Iain Cameron's Diary
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2006-10-06 - 6:52 a.m.

I lost a wav yesterday morning – a piece in development. I am trying to take this in my stride. They were flute parts in development – an extension of the piece currently called ‘flat surface’. This new piece was going to be called ‘are we nearly there yet?’ which would have reflected its harmonic character.

Instead I went off on a different tack – I had located a solo guitar part done on the Crafter some time last summer – in Eb minor. I took it into Pinnacle Cubase and loaded the UM1 midi-usb hardware which meant I could put dhorn midi lines against the guitar part. Then I used that midi line to drive a softsynth through a modulation add-on which rather intrigues me in terms of how it processes sound.

Half way through this the UM1 had a fit and stopped taking linear information in real time and started creating chords. In some circs this could be a benefit. I decided to recycle the existing midi data over the rest of the piece and reharmonise where necessary. The piece is therefore a kind of contest between the synth which wants to do a cyclic melodic pattern and the guitar which is more interested in an end to end harmonic narrative. The overall tone of the thing is sad.

Then I loaded the WAV into Moviemaker and started working some images from stock. There’s a full face photographic self portrait that I have quite heavily processed and that is now a mainstay of the visual. If I had to defend against an attack of over-self-absorbtion I would point at the Schoenberg self portraits of around 1910. This current stuff is ‘about’ the idea impressionism elevates the surface of the self too far – which is why the first piece is overtly Ravellian. – plus Adorno’s idea that Schoenberg almost went down the same path but pulled himeself back from the edge. Somewhere in my mind is the kind of large scale orchestral music that the Viennese wrote between 1905 and 1910. Possibly I am working up to writing in this way.

The current visual has a little scrolling slogan in white and blue. In our current visual language when you scroll some language it takes on authority – like the credits at the end of the film where you expect to be told the truth. The scrolling is about reading a book on the beach on holiday – and how this can precipitate a revision of one’s ‘self portrait’. I am slightly concerned that this conception is a bit out of date – maybe 15 years too late. The musical atmosphere of the piece is a bit like Lift to the Scaffold – the track MD improvised to the Louis Malle film – the jazz phrasing in the dhorn does that – plus the ambience. But the film surface is quite light.

The good thing about this technology is that you can work so fast – it is like sketching – making a 2 minute film including soundtrack takes the same time you might spend on a sketch. I am wondering about getting Making Waves as a potentially more stable software core – its only thirty five quid and the softsynth is very pleasing.

Having thrown this all down first thing, I had slightly less creative energy for the paid employment. I have received the invitation to Valencia and I have replied promptly and eagerly. Now comes the big problem of working out what its all about. My previous experience was with something called Manufuture and now this one is called Innova. Manufuture is on this week in Finland and I decided not to go. I have a vision of how this ‘movement’ got started and what it tried to achieve. I went to Milan about 3 years ago for my first exposure and although we had to pay for ourselves the whole thing has been worthwhile especially in understanding where the Germans are coming from. The stuff we got from the Fraunhofer and paid to have translated was definitely world-class.

I can see that Valencia is like Milan – except that I am not invited to the conference and I don’t have to pay for myself. As far as I can work out I have been promoted from national expert to ‘high level expert’. I think the group of high level experts is meant to work on the output from the 2 day conference preceding and add value to it – but this isnt explicit in the documentation I have seen. Working out this broad picture is the hardest part of involvement in this stuff and can be very frustrating. At Milan they didn’t really want the experts to say anything except how right the thinking already was – but I think Valencia is different.

I have had to write 10 lines setting out the precise nature of my expertise. I’ll spare you the details – I missed out the bit about Nick Drake and Graham Bond.

The other big development was the appearance of an invitation to tender. If we go for it we have to get the thing in my Monday lunchtime – well enough said. My line is that we could do the work – it calls for an organisational design. But the programme that they want to carry out with the design is crazy – they want to start building in January 2007 and be ready to run in three months. I know enough about programme management and how the public sector works to know that this will end in tears. So I think the question is whether its worth burning up a weekend for something that will end in tears.

My colleague has been pulled off his normal job to help dig out another big programme of this sort – and that has already spent nine months on design. The tears have started pretty soon into implementation.

Listened to bits of Steve Martland on radio 3.

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