March 18, 2019

7.40 am: A communion. There’s little to be gained from reaching for what’s already within one’s grasp. I’m drawn to the impossible (or what seems to be): ambitions that require of me more than I can give, presently; projects which must fail often before they succeed, and appear so unwieldy that I feel weary merely at the thought of them; hopes and anticipations that, humanly speaking, may never be fulfilled; and changes to myself, inside and out, that can only come about through supernatural agency.

8.15 am: I attended to the weekend’s post and looked over the teaching schedule for the week ahead. Wednesday, following a morning of Personal Tutorials with the third year, would be a red-letter day for those students exhibiting in May: the planning meeting. The MA and BA fine art tutorials would have their own imperative and complexion, as the students and I together move towards end points on the trajectory of their training. Each week ought to have a set of determinations and ambitions that are distinct from the others.

9.15 am: Studiology. I reviewed the ‘Lead-In’ and ‘Tailpiece’ tracks that I’d completed on Saturday, before finalising them for the final mix. On, then, with the ‘Blind’ suite [working title], beginning with ‘Bartimaeus Bartimaeus’.

There’s no equivalent in painting for preparing the final mix. It’s not like glazing or framing. The process involves bouncing down, optimisation, balancing, equalisation, imaging, and integration. I’ve always found it demanding. In the commercial music industry, responsibility for mixing is often a collaboration between the artist and a producer. In the sound-art world: ‘You’re on your own, mate!’ I don’t object; the artist should take charge of their work from beginning to end, in my opinion.

My principles for the initial phase of mixing are:

  • Preserve the sonority of the source as far as possible.
  • Establish the integrity of the lateral stereo field as soon as possible.
  • Listen to the centre ground as often as a possible.
  • Reduce peak levels wherever possible.
  • Listen to something else that’s entirely different every half-an-hour, so that the ears don’t become dulled by repetitive audition.
  • Listen alternately on headphones and monitor speakers throughout the process.

By lunchtime, the first phase 1 of composition’s mix was complete. I’ve now a number of ‘tricks’ that I can apply to others in the ‘Blind’ suite.

1.40 pm: On, then, with ‘Double Blind’, and some minor teasing of several component parts. The transmission of sound through headphones and over studio monitors can be alarmingly different. I’ve been careful not to either interfere with the character of the source recording or clear up the scratches, static, and other blemishes that have attached themselves to it subsequently. The patina of noise is as important as the sound of the words. 4.00 pm: On to ‘All Blind’ and ‘Lead the Blind’.

7.15 am: I was eager to press towards completing the first phase mix of the ‘Blind’ suite, rather than work on some other aspect of my job (which would be my custom). I’ve also wanted to honour the monaural character of the source. In this respect, the centre ground between the left- and right-hand channels is a prominent feature of the suite.

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