I want today to be straightforward.
Friday, January 8. 8.15 am: A communion. 8.45 am: Emailology:
Long-dead artists are so tech-savvy these days. Who needs spiritualist mediums in the age of social media? Perseverance, patience, longsuffering, forbearance, hope, and practical charity: these were the call of the moment. 10.00 am: I returned to the grant proposal with energy and resolve. Emails arrived and were dispatched on the periphery of my attention throughout the day. The trick is to switch from one activity to another, immediately and thoroughly. These days, my brain has as many compartments as a hot-metal compositor’s type-tray.
Throughout the day and into the evening, I went at the proposal aggressively. By the close of the evening, it had been sent off to my Faculty for approval and support. Writing a grant application is a sure-fired way of testing the integrity of a creative (research) project. Now, I comprehend what I’m about to do (whether or not finance is forthcoming). Now, I’m convinced that this is an enterprise worth sweating, and that it must be accomplished. PitWorks [working title] had been conceived.
Tonight, Aberystwyth University passed-on the Welsh Government’s change of policy. Henceforth, the default setting is that students should remain at home to study. There’ll be relief all round. The prospect of thousands of young people (for the most) returning from all over the country to our community in the context of escalating infections and deaths was alarming. It’ll be back to online teaching again until otherwise advised.
Saturday, January 9. 8.00 am: Zero degrees. (Frosted world.):
Today, I needed to: 1. Not write. (I’d exercised that facility enough this week); 2. Return to the post-production mixing of Noisome Spirits. (My ears had now rested; I’d be able to hear the compositions again with a fresh sensibility.) 10.30 am: Domestic responsibilities fulfilled, I opened ‘John Williams’. My habit is to begin the process of mixing an album beginning with a relatively simple compositional proposition. Each composition is, first, micro-mixed: every constituent sample of sound is examined both separately and in the context of the entirety. The optimisation of the whole depends upon the optimisation of its parts.
Recently, I’ve had a Twitter interaction with a friend who’s a BAFTA winning script-writer living in the UK and working ‘in’ LA. She and a fellow writer were debating what type of audience and potential director one should have in mind when conceiving a script. My friend confessed that she only ever was wrote with herself in mind. I concurred. In my view, you should aim to bring into this world those things than you want to be in this world, those things than only you can bring into this world, and even if there was only you in this world. If anyone else gets something from it, then, so much the better.
1.45 pm: Three-seconds of composition can take an hour to mix. It can be a slow burn. I never consult either manuals or online tutorials about ‘how to mix’. I need to learn, rather, how to hear. The mixing is but the technical response to a clear sense of what the auditory image ought to sound like in its totality. The harder I listen, the more I perceive, the greater my acuity becomes. The making of art begins and ends in ourselves. ‘Make a space as much as for the inhalations as for the exhalations of the sound’s breath, John!’ Let the blank canvas show-through in places, in other words.
Tension and release, loudness and softness, sound and silence, simplicity and complexity, severity and gentleness, fulness and absence, excitement and fulfilment, violence and tenderness, irresolution and settlement — the complementary dynamics and contrasts, that — live enthusiastic lovers –intertwine, conjoin, and separate, as they discover themselves and each other in that opposition and submission to one another.
3.00 pm: ‘Tea, please!’. The afternoon sunshine was intense, crisp, and raked theatrically across the garden. (Light in the midst of darkness.):
4.00 pm: I could no longer hear the composition. But I knew that the new mix had consolidated its sense of presence and definition. The composition is one of the contenders for the album’s first track. I know what the last track will be, for a certainty.
5.00 pm: Day’s end.