, and played the modified sounds derived from the recordings of the engravers in the background. The process of composition involves an integration of the sound of the voices and of the engravings. So, I needed to get use to hearing them together.

5.33 pm. Mrs H delivered my dinner, and work continued:

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6.10 pm. The Library was closed. Only a few security guards, who’d be patrolling the building periodically throughout the night, were in the building. I’m appreciating the architecture of the Drwm, now that I’ve bonded with the environment. The reverberant acoustics of the interior were perfect for my purposes:

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7.00 pm. I considered rerouting the looper array by taking it from of the end of the effects chain and placing it at the beginning. I’d not the additional cable types with me to implement the plan at the library. And, on into the early evening, with 15 hours to go:

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My attention was now focussed on creating short looped samples from a manipulation of the turntables, with motors off, which were afterwards processed and recorded. The temperature dropped moderately. I began turning off as much of the Drwm’s ambient lighting as I could in order to concentrate the illumination on the area around the console. The night was young:

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My movements within the library were confined to a corridor leading to the toilets. The emptiness and darkness of the interior, set against the sound track of the somewhat menacing drawl of my looped samples, was a little unsettling. Outside the Drwm, they sounded like the growls of some dreadful prowling beast. (Shouldn’t the security guards be looking in on me more often? What happened to them?) :

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9.30 pm. I was conscious of noises in and outside the room:  the drone of a refrigerator cooling; automated switches turning on and off; doors closing a far off; and bumps and cracks as the building contracts in the night air. (I hope.) Time to put on my hoody!

10.00 pm. Like a man cast adrift on the ocean without prospect of immediate rescue, I began rationing myself squares of chocolate and my remaining biscuits. My body began to protest. It wanted sleep. This would be the first of several rebellions against the glorious cause that I’d have to fight off before daybreak. 10.30 pm. A distraction: I watched a YouTube tutorial to learn how to edit samples on one of my devices. (I feel someone’s watching me, too!):

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11.30 pm. The day has been an immersive experience. I’ve developed new facilities and awareness; I’m more comfortable with my gear; and I’ve, now, a store of useable material. 11.59 pm. Half way! But the worst is yet to come.

 

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