February 20, 2021

But only one thing is necessary (Luke 10. 42).

First image of the Martian surface from the Perseverance rover (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

WFH: DAY 35/LENT 4. 7.45 am: A communion. 8.30 am: Studiology. ‘Is there [sound] on Mars?’ I look forward to hearing this (as I’m sure Bowie would’ve too); NASA states:

The Perseverance rover carries two microphones, letting us directly record the sounds of Mars for the very first time. One, an experimental mic, may capture the landing itself. The other mic is for science. Both mics may even capture the sounds the rover makes.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, I determined to conclude phase 2 mixing by the close of the day. Next on the ‘deck’: ‘Incomparable Singing’. The would be the last opportunity to make further deletions from or enhancements to the compositions. Any part, or any part of any part, that was even remotely irksome to the ear (and, thus, to the creative conscience) would be dispatched dispassionately. Rightness must prevail. There were times when I found myself working back towards the ‘underpainting’ — either restoring or re-emphasising what had been occluded during the previous mix. Finishing is, perhaps, the most fascinating aspect of the compositional process.

12.00 pm: Some tracks take an inordinately long time to fully resolve. And one can do nothing about that. How loud should a sample representing a very loud sound actually be? Pushing its volume into the ‘red’ zone neither guarantees the illusion of loudness nor a listenable experience. Loudness is about presence, fulness, and adequate contrast to quieter passages, rather than amplification. ‘Throw Stones Out of the Water’, next — a difficult beast to tame. The components were, at source, too brittle and fierce in sonority. The inappropriate harshness got in the way of both the concept and the listening experience. Its flaws proved incurable. The composition would have to be either jettisoned or remade from the bottom up. Finally, for the morning, I attended to ‘Geographical: Like Waves Perfectly Immovable’.

1.45 pm: I returned to the composition’s source session and began to strategically ‘heal’ micro-seconds of samples. A few were blighted by either volume spikes or extraneous digital artefacts. Where a glitch could not be healed, it was surgically removed:

Until now, I’ve never fully appreciated how quiet this last track ought to be. It’s plaintive in spirit. My sense is that the music is being heard as at a distance and from above. Finally, I discovered a way of redeeming ‘Throw the Stones Out of the Water’. A good point at which to end the day.

5.15 pm: An end.

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