The word ‘paramnesia’ derives from the Greek ‘παρά’ and ‘μνήμη’ that mean ‘near’ and ‘memory’. It is a condition that causes confusion between reality and fantasy, resulting in distorted memory. Patients fabricate imaginary events to compensate for loss of memory, and they also experience déjà vu.
Paramnesia consists of two connected movements (‘Promenade’ and ‘Repose’) that represent daytime and night respectively. It explores timescales based on connotational chains, and the relation of stimulus complexity to temporal judgements. Additional forces occur in the temporal syntax, an interplay among durations, rhythms, tempi, and changes in pitch contours and dynamics. Both movements explore disturbance of chronological order; passages or sounds are repeated, disguised in different forms (feelings of déjà vu). The time throughout the piece is non-linear, in the sense that a story does not unfold, apart from the distinction between day and night. Events from recordings are taken out of their original context and re-assembled.
The first movement is based on a recording made in the promenade of Alghero in Sardinia, it has been commissioned by the research unit CRiSAP and makes use of the Déjà Vu software program developed by their research team.
I was commissioned to write a chapter on this composition in the book Environmental Sound Artists: In Their Own Words (Oxford University Press) edited by Bianchi and Manzo. The chapter, titled ‘The Listening Experience of Paramnesia’, is a detailed analysis of the thought processes and structural decisions made during the composition of Paramnesia, emphasising the important connection between spectromorphological development and connotations evoked by real or imagined environmental sound events. The analysis has been carried out with scrupulous attention to detail, and addresses the philosophy, technology, aesthetic and methodology of the composition.
Paramnesia was shortlisted at the Concours Internationaux 2009 (Musiques Electroacoustiques et Arts Electroniques) in Bourges, France, and was selected for performances at the Sonic Artists in Wales electroacoustic symposium in Cardiff, at the International Computer Music Conference 2010 in New York, at the Festival Futura of acousmatic art 2011 in Crest, France, and at the WFAE 2011 International Conference on Acoustic Ecology in Corfu. The composition was also chosen for the ICMC 2010 CD, published by the International Computer Music Association.
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