December 10, 2018

Saturday. 8.15 am: A communion. Throughout a sometimes disturbed night, the voice in my head kept saying ‘Seek simplicity; work for clarity; believe in economy; and trust in sufficiency’. 9.00 am: To those ends, I reviewed the composition thus far, pruning away anything that was decorous (the baubles on the Christmas tree), superfluous (unessential to functionality), or encumbering (masking the work’s other virtues). I set up the day’s challenge before heading onto the wet streets of the town to scope purchases for Christmas. (I’m a firm believer in an initial reconnaissance.)

11.00 am: On my return, I knuckled down to the task at hand, while listening to the sounds of Mars’ wind captured by NASA’s InSight Lander. The sonorities reminded me of the deep-end from my ‘Image and Inscription‘ composition. By lunchtime, I’d in mind developing the penultimate section of the composition as a cadenza. It would abandon the rhythmic underpinning of the rest of the composition and be improvised in performance. The two instruments would be the sampler pad and the turntable. As the afternoon proceeded, I tightened the sections, compressed ideas, weeded out irrelevancies, and enjoyed the composition’s fruition. A good day’s work. And fulfilling, to bout. 

Monday. 8.15 am: A communion. 9.00 am: Studiology. Boot-up and multiple software problems, which took an hour to unravel. Digital devices are as temperamental as biological entities. I reviewed Saturday’s contribution to the composition – deleting the ‘tinsel’ further and making less do more. The work will be performed. Therefore, the piece has to be made in order to be disassembled, loaded onto samplers, and reassembled in situ. (It’ll be a bit like an Ikea flatpack in this respect.) For this reason, it doesn’t pay to be too clever or complex. I’d like to be able to make a live capture of the piece, as I’d done of ‘Write the Vision and Make it Plain Upon Tables‘, at the ‘Visual Theology‘ conference in October.

I returned to the VirtualDJ software and hardware to process the shortened (accelerated) tracks. I didn’t want to miss a trick. It’s sometimes worth the hassle.

After lunch, I harvested what might prove to be usable samples from the process. There’s little opportunity for spontaneity and immediacy in a project of this nature. Flat-footed progress, dull repetition, disappointing results, and occasional flashes of insight characterise the way of working. It’s not for the faint of heart, untrusting, or anxious. Progress requires time, concentration, the sacrifice of some of life’s legitimate pleasures, long periods in isolation, and inordinate perseverance and fortitude. But that’s what most things worth achieving require. If you aren’t willing to relinquish your rights and comforts, then, you’re insufficiently committed to the goal.

Then, some parts that were previously deleted re-emerged … but, now, with a sense of purpose. No edit is ever final until the composition is complete. As in life, the logic of the whole is always authoritative; but the patterns and chain of consequences don’t reveal themselves at the outset, necessarily. By the close of the afternoon, all the useful bits that I’d manufactured were situated.

In the evening, I attended to the publicity image for the lecture of which the performance will be the concluding element.

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December 7, 2018
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