Diary (July 16, 2014–September 4, 2018)

July 23, 2018

On Friday, my younger son graduated from Manchester University with a BSc (Hons.). Now both children are on the royal road to their careers. I’m very proud of them. They’ve worked hard and deserved their success, and more. Saturday was a set aside for housework: the studio and study needed a dust and polish in readiness for my return to work on Monday. The preparations of the context of action is, itself, a preparation for action within that context. My mind has already engaged prospective new projects, including drawings derived from the ‘blind’ texts upon which the sound compositions have been based, and the construction of a portable DJ/sound rig for the October conference. I’m itching to get started. Following the morning service and lunch on Sunday, I resumed my running routine (which had been put on hold due to a an Achilles tendon strain). Llanbadarn Church (situated at the half-way point on my route) provided a welcome shelter from the heat and a place in which to remember those who’ve been removed from my life. There, too, I offered importunate prayers for ‘matters outstanding’ – the longstanding, unresolved, and unreconciled ‘issues of life’:

Today. 8.00 am: A communion. 8.40 am: Off to School for a morning of postgraduate interviews and consultations. A desultory day: overcast, close, and apathetic. On the threshold:

8.50 am: I booted up my office computer and prepared to wade into the inbox of accumulated unanswered emails. There were tutorials to arrange for later in the week, and some delicate letters to compose. The first day back is to be feared. I’ve got into the bad habit of monitoring my incoming mail on vacation; I like to know what I’ll have to face on my return. But this means that there’s no longer an absolute separation between work and rest. Not good!

10.00 am: The first of two appointments, accompanied by Mr Croft, with folk interested in the applying for the PhD Fine Art degree. The initial discussion is always wide-ranging and informal. The objective is to for the staff and the applicant to understand the latter’s vision, motivations, and expectations. Embarking upon such a program will cost them a great deal, both professionally and personally. Like marriage, PhD study should not be ‘undertaken unadvisedly’. If I can dissuade them from this course of action, then I’ll count that a success. Only the wilful, obstinate, obsessed, focussed, and committed will pass through this filter.

1.45 pm: I caught up on a little admin before proceeding, tentatively, to assemble my performative rig in preparation for the October conference. The plan is to develop a tree structure of branches (tables) balanced either side of a trunk (a microphone stand):

The afternoon was spent learning what needed to be known about the DJ interface. It has limited functionality (relative to the full spectrum of possibilities that my larger and more complex array is capable of), but adequate for the task at hand. And, the interface provides a helpful introduction to the potential of virtual DJing:

Shortly, the vinyl transfers of the writing sounds will arrive. These will permit a far more rigorous and extensive manipulation of the source.

7.30 pm: Tomorrow, I’d begin the process of text extraction for ‘Write the Vision …’. I’m considering using an iPad as a sampler launch pad. For pre-prepared samples (where the modulation has already been applied to the source), the touch-screen interface may provide more launchers than my press-pad devices. The arc of learning is ever before me. An evening light:

July 18, 2018

July 6–15: Lokastígur, Reykjavík, Iceland:

Had Iceland been sunny and warm, rather than experiencing the worst summer in a hundred years, I might have felt short-changed. The overcast sky, wind-chill, and rain accorded with my expectations. And these conditions were a welcome contrast to the UK’s current heatwave. (Give me the cooler climes of the north any day.) I never got used to the smell of week-old egg mayo (hydrogen sulphide) every time I showered, however; Icelanders derive their hot water from geothermal springs:

The landscape was unprecedented in my experience. It was being formed and dissolved before my eyes. I felt as though I was walking upon either the primordial Earth or an altogether other planet, like Mars or Venus. The beauty was as much in the particular phenomena as the general features of the environment:

Sudden and astonishing contrasts of scene, substance, and colour were a constant. A desert, like the plains of Nevada, on the right butted an iceberg lagoon immediately to its left:

However, one of the most striking aspects of the landscape summoned the industrial scene of my childhood in South Wales. Instead of coal dust, slag, and tips, there were fields and mountains of black volcanic ash. Moss and Lichen grew where the terrain was stable. I never thought to see again these colours, surfaces, and formations:

And then there was the street food shop that sold only lamb and seafood soups, the chip shop, that sold only chips, and the Icelandic-British fish and chips stall that vended a wonderful and welcome combo on a cold and wet evening, following a long journey to and from the south-east of the island:

Over the weeks to come, these impressions will deepen and those smaller and unspectacular but equally meaningful moments will present themselves.

July 5, 2018

8.00 am: A late start. The postgraduate marks were released. This’ll be a day for happy and, hopefully, fruitful conversations – the ideal way both to end the academic year prior to a vacation, and to anticipate the fun things to come when I return to work. 8.30 pm: Off to the School to prepare the paper-based feedback for Vocational Practice. After a brief stop-off back at homebase, I headed into town. I’d time to reflect at my watering hole before the day’s first meeting.

I’ve had a challenging academic year. Which isn’t to concede that it’s been an uphill slog only. The difficulties have inspired more imaginative solutions, greater determination, and a humbler estimation of my capacities. All good! Much has been achieved across the board of my activities. I couldn’t have wished for more. And I’ve regretted nothing, other than those circumstances that have lain outside of my power and purview to change. Nevertheless, there’ve been too many irretrievable losses, desperately hard decisions, and messy outcomes. There’re wounds that require healing still, as well as obstinate infirmities. They’ll roll over into the next academic term. Life isn’t either neat or containable. But I’ll go on to live my life the better for all that.

10.45 am: My next appointment was delayed by 15 minutes, which gave me time to wander along the Promenade:

I’m in second gear, presently. Tomorrow, I’ll be in third. By Saturday, I’ll be idling. It’s dangerous and far too stressful to come to a dead stop immediately before a vacation. 11.15 am: Dr Roberts and I had a supportive and enthusiastic discussion about our respective visions for the future of sound work, and the possible lines of intersection. He and I operate in very different ways. In part, that’s due to our contrasting temperaments. I’m a planner; I need to know the next step long before I take it, why I’m taking it, and where it might lead to. He goes with the flow. In part, it’s this difference that makes the friendship work. I wouldn’t like to work with someone like me. Fists would fly. The period from now until October will be crucial. There’re projects that need to be brought to a conclusion, and others to be furthered in the light of those conclusions. My overarching ambition is to develop the Bible and sound as a new field of study associated with Aberystwyth University and the School of Art. The forthcoming ‘Visual Theology I‘ conference will be launch pad for that endeavour:

1.00 pm: I took lunch with one of our former MA Fine Art students, who was visiting town on business. It was lovely to see her again, and to catch up on family and work. People’s lives play out so differently one from another.  And, I suspect, they often evolve in ways that we’d never have anticipated, personally. Contentment and fulfilment lie in recognising the fitness of our circumstances to who we are, as well as the opportunities that we have to help others realise the same.

2.30 pm: An MA Fine Art tutorial at the Old College:

3.00 pm: To close the afternoon. Pete Monaghan and I put the world to rights, first at his studio and then at the local watering hole. If we could have our time again, What would be done differently? And, what would be undone? For someone who plans on an hour-by-hour basis I, perhaps surprisingly, have never had a grand plan for my life – either in the professional or the personal realms. While I’ve made opportunities for myself, the best chances (like the best friendships) have come out of the blue. I’ve not sought them:

I returned home with a sense of unease that wasn’t the result of any of today’s engagements. The feeling was hard to interrogate. Among its dimensions were disappointment, a longing for change, a sense of isolation, and resignation. But it had no specific subject or objective. How strange! One prospect that I’ll not permit myself to countenance is that the present is necessarily a prefiguration of the future. I believe in the possibility of change and the unexpected.

7.30 pm: There were a few admin tasks beckoning before close of business. More 80s pop music, please! A diary sabbatical ensued.

July 4, 2018

8.00 am: A communion. Over the next few days, I’ll be finalising teaching, admin, and research before the beginning of my vacation. There’re meetings to be had, problems to resolve, actions to be taken, and results to be communicated. Tomorrow’s entry will be the last for several weeks. 9.30 am: I had my first hearing test since I was a baby:

Inevitably, as one gets older, a audition of the full range of frequencies gradually diminishes. My mild and occasional background tinnitus has impaired the upper-most frequencies at little. The lower frequencies remain intact. Mercifully, both ears are effected in the same way. This is good news when it comes to mixing sound across a stereo field, where a precise awareness of left and right balance is essential. The condition may not get any worse. If this is as bad as it gets, I’m laughing:

11.00 am: My website-aid gave me a driving lesson around the controls of the new website template, as well as of those undergirding the transformed John Harvey: Intersections of Sound, Image, Word, and Life  blog site, and the soon to be initiated new diary site. The July edition of the Aberystwyth Ego was out, and included an account of my work at Bethel Baptist Church last November:

12.00 pm: On with those bits of admin that really did need to be dispatched before I pulled down the shop blinds.

1.45 pm: After lunch, I prepared the release of the MA Vocational Practice feedback in readiness for tomorrow morning. ‘Music maestro, please!’: I’m now on a nostalgia trip listening to early 1980s pop music. At the time, it was a genre that I largely ignored, being a snide and supercilious prog-rocker with large specs who was also anxious to impress a student at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff. (Subsequently, she became a music teacher, orchestral performer, and reviewer.):

Pop is a far more culturally ambient mode of music than the compositions I listened to. Whether you loved or loathed it, the sounds were in and on the air. It seeped into my consciousness in a way that contemporary ‘mass music’ doesn’t … at all.

3.15 pm: I nearly had kittens. Where did I put the folder with the Vocational Practice feedback forms? How could I’ve lost them? Why is there no indication that they’d ever existed in my backup files? ‘Because they were never digital files in the first place, John’. They’re written on paper, placed in my real-world inbox, on my real-world desk top, ready to be distributed. May was a long time ago. And I forget stuff.

6.30 pm: I paid a visit to one of our ailing senior ladies at the Church. She is 90 years of age and as bright as a button. Very much the mother of the church. In her living room hangs S Curnow Vosper’s Salem (1908). In the homes of an older generation of chapel and church goer, its absence would be conspicuous. The print has become a Welsh icon of sorts. I recall sitting below the window of the chapel depicted in the painting, while being interviewed about the painting by a TV company. Behind the window, a cockerel crowed so loudly and persistently that my contribution to the programme was rendered unusable:

7.45 pm: I looked over, in an unsystematic manner, the pages of the Intersections site that had been commuted to the new template. I’ll need to go through every page to iron-out the creases that’ve been introduced in translation.

Catching the light

July 3, 2018

7.45 am: A communion. 8.20 am: I launched out early enough to take-in a short promenade. The sunlight pronounced a silent benediction upon this little part of the world at the edge of the sea. The dolphins have returned, I was told. I’ve never known the water to be such a lustrous blue. (My horizon is noticeably lower these days.):

The Old College was resplendent too. Sandstone responds well to sunlight. I’d only one MA tutee to teach this morning:

9.40 pm: I’d time to address admin before my next consultation, and so retired to my usual watering hole, close-by. A no-show on this occasion. But I’d much to be getting on with, and an iPad on board. (I’m a man who plans. I like to know how the next hour will play out.):

11.45 pm: I held a follow-up consultation with a student who’ll be entering our second year from another institution. It’s helpful to set projects, to be undertaken over the summer, which will provide an introduction to the type of instruction that they’ll experience in September. Good to hit the road running.

1.45 pm: After a little correspondence to finalise my commitments at the end of the week, I returned to the ‘Write the Vision …’ transcription. I was working under the full glare and heat of the sun in that part of the studio. Mercy, me!:

A strange occurrence: On Thursday, I’ll be having lunch with someone who, a few days ago I’d ‘dreamed’ of having dinner with. This was out-of-the-blue. By 5.00 pm, the task was complete. It remained for me to stitch all the separate verse files together. A procedure for tomorrow morning:

7.30 pm: ‘Varieties of administration’, as they say in the New Testament (King James Version): references, postgraduate applications, and church work. In the background, among other things, Scritti Politti’s The Word Girl (1985)  – a gem of a pop song. It takes me back to my years in Cardiff, around that time. How strange that music can retain the memory of feelings (of melancholy) associated with a period and place so powerfully intact:

Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:

  • There’re times when your intentions for the work must be questioned. Are they an enabling or a limiting factor?
  • The form of the work can effect the concept of the work, just as surely as the concept can effect the form. One must recognise the reciprocal relationship between these two dynamics.
  • Always be ruthless: cull the body of the work; be clear in your own mind regarding what constitutes the best.
  • Over production and diversification can be manifestations of prevarication. Therefore, learn to discern the cutting-edge of your practice, and commit yourself to it only.
  • Auto-suspicion is a great asset: be aware of your avoidance strategies, lazy compromises, and slick solutions. Do the difficult thing, at all costs. Any other policy will guarantee you a short professional career.
  • Work at your best when no one is either watching, or applauding, or remotely interested in what you do, or offering you a reward. This is of the essence of personal and professional integrity.
  • Work at your best even when producing your worst. That’s the fastest and best way to recover your form.

July 2, 2018

Sunday. A visit to Llanerchaeron with a friend of Holy Trinity Church, who’d recently been widowed:

Today. 7.45 am: A communion. I awoke tired. My water intake needed to be disciplined today. There’re days, and this was one, when the inclination to work is hard to summon. A lifetime spent acting against feelings and following the path of duty, helps under these circumstances. I switched on computer no. 3: no screen image and, likely, no boot up. (Sigh! I really don’t have time for this.) Never before have I had so many machines go down in such a short space of time. Is it the weather? I rummaged through YouTube for tutorial advice. 11.00 am: It woke up, like a sluggish teenager. My most elderly MacBook is the only one that hasn’t let me down. So, I booted it up and waited for the inevitable crash to ensue. (‘This isn’t optimistic thinking, John!’) In and around all this, I acquainted myself further with the new ‘Intersections’ subdomain of my website. Here will lie whatever is the successor to this Diary beyond the thousandth post. (As I descended into sleep last night, I saw myself appear in a short black and white video in which I answered only one question.) The migration from the original domain to the new one has caused a few glitches. ‘Nothing is ever straightforward’, so my webmaster assures me. Oh, for a simpler life.

11.30 pm: I set up the gear to record ‘Write the Vision …’, this afternoon. 12.00 pm: Off to School to check on my physical mail and the state of the nation. (In the absence of the Head of School, I’m the department’s babysitter.): The temperature is around 28°c. I wasn’t enjoying this at all:

2.30 pm: Having checked balances for the I. Nothing Lack. suite on two other sound systems, and completed a little admin, I turned again to record the ‘Write the Vision …’ samples:

Once the process was begun, the inscription of the individual verses took no longer than was required to copy them out. Once all the verses are assembled, their sonorities will be modified in order to remove the aggressive rasp. The heat below the Velux window was punishing, and the sun’s glare made it hard to see the computer screen. The task was tedious and repetitive. Needs must. I’m aiming to complete the recording and production, and have the files ‘in the post’ ready to be pressed into vinyl, by Thursday. The accrued inscription, which I made without looking – my eyes were on the printed text that I was following – reminded me of examples of ghostly automatic-writing:

7.20 pm: On with the inscription. I began chapter 2 of Habakkuk. One by one, that would be the only way I’d fell the trees in this forest.

*For Amy Seed

June 30, 2018

12.15 am: A ‘dream’ on the cusp of sleep:

In the wall that the two peoples had built – tall and wide – to keep them apart, there was a gate called Gamaliel. It was heavy and solid, and bolted on both sides. The peoples had agreed that, on the first day of every month, the gate would be unlocked. Neither was obliged to push it open. But either could, if they so needed. The gate had been provided to alleviate the sadness of all the other days in the month, when they suffered self-imposed isolation. Later, as the far deeper silence began to descend, Gamaliel Day (as it was known) would have an even more profound importance for them.

Thirty-one years ago today, my mother died. She was 60 years of age; one year older than I am. I’ve always appreciated that she’d died young; but now I know how young she felt:

8.15 am: A communion. Every computer crash has its casualties. iTunes was the victim on this occasion. It’ll require a total rebuild. However, I can now reimport the music at 128kps, rather than that at the standard MP3 compression rate. (One can make a virtue out of a predicament, on occasion.) 9.00 am: Now where was I, yesterday, before the crash? Finalising the lack two tracks for I. Nothing. Lack. I was on catch-up. Then, a problem with my A/D interface emerged (post-IOS reinstallation. (Sigh!)) I found a fix; but I suspect that this might be a recurrent instability on every boot up. (‘Be optimistic, John!’) One of the hardest aspects of mixing is equalising the relative volume and apparent loudness of the tracks comprising an album. There’re batch processes on DAW software for this purpose. But I prefer to trust my ears.

Back and fore. Back and fore. From first track to the last; from last to the middle; from the middle to the first. I made minor adjustment to spikes in the frequency and harshness along the way.

1.40 pm: Off to town, walking along the shadow-side of the streets (very me), for my Saturday shop and sustenance. One day, if I last until retirement, I’ll spend much time writing in cafes. This is a lovely town in which to amble. One of my phone apps insists that my ‘home’ is the School of Art. I can’t yet persuade it otherwise. Perhaps it has a point, though.

2.40 pm: Back at homebase, I dug into one of the still problematic track mixes. As I’ve said before, I’m not a perfectionist. But I do have a sense of what’s right and possible. I need to be able to hear the track on playback without wincing. Shortly before 4.00 pm, I was getting close to my quarry. I’ll need to replay the whole album in several days’ time in order to assess whether I’ve settled the matter.

My mother died in Neville Hall Hospital, Abergavenny, around 10.20 pm on June 30, 1987. In my diary I wrote:

I said grace for our evening meal. I prayed that she might die. A moth was in the kitchen. I walked around the back of the house to open the backdoor and let it out. The phone rang. … It was a starry, warm evening. 

5.20 pm: ‘I long to know again the solace of your palm pressing light upon my ear.’*

*For JIH

June 29, 2018

8.00 am: A communion. I’d had a restless night on top of the duvet in minimal attire. The heat. The room. It cooled around 3.00 am. I awoke feeling exhausted and dehydrated. 9.00 am: (‘Running late, today, John!’ He’s a task master, that one.) Iced-water to hand, I began to re-adjust and equalise the volume levels for the I. Nothing. Lack tracks:

It’s very tempting to reconsider the entire mix of a track on returning to it after several month’s absence. In the intervening period, my ear has changed. I hear things … feel the weight and balance of the constituent elements … differently … more organically. The current trend for remixing 70s progressive rock albums arises from the same realisation. The examples that I’ve heard aren’t necessarily better than the originals. Some, where the stereo field is more considered, certainly are. But the initial mix is, for me, as much a part of the character of the music as the notes. And this is what I hear at the back of my head, even while listening to the revision. There’s one example of crude stereophonic separation that I adore, however: Cream’s ‘I Feel Free’. I wouldn’t want it to be changed. The approach is of its age. Perhaps, too, it reminds me of the limitations that I was under as teenager when recording my various bands using a reel-to-reel tape recorder, one channel at a time (in order to overdub).

11.00 am: The MacBook that I was using suddenly an catastrophically froze. I’m a firm believer is learning to repair your own kit, whether that be computers or sound equipment. So, I took the plunge. I’d a professional technician visiting to this afternoon to help me with my ailing iMac in the study. But I would sit with, and learn of, him as he worked. When in doubt, reinstall the IOS. The laptops need a little additional RAM too. While various computers upgraded, I photographed the studio interior for the PhD student who’d interviewed me yesterday. They’re interested in my working environment. I cleared the floor of pedals, and the walls of remembrancers:

After lunch, I proceeded to monitor the computers’ progress. I’ve learned not to say ‘fixed’ before time. The studio is now walkable again. The temperature outside was around 27°c. But with a light breeze. A mercy:

My computer tecky arrived at 3.00 pm. He’s Russian and has an endearing accent, like the celebrated by Mr Chekov in Star Trek. Out went the Sophos antivirus software, Office 2011, and a variety of other background programs, some of which appeared not to have any relevant function other than to slow down the machine. Thereafter, operations were far more zippy.  Having learned from the tecky, I applied the knowledge to all of my other machines. This was not how I’d expected to spend most of my day:

6.00 pm: I undertook dinner duties in readiness for the return of my younger son from his adventure, on a delayed train. My other son is far from me. The computers are all functional and, now, far more efficient. A day well spent in that respect. But I’m now behind on my schedule.

June 28, 2018

7.45 am: A communion. ‘I’m pushing myself harder now than I did thirty tears ago’. I read this quotation in a running magazine at the physiotherapist clinic yesterday. The author was an 83-year old man who regularly competes in big marathons. His testimony chimed with my own experience of work, as an academic and a practitioner. I’ve never laboured so hard. In part, this is a consequence of what the job demands of me; and, in part, of what I demand of me. In school, I didn’t work hard because I wasn’t confident that I could achieve anything worthwhile. (I wasn’t lazy, I was lacking, and I was bullied.) Then came the change from above. The last thing I want to do, as retirement floats onto the far horizon, is slow down. My body may be a bit clunky at times, but my soul, heart, and mind are more sharply defined, self-knowing, and resolute than ever before. I’m making up for lost time; and these are the best of times; and even better is yet to come:

8.45 am: I’ve been planning a remix of ‘The Kind of Weather We Had Yesterday’, from the I. Nothing. Lack suite for sometime, as well as to adjust the volume of all the tracks, which is presently too high. In respect to the former, the walking bass line (derived from the amplified sound of a car that was accelerating outside the chapel during one of the services) required accentuation. This, in turn, required a patient and tedious rebuilding of the fundamental melodic unit, section by section:

11.00 am: I was closing in on the balance that I’d always had in my head, but not in my ears. Every change implies another change, implies another. (This is an axiom of life.) The samples of Macmillan’s preaching had to be realigned with the, now, more insistent starting beat of the ‘jazz’ accompaniment. 11.30 am: off to School for a discussion with an MA inquirer:

2.00 pm: I was interviewed at home by one of our PhD Fine Art students about my practice. They fielded questions that I wouldn’t ordinarily ask myself. The outcome was illuminating for both of us:

3.00 pm: I continued to work on the revised composition until 4.30 pm, when I walked through the sizzling streets to the Old College for an MA tutorial. I’m looking forward to temperatures around 6°c in a few week’s time:

7.30 pm: ‘Kind of Weather …’ was finalised before the evening was out. Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements and ruminations:

  • If you cannot choose between two courses of action, then don’t. Do both, together.
  • Some artists have a knack of turning wine into water. Good ideas are squandered in the wrong hands.
  • If you can maintain a course of action for a week, then, you can do so for a month; if for a month, then, a for a year; if for a year, then, for a lifetime. Therefore, maintain your resolve and don’t look back.
  • Confidence is not a feeling, principally. Rather, it’s a recognition that in having overcome significant challenges in the past you’ve been prepared to take on the problems of the present and future, successfully.
  • If you bury the past before it has died, history may rise to haunt you in the future.
  • Solutions aren’t guaranteed. But difficulties are.

‘It’s so hot!’ (Some Captain Beefheart in the background.)

June 27, 2018

Over the past months, I’ve been intrigued by the narrative of Elisha and the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4.8–37). She’d been practically helpful to the prophet – in effect, providing him with B&B. As a gesture of thanks, the prophet asked her what he could do for her. She had an elderly husband and dearly wanted a son. So Elisha promised her one. And God delivered on it. But when the child grew older he suffered what could be construed as a brain aneurism, and died. Even Elisha was taken aback, and utterly perplexed by this providence. What God had allowed seemed so cruel, almost sadistic, and without interpretation. The woman was in more anguish now than she ever had she been while childless:  Elisha said: ‘she is in bitter distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me’. Why did God give something only to take it away, and so soon? Elisha, however, raised the son from the dead and restored him to his mother. We aren’t told why this course of events had to take place, or whether an explanation was ever given to Elisha and the mother (‘Diary of Departures’ (May 12, 2018)).

7.00 am: A lie-in. 7.45 am: A communion. 8.30 am: Postgraduate admin: tutorials and workshops to arrange, emails to post, and PhD inquirers’ consultations to confirm. There were also a module feedback mail-shot to be prepared for posting tomorrow, and a computer repair to arrange. It’s the little things that prove to be, for me, the most taxing.

At this time of the year, and largely only at this time of the year, I suffer from a severe ankle oedema. The condition is inexplicable (or else, it may have many possible explanations). My theory is that it arrives coterminous with the pollen dispersion and heat. Outside of this period, it’s set-off, in a milder form, by allergic reactions to certain foods, which I can avoid. My immune system can’t cope with additional assault. I’ve upped my magnesium supplement, adopted a regime of periodically elevating my feet, and, today, began soaking my poor ‘lil footsies in a basin of ice-cold water. (Static paddling.) This’ll be a good preparation for my forthcoming holiday in Iceland too. ‘Oooh! The cold!’:

(The students are right: I do have a somewhat manic and intimidating stare. I should smile more often.)

10.15 am: I reviewed yesterday’s work on the ‘That One Day’ composition. It stands up. Perhaps each phrase sequence could serve as a textual ‘backbeat’ for each composition comprising the suite. In effect, this would be the reverse approach to that deployed in ‘Blind’. Before moving back to ‘Write Up the Vision …’, I listened again to the explosion that will introduce ‘Wisdom is Better Than Weapons of War’. I’ve yet to determine a way of reducing the length of the whole, but I do know how to divide it into five pieces (corresponding to the number of nuclear tests that took place in July 1964). Each would be 9 minutes and 36 seconds long, as they stand. My motto is: ‘Do what is doable first’. That’ll clear the way to see what’s presently undoable. In my mind, I was thinking: ‘Remember “Image and Inscription”‘.

There were features of the mixdown that, when stretched using Adobe Audition, reminded me of effects that I’d developed by entirely analogue means in my mid teens, when I first became interested in manipulating sound. The opening of ‘Robert Fripp’ (1976) (below), composed when I was seventeen years of age, is a case in point. I’d also improvised an electric guitar work for one of my other guitar heroes, Les Paul, during this period (1973–77). It’s included on an album of experimental juvenilia entitled The Last Things:

Abertillery (1973)

I was struck, on listening to it again, by how early-on some of my characteristic sonorities, conceptual strategies, and methodologies had been established. ‘Ion on Iron’, for example, isn’t a world away from ‘The Lesser Light’, which I’ve completed only recently.

11.20 am: While the 2.06 GB file of the total Bible mixdown (that sounds like a dub-track) was being prepared, I unbucketed my feet and moved to the table where ‘Write Up the Vision …’ was in progress. I unlocked the file folders to the recording. Some, curiously, had remained unfastended. (As in other dimensions of life, what you’d considered closed from may not have been locked in the first place. Therefore knock on and push at every door that you encounter, even if an opportunity doesn’t appear to present itself. You never know who or what will open for you.)

After lunch, I carved up the whole bible mixdown in readiness for whatever is to come. 2.15 pm: Off to town to attend a sports physiotherapy appointment and deal with my aching Achilles tendon. Claire the therapist has magic hands, and clearly communicates what’s amiss and how to remedy it. (Her drawing skills need a bit of work, though.) She promised fiendishly difficult exercises at future sessions. I’m up for that!:

She’s cleared me for a return to moderate running, and walking over volcanic ash.

3.30 pm: On my return home, I received the good news that I’d secured the funding for my next CD. Full steam ahead, then! That’s the fastest application turnaround I’ve ever experienced. Back to ‘Wisdom is Better …’ . ‘Image and Inscription’ was based upon the sonic adaptation of the data-bent sound derived from pictorial engravings, and recordings of a commercial engraver and voices engraved in to vinyl. This present composition has only the vinyl recording as a source for interpretive sounds. In this respect, both it and the album have most in common with the R R B V E Ǝ T N Ƨ O A (2015) CD. ‘Wisdom is Better …’ will, I’d conjecture, owe it’s sonorities to ‘Image and Inscription’ and its methodology to the Evan Roberts wax cylinder CD. A hybrid, in other words. I began looking for salient biblical verses on wisdom and weaponry.

7.15 pm: I finalised the initial verse search before addressing my iMac’s post-IOS update stability problems. I needed to export my iTunes music folder to an external source so that the whole computer can be wiped clean and begun again. Any sentient biological entity with a past to erase would covert the prospect.