January 25, 2019

8.15 am: A communion. 9.00 am: A second cup of tea with which to oil the onset of the day, and watch updates upload unhurriedly. Last night, I managed to secure tickets to see Philip Glass’ opera Akhnaten (1983) at the ENO in March. It’s a masterpiece. I recall hearing a radio broadcast of the UK premier, one afternoon in 1984, when I was living in Cardiff. I was utterly transfixed. The work has had a considerable influence on the way I think about the spoken text, the interpretation of historical narrative, and the evocation of transcendence through sound.

9.30 am: A morning of rewriting, before returning to the studio. How much of the humour and lightness of touch should be sacrificed on the altar of a hard-boiled and deeply serious academic submission? At the ‘Visual Theology I’ conference last year, I opened my paper with the mindset of a stand-up comic, while positioned in front of the podium among the audience, and speaking from a text that I’d committed to memory. The approach set up an expectation that what would follow just might be fun and engaging (sometimes).

1.40 pm: Studiology. My attention during the first part of the afternoon was upon the bit-crushed renderings of the source sample. As with my rewriting, the priority was editing: removing the repetitive, dull, and superfluous, in order to hear the remarkable. My instinct was to move quickly and make reckless and rash decisions, knowingly, in order to deflect myself into unchartered territory. (‘Do the unthinkable, John!’, my ‘muse’ would have challenged.) And, I must learn not to interfere when there’s no just cause so to do. As in life, there’re times when you just have to let things work their course.

The objective was to micro-manage the given: opening the sound field, creating a depth perspective, and establishing contrasting dynamics. Track-by-track, section-by-section, moment-by-moment, small adjustments delivered significant improvements. Every change was heard in relation to the whole, every time. But was I working on a foreground or a background?

5.00 pm: Down tools. If I worked on the composition any longer, it would go into lock down, a condition wherein it’s very difficult to insert new material without unseating the whole. 5.20 pm: Off to the cinema at the Arts Centre for an early Friday-evening treat (and look-in on the gallery), followed by a takeaway, taken-away from my local town chambers.

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January 24, 2019
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January 26, 2019

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