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Memory Palace (2019)

For string orchestra (no basses)

First world-premiere archival recording (without any audience present) made by Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Tim Weiss, conductor, with composer’s thanks to Jonathan McCormick and Ken-David Masur, on Armour stage in in Symphony Center, Chicago, IL, on 23 April 2023.
Duration: 6 minutes and 30 seconds

Dedicated with admiration and gratitude to Ingrid Gould

Reference recording

Program Note

A Memory Palace is an imaginary location in your mind where you can store mnemonic images. The most common type of memory palace involves making a journey through a place you know well, like a building or town. Along that journey there are specific locations that you always visit in the same order. The location are called loci, which is Latin for locations. (singular: locus, plural: loci)

According to Roman legend, the memory palace technique was invented by Simonides of Ceos about 2,500 years ago (though the technique, also known as the method of loci, actually goes back to hunter gatherer times and is found in many cultures).

How to Create a Memory Palace

Step 1: For your first memory palace, try choosing a place that you know well, like your home or office.
Step 2: Plan out the whole route — for example: front door, shoe rack, bathroom, kitchen, living room, etc. Some people find that going clockwise is helpful, but it isn’t necessary. Eventually, you will have many memory palaces. You will also be able to revise the memory palace after you test it a few times, so don’t worry if it’s not perfect on the first try.
Step 3: Now take a list of something that you want to memorize — a shopping list of 20 items is a good place to start: carrots, bread, milk, tea, oats, apples, etc.
Step 4: Take one or two items at a time and place a mental image of them in each locus of your memory palace. Try to exaggerate the images of the items and have them interact with the location. For example, if the first item is “carrots” and the first locus in your memory palace is the front door, picture some giant carrots opening up your front door.
Step 5: Make the mnemonic images come alive with your senses. Exaggeration of the images and humor can help.


To obtain examination or performance material for this
Augusta Read Thomas work, please contact Nimbus Music Publishing.