WFH: DAY 130. 7.45 am: A walk to the postbox. I’d forgotten how pleasant are the early mornings. Perhaps I should reschedule my daily ambulations and runarounds for this period of the day:
8.00 am: A communion. I’m learning to be silent — still and speechless. 8.30 am: A review of the inbox, and letters received since late Saturday. As the beginning of the new academic term approaches, more material from more agencies within the university, land. And this against the backdrop of a sharp rise in Covid-19 case numbers, particularly in the north of England, where many thousands of students will be travelling in the next few weeks. What to do?
Booking a dental appointment (to begin treatment on a collapsing tooth) is now a long and exacting process, involving interrogations, medical histories, and preparations for an almost ecclesial ritual of choreographed movement, washing, and donning facial ‘vestments’. On, then, with teacherly appointments for the week, against a background of postgraduate admissions and induction emailery, and writing references. 11.00 am: Rain (again):
Responses to emails completed, I moved on to initiated mail. (In the background: YouTube videos of the San Diego Experimental Guitar Show.) I’m never sure what artists in any media mean when they use the term ‘experimental’. The scientific definition of ‘experiment’ — to either support, or refute, or validate a hypothesis — hardly ever seems to apply. So what are the artists doing? For the most part, ‘playing’. That’s to say, setting up certain parameters of operation, falling headlong into possibilities while throwing caution to the wind, and discovering something new (sometimes) that might also be interesting (occasionally). So much ‘experimental guitar playing’ is self-indulgent, unimaginative, routine, cliched, and unengaging (which is a better description than boring). Rarely, do I want to listen to their efforts more than once. Those who succeed in this domain are not necessarily consummate musicians. (Technical virtuosity can get in the way of imagination.) Rather, it’s those who push their limitations hard who gain the prize. Better to make much of little than little of much.
1.30 pm: I returned to the Noisome Spirits suite to consider how I could push beyond my own boundaries. I dismantled the recorded text to ‘The tune of Fairies’, and created a set of independent phrase samples. These, then, could be manipulated and put together in various ways when fired from a sampler. 3.00 pm: I’d been considering the vinyl record and, in particular, the sounds intrinsic to the medium: the static, clicks and scratches, and the trawl of the grooves. The paper on which the text is either written or printed is the equivalent of the vinyl disc into which the sound has been engraved. The paper, too, can be a source of recordable sound. That is a proper hypothesis. My investigation of such will involve proper experimentation.
4.00 pm: I began work on sonifying (finding the musicality within) my independent phrase samples. By the close of the afternoon, I’d manufactured something that sounded not a little ‘magical’. It was a beginning.
7.30 pm: A little eBayology. I was doing a reasonably brisk business. Then, I returned to the afternoon’s manipulations. This would be a labour of persistence.