Lecturer seeks Aberdonians to hum childhood tunes

A SCOTTISH university lecturer has set out on a bizarre musical quest – to record 500 Aberdonians humming their favourite tunes from their childhood.

Dr Suk-Jun Kim of Aberdeen University is appealing for locals to hum their favourite childhood songs. Picture: complimentary

Dr Suk-Jun Kim, a lecturer in Electroacoustic Music and Sound Art at Aberdeen University, is leading the Aberdeen Humming programme and is hoping to collect the “hundreds of hums” to create a public sound installation of “collective memories”.

The Aberdeen Humming programme will run from 14 to 30 November and is being supported by the Sound Festival and Aberdeen City Council.

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Dr Kim, who previously created two other humming projects in Berlin and New Mexico, is planning to showcase hums from at least 500 people in Aberdeen by asking them to hum their childhood songs.

A university spokeswoman explained: “The eventual aim is to create a collective memory by asking participants to hum a tune that reminds them of their childhood. The idea is then that anyone who hears the hum of a tune that they remember from their own childhood will then have a connection to the hummer.”

A huge number of hums were collected from members of the public during the summer via the use of a “humming booth” which was situated at Seventeen, Aberdeen’s arts hub, on Belmont Street. Dr Kim is now collecting more sample hums with the assistance of a group of music students from the university.

He said: “Humming is a personal, intimate act. Usually when people hum it is either to themselves or perhaps to a loved one, maybe to soothe a child. Offering hums to others means that you are inviting others to enter your personal space.

“This project is designed to examine the relations between people and places, and how a person’s memory plays a role in this.”

Dr Kim said the collected hums will in future be placed on exhibition as one composition at Seventeen, where people will be able to listen to, and hopefully recognise, them.

He said: “The composition, which will be played through eight speakers at a low volume, will not be manipulated, apart from the fade-ins and outs and some minor amplitude changes. It would be great to have as many people’s hums included in the composition as possible, so don’t hesitate to come along and get involved.”

The project’s website states: “As a community project, it concerns collective memory through songs and uses humming as a mode of revealing such memories. Usually, we try to understand a place and its people through various scientific and sociological tools. But being a composer and sound artist, Kim feels that it is the sounds the place and its people make that tell us what the place is and who these people are – and more importantly, how they have become what they are now.”