WFH: DAY 134. New kettle! (Chaos was put to flight.) ‘More tea, please!’:
8.30 am: A communion. 9.00 am: Studiology. Today I prioritised technical exploration (not experimentation). The samples that I’d generated over the past few days would be modulated using processes that I’d devised during my last 24-hour open studio event at the National Library of Wales. The fruit of that long day contributed much to the development of The Biblical Record. ‘What a difference a day makes‘, sang Dinah Washington. (The song was originally written in Spanish by the Mexican songwriter Maria Grever, and called ‘Cuando Vuelva a Tu Lado’ (1934).) So true:
I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I’d recognise it when I’d found it. To begin, I fed the harmonics-only samples of my voice recording through harmonizer and delay modulators. The source was cast into the sonority-territory of Terry Riley’s A Rainbow in Curved Air (1969). It was pleasant to the ear, but not true to my intent. (‘Don’t be beguiled by an inappropriate aesthetic, John!’.) 11.30 am: The ‘leaves’ samples were interrogated in the same way. ‘And don’t guild the lily!’ A timely reminder. It’s tempting to sacrifice the intrinsic qualities of the source material by processing it too enthusiastically. Passion and intelligence; innovation and reserve: never one without the other.
I alighted upon this Tweet about the American science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin. I warm to fellow creatures of habit. My own routine is, in part, a strategic response to the challenges that ME has presented over the past three decades. If I don’t push myself from one task to another against the clock, I risk succumbing to the illness’s creeping inertia. I don’t recommend this policy. But it has worked for me. Time is short, I’ve only one life on this side of the veil, and there’s a great deal more that I wish to accomplish. Maybe I should incorporate a ‘very stupid’ period into my day too. (Suggestions on a postcard.):
The ‘leaves’ now sounded like the breaking twigs that I’d recorded to use in some of the earlier compositions. In other words, the treated source was imbued with an attribute common to the suite’s collective aesthetic. I took this to be a good sign.
After lunch, I pressed on to complete the ‘leaves’ set. This is merely a production process: load up, switch on, and sit back. Like a Soviet car manufacturer, I tend to overproduce. About 15% only of my processed samples are ever deployed in the compositions. But, then again, I can’t be sure that I have what I need until a sufficient number of possibilities are explored. 2.30 pm: The Moog units were brought into play:
Subtly and precision are required. The organic analogue resonance of the effectors is like whipped cream. (This, too, can be unhelpfully beguiling.) The problem with Moog devices is that they only have mono inputs, even though stereo outputs are provided. So it’s impossible to create a stereo-to-stereo signal chain.
4.30 pm: Time out:
From Monday, masks will be mandatory in shops. About time too, and in readiness or the students’ return. There must be a greater degree of correspondence between the regulations pertaining to the students’ behaviour inside and outside university, in my opinion. That way, town and gown may not be, together, overwhelmed by a local spike in infections.
7.30 pm: I picked up where I’d left off. I would throw the kitchen sink at the harmonic sample. Tomorrow, I’ll have more than enough building blocks to begin constructing something.
On this day in 2001. ‘9/11’ was to the world like a severe blow to the head from which it never fully recovered. The event was the beginning of the now, to my mind. Unbeknown to me then, around the time that the first plane struck the World Trade Centre in New York, I photographed my younger son sitting in a Thunderbird 2 ride on the concourse of Euston Station, London. The image has always struck me as possessing a curious poignancy: