my mother used to say

my mother used to say (2016) is a 10 minutes piece in three movements for fans and electromagnetic fields, by Amos Cappuccio.

Here are Amos Cappuccio’s words about his work:

The breath, with its cyclic alternation of tension and relaxation, is at the base of the dynamism of the music, vocal or not.
The inspiratory phase is usually associated with silence as it coincides with the performer’s physiological need to breathe, which must be taken in consideration by he composer during the composition process. In the same way, while writing music for objects, the composer has to fold the physiological limits and costituents of the instrument to his musical needs by calculating the objects’ reaction times.
Fans have a single expiration phase, which is characterized by three stages: “timing” (departure), “stability” (end point) and the “release” (return). Since the first and the last moment are controlled by the object’s inertia, they are considered such as the objects’ real physiological moments.
Identifying the breath as the human’s background noise, and following from the previous considerations, in this work the fan has been chosen as the “object” due to its inherent “vitality”.
I am specifically interested in the sound component which a fan inevitably brings with it and its being an object necessary to the operation of its container; both for the analogy ​of the human body, both for the association with its background noise generator ​function, which has a fundamental place in our everyday life.
Hence the choice of using electromagnetic fields as a primary source of sound, leaving the surrounding noise unaffected, so that the air’s rumor can be pictured as a carpet of sound lying under another phenomenon in the foreground.


The score is written inside a bach.roll, containing four single-staff voices (one for each group of fans to be controlled). A note in a given voice represents a single sound event to be produced by the corresponding group of fans, and the breakpoint functions contained in its slots controls the general amplitude of the sound event, the movement of the fans and the parameters of a resonant filter.
In this way, I was able to monitor each sound event in a truly compositional way. Another handy aspect of working with bach was the ability to seamlessly switch between different versions of the music piece just by saving them as .txt files and and re-opening them when needed.

This high control of the sound material is balanced by the choice of the visual installation.
The relays are the elements that generate the electromagnetic fields by interacting with the fans and the amplitude level of the final sound produced is controlled by the motion of those building elements.
Cables are used to hang the relays in the promixity of the fans. The flux of air generated by the rotational motion of the fans affects the position of the relays. The resulting motion gives birth to a self-consistent cycle, where both fans and relays act on the generation of the electromagnetic field and therefore play a fundamental role on the final sound produced. The relay’s cables, indeed, fall down from above, in such a way that the air of the fans can move them with no control from outside. This is the visual consequence of the previous choice which can in turn affect the final result.