August 10, 2018

Things don’t make sense. You have to make sense of them.

7.45 am: A communion. 8.15 am: Postgraduate admin, before moving out to the School for a MA Art History dissertation tutorial with with one of Professor Cruise’s charge. (May he enjoy a long, happy, and fruitful retirement.):

9.45 am: I had an impromptu discussion with an intending BA Fine Art applicant. It takes more guts and gall to contemplate becoming a student when you’re in your middle years and beyond, than when you were eighteen years of age. Younger people come into education searching for a career; older students come, searching for themselves. Generally speaking, mature students have less confidence than their post-school counterparts at the outset, but a welter of experience, wisdom, determination, commitment, and energy. They know what they want, and are painfully conscious that this might be the last opportunity they’ll have to grasp it.

10.15 am: Studiology. I replaced the bacon-sliced introduction of Scourby reading the first part of the Habakkuk text with the original integrated version, and also a modified version of the scratch loop. So much better. (‘What were you thinking, John?’) From this point onwards, the layers of the composition would need to be stacked and reconciled on a moment-by-moment basis. In essence, the problem was that straightforward to resolve. But I still needed a climax prior to the thunderously mellow ‘afterglow’:

Punch in; punch out; punch in. Move (fractionally). Adjust volume. Listen. Listen. Stack. There’ s always a reason why a something works, finally. You need to study and learn from the solution, discern the underlying principle, and apply it, subsequently, in other the contexts of the work. At every point I asked myself: ‘What can I take away?’ What is the simplest expression of the proposition?’ The composition should only as long as is required to realise its possibilities. And, therefore, as short as possible.

After lunch, I continued to edit and compress, while paying particular attention to the moments of silence in the piece. Silence can be quite terrifying when placed immediately after a loud or volatile passage. It may signify either rest and cessation, or the calm before an even greater storm. Silence may be ambiguous. And therein, in part, lies its power. Today, the longed-for climax was the silence. By mid afternoon, having attached the second part of Scourby’s reading to the end of the thunder section, the composition was more or less in the bag. I needed, now, time away from the piece before finalising the mix.

I returned to the turntables:

The improvisation on August 8 had suggested a further set of possibilities. I wanted to manipulate, together, the recordings of the acoustic writing and Scourby reading, using the same modulation filters as I’d deployed on the previous occasion.

7.30 pm: Onto the decks for open-ended exploration of an idea:

My aim was to freewheel, while keeping one step ahead in my mind regarding the strategies and technological methods of manipulation. I reckoned that for every twenty minutes of playing I’d generate thirty seconds of listenable (as distinct from useable) material. This is what the work required of me. Who was I to demur?

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