March 16, 2018

8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: I attended to correspondence before heading out (with a vial sample of something and a five-day blood pressure account in hand) for a spot of medicalisation out in the sticks:

I remember an age when you didn’t have to suffer piped, mindless drivel – courtesy of Radio 2 – as one waited for what could be a serious conversation about life or death with the GP. (Not on this occasion, however.) Appointments beget other appointments; tests spawn further tests. But, best to keep on the safe-side of all possibilities.

Studiology. I’ve had several requests to be interviewed and videoed regarding my practice, in situ. To that end, I set up equipment zones in the studio for the purposes of demonstration, tentatively moving into guitar-work territory again, and revisiting the ‘New Song’ project. (The latter was conceived as a suite of works based upon those psalms that were written to be played on stringed instruments.) But can I find the schematics to the pedalboard array that I’d designed? Can I?:

No! Back to the drawing board. The array was modular, comprising pedalboards Pedalboards I, III & IV, and interspersed with a looper and volume pedals. So, it wasn’t too difficult to reconstruct. Finding the ‘sound’ again was trickier. I needed to insert Pedalboard II into the amp’s send/receive loop. Presently, there were an awful lot of pedals placed in series between the guitar output and the amp input. Tone was compromised. Once it’s set up, I’ll be able to leave the array on the studio floor for further trials in the weeks ahead.

Over the next few days, I would make a second attempt at processing the ‘Double Blind’ material while exploring a new mixing set-up, to control the interlacing of the two turntables. This will permit me to assign one and the other to the left and right of the stereo field. (This is something that a DJ mixer isn’t designed to do.)

After lunch, I put the array, as it then sat, to the test. The sound was terrifying – like the anguish of a thousand lost souls in hell:

From that point onwards, the task was to route the looper and add further volume pedals, so as to provide full control over the output levels at each stage of the signal chain. Beyond this, my ambition was to be as economic with the technology as I could be; and, with regard to the breadth of sound, to establish continuity and diversity in unity.

7.30 pm: I made a ‘test strip’* (to borrow a term from chemical photography) of some of the more obvious sonorities and moves across the pedalboards. This was in order to establish: the range of amplitude; the extent of clipping and signal distortion; the colouration of the sound within a narrow frame of reference, and its dynamics and operation within the stereo field and deep depth. The recording was made direct from the line outputs of the Yamaha THR00HD Dual amp and into an RMS Fireface UCX interface:

(‘This was an improvisation, J. No?’) I’m not convinced by it, yet. The sounds need an interpretative function – a relevance beyond themselves; a sense; a discipline. I’m ever cautious of being beguiled by the medium, of being allured by the sensuousness of sound for its own sake:

Over the past few days, I’ve been listening, regularly, to Jeff Beck’s Where Were You, which he played live at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, London – in remembrance of a friend (a blessing) and in anticipation of a coming event. This is a piece that begins and ends in the heart:

*For my muse

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