January 24, 2018

8.00 am: Administrations. 8.30 pm: A communion. 9.00 am: Back on the job and to writing the paper. First, I reviewed the fruit of yesterday’s sound processing. ‘Pare-down. Pare-down, John!’ And, so I stripped away everything that was either superfluous or unsettling to reveal the sample’s beating heart. The principle can be applied to writing too: style, sharpen, and shave. I recalled one of my Foundation Studies tutors, Phil Muirden, who’d sing in class ‘shape, pattern, and tone’ to the tune of Bill Hayley and the Comet’s classic ‘Shake, Rattle, and Roll’. And, then, there was Monty, our perspective tutor, who sported a magnificent moustache, looked like a former Spitfire pilot, and played air-violin as he paced up and down the studio. You no longer have characters like that in art schools. I’d had a privileged education:

Foundation Studies, Gwent College of Higher Education, Emlyn Street, Newport (1986).

I made good headway in terms of both the text and, more importantly, my understanding of the project. No doubt I’ve said this many times before on these pages, and certainly to my students in tutorials, but it’s curious how writing about what you do reveals what you’ve done to yourself. One must, therefore, think before, during, and after the creative enterprise.

I received a message related to the photograph of my guitar in yesterday’s Diary entry, lauding my ability to play a Gibson Les Paul while standing. It’s a back-breakingly heavy instrument to have strung around one’s neck. I responded:

It’s not a Les Paul (although it shares a similar body profile). It was custom made for me by Crimson Guitars, based upon one designed, bespoke, for Robert Fripp. The body is chambered mahogany. So it’s lighter. (However, the chambers are filled with electrical gubbings — midi enabling, active pick up, and piezo.) I have a Gibson Les Paul Custom Deluxe too. But I play that sitting down. It weighs a ton. So many guitarists of a certain age have had to abandon the Les Paul for that reason.

2.00 pm: On with the sound composition. Having simplified the spine, it was extended for several minutes. Why am I dismayed but not surprised at what goes on behind the doors of men-only clubs (which the Presidents Club scandal has disclosed, today.) And, why are there still such clubs in the 21st century?) Some men think, say, and do things in the company of other men that they’d not countenance in isolation. And certainly not in the presence of their wives or partners. You can legislate against sexual harassment and cultivate a societal ethos that deplores it, but you can’t change the disposition of the human heart thereby. A person must first be convinced for themselves that it’s wrong.

I pushed sound samples off the edge of the table. If they didn’t yield something useable and quickly, they were deleted. Ruthlessness was the call of the day. By 4.30 pm, my energy levels were waning. A fifteen-minute pitstop was in order. 4.45 pm: Back to the PowerPoint design:

Evening. Correspondence completed, I listened again to the beat tracks. In the end, it’s impossible to fool yourself into believing that something sounds better than it actually is. One track was ace; the other, merely passable. (Not good enough!) I deleted the latter and made the former the sole driver. The character of the whole is in that part. I must listen to what it’s telling me.

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