At the suggestion of a colleague I’ve added a works in progress page to give folk an idea of where I’m at on a number of fronts. Herewith is an extract from one of them: Music in the Key of D: Harmonic Explorations of John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica.
For those unfamiliar with the Monas Hieroglyphica, a bit of background first. Dee considered Monas Hieroglyphica (1564) one of his most important works. Despite being written over twelve days in something of a mystical state it had obviously had a lengthy gestation period (the graphic device appears on the titlepage of his Propaedeumata Aphoristica of 1558). A short work, it is a series of 24 ‘theorems’ chiefly expounding the alchemical significance of his graphical ‘monad’, which contains within it the sigils of the seven planets, four elements and zodiacal exaltations of the sun and moon:
Although biased towards an alchemical interpretation of the sign – a strategic move on Dee’s part to win himself patronage by demonstrating that that he (theoretically) had the key to perfecting metals – Dee is keen to point out in his prefatory letter to Maxmillian II that the Monad had applications to all arts and sciences. It was the mention of music in particular that piqued my interest and has led me to use principles derived from the Monad in a large number of my compositions. These musical strategies, along with a historical discussion of Dee’s musical education and interests are examined at length in the full work. However, here I would like to present an extract concerning the Monad and its relation to the Pythagorean diatonic scale. Due to the limitations of WordPress, footnotes and references have been omitted. The entirety of work is still very much a draft and thrown out here for interest and comment.
A good morning was spent yesterday, pacing the streets of Holbeck with Simon and testing out my locative rendition of his Holbeck Audio Walk. I’m pleased to say that, by and large, the software worked well – the audio walk was an ideal test-case for what I’ve termed the ‘narrative layer’ of the system we’re working on. More on that later!
This was the first time I’d done this audio walk, and it prompted a few thoughts about the value of working with audio in a locative context as well as some of the issues affecting the implementation of such projects. Highlights of the walk itself included standing by a pillar box, listening to recollections of Holbeck blazing during German air-raids and standing next to the broken pillars of the workhouse gates listening to amazingly powerful recollection of what conditions there were like (sobering to think that such practices persisted until the mid-1940s).
Earlier this year Lee Jackson, writer and stalwart patron of all things drone, sadly died. Lee was an extremely enthusiastic writer on his own blog, Womblife, and on Foxy Digitalis and Deep Water Acres as well as a contributor to mailing-lists like Routes for War and Travel where I used to hang out and meekly hawk my wares in the halcyon days before Facebook spoiled everything.
The compilation costs $30, which goes to the ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Scleroris) Association of North Texas. It includes tracks by Six Organs of Admittance, Locrian, Volcano the Bear, Marissa Nadler, Sharron Kraus, Magic Carpathians, Charalambides, MV/EE, Plastic Crimewave, and Xenis Emputae Travelling Band!