June 26, 2019

Though troubles assail,
And dangers affright;
Though friends should all fail,
And foes all unite,
Yet one thing secures us,
Whatever betide:
The Scripture assures us,
‘The Lord will provide
‘.
(John Newton, ‘The Lord Will Provide’ (1775))

8.00 am: A communion. 8.45 am: With tea (no. 2) in hand, I reviewed the day ahead, determined my priorities, apportioned them to those times when my best energies would be available, and ensured that my activities were varied, as well as balanced between those that were really interesting and those that were a ‘wearisomeness to the flesh.’

To begin: something easy and appealing. I searched for a more user-friendly and high-quality stereo recording app for my iPhone and iPod (which I use to record when roving). I’m planning a research/personal trip to South Wales. Having photographed my home town and its environs endlessly in the past, I want, now, to explore its acoustic aspect, and record my oral ruminations upon it, in situ.

The sounds of the Ebbw Vach valley, where I grew up, had a significant impact upon the development of my aesthetic instincts and imaginative life. I first realised this on writing the Preface to my edition of Edmund Jones’ A Relation of Apparitions of Spirits in the Principality of Wales (1780). This was published as The Appearance of Evil: Apparitions of Spirits in Wales (2003). I described the unnerving sonic phenomena encountered on top of the Arail. This is the mountain which overlooks Abertillery and was the context of some quite alarming examples of hostile supernatural activity, supposedly:

Presently in my research and practice I’m exploring accounts of a putative supernatural phenomenon that took place in chapels and the surrounding landscape during periods of religious revival in Wales. It was manifest in the sound of invisible angelic choirs, popularly referred to as ‘the singing in the air’. They could be heard either in the rafters of the buildings, or moving across the sky in advance of an outbreak of spiritual awakening. Reports of the auditions go back to the sixteenth century. My enthusiasms have always run in circles: ‘What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again’, as the Preacher saith (Ecclesiastes 1.9). But, first, the CD text and design needed to be finished.

1.30 pm: This isn’t happening!!!:

The last time railcard eligibility was in the offing, I was a ‘Young Person’. Back then, the year 2022 was the stuff of science fiction. I played Petula Clarke’s Greatest Hits (some, like ‘Down Town’, are far, far greater than others) in order to position my psyche in a more remote past within my lifetime. Music offers a conditional form of time travel:

A sing-along-a ‘I know a Place‘ and ‘I couldn’t live Without Your Love’, accompanied by Petula-like upper-body dance movements and giggling, followed. (‘Act your age, John!’ ‘Nope!’) ‘Happy Heart‘ is touchingly poignant: love as a sound. I’d wish that everyone could confess this song’s sentiments to someone at some time in their life.

2.00 pm: The revisions of the first draft proceeded with vigour and some success. I continued in a straight line until the end of the afternoon, shaving off the excess, tightening the ropes, tuning the strings, and moving the furniture around. (Playing in the background: Gerry Rafferty’s City to City.)

5.30 pm: Dinner preparations: Now, I’m reasonably good at this:

7.30 pm: While I try not to work at the same things over the three sessions of a day (morning, afternoon, and evening), I was on a roll and didn’t want to put on the brakes. The crafting continued until the sun set.

muse > mus[e] > i > musi > c > music

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