Friday, August 26, 2011

The Meme Project

The idea of recording on cassette, my Grandmother, Doris Progen, paint her stories and pass down her lessons by way of spoken word, in an interview format with my aunts, has floated around, in my Family's mind for years. Meme has so many stories that she hasn't misplaced and photographic memories of her family, the War and her years as a registered nurse that she still can see when she closes her eyes. I wanted to go bigger and better with the idea. I knew I somehow wanted more than just her written words to hold onto long after she leaves us.

In the digital age of technology with iphones, laptops, tablets and programs like GarageBand, I wanted to step the project up a notch. I wanted to follow in the foot steps of some of my favorite independent bands, by digitally recording my grandmother on my Apple Macbook and creating a full length, feature album right here in my own home. Facebook has become a monumental outlet for getting your voice heard and promoting current projects. I'm not promoting this project to the public by any means but I am documenting the process through pictures and video to keep our close friends and family updated. The currently untitled album is set for a "holiday release," if you will.

I think they'll be a delicate balance of Meme's favorite songs to play, some of the grandkid's favorites and maybe I can get her to throw in a Beatles song, if I ask nicely. I want to collect questions from her children and include her answers on the disc, as well as a story or two of her own choice. I feel what also should be included is one of her essays from her recently graduated, college credit, creative writing course, read aloud. I've ordered a microphone and USB adapter for my Macbook and it has arrived. The piano needs to be tuned, however Meme's favorite tuner has since past away. Other than that, I'm all plugged in and once I figure out what I'm doing, we'll be set to start.

When I picture my grandmother, she's either wiping her hands on her apron, after preparing a feast or tickling the ivory keys of her Schubert, upright piano, which survived the journey from Maine, 6 years ago. Since I can remember, music has flowed deep in my home and in hers. Resurfacing photographs of myself in my baby jumper, reaching for for the keys of her then, refinished grand piano will always show up in old photo books and left over pencil scribbles, created by my choosy, two-year-old hands, still reside in her "Chopin: Preludes & Etudes" song book. When I was a little older, I was even one of her many students she taught piano lessons to, throughout the years spent living in Fitchburg. Piano notes never stuck with me but guitar chords reverberate at my finger tips. Another haunting musical memory with my grandmother is from one weekend, when I was in my teens, in my parents den, playing George Harrison's "Across The Universe" with myself and my father on acoustic guitar, Meme on piano and my Aunt Lisa backing us up with her vocals. These musical memories with the family are memories I never want to loose. I never want to forget the melodies that her fingertips can launch.

Like anyone her age, she has her fair share of health issues and with each scare, I can feel the tension in the air. No one wants to loose the Matriarch of the family, especially when she has done so much for her kids and grandchildren. I never want my aunts feeling guilty, living in fear of loosing her shining stories. I wanted to honor Doris' stories in hopes of never forgetting them. Since Mem is currently feeling happy, healthy, spunky, upbeat and courageous, I approached her with my idea. She quickly responded, "Whenever you're ready, I'm ready." We should never be afraid to fall, just scared to land. Take the leap and accomplish what is accomplishable. Why not capture that process along the way, composing a possible hour and 20 minutes that we can hold in our hands like a snapshot, a memory in our hearts, for a lifetime.

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to hear this! Doris is special and it's clear to me that her musical influence has spread far beyond her immediate family. Bill and I feel it every single time we visit. Great idea and great post.