March 25, 2020

‘How can this be?’ (Luke 1.34)

WFH: DAY 7 (Feast of the Annunciation). 8.15 am: A communion. 9.00 am: Student admin. I read over and updated my Post-its. This a time for not only forging forth with new ambitions but also catching up with those irksome tasks that have been on the back burner for too long. The minor things would be addressed during the evening sessions. Mornings and afternoons were set aside for those endeavours that required my best energies. (‘Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.’) ‘And a lot less Twitter and BBC News watching wouldn’t go a miss, John!’ He was right, of course. From now on it would be 11.00 am, lunchtime, 3.00 pm, dinner time, and 9.30 pm only. An Art in Wales modules student wanted to read my booklet on Miner-Artists: The Art of Welsh Coalworkers (2000). A posted copy would take too long to arrive, presently, and the booklet was too large to be scanned; so, photographing and uploading each page to MS Teams was the only option:

9.30 pm: Another mug of tea in hand (‘And that’s another habit we should talk about, John!’), I returned to yesterday evening’s Ableton Live 10 tutorial in order to ‘upskill’. The software is both instrument and compositional tool … and fearfully complex. I need to determine how I want to use the provision, rather than be dictated to by what it can do. 11.00 am: I joined with a great many Christians around the world in saying the Lord’s Prayer. I was struck by how little time it took to recite.

Retaining a focus on the task at hand is so much harder against the background noise of anxiety, uncertainty, and suffering on a global scale. I keep Post-its for each of each day’s three sessions (morning, afternoon, and evening), that outline my list of ‘to dos’. The challenge is to complete them all by the close of a session, and thereby encourage a sense of imperative. 11.30 am: On, then, with introductory tutorials for the Ableton Push 2, midi-interface:

While browsing for vintage special effects vinyls, I came across one site which categorized this genre as ‘non-music’. It was as good a descriptor as any for the type of sound work that I produce. They were popular in the 1970s. In part they served to demonstrate the virtues of stereophonic record players, which were affordably available to a domestic market back then. I had several such vinyls, including:

This type of record introduced me to both the pleasures of sound as distinct from music and of a sound’s ability to summon up the mental image of the thing that produced it.

1.30 pm: The best way of learning something new is get your hands dirty. (The best education is practice-based and practise-based). As computers updated (as they’re prone to do when you’re in a hurry), I worked my way through my list of amplifier/mixer tests and tutorials. There’s always something to either know better or learn afresh. Mid afternoon, I enjoyed an interlude of interaction with a fellow sound practitioner from South Wales:

7.30 pm: The ‘smalls’ sorted, I maintained the afternoon’s agenda and continued self-educating about sound mixers, courtesy of YouTube.

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