March 22, 2019

They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green (Psalm 92.14).

6.00 am: Up. 7.00 am: A communion. The psalmist makes an observation about the righteous. ‘They’ endeavoured to live uprightly according to the law and, like Abraham, believed and trusted in God (Genesis 15.6). The righteous were never self-righteous. Far from it. A holier-than-thou attitude was anathema to them. Rather, like the tax collector in Christ’s parable, they beat their breast knowing how far short of holiness they fell (Luke 18.10–14).

Even in old age, the righteous flourished under God’s grace and favour. Not for them propping-up the bar at Wetherspoons from nine in the morning until mid afternoon, and endlessly walking the dog wondering what to do with their lives in retirement. They kept on boogieing, strutting like Mick Jagger across the world’s stage, pursuing their passions with fire in their bones, delivering the goods, and giving the young a run for their money. If I’m blessed with long life, this is how I want to be too.

7.45 am: ‘More tea, please!’:

9.00 am: Studiology. A review of last evening’s efforts. I determined to deal with all the voice-centred compositions together. The remainder – the noise-centred pieces – will, likewise, be mixed as a distinct group. I made further micro-modifications to the volume and stereo placement of the individual components that comprise ‘And Saul and I’. 10.00 am: On, then, to ‘One Day’. This was a simpler proposition in one sense, but more demanding in another:

In this example, there’re several voices (all Scourby’s) sounding together. In order to achieve clarity and distinction, I separated the parts left and right of the centre ground (which is occupied by a rather lugubrious stretched rendering of Scourby delivering (or so it would appear) Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I have a dream’ speech.

11.00 am: ‘More tea, please!’:

The trick is to intervene as little as possible and follow the logic of the composition. The last steps towards resolution of an artwork in any medium are an implementation of principles and practices that are already operational.

12.30 pm: ‘Next!’ I took up the first of two compositions which were rendered in live performance: ‘Write the Vision and Make it Plain Upon Tables’:

Performing ‘Write the Vision and Make it Plain Upon Tables’, ‘Visual Theology I’ conference, Bishop’s Palace, Chichester, UK (October 19, 2018)

The track had already received a fair going-over before publication on the John Harvey: Spoken Word website. Nevertheless, it was worth returning to it with hindsight and a view to improvement. Mixing isn’t a process of mere polishing; it’s the final act of creating.

1.40 pm: Nothing required an amendment. I took up ‘Beth & Bill‘, which was performed in London earlier in the year:

Performing ‘Beth & Bill’, Husk Coffee & Creative Space, Morphe Arts, London, UK (January 7, 2019)

A site-specific, strategic EQ-ing (equalisation) of some samples was required. There was muddying. Subtly and caution were the call of the hour. Rarely do I EQ the mixed-down composition in toto. More usually only some samples benefit from attention. Global adjustment tends to remedy the problematic parts while problematising parts that sounded acceptable, formerly.

3.00 pm: Other duties beckoned, and my ears were tired. I bounced into town:

Late afternoon, I laid ‘Beth & Bill’ to rest, for now, and opened up ‘Turn Table’, which had had a good deal of mixery-attention in the past.

7.30 pm: Testimonies like this from academics, posted to social-media sites, are becoming increasingly common:

I suspect that younger academics are at the frontline of this attrition. Health, relationships, family life, and future job prospects have been ruined, in some cases. Older fogeys, like me, have over the years developed a robust psychology and a sense of perspective: the capacity to smell the bullsh*t from afar, and distinguish what’s said to be important from what’s absolutely necessary. I know my breaking point; I’ve stared it in the eyes on a number of occasions. My job has inflicted damage on me, both physically and socially. (How many academics have time for well-maintained friendships these days?) I guess that you’d call those industrial injuries in the context of the above.

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