Friday, 9 August 2013

Life is so wonderful, I think you'd love it

I think this is what my mother said to me on one of my last visits before she departed this life in 2010. After a remarkable and active life her last few years were a sad descent into dementia; all the traits that make someone who they are unlearned and disassembled one by one, like childhood in reverse. In terms of language we saw all the stages from the forgetting proper nouns and common nouns, to a difficulty in forming coherent sentences, to words whose syllables were distorted, only half-remembered, as a young child might try to pronounce a new and unfamiliar word. For someone who spent their life lecturing and public speaking and who loved to inspire enthusiasm for art, it must have been a strange and terrifying process. I don't know why I didn't record her speaking voice earlier (she could deliver a lecture about Venice some time after she had forgotten who I was, or what to do with a cup of tea and a biscuit) but by the time I made these recordings her speech was mostly disconnected syllables and invented words with the odd platitude and conversation-filler. The source sounds for this piece are mother's strange monologues, a crow in the tall trees of the nursing home, the sounds of the lapping water and the creaking floating platforms of the Mersey ferry (she lived most of her life near Liverpool)... later on the evening ambience of Venice - water, vaporetto stops, footsteps, a restaurant and bells.

This concludes the series of sound pieces 6s & 7s. The others can be heard here...

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