February 28, 2020

7.45 am: A communion. 8.30 am: My inbox was emptied and the studio, prepared for work. I’d woken repeatedly during the night. The brain was more than a little phased as I began to work. Mercifully, I’d already conceived several procedures to apply to my ‘splash’ files; and none would require much mental clarity to execute. At this point, numerology came to the fore. Jones’ astrological chart is governed by ’12’, being the number of months in the lunar year. ’12’ is also the number of semi-tones in an octave. First, I dropped the pitch of my source file by -12 and -24 semitones, respectively and, then, combined both the source and the lower-pitch versions. The effect was to enlarge the perceived scale of both the splash and the water’s depth (interestingly).

The length of the source file is 3 seconds. ‘3’ is an integer of 12, and the number of days during which the young man traveled back and fore from Ystradgynlais to Philadelphia, and of the miles that the spirit asked him to walk in order to throw the box of money into the lake. Secondly, I divided the 3-second splash into twelve 0.25-second pieces. The decision was governed by a concept implied in the original account, from which the composition’s title is derived: ‘There was Such a Noise as if All About was Going to Pieces’. The twelve pieces (1-12) were combined in an order governed by a random sequence generator, as follows: 1, 5, 6, 12, 8, 2, 7, 4, 3, 10, 9, 11:

The randomiser introduced a dimension of indeterminacy into the composition. Decisions were being made outside the bounds of my conscious control and intent, by an external agency. In this sense the process is a metaphor for the influences of the movements and positions in the heavens on the affairs of earth. Twelve sequences were generated. In the composition, each sequence could be, theoretically, repeated 11 times (12 iterations in all). The twelve sequences would be, then, introduced into he composition (either in series or parallel) in the order in which they were generated, following the order of the lunar months: January = 1 through to December = 12).

1.30 pm: After lunch, I created loops of the sequence and listened to what several of them sounded like when played in parallel: discovering the hidden potentialities, as it were. Most of the sounds that I’ll generate won’t find a place in the composition. But that’s fine. I’m looking for only the best and most appropriate material.

Thirdly, I took one of the 0.25 second pieces and divided it into twelve 0.02+ second pieces. The result was lousy: predictable, commonplace, and unpleasant on the ear (in the wrong way). But I had to do it in order to know it. Further endeavours to evoke the sense of ‘going to pieces’ would have to be pursued using granular and bit-crushing techniques instead. For the remainder of the afternoon, I stretched the source x300, lowered the pitch by 5 octaves, and removed all frequencies above 125kHz.

7.15 pm: I attended the opening at the School of a group exhibition of abstract-landscape painting organised by my esteemed colleague Dr June Forster:

It was lovely to see so many ‘old’ faces – friends of the School and its alumni – present:

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