8.30 am. Looked into my inbox: things to be done; people to see; a diary to fill. 9.45 am. Eagerly and with expectation, I bounced back into the sound studio to move the new composition forward. I need, today, to discern the logic of its internal construction and the relation of such to both the external form and the source image. Furthermore, I must decide the length of the piece. Some of the sound-file samples, in their graphic presentation, are reminiscent of music notation and Arabic calligraphy:
Several other considerations addressed themselves to me:
- the source image is decomposed (it has collapsed in on itself), so I should be careful not to create a too evidently and regularly ordered composition. The essence of the source is fracture;
- I need to honour the repetition of motifs and the obscuration of some parts of the source due to overlaying and, by contrast, the clarity of other parts where there is no visual information apart from white of the background;
- nevertheless, I should remember that the sound work has its own identity and logic, and, unlike the source, yearns for resolution.
By lunchtime, I felt that I’d found the centre of the piece and was moving towards its end.
2.00 pm. Back to it:
I will not be able to conceive how the piece will conclude — the closing passage — until I hear it. An appropriate ending has a certain inevitably about it; it will make itself heard. 3.00 pm. As, indeed, it did. With the overall structure and the parts in place, I was able to tweak their amplitude and equalisation and ensure than the stereo field was filled and balanced. The spine of the composition is a repetitive beat — like the mindless thud of a synthetic bass drum — such as I associate with 90s electronic dance music.
4.00 pm. Small changes lever large improvements. Every so often, I stopped and listened to someone else’s sounds in order to cleanse my ears of a familiarity with my own. 5.20 pm. I cannot bear/hear anymore. My judgement is blunted. Rest.
6.30 pm. Practise session 1. 7.45 pm. On with the headphones. Quite often, the balance established over the studio monitors can sound somewhat askew when heard directly in the ears. This was case. I made corrective adjustments before reviewing the whole mix on the monitors, once more:
The final mix is arrived at through negotiation and compromise. Next week, I’ll listen to the composition:
- first, on the studio monitors again;
- then, on the headphones;
- then, on my a dismal pair of headphones;
- then, on the domestic Hi-Fi;
- then, on my good desktop speakers;
- then, on my dismal desktop speakers;
- then, as a MP3 file, on my iPod over earbuds;
- and, finally, in mono.
When the sound is clear and balanced in all these contexts then, and then only, do I have an acceptable mix.