Summa: diary (January 29-31, 2023)

[Take] in hand to set in order a narrative of those things (Luke 1.1).

January 29. (Sunday): 2,00 pm: We’re divesting ourselves of books in response to the following criteria, that: either a) they’ll never again be read; or b) they’re out-of-date; or c) they no longer accord with our current way of thinking; or d) we can’t understand why we bought them in the first place. In the process of winnowing, I came across my mother’s Bible and the hymnal that I’d received from Abertillery Grammar/Technical School in 1970. It also served as an offensive projectile, which is why the cover is battered. (‘Onward Christian soldiers, Marching as to war’.) These books are for keeps.

January 30 (Monday). 6.00 am: ‘Arise, John!’ Darkness, still. 4°C. The wind was up. 8.00 am: A review of the week ahead, and a little writing in order to boot-up.

6.00 am.

It looks as though I’ve missed a trick. I’d never even considered the commercial potential of the idea. Which is not to say that sales for this item are necessarily good. This is a niche product, after all. Like it or loath it, the artefact contributes to the broader field of the Bible and sound. Some scholar someday will need to take account of it.

Over the weekend, I had several online discussions with artists about their need to sell their their work without selling themselves out. I also read an interview that the jazz composer, arranger, and band leader Quincey Jones gave in 1959, in which he spoke about his own negotiations with body and soul necessities. Jones kept his band members from starving by performing both difficult jazz (which the audience had to sit down and pay attention to) and popular dance-orientated jazz. The difference between the two modes was one of application, rather than of quality. Playing the latter enabled the band to continue playing the former. The decision was a compromise, but without any loss of artistic integrity.

9.00 am: I returned to the singing angels, the sound of heavenly trumpeting, and other airborne acoustic anomalies. The research fuels both the written and the practice-based projects, and returns me to some of the preoccupations that underlay my PhD Art History studies. My creative interests tend to revolve in circles, and rarely never go far from my doorstep.

January 31 (Tuesday). 8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: Insomuch as the ‘singing in the air’ [working title] project was growing productively and simultaneously as both a textual and practice-based study, I remained with yesterday’s agenda. Some years ago, the phenomenon of angelic singing had directed my attention to Edmund Jones’s A Relation of Apparitions of Spirits in Wales (1780), on which my Noisome Spirits (2021) suite of sound compositions was based. Which, in turn, had been informed by my earlier study of Jones’s book, entitled The Appearance of Evil (2003). Three tracks on the album touch upon the theme: ‘Incomparable Singing’, ‘Like Children in Bright Clothing’, and ‘This Sweet Bell Ringing’. Today, I began reading secondary textual sources on the phenomenon, and considering what sonic material might form the basis of a sound composition. Certainly, the composition(s) would be longform, following the duration of the angelic singing — which could last up to twenty minutes, so some witnesses have testified.

12.30 pm: A minor rejig of the DJ desk, in order to make more space for the effectors. 2.00 pm: A pastoral Skype call to a friend. There’re times when the only thing we can do is sit-out our sojourn at the bottom of a dark, deep, and cold pit, while family and friends on the surface shout down their love, encouragements, and support. In time, a basket will be lowered and we’ll be hoisted above. Patience, hope, trust, and community are just as vital as medication and counselling during the wait.

2.30 pm: I commenced writing-up notes on historical accounts and characteristics of angelic and other forms of supernatural singing.

8.30 am to 5.00 pm.

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