July 28, 2017

If you aren’t careful, teaching will give you up before you give it up. Therefore, timing is of the essence.

8.30 am: A communion. 9.00 am: ‘And, I thought to myself, “Would it be possible to put together a crack team of postgraduate students, work with them intensively for four days and, at the end of that period, put on a small exhibition?” There’s so much that can be learned and adapted from music education’. One thing in particular struck me about last night’s performance: the students and tutors had not only worked but also performed together. That was a telling sign of the teachers’ commitment; they identified with and supported their tutees during their most vulnerable and demanding moment.

While I felt the urgency of returning to the technological end of ‘The Talking Bible’ project, sometime during the day, the conceptualisation of the source materials still required considerable organisation. The process of integration deploys hermeneutic and expository methods native to biblical studies and homiletics. In this respect, the project adapts and explores ways of reading and interpreting the scriptures as means of sonic construction:

The organization was undertaken as follows. Stage one: a determination of the New Testament narratives related to Christ’s engagement with, and healing of, blind men. (There are no examples related to women.) (Circle A). Stage two: an assignment of relevant and supportive New Testament texts to individual narratives (where relevant) (Circle B). Stage three: a gathering of Old and New Testament references to the blind and blindness as metaphors for spiritual disability and moral prejudice, as well as to laws that protected the rights of the blind while restricting people of disability from offering sacrifices at the altar (Circles B and C). (In our age of social inclusion, these latter laws are hard to swallow.)

After lunch, the overview was complete. This was he first time in the history of the project that I sensed its beginning, end, divisions, and extent. I’ve still only a partial intuition regarding the overall sound and the technical and methodological approach to composition. Furthermore, I’ve little idea how the recording’s history plays into and informs all those things. But … one thing at a time. Which is exactly how this is endeavour is proceeding.

4.00 pm: Studiology. Late in the day. But better than a no show. The Epistle of James discs needed to be replaced with those for Matthew, Chapters 9 and 20 before any further work could be done. Afterwards, I confronted an unexpected glitch with the Roland sampler. Was this a problem caused by the SD card on which the samples are stored or the device itself?:

If you aren’t fascinated by problems like this, then, technology is not for you. Having reformatted the card, the matter was resolved. Would a faster card improve matters? (To be continued.)

7.30 pm: A final evening at the MusicFest:

The two contemporary compositions were engaging, Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro, rapturous, but the Walton/Sitwell Façade … I loath this piece of music like no other. In its day, this was ‘fake’ Modernism for the the tea-sipping, parlour-sitting upper-class. It has the pretence of radicalism. But at its heart is a cloying, colonialist, and polite mediocrity. Walton was a decidedly second-rate and pedantic composer in comparison to Elgar, and Sitwell, a poor women’s Carroll where it comes to the use of ‘absurdist’ verse, and certainly not to be compared with Eliot on any level with regard to an exploration of the ‘abstract’ aspects of language. Sitwell’s racial stereotyping is offensive to the contemporary ear. I’m not in favour of musical censorship, so a piece like this really does need some bracketing. Programme notes situating it within the mindset of the early-twentieth century would have relieved the guilt and discomfort of listening.

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