Iain Cameron's Diary
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2004-03-27 - 6:51 a.m.

I don’t seem to be able to escape the seasonal pattern in my life, strange as it may seem. I suppose the best tactic is to do one’s best with the tactical lessons which have gradually come to light.

I have started another sketch – this time on the Tascam 4 track MD. This is a powerful machine and I have to confess I have never really learned to drive it properly. It uses “industrial” format MDs rather than the consumer 2 track version – this means there is a lot more functionality but it also means that one has to learn how to control the functionality and that is not my strong suit. Hacking through the manual etc.

The way the Tascam works encourages the use of outboard effects – and I have just started to use Pandora’s Box again – a small multi-FX from Korg. By coincidence someone at work has just bought the latest version of this device which has now matured into a portable digital 4-track – he got it for under £200 which strikes me as a snip. Apparently it is possible to lift files via USB onto a PC but they come up in MP2 format. Needless to say there are utilities to change format.

The Pandora is nowhere near as flexible as the Behringer which cost less in real terms but is about 5 years later.

Using the Tascam feels very different from working on either a full-size PC or a portable – the difference in the interface seems to make the sound feel different.

The last week has seen mixed fortunes, but the academic side of life seems to have gone well. The proposal for Coventry went easily, my “forum” event went down well with the participants and by chance I have come across some very powerful DfES funded research from Leicester which is in effect a literature review of an area which everyone finds confusing – and where our organisation is doing work which (on the basis of the research) looks close to the leading edge. I used some of this “broad framework” stuff in both of the two other initiatives. It also fits in well with latest research from Mari Sako at Oxford.

My first quarter figures will be OK – there has been an overarching contract which has funded a lot of this research. Maybe on Monday I will get another bit of funded work come my way.

Other bits of life work much less successfully and so I suppose one just has to take the rough with the smooth – that doesn’t sound too difficult does it?

When Paul brought out his first CD I did a Communications Strategy for it – using a 10 step approach from the Institute of Marketing. I am trying to relocate that methodology – and it is not floating to the surface.

I am enjoying reading Ricardo’s narrative of the Piece, especially the bits where he talks about narrative relevance of different keys and chords. When I approach a standard for improvisation – say a Jobim tune – I always construct the harmonic narrative. Usually this starts with the relationship between the bridge and the main idea.

Thinking in this way made me realise that I have been working on the same high level narrative for a few years – it derives from the bridge of Time has Told Me which I drone on about somewhere or other and which I still think is a quite extraordinary piece of work – the shift from E to Ab and then the return to C in the main section of the tune.

I suppose I had better not start except to say that the bridge is a visionary transformation of the “standard” B section that you get (for example) in I Got Rhythm. One could start with Appel’s analysis of why Rhythm is a defining tune for the mid century democratic modernism of NYC – and then unfold an enormous musical narrative. Rhythm is also innovative in its use of language.

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