Summa: diary (July 15-21, 2023)

July 15 (Saturday).

View towards the town from the Promenade, Aberystwyth (8.15 am).

So, a student may undertake a university degree in England that challenges presuppositions, enhances awareness, enriches the soul, disciplines the mind, opens-up new fields of knowledge, imparts skills, and provides the conceptual wherewithal to explore and make sense of the world, and yet be of ‘low-value’, a ‘rip-off’, and of ‘poor quality’ because it doesn’t lead to a high-earning career. Interestingly, at the bottom of the BBC’s table of low-earning professions are care working and agricultural. Care workers earn little because they’re paid little; agriculturalists, because — cut adrift from the EU — they no longer have access to the markets and subsidies they enjoyed prior to Brexit. The UK desperately needs far more people in both professions. Dissuading applications to courses that lead to them seems counterintuitive (to put it politely).

During the course of my career, I’ve encountered doctors, dentists, managers, solicitors, and accountants who preferred to have undertaken a creative discipline — such as fine art — at university, rather than a degree that had enabled them to take-up a high-powered and well-remunerated job later in life. They longed for retirement and an opportunity to pursue their first love. Money can buy you gold bath taps, but it doesn’t necessarily buy you happiness, contentment, and fulfilment.

What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Matthew 16.26.

Good to get some airplay yesterday evening, courtesy of The Sound Projector Music Magazine and Radio Show:

July 17 (Monday). 8.30 am: Writing. 9.30 am: Studiology. A review of last week’s output. This week ‘Hellhole’ [working title] and ‘Seventh Trumpet’ [working title] will be centre stage. ‘One at a time, please!’ 10.30 am: On with graphic design — which I learned, not by undertaking a degree in the subject but, rather, by applying facilities that I’d acquired as a fine-art student. 12.00 pm: With The Aural Bible VII logo (which will be associated with the current album project and its adjuncts) completed, I set about establishing the template for this project’s first off-shoot release on my Sound site: Medial Music Practice.

1.30 pm: Five of the solo guitar tracks comprising the EP were balanced, equalised, and uploaded to the site, along with an explanatory text. The suite will be released only after I’ve lived with, and endured, it for such time as is required to be confident of my judgement.

July 18 (Tuesday). 8.00 am: Writing. 8.45 am: I was standing in the doorway of the chemists, waiting for it to open, along with the anxious mother of a graduating daughter. She was desperate to secure safety pins with which to secure her offspring’s hood to the gown. They’re not easy to come by, apparently. 9.00 am: Hot chocolate on the Promenade. 9.30 am: A mop mow at my local hairdressers. 10.15 am: Studiology. I listened again to the tracks that I’d uploaded to the Sound website yesterday. 11.00 am: Coffee and homemade biscuits at Susan Forster’s studio. Good food and good conversation joined hands.

1.30 pm: Back to ‘Seventh Trumpet’ [working title]. I sang each word of the biblical text very slowly, in the manner of plainsong. Each word was, afterwards, slowed further by 150%, dropped six semitones, and treated with a 5-voice chorus modulation. The sound is no longer intelligible as either a word or voice; instead, it possesses the breathy sonority of a tubular instrument. Tomorrow, these word-tones will be modulated further, outside the Digital Audio Workstation environment on my computer.

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

Revelation 11.15.

July 19 (Wednesday). 8.30 am: A communion. 9.00 am Studiology. On to the composition table to process the word-tones further. On this occasion, whatever solution works for one will work for all. Having already processed the source sounds significantly, restraint was called for. ‘Roundness’ and ‘ambience’ were the watch words. Today, I made my bricks; tomorrow, I’ll begin to build my wall.

12.30 pm: I arrived at the the Arts Centre for the afternoons graduation ceremony. I was there as an invited guest (a first, for me), in order to support Dr Anastasia Wildig. She is the last doctoral student whom I tutored to submission prior to my retirement. Having picked up a ticket, I expected to take my seat at the back of Great Hall’s gallery. However, the staff member at the booth ushered me to one of the best seats in the house, on the first row. I felt like the guest in Christ’s parable of the wedding feast:

 But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ 

Luke 14.7-14.

Graduations are not unlike weddings: proud and anxious parents; nervous (and solo, in this context) brides and grooms; myriad family members and friends; special gowns; ubiquitous photographers; and much fussing.

This was both Professor Robert Meyrick’s (Head of School of Art) and Professor Elizabeth Treasure’s (Vice Chancellor) last graduation ceremony before they retire. That around 800,000 students graduate each year, doesn’t diminish the achievement of each graduand. It should be celebrated.

July 19 (Wednesday). 7.45 am: A communion. 8.30 am: Studiology. Blowing my own trumpet … again. I reviewed the voice-tones that I’d modified yesterday, and considered the acoustic space and ambience of the sky. This is the ‘canvas’ upon which my sounds will be disposed. The sky is silent. We hear only the cry of birds; the wind as it pushes through foliage, and against buildings and the microphone of a recording device; the rain’s scatter on the window pane; and the distant roar of aircraft drawing soft white lines across a pale-cerulean ground, 30,000 feet up.

7.30 am

‘Seventh Trumpet’ [working title] treads upon the territories occupied by two prior projects. In ‘Scene 7: The Decalogue (Ex. 20​.​1​–​20)’ of ‘Image and Inscription’ (from The Bible in Translation (2016)), I simulated a ram’s horn being blown; in ‘Seen in the Air’ (from Noisome Spirits (2020)), I evoked the sound of supernatural aerial battles. The voice-tones don’t seek to imitate of the angel’s trumpet (not that we know what it sounded like). Instead, they occupy an uncertain middle ground between this instrument and the human voice. Likewise, the composition’s objective isn’t to illustrate contemporary accounts and recordings of sky trumpets but, rather, summon a disquieting and dispiriting mood that anticipates the coming Apocalypse.

1.30 pm: I left-off working on the composition at the point where its character and resolution were being made manifest. Next: ‘Hellhole’ [working title]. In the original recording, the sound of the screaming damned at the of the bottom drill shaft was derived, some commentators have suggested, from the soundtrack of a schlock ‘n horror film entitled Baron Blood (1972). Samples of the source were looped, overlaid, and distorted. (I can believe it.) In my composition, the noises of torment are, likewise, derived from a film. In this case, a 16mm documentary called The Evolution Of The Oil Industry (1942). It includes a description of the drilling techniques used in crude-oil exploration. Oil and other fossil fuels are contributing to hellish conditions on the earth’s surface presently, as global temperatures continue to rise. This composition treads upon territory occupied by the Penalta Colliery: Sound Pictures (2022) project, which took a British Movietone newsreel about coal extraction as its starting point.

Julian Ruddock, ‘2A’, HD digital projection and earth-core sample from 2A Earth Core: The Hominin Project, Gallery 1, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Wales, 2017.

July 21 (Friday). 6.30 am: Awake. 7.30 am: A communion. 8.00 am: Studiology. One further composition was added to the Medial Music Practice suite, and ‘Seventh Trumpet’ [working title], recommenced. In the background to the piece there’s a subdued drone derived from a field recording, made for the Aural Diary, of a trumpet being played on 5th Avenue, New York, on May 7, 2002. By noon, the structure of the whole and disposition of its parts were resolved and awaiting a first-pass mix.

12.00 pm: I extracted a digital recording of the soundtrack from the oil documentary.

Still from The Evolution of the Oil Industry, Department of the Interior and Bureau of Mines, USA, 1942.

1.30 pm: An afternoon of extraction and processing in readiness for sculpting the samples further on Monday. By 4.00 pm I was all composed out. An ambulation while the sun still shone.

Digital-graphic representation of the sound core for ‘Hellhole’ [working title].

See also: Intersections (archive);  Diary (September 15, 2018 – June 30, 2021)Diary (July 16, 2014 – September 4, 2018); John Harvey (main site); Instagram.

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