In Their Mind’s Eye

Caldecote Primary School, Leicester


A collaboration with Francis O Donnell Smith

For this project, we delivered a series of three workshops, creating content for a permanent sound installation to accompany a volcano being built by artists in the school drama room.

The workshops were based around the concept of ‘the soundscape’ and identifying the unique range of sounds that contribute towards a specific environment. Having introduced these ideas, the children went on to look at how we could create a fictional soundscape to accompany the volcano. This was achieved by investigating the sound properties of everyday objects using contact microphones to amplify vibrations within the materials. As a group, we made Futurist-stlye ‘noise makers’ from buckets of water, boxes of sand, balloons, melting ice, sandpaper etc. The second session involved designing graphic notation through collage, drawing and altering a set of printed scores, resulting in a set of artists’ books. These scores / artists books (themed around the four elements) were used by conductors in the third session to orchestrate the rest of the group in a series of performances. We made multi-track recordings to capture these performances and later edited these to create the resulting 4-track installation.

The aim of this project was to impact on pupils learning by giving them a new approach to music, thinking about sounds in terms of textural relationships and composing with pure sounds to create ‘musique concréte’. We also hope that the sessions will have created a desire to experiment, opposing the idea that music is confined to musicians as well as introducing similar ideas from conceptual art via appropriating existing scores to make artists’ books. This emphasis on process, decision-making and judgement over traditional artistic skills aims to put pupils of varying ability on the same level. As our first experience of creating a permanent work for a school environment, we will be particularly interested to see how the school use this facility to stimulate learning in the future.

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Pupils conducting with graphic scores at Caldecote Primary School