February 26, 2020


Ash Wednesday: 8.00 am: A communion. The wind continued to blow hard and cruel. It does so in the lives of some known to me as it does in the country at large, presently. Today is the beginning of Lent: a time for uprooting, pruning, repentance, resolution, and preparation. It’s a solemn but not a gloomy time, one that anticipates a period of renewal, new possibilities, change, and resolve: ‘The English word Lent is a shortened form of the Old English word lencten, meaning “spring season”.’ 8.45 am: Yesterday evening, I mapped out my engagements through to August. Before settling to studio work, I caught up on responses to last night’s email dispatch.

9.15 am: Boot up. And so began the composition of ‘There was Such a Noise as if All About was Going to Pieces’. At times over the last week the weather and the world have echoed that sentiment. As I write, a gale blows hard against the windows of the studio, with the ferocity of a wild animal at the door. I’ll make recordings of the storms’ noise, at some point. Perhaps they’ll find their way into the new work. ‘More tea, please!’

10.00 am: Returning to composition using my Digital Audio Workstation hasn’t been straightforward. Furthermore, I’m doing so in a Windows rather than Mac IOS environment for the first time. I’m also having to navigate the transition from Adobe Audition CS6 to Audition CC (having bitten the bullet and begun ‘renting’ the software). In the background, I made one last and failed attempt to install my Tascam mixer’s software on a Windows 10 device. What a waste of hardware. Unconscionable.

Splash #1:

11.00 am: ‘More tea, please!’ (Reprise.) To begin, I stretched the sound files using a variety of software processes. The objective was to generate a sizable deposit of samples for further modification. My primary principle of procedure is: ‘Don’t repeat what you’ve done before!’. I want to hear something that’s both surprising and astonishing. Out came the studio notebook. When ideas flow fast, they need to be written down quickly. Even startling ideas can be forgotten in the instant of their occurrence:

1.30 pm: After lunch, I reviewed some of the residual concepts and procedures related to The Biblical Record album. In particular, the new composition struck me as having a curious consanguinity with one entitled ‘Wisdom is Better Than Weapons of War’. Both begin with a ‘bang’ — a splash and an explosion, respectively — and proceed with a colossal noise of destruction. 2.30 pm: I’d not presume upon the outcome of any potential course of action. I’d do it, and then decide. Having edited the real-time splash sounds, I overlaid and mixed them down to a single file. The same procedure was undertaken in relation to the two sets of time-stretched splashes.

4.00 pm: I was, now, into the composition. But only making bricks. Building a wall with them would command quite another level of challenge. I’d not anticipated developing a new CD project so soon. But its incumbent to respond to opportunities as and when they arise. There’s a danger of repetition, because the intervening time has been too short for me to learn what lessons the previous project afforded, as well as to venture beyond it, aesthetically, into new territory. Change, as Miles Davis’ believed, ought be a constant. But you can’t force the issue.

6.30 pm: Practise session. 7.30 pm: Teach admin beckoned. My time away next week had some significant implications. Then, back to the ‘Noisome Spirits’ paper.

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