Summa: diary (December 6-9, 2022)

December 6. 9.45 am: Eifion was a grand man and a man’s man (unlike me), who could put his hand to anything. I’d not seen his gravestone until today. Fortuitously (perhaps) and appropriately (definitely), it’s shaped like the blade of a Stanley knife — one of the tools of his trade. He was a much sought-after electrician.

Eifion Gwynne (1974-2018), municipal cemetery, Aberystwyth.

10.00 am: Today’s to dos:

  • As an academic exercise, apply different modes of the LUFS (Loudness Units relative to Full Scale) to the last two albums in The Aural Bible series;
  • Test the installation of the Apogee Duet audio-digital interface in the context of the MacBook/Ableton Live 11 setup;
  • Begin defining my recently reacquired self-employed status, in terms of what services I’m offering for sale;
  • Begin determining the function, focus, and design of a small, summative, personal website that’ll complement the main site;
  • Return to the ‘Nothing is Without Sound’ [working title] book project. (Do NOT leave this on the back burner for too long!)
10.00 am – 5.00 pm.

December 7. 8.30 am: A little Christmassing. 9.15 am: Administrations. 9.45 am: Studiology: from theory to praxis; from learning to application: 1. I reviewed yesterday’s LUFS outputs; 2. The ‘Creed’ [working title] clips were time-stretched to whole number-lengths. Thus, a one-syllable word was made 0.75 sec long; and a two or syllables, 1.00 sec long. It’s a type of manual quantization. By the close of the afternoon, I was nearly halfway through the set. At this stage in the development of the composition, I’m (in effect) priming the canvas, laying-out the palette, and arranging the brushes. To my mind, preparation is intrinsic to creativity. It’s a process of readying — a limbering-up — that requires as much care and attention as all that will follow.

10.00 am – 5.00 pm

7.30 pm: In the weekday evenings, I’m no longer either clearing my desk of academic admin, marking, feverishly preparing for the next day’s teaching, or racing to meet research deadlines. Instead, I read (academic books, admittedly), sift ideas, plan, write letters and messages to family and friends, and address searching and discomforting questions to myself. In time, this pattern will change, along with other aspects of my life. But for now — for this first semester of early-retirement — I’m content. On occasion, I remember my foremothers and forefathers; friends who’ve passed out of this life; those who I see rarely; and others who’re still in the world, but whom I’ll likely never either see or hear from again. (‘Silent friends’. But no less friends.) Family and friends are far more important than art.

December 8. 7.30 am: Morningtide. A full moon (‘cold moon’) at 0° C:

View from the garden, Aberystwyth: looking towards the north-west.

Why do some artists of quality persevere with their careers in the absence of either financial incentive or recognition from their peers, curators, and the public? This year’s Turner Prize winner, Veronica Ryan (who’s now in her mid 60s), had, previously, earned barely enough to pay the rent. Other artists, too, will know a time when what they do (and have always done) and what the world wants, align. This scenario isn’t guaranteed. Indeed, it happens rarely. And the conjunction may be short lived and never return. For these reasons, any artist who puts all their eggs in this basket is likely to end their career frustrated and disillusioned. Ryan was ‘discovered’ (not that the artist had been mislaid) because she’d kept on working, putting the work ‘out there’, and maintaining faith with herself. The artists I know (whose integrity I respect) keep up their practice because, they say, the alternative is unthinkable. Giving up is simply not an option; their identity as artists is inseparably bound-up with their core values and sense of self.

To be ‘discoverable’, the artist should establish a website and social media presence. In other words, they must be also searchable and contactable. (This presupposes that they wish to be found. Not all artists subscribe to this model of professional behaviour.) As importantly, the artist needs to archive and curate their work. Therefore, photograph and label everything of worth; create an index of the work; store physical artefacts carefully and accessibly, where neither ‘moth and rust [and mould] doth corrupt’ nor ‘thieves break through and steal’; and make provision for the collection’s future, after you die. When I cast off from this world, my family will know where everything is and should go. Moreover, they’ll have access to all my websites and be responsible for maintaining them in my absence.

Write about yourself as an artist. Leave a trace of your ideas, opinions, history, influences, and ambitions. In short, let your ‘remains’ illuminate those who might alight upon your work and wish to know more (and perhaps write) about you.

Proof of presence (still):

12.30 pm

3.30 pm: Having processed the sound files for the ‘Creed’ and LUFS projects, I confronted the questions that I’d asked of my notional book on sound and the Bible, in Summa: diary (November 16-30, 2022). A proposal or conspectus was now in order.

December 9. 8. 30m am: It is the artist’s strength of will, far more than their ability, which carries them. This is manifest in a determination to persevere in the face of disappointment, discouragement, a failure of confidence, weakness, tiredness, and the indifference and misunderstanding of others; a commitment to honour the ambitions that they’ve set for themselves; and a resolution to give of their best, consistently.

10.30 am: Into the frost and brittle air for a jaunt around town and down Plascrug Avenue. My fingers went into shock.

Homage to Henry Purcell

11.15 am: I returned to the book project until lunchtime. 2.00 pm: A conversation with ‘M’. She has lost so many close family members due to natural and unnatural causes during her life. Her resilience, faith, and refusal to succumb to bitterness is as astonishing as it is humbling.

Proof of presents:

Courtesy of DPD

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