Keep away those who could harm me; and keep me away from those whom I could harm.
8.20 am: A communion. The reported rise in the prescription of antidepressants comes as no surprise to me. More people are seeking help for the condition, and doctors are better able to make a correct diagnosis from the symptoms that patients present these days. The drugs can be helpful: life-enhancing and, often, lifesaving. More and more students are taking them in order to alleviate depression and anxiety. They have to confront stresses and uncertainties in the present and the years ahead that were entirely foreign to me at their age. It’s getting increasingly difficult for them to cope.
However, there’re other students with whom I’ve talked who aren’t, in their own or doctor’s estimation, depressed. Rather, they’re unhappy. Circumstances are against them; they no longer feel in control of their lives; and they’re tired of their own perceived inadequacy. This inevitably leads to anxiety. You can’t medicate yourself out of this state of being. And imbibing large quantities of alcohol almost always exacerbates the ‘low’, even if it does affect a temporary oblivion. Talking over problems with family, close friends, and teachers – folk who know, love, respect, and sympathise with them, as well as trained counsellors in some cases – is a far more effective and long-term remedy.
Sadness is a bonafide psychological condition. (A very human condition.) But it isn’t an illness. And I would venture that we need to be sad periodically. Sadness provides the darkness that, together with those times of luminous joy, creates the chiaroscuro which rounds and shapes our lives.
9.00 am: Studiology. There were two principle objectives to be achieved by the close of the session: first, to complete the first-phase mix; and, second, to start listening to that mix on other pairs of monitors and sound systems in different environments. The final suite that required my attention was ‘Wisdom is Better Than Weapons of War’.
11.00 am: I took up ‘Turn Table’ once again in order to review the stereo balance. I’m beginning the feel the project leaving my hands; it can stand unaided now. And, no, I’m not already looking towards the next project. My attitude is to honour each endeavour as though it were my last. 12.00 pm: Back, then, to ‘The Lesser Light’ and ‘God Breathed’ in order to challenge my earlier best efforts to resolve the stereo field. 12.30 pm: I needed to listen to something other than my own sounds.
1.30 pm: On, then, with the day’s second objective. This required routing the output of my analogue/digital interface to other monitor speakers in the studio. I relished the prospect of inserting plugs into sockets and running cables across the floor. After two weeks of digital work, to quote Olivia Newton John, ‘I want to get physical’
The studio has three sets of active monitor speakers, each with different complexion:
It’s helpful to be able to hear the session prior to the mixdown, so that I’ve the opportunity to tweak individual tracks rather than make global changes. (This constitutes second-phase mixing.) Thereafter, the mixdown will be played on every sound system I have in the house, including two sets of desktop units and the domestic hi-fi (which is equipped with a pair of pristine and wonderfully flat-signalled Rogers LS3/5A speakers). The mixdown has to sound well across the board.
While cable-tidying in the studio, I played ‘Image and Inscription’ from The Bible in Translation album. I needed to remind myself of how I’d resolve an earlier mixdown. The suite of eleven tracks is the most abstract and pictorial of all of my outputs. There’s only a short part – evoking the trumpets that sounded from Mount Sinai when the Ten Commandments were delivered – that’s musical. The present album is situated somewhere between noise and music throughout (more or less).
5.15 pm: I unplugged, made preparations for dinner guests, and caught up on today’s events in Parliament.