mumMAM

The work mumMAM is a collaboration between myself and Eli Acheson- Elmassry and explores sonic memories of an individual who suffered from Alzheimer's. The Individual was Eli’ mother who sadly passed.

The subject matter which is so compelling due to the many complex facets of memory, experience, and passions, juxtaposed with forgetfulness or repetitive recognition, deterioration and of course loss.

Working on this project with Eli, I came to a fundamental understanding of our relationship with this disease as a community. When making a connection with others it is most commonly through shared experiences, and considering this when thinking about someone who has Alzheimer's the experience becomes independent and intrinsic to that person's memories and personal experiences. This makes it very hard from the position of a carer or family member as the central experience becomes frustration, therefore, negating the opportunity to connect through a shared experience.

The work mumMAM draws on many of the experiences Eli and her Mother shared, from whizzing around in her Renault Clio to bashing the pots and pans as she makes the dinner. The theme to Elgar's ‘Cello Concerto is a predominant love in her life in particular as she was an accomplished ‘Cellist. As we hear these sonic experiences we also begin to hear the degradation within the accompanying sounds which at first glance may seem dysfunctional but equally hold value in the work.

mumMAM-8’03”  (Stereo) ©Acheson-Elmassry, McGregor 2018

mumMAM-8’03”  (Binaural) ©Acheson-Elmassry, McGregor 2018

mumMAM score sl.

Graphic Score Created by Eli Acheson-Elmassry 


Working conceptually with Eli has been a fascinating process for me, challenging as well as inspiring. The creation of the work mumMAM started with field recordings taken at the Galeri, which offered a wealth of sounds, and much of which were not used. The main sources for the material ended up being the church bells captured at Overton Church, as well as the piano. Most of the accompanying sounds were then created from these source materials. Most of the Work ended up being pinned around Elgars theme which I found most challenging as mixing Acoustic and Electroacoustic is not one of my strengths.

Eli first designed a fantastic graphic score for me to work towards, which again was an interesting way of evoking a composition from a pre designed image. This was a first for me, and I guess because I’m a visual thinker I found the process quite pleasing indeed. The effects mainly used were granulators and shuffling, which I found gave a continuous feeling of degradation and disintegration as a continuing theme throughout the work.

Anger Pantry

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Anger Pantry Installed @Geleri

In addition to the composition mumMAM, Eli wanted to create a space which she could hang pots and pans for people to hit. Eli wanted the performer to have the experience of hitting these objects and exploring their sounds. In addition, she wanted the performer to feel like the performance was enhanced in some way as though the sonic qualities of the pots and pans were transformed.

To accomplish this I designed a small microphone which could be hung near the pots and pans to capture the initial performance. This signal was then relayed to the computer through some homemade preamplifiers which I was currently testing. The computer would then process the sound through a time framed base patch in Max MSP which faded between scenes of effects. The effected sound would then be relayed back to the performer through the headphones. The experience for the performer would be first of intrigue, but as they become more involved, the experience becomes more playful as they begin to culture the sound made along with the effects. The Anger Pantry was first installed at the Galeri in Caernarfon for 16 weeks in 2018.

Play on Elgar’s Theme Full Piano Version (Stereo) ©Acheson-Elmassry, McGregor 2018


© Huw McGregor 2015