January 30, 2021

WFH: DAY 17. 7.00 am: BBC Radio 3 in the bathroom. 7.30 pm: BBC Radio 4 in the kitchen. (Everyday, except Sundays.) On Saturdays, I allow myself a piece of toast with my cereal, and to linger over breakfast. (‘You’ll spoil yourself, John!’)

8.15 am: Studiology. The mix. To begin: ‘This Sweet Bell Ringing’. This is one of the simplest of all the compositional propositions on the album. Which doesn’t mean that it’s any easier to resolve. The pair of parallel tracks carry a great deal of responsibility for the success of the whole. An outcome of the mix can be either wrong or right, or right or more right, or more right or exactly right.

Yesterday evening, after work, I listened to electroacoustic compositions performed by students at Music and Media Technologies department, Trinity College Dublin. I recognised the array of repurposed guitar effects pedals, samplers, contact microphones, DJ controllers, and mixers. Me, I’m shifting surplus goods via eBay in order to fund devices that’re of more immediate necessity. There are some artists whom I’m aware of that have do the same in order to keep body and soul together, alas.

Live improvisation using either electroacoustic or purely electronic equipment is extraordinarily difficult to do well. And by ‘well’ I mean, with consummate professionalism and control over one’s means, to the end of creating something that is both engaging at the point of delivery and, if recorded, worthy of repeated listening. Too often in YouTube videos, I see ‘wannaby’ young boys and ‘hassabeen’ middle-aged men (almost always men), twiddling their knobs (and the metaphor is not lost on me), in their bedrooms or garden shed, or on the kitchen table, next to the fridge. Their efforts are predictable, tiresome, and self-indulgent (to the point of delusional), as well as poorly recorded. (Female sound artists and musicians feature large among some of the best exponents practicing today, in my experience.) ‘Let me hear something new and amazing!’

10.00 am: I moved on to ‘Throw Stones Out of the River’. Before mixing, I re-engaged the composition by reintroducing elements that I’d edited out previously. Better! But was the composition the best that it could be. 11.30 am: Then it was ‘Fiery Stones’ … :

… followed by ‘What is Here’, and then ‘Sound Expressing Something’.

2.00 pm: Following lunch: ‘Such a Noise as If All the Hedges About Were Tore to Pieces’. I’d not heard this composition in a while; so, I came to it fresh. The problems were few, but immediately evident. Solving a problem is relatively straightforward. Comprehending the problem … now, that’s the hard part.

4.15 pm: ‘Cease thy affections’.

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