April 27, 2019

9.00 am: After the night’s storm the runner beans were bedraggled and empty packet of new bulbs, strewn across the lawn:

And the wind and rain raged still. Storms are a well-worn metaphor for the catastrophic forces that can either dishevel or level our lives. The garden will be put to rights again. Severe calamities, however, can leave a permanent scar on our psyche. ‘They were never the same again’, it’s said. Personally, I’d have it no other way. Loss, hardship, and heartbreak can serve to ameliorate character and self-knowledge, as well as develop in us, in an instant, virtues that might otherwise take years to acquire.

9.45 am: Studiology. I was on the final lap. Beginning with the first track, I tinkered with the clarity of each sample in order to enhance its presence and create a continuity of tonal character across tracks of the same type. There was a danger of over-egging the pudding. My ears became ever keener to discern discrepancies. A boy could go mad doing this. I switched from near-field to the another pair of studio monitors:

I’ll let go of this process when I’m persuaded that I can do no better. Others may be able to do better. But I cannot. Broad-field listening draws attention to problems (usually absences) in the centre-channel of the stereo image. I think I’m beginning to get moderately good at this.

Not every sound artist bothers with this level of finessing. Their work may not require it. I hear the soundscape like I view a painting. My visual art training and practice has made all the difference in this respect. (This is an idea that requires a more precise articulation – for my benefit, principally. One for the future.) Mid afternoon, I took a break from hearing my own ghastly noises and played something melodic by someone else.

Never let yourself off the hook of a known compromise. As soon as you evade, or excuse yourself from, solving problems in the work, the games’ up. I’m hard on myself and, to the same degree, hard on my students. Some have found that to be uncomfortable experience, for which I offer no apology. We, ourselves – our lazy, superficial, and uncritical thinking, and lack of standards and ambition – are often the biggest obstacle to success.

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