September 3, 2014


9.00 am. My MPhil Art History student and I met again to further review photographs of Welsh chapels by John Thomas (Diary, August 26, 2014). His visual repertoire is astonishing. By experiencing the images on a large scale, one can more readily enter into them. The peripheral details of the print (which were often edited out in the final crop) are made visible, and become an engaging distraction from the ostensible subject of the photograph. We saw the bowler hats of the deacons, elders, and minister lined up on the window ledge while they sit for a group portrait against an outside wall of a chapel; the chairs, drapes, and other props of studio photography stacked on the boundary of the composition waiting to be finally excised from view. The images reveal the artifice, the conventions, and the process of the genre.

Back at home, I pressed on with the Art/Sound lecture while processing sound files in the background, stopping occasionally to ponder the final resolution to Pedalboard III.

I’ve now conceived four sound works that, together, will form a suite based on Psalms that refer to stringed musical instruments:

Psalm 33: ‘New Song’ (Loud Noise’)
Psalm 92: ‘New Song’ (Solemn Sound)
Psalm 49: ‘New Song’ (‘Dark Speech’)
Psalm 150: ‘New Song’ (‘High Sounding’)

The titles are quotes from the Psalms, and also provide indicators regarding either the mood or tenor or dynamics of the compositions’ execution. The technical apparatus for realizing the works will be the new Pedalboard III, while the compositional process will involve the method of introducing sustained notes incrementally, explored in TestDrones 1-4 (August 30, 2014).

Over my lunch hour, I returned to the studio. ‘On the bench today’ (to quote Roland Lumby, amp repairer extraordinaire) we have Pedalboard III, awaiting a final test and strapping and trussing — now with an external loop switch attached to accommodate external effectors in the Synth Engines’ own loop paths, should they be needed:


After lunch, I continued with the lecture. I would love to give the fine art undergraduates a graphic score by John Cage or Toshi Ichiyanagi and ask them to make something from it. What would they do? And, more interestingly, perhaps … How would the art history undergraduates respond? Would they write about it, or begin to draw, or take up a musical instrument? And could they do so as art historians, as opposed to art historians who are also fine artists? In other words, can art-historical practice assume forms other than the strictly textual?

5.00 pm. Matt. 20.15 had been fully processed, mixed down, and launched. Only 11 more tracks to complete. After dinner, I absconded from guitar practice in order to finalise the test on Pedalboard III and complete the Art/Sound lecture within 500 words of its finale. (I prefer to sleep on a conclusion before committing myself to it.) Thereafter, I trussed and bound the board as tight as a Christmas turkey:



My current book at bedtime is Stephen Grosz’s The Examined Life: How We lose and Find Ourselves (2013).

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