June 26, 2015

7.50 am. A number of emergency admin tasks were undertaken. 9.00 am. Variously, back to yesterday’s sound work and to further ruminations on the new theme for the conference. When confronted with a compositional impasse (as indeed I am), the following 10-point strategy is deployed:

  1. Sleep on it; (only so much can be achieved in one session).
  2. Remove one element; (either temporarily or permanently).
  3. Remove another; (either temporarily or permanently).
  4. Make one element more prominent.
  5. Make the remaining elements do more.
  6. Insert either a new element or one that was excised early-on in the compositional process.
  7. Compress the composition; (keep it as short as necessary).
  8. Interrogate the composition’s rational; (all of one’s decisions are questionable).
  9. Eradicate the predictable; (formulistic approaches can be a manifestation of laziness).
  10. Listen to a very different type of composition by another artist; (attend to the production values, in particular).

11.10 am. I served as a tour guide to our piano tuner, Mr Backhouse. After he’d tweaked our domestic ivories, I escorted him to the two other loci of my life: Holy Trinity Church and the School of Art, to do business with their respective baby-grands:



More generally and habitually, in the process of sound composition I:

  1. review the original samples to determine whether they’ve been over-processed. Ideally, the original recordings should remain as true to their source as possible, sonically. (This is a lesson which I’ve learned by example from Pierre Schaeffer‘s principles for musique concrète);
  2. work on the beginning and on the end of the composition alternately, in order to ensure that the logic of the one mirrors that of the other;
  3. divide the whole composition into 20-second sections, and develop each of them in turn and in isolation, and, afterwards, as a continuity;
  4. isolate a track and work as though the whole composition depended upon it;
  5. pay attention to the position of each track within the stereo field.

4.00 pm. The composition is taking shape, but lacks something — like unsalted food. Sometimes, there’s simply not enough ‘air’ between the layers of sound:

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 16.19.32

4.30 pm. I can no longer hear ‘the wind for the breeze’. I must do something else, and return to the work tomorrow. Reading:


7.30 pm. Sourcing equipment purchases.

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