ACCES 2019

How To Produce Film Music Under Palm Trees

Music in Africa Conference for Collaborations, Exchange and Showcases (ACCES) 2019 in Accra, Ghana

by Stephan Eicke

For its third edition, the Music in Africa Conference for Collaborations, Exchange and Showcases (ACCES) took place in Accra, Ghana from 28-30 November 2019. As a partner of the Music in Africa Foundation, Media Sound Hamburg was represented by Achim Esser-Mamat and I, who was fortunate enough to give a class on composing for film. While last year’s ACCES had been set up in Nairobi, Kenya, Accra proved a worthy choice and provided the experience of a lifetime.

In August last year Achim had hosted an African Night as part of Media Sound Hamburg (MSH), and with that brought a bit of African musical spirit to Hamburg. Part of the reason for setting up what would turn out to be the highlight of MSH 2019 was the fruitful partnership between MSH and Music in Africa, an organisation which, among other things, had set up ACCES, a yearly three day-event with the aim of supporting local musicians in various parts of Africa by inviting guest speakers to talk about music production, as well as by setting up networking events in which local musicians can meet powerful music publishers, managers, agents and such like, and by hosting concerts which let original voices in the African musical world shine. Furthermore, as part of their fresh collaboration, MSH and Music in Africa decided to grant scholarships to aspiring artists from Kenya and Ghana who wanted to partake in MSH and learn the skills taught there. While Alice Ragoi, the scholarship holder of 2019, was not able to attend this year’s event in Hamburg because she wasn’t granted a visa, composer, producer and guitar player Emmanuel Lamptey-Mills was pleased to be announced as the scholarship holder for MSH 2020. Needless to say, I didn’t hesitate for a second when I was asked to represent MSH in Accra by giving a class on composing for film. Who in his right mind would say no to the opportunity of a few days in Ghana, speaking with aspiring musicians before having lunch under palm trees and drinking fresh water from a coconut? Not me.

While my presentation differed only slightly from last year’s, the audience’s reaction was remarkably different – and this probably says more about the Ghanaian culture and spirit than about anything else. As opposed to last year’s more practical questions which plagued the partly aspiring, partly experienced musicians following my class, this year’s feedback focussed on the mental and emotional concerns of composing. I was delighted, of course. Delighted because I relish being in the position of a therapist – the wounded healer – who looks you in the eye and shares wisdom about how to cope with life and because I had never been asked questions like, ‘How can you compose happy music when you are sad?’ It is an essential, excellent question, though – as is ‘How do you gain confidence as a composer?’


A beautiful facet of being a composer – especially for media – is that it requires the utmost concentration.

Concentration is essential in terms of mental well-being. Imagine a boxer, wrecked with fear and anguish about the prospect of taking on a heavyweight champion in the ring. He might be fearful and nervous on his way to the ring, but as soon as he steps into it and gets ready to land the first punch the anxiety ceases—because it has to. The mind has to concentrate on the task ahead of it. And so it does focus, blocking out any anxiety that had plagued you just seconds ago. The brain is amazing that way, and not a iota different from how it worked thousands of years ago when our predecessors encountered a wild bear in the woods. Just imagine running away from a bear. Believe me, in the act of saving your life, you certainly won’t notice how anxious and fearful you really are. The attention given to saving your life takes up all your concentration and energy. That’s why in various mental health clinics drawing mandalas is a favourite for healers and patients alike—it focusses the mind. I recommend seeing composing for film, television, commercials or games like that. You have to focus on the task in front of you. And how do you gain confidence in life? By going out there. If you are afraid of water, jump into the water. If you afraid of spiders, take a spider into your hand. And then do it again. Over and over again, until you lose your fear. It’s not so bad after all, is it? The same goes for composing. Put in your 10,000 hours, just plough on, learn and grow and you will gain the confidence you need.

Last year’s ACCES had been a success, both artistically in terms of the musical acts on stage during the showcases, as well with regard to the number of attendees. Naturally, this year there were parallels to the previous event. Streaming and royalties were a big topic, discussed in lively panels, often with heated exchanges between musicians and label bosses, with participants supported and challenged by members in the audience. In another panel, local musicians were advised how to navigate the recording and distribution industries ‘in a changing environment,’ while in yet another discussion alternate music platforms were explored.

But putting the varied, helpful and at times welcomingly combative panels and their success with the audience aside, ACCES 2019 was faced with a similar challenge like last year; one that needs to be addressed. Already in 2018, the Music in Africa Foundation had difficulties attracting local musicians to take part in their event – not for the lack of trying, since the marketing efforts were outstanding, and locals could register and attend for free. However, despite the fact that a large number of locals had registered for the event in Nairobi, only a small minority of them actually turned up. Sadly, ACCES in Ghana was no different. ACCES had the numbers (more than a thousand participants, more than 50 countries represented, more than 100 global industry players, more than 80 performers), but it leaves a sour taste that an event targeted at a specific group was hardly attended by that group. One Facebook user gave an indication as to why this might have been the case, making this rather bitter comment: ‘Ask yourself whether any of you invited any music manager. You people have turned the music business like occult society and keeps things to yourself then after you come out to say no music manager attended to suggest we are not serious people.’ And so on. Do local artists in Accra and surroundings find ACCES too elitist, ‘like an occult society’? Or were they waiting for a personal, more targeted invitation, as the comment implies: ‘If we are of importance and interest am sure they will have look for us and give us invitation….when those same people come and looking for our content to use on their platforms to be rich and pay us chicken change they know where to find us yet when its comes to conference they claim they dont know our offices.’

As mentioned before, ACCES is not a Ghanaian event—every year it takes place in a different African country. There might be the problem. It is outside the bubble, not something that can establish itself in the regio n over a period of time and win the trust of locals. Or I might be entirely mistaken. I can’t claim to know the answer. But it is intriguing to speculate, especially considering how closely knit the musical community in Ghana is, which is certainly how I have experienced it outside ACCES, with strongly connected musicians who support each other as brothers. ACCES, in comparison, feels like an intruding foreign body. I don’t know how to overcome this challenge. There is no doubt that locals would benefit immensely from attending this rich and diverse event series, which shines a spotlight on important issues facing African musicians especially and aims to bring more awareness and publicity to their arts and crafts. There are many reasons to love ACCES and everything it stands for.

The highlights of last year’s event were the showcases each night, and this year was no different. Several popular and talented Ghanaian musicians were, after all, persuaded to attend the event and give concerts.

Among these musicians was, much to our delight, Emmanuel, the young gentleman who had been awarded a scholarship to attend Media Sound Hamburg free of charge. Emmanuel turned out to be so prolific and versatile that we spotted and heard him play guitar in no less than three different bands. What we heard on these three nights was astounding.

African pop music with Western influences made the audience jump up and dance as if there was no tomorrow. Then two musicians with guitars sang us into a trance with their onomatopoeia, before funk and metal made the stage shake and a group, aptly titled FOKN Bois, made strong statements against the government’s law to punish homosexuality and therefore love between two – or more – people. It was an ecstatic program over these three days and nights, and by the end we were left exhausted but content.

A big round of applause should go to the organisers of ACCES, especially Eddie Hatitye and Claire Metais, who made sure that the whole organisation was running as smoothly as possible. Indeed, it ran more smoothly than last year—making sure everything works out as envisioned and without much delay always takes experience. Certainly a lot of experience was gained by everybody involved, and Achim and I are certainly not the only people looking forward to next year’s edition.

Scholarship & ACCES 2019

The third scholarship for young Ghanaian film music composers, game musicians and sound designers in cooperation with the Music In Africa Conference for Collaborations, Exchange and Showcases (ACCES) goes to Emmanuel Lamptey-Mills. MediaSoundHamburg director Achim Esser-Mamat presented the certificate at the ACCES Conference at the end of November 2019.

The scholarship includes participation in the 10th International Summer Academy for Film Music, Game Music and Sound Design in Hamburg from 11 to 16 August 2020 with international film composers and industry professionals. Scholarship holders of previous years are the South African sound designer Rethabile Nyamate (2018) and Alice Ragoi (2019) from Kenya.

ACCES is a pan-African trade event for music industry players to exchange ideas, discover new talent and create business linkages. ACCES is held in a different African city every year, attracting active music industry players from across the globe. ACCES is organised by the Music In Africa Foundation, a non-profit and pan-African organisation, in partnership and with the support of Siemens Stiftung, Goethe-Institut, Reeperbahn Festival, Alliance Française, the Prince Claus Fund and the ANT Mobility Grant from Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Exklusive Screenings- Making Waves:The Art of Cinematic Sound

13.12., 14.12, 15.12.2019 Studio Kino

The film Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound proves that sound designers are also storytellers, characterising and emotionalising characters with their sounds and noises. Director Midge Costin is a sound designer herself and works as a professor of sound design at the USC School of Cinematic Art. In her film directors such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, David Lynch or Sofia Coppola explaine the importance of sound design for her films. She also brings together sound designers Walter Murch (The Conversation, Apokalypse Now!), Alan Splet (The Elephant Man), Ben Burtt (Star Wars, ET) and Gary Rydstrom (Toy Story, Jurassic Park). MediaSoundHamburg presents the film, which had its German premiere at the Filmfest Munich 2019, exclusively on three evenings at the Studio Kino, Bernstorffstraße 93-95 in Hamburg. “This film is a must for all film and music enthusiasts, it is a 90-minute master class and matches perfectly with our International Summer Academy for Film Music, Gamemusic and Sound Design in Hamburg, especially as some of our friends and former guests such as Ben Burtt are part of it,” says MediaSoundHamburg director Achim Esser-Mamat.


MediaSoundHamburg presents:
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound
Fr., 13.12. 20.30 Uhr
Sa., 14.12. 20.30 Uhr
Su., 15.12. 20 Uhr
Studio Kino, Bernstorffstraße 93-95, 22767 Hamburg

Since 2011, national and international film composers, gamemusicians and sound designers have been meeting international industry professionals and renowned experts in Hamburg. In workshops, master classes and forums, participants work on concrete projects and receive new inspiration for their artistic work. Guests included Michael Nyman, Chris Huelsbeck, Randy Thom, Alva Noto, Michel van Dyke, Hauschka, Annette Focks and one of the film’s protagonists, Ben Burtt. MediaSoundHamburg is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2020 and will take place from 11 to 16 August.

Scholarship Collaboration with ACCES 2019

Media Sound Hamburg, in partnership with ACCES 2019, is calling on young Ghanaian film music composers, video game music composers and sound designers to apply for a summer school that will take place in Hamburg, Germany, in August 2020.

The successful candidate will get to attend various masterclasses, workshops, forums and special events while interacting with international film composers and industry professionals. The application deadline is 31 October 2019. The winner of the scholarship will be announced at the 2019 Music In Africa Conference for Collaborations, Exchange and Showcases (ACCES) in Accra, Ghana, starting 28 November, where lecturer Stephan Eicke will conduct a workshop aimed at music producers who are looking to tap into the film industry. The session will also cover the basics of sound design and music for the gaming industry.

This is the third scholarship to be given under the partnership. The winner in 2018 was South African sound designer Rethabile Nyamate , while Alice Ragoi (on the photo with Media Sound Hamburg-Director Achim Esser Mamat) from Nairobi, Kenya, won the 2019 scholarship.

ACCES is a pan-African trade event for music industry players to exchange ideas, discover new talent and create business linkages. ACCES is held in a different African city every year, attracting active music industry players from across the globe. ACCES is organised by the Music In Africa Foundation, a non-profit and pan-African organisation, in partnership and with the support of Siemens Stiftung, Goethe-Institut, Reeperbahn Festival, Alliance Française, the Prince Claus Fund and the ANT Mobility Grant from Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).


Farewell Party & Talk

17/08/2019 19:30
…with Franziska Pohlmann and Susanne Hardt

On our last evening of MSH MediaSoundHamburg 2019 we invite all participants, partners and guests to enjoy a relaxed summer evening with a lot of program and music in our wonderful location. The evening will be hosted by actress Laura Ehrich. DJ MAECK takes care of the party music.

We start the evening with our traditional workshop talk. This years’ guests are the film and media composers Franziska Pohlmann and Susanne Hardt. In conversation with presenter André Feldhaus, they will not only present their own current works, but will also talk about the female composer collective Track 15, founded in 2015. The collective covers a diverse musical spectrum from TV and cinema films to games, from pop and jazz to classical music. Track15 cooperates with studios, film festivals, orchestras – most recently with the Filmorchester Babelsberg – and other partners such as WIFT (Women in Film and Television). The members of the collective come from Berlin, Cologne, Weimar and Vienna, maintain regular contact and exchange information at industry-relevant festivals. The aim is to strengthen the female presence in the industry and to make exceptional works heard. Franziska Pohlmann has specialised as a film composer in working with choirs and orchestras, Susanne Hardt composes music for film and computer games.

Admission: free
Location: Elsa Brändström Haus, Hamburg-Blankenese
Supported by: Coppola Wine

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Know-how with a View

MediaSoundHamburg – Program 2019

  • Four MasterClasses, three workshops & 15 forums with international experts* & Emmy and Oscar winners*
  • African Night in the resonance rau
  • Price-Giving Ceremony Young Talent Award Media Music with the Kaiser Quartett
  • Special Events & Workshop Talks

Highlights of this year’s MediaSoundHamburg from July 9 to 18 August 2019 at the Elsa Brändström Haus in Hamburg-Blankenese are among others the MasterClass Sound Design with Randy Thom (Director Sound Design, Skywalker Sound, double Oscar winner, The Right Stuff /1984 and The Incredibles/ 2005), the “MasterClass Filmmusik” with the Danish film composer and sound designer Kristian Eidnes Andersen (Antichrist, Lars von Trier; Submarino, Thomas Vinterberg, Ida, Pawel Pawlikowski), and the “MasterClass Foley” with Sue Harding (Foley artist and Emmy-Award winner/Sherlock; involved among others in I, Daniel Blake, Quantum of Solace, In Bruges ) and Adam Méndez (Foley and ADR mixer, involved among others in Tulip Fever, Dance into Life, Florence Foster Jenkins, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Jason Bourne and Inspector Barnaby).

The musician, music producer and composer Alexander Hacke (Einstürzende Neubauten) develops strategies against stereotypical film music in his forum “Radical Soundtracks”. One week before the start of the International Summer Academy for Film Music, Gamemusic and Sound Design, the “Music Production Workshop” will take place in cooperation with HAW from August 5 to 8. Thomas Görne and Made Indrayana will give insights into the production of a sound carrier with the band Sahad & The Nataal Patchwork from Senegal.

“Every year great international film composers*, industry professionals and artists* come to our international summer academy in Hamburg to pass on their knowledge in our wonderful location overlooking the Elbe and to exchange ideas with the participants*. This year, we would like to offer our guests an even bigger stage and open ourselves more to a wider audience than before with public concerts in the city centre. We are delighted to be hosting two events in the resonance room for the first time this year,” says MediaSoundHamburg-director Achim Esser-Mamat.

At the African Night on 10 August 2019, Sahad & The Nataal Patchwork from Senegal, Topher Jaxx from Zanzibar/Tanzania and Eric Wainaina from Kenya will play in the resonance room from 9 p.m. onwards. (Advance booking:15 €, box office: 20 €)

The award ceremony for the Young Talent Award Media Music will also take place in the resonanzraum. On August 14, at 8 pm, the Kaiser Quartett will premiere the award-winning compositions of the first three prizewinners, David Kolder (Netherlands), Tharcisio Vaz (Brazil) and Deanna H. Choi (Canada). Also on the programme are pieces by Gijs Knol and Rinkie Bartels, who won this year’s Buma Music in Motion Awards, and Levente Kovacs, who won this year’s German Game Music Award. All winners will receive a scholarship to MediaSoundHamburg. The Dutch composer and arranger Bob Zimmerman will play his own compositions as a special guest together with the Kaiser Quartett. The event is open to the public and free of charge.

The Kenyan singer/songwriter Eric Wainaina will talk about his work as a film composer at the audience event An Evening with … on 11 August 2019 at the Elsa Brändström Haus. Among other things, he wrote the film music for the project One Fine Day Films initiated by Tom Tykwer, produced the 52-part British Kenyan children’s TV series Tinga Tinga Tales and also wrote the music. The musical Tinga Tinga Tales has been performed on Broadway since last summer. (Admission: 5 €)

MediaSoundHamburg is an international summer school for film music, gamemusic and sound design supported by national and international partners and sponsors including Dolby Institute (USA), Genelec (Finland), Buma (Netherlands), Körber Stiftung, Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft and HAW Hamburg. Since 2011, national and international film composers, gamemusicians and sound designers have been meeting international industry professionals and renowned experts at the Elsa Brändström House in Hamburg-Blankenese. In various workshops, master classes and forums, the participants work for ten days on concrete projects and receive new inspiration for their artistic work. Previous guests in Hamburg included Patrick Doyle, Michael Nyman, Chris Huelsbeck, Christopher Young, Ben Burtt, Alva Noto, Michel van Dyke and Hauschka.



Forum: The Magic of Musical Collaboration

…when Sound and Music is the DNA of the Storytelling

15/08/2019, 10:00 – 13:00
Peter Albrechtsen & Jonas Struck

Composer Jonas Struck and sound designer Peter Albrechtsen are two of Denmark’s most acclaimed in their field, and they have now collaborated on seven films, both feature films and documentaries. Sound and music is closely intertwined in their extraordinary work with both Struck and Albrechtsen being part of the productions very early, so that music and sound informs both the scriptwriting, the shoot and the picture editing. In this forum, they will dig deep into their close collaboration with different examples from their movies, ranging from dystopian sci-fi to political thriller to personal dramas, showing how they’ve developed their extraordinary style and how music and sound can interact together in many creative ways.

Tuition Fee: 50 € (incl. 19 % VAT) or
Forum Flaterate: 150 € (incl. 19% VAT) or
Flaterate:1800 € (incl. 19% VAT)
for any of master classes, workshops, forums and special events, excl. MasterClass Sound Design
2500 € (incl. 19% VAT)
for any of master classes, workshops, forums and special events, incl. MasterClass Sound Design
Student Discount: 20 %
Working Language: english
Location: Elsa Brändström Haus, Hamburg-Blankenese

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Peter Albrechtsen is an award winning Danish sound designer, mixer and music supervisor working on both feature films and documentaries. Recent credits include festival favorites Generation Wealth, The Distant Barking of Dogs, Blind Spot, Thelmaand sound effects recording for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. In 2017, Peter was invited to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and 2019, he was nominated for a MPSE Golden Reel Award – one of the most prestigious US film sound awards. Peter Albrechtsen also works as music supervisor and has collaborated with internationally acclaimed musicians like Jóhann Jóhannsson, Antony Hegarty and Efterklang. Has written about music and movies for different Danish and international magazines and has been lecturing about sound design around the world.

Award-winning composer Jonas Struck is a graduate from the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen. He has worked for more than ten years as a film composer scoring and supervising various feature films, national TV-drama series, and a large number of documentaries. Filmography- political cold-war thriller The Idealist, the epic tennis drama Borg McEnroe, starring Shia Le Beouf, the Sci-Fi movie Qeda – Man Divided and the American TV-drama Conrad & Michelle. Struck’s sound is a mix of electronic soundscapes and organic instruments with strong signature themes that sums up the DNA of the movie.

Theme music desired


Young musicians, composers, game musicians and sound designers up to 35 years of age can now submit their compositions for the Young Talent Award Media Music. The deadline for entries is 1 June 2019, and this year’s task is to o compose a theme music for Raymond Chandler’s novel Playback. The prize will be awarded on 14 August 2019 as part of this year’s MediaSoundHamburg (9 to 18 August 2019).

Playback from 1958 is Chandler’s last complete detective novel with the melancholic private detective Philip Marlow. For the seventh case, the American author revised his screenplay of the same name from 1949, which was rejected at the time and only published after Chandler’s death. Playback is Chandler’s only novel that was not filmed.

For this year’s Young Talent Award Media Music, MediaSound Hamburg invites young musicians, composers, game musicians and sound designers up to the age of 35 to write title music for the renowned Kaiser String Quartet. The entire material, including audio files, score for string quartet, and a brief written explanation of the composition process must be submitted by 1 June 2019. A jury of three experts consisting of the Dutch, German and Danish composers Than van Nispen, Stefan Eicke and Kristian Eidnes Andersen will decide on the winners. The first three award-winning compositions will be performed live by the Kaiser Quartett at this year’s MediaSoundHamburg at the award ceremony on 14 August 2019 in the resonanzraum. The winner of the first prize will receive an invitation to MediaSoundHamburg including free accommodation and board

The Young Talent Award Media Music will be presented for the sixth time at MediaSoundHamburg in 2019. The winners of the past years were Lev Tyrnov / Ukraine and Rune Eskildsen / Denmark (2018), Maxime Hervé / France (2017), Hayat Selim / Egypt (2016), Simon Schmidt / Germany (2015) and Alin Oprea / Germany (2014).

Workshop with Band


In the four-day Music Production Workshop (August 5 to 8, 2019) with the band Sahad the Nataal Patchwork, Thomas Görne and Made Indrayana from the Hamburg University of Applied Media (HAW) give insights about producing a record. The event is organised by the International Film, Television and Music Academy (IFFMA) in cooperation with HAW and MediaSoundHamburg. The following public concert with the well-known band from Senegal on 9th August 2019 at 9 p.m. in the Resonanzraum will conclude the workshop and start the 9th International Hamburg Summer Academy for Film Music, Gamemusic and Sound Design.

The practical workshop “From microphone to finished mix” is aimed at musicians, composers, producers and sound engineers who would like to gain more experience in the field of recording and mixing. Among other things, it is about room acoustics, the interaction of instrument, room and microphone as well as the placement of the microphones and the mixing console including outboard effects in the recording process to support the musical goals of the band or producer. On-site work will be done with the band Sahad the Nataal Patchwork. Frontman Sahad Sarr and his musicians build a bridge between different cultures and mix many musical styles: from Senegalese Mbalax to Malian desert blues, Afrobeat, Cuban music to rock and jazz.

Out to Africa

Acces – Music in Africa and MediaSoundHamburg in Nairobi

by Stephan Eicke

When I mentioned to my doctor I would be going to Africa, a smile appeared on her face, a smile so bright it showed her remarkably white teeth. “Whereabouts in Africa?” “Nairobi,” I answered, and could see her face drop. “Oh.”

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