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  • Writer's pictureJamie McCarthy

Com-position Diary (20.09.18) - 'Refuge' and 'As We Await the Return of the Light'.

20th September 2018.


I’ve been working for several hours at a time on Threnody this week. It’s been tricky … I just don’t seem to be able to find a way to organise the ‘chord’ section in order to get that feeling of it both being organised, repetitive, but also slightly unpredictable – basically that feeling of weather that I look for. It’s felt this week like I’ve been moving furniture around and arranging it to see whether that possible arrangement might work then placing all sorts of room fittings and other pieces of furniture around the arrangement I’ve chosen, often removing things so things can be ‘seen’ more clearly only to discover that having done that something else suggests itself as an overall possible arrangement so I move everything again and repeat the process … and then repeat the process and repeat the process and repeat the process. It’s driving me mad.


I have a feeling that this might be for one or more of a few reasons:


a) Something is basically wrong with material I’ve got for this section – perhaps there’s not enough of it. – not enough variety;

b) I need to move away from it for a while;

c) I need to get a clearer idea of how it’s functioning and then how to arrange itself will be easier.

d) I need to care less about it being ‘finished’ or ‘perfect’.

As I write I think c) might actually be the key.

It functions like weather! Simple! I think I’m getting stuck in the idea that it should function in traditional compositional way. I think that’s because I’ve been having to com-pose (put things together) and this somehow puts me in a frame of mind which applies traditional approaches to arranging material – traditional notions of climax – growth – resolution etc. I think the key is to think of it more moment to moment, more as independent weather systems that layer and shift into each other. I think it’s weird, I get these traditional compositional notions and start feeling like it’s failing if it doesn’t function that way even if essentially, I’ve chosen for it not to!

Listening through to the whole album, particularly ‘Refuge’: there’s something I think I like about that feeling when you’re listening and you’re not quite sure: ‘Have I been here before?’ That sense of time being lost, slight time disorientation. There’s something about it that links to Mark Fisher’s idea of the psychedelic perception of time – non-functional, less quantifiable …

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