The power of music and finding your tribe

Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth Science Centre, in partnership with Tinderbox Collective's Sparks Youth Orchestra, embarked on a groundbreaking collaboration funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

The team created a resident "science orchestra" to compose accompanying music for the films shown in Dynamic Earth's planetarium. With the STFC funding, they were able to bring this ambitious project to life with young people from across Edinburgh – some with no previous musical experience and many with no interest in science.

The output of the workshops, planning sessions and rehearsals was the composition of two remarkable pieces of music. "Sunscapes" was created to synchronize with satellite imagery of the sun, capturing sunspots and solar flare activity. "Seascapes” is a haunting score, written to accompany footage of deep-sea creatures filmed by the Schmitt Ocean Institute. The two pieces have been recorded and permanently incorporated into the planetarium shows and, alongside a performance of ‘Sunscapes’ for friends and family, a recording has been made for a tour around Scotland with Dynamic Earth's portable planetarium.

It helps them to join in, connect with others. They find this very difficult. The music brings them together with others.

Young people finding their tribe and experiencing the power of music inside the planetarium at Dynamic Earth

The collaboration between music and science introduced a new way of working for both Dynamic Earth and Tinderbox. Whilst Dynamic Earth focuses on increasing access to science learning through their community programme, Tinderbox specializes in music and tech workshops. The bringing together of the two organisations brought rich, new experiences to young participants, giving them access to, and appreciation of, STEM and music. Parents of participating children reported that their children had found their tribe through the orchestra, as the shared experiences created a comfortable and nurturing environment for building relationships.

Looking ahead the next term of Tinderbox Sparks will involve composing music for Dynamic Earth's new planetarium show on climate change, titled "Don't Panic" to continue to the success of the partnership. The young musicians will also receive science communication training, enabling them to confidently explain the science topics that inspire their music during public concerts across Edinburgh.

This is one of our most co-created projects, as the young people comprising the orchestra completely steer the direction of the project and the musical compositions that result at the end. Whilst Dynamic Earth provides the visuals to inspire and accompany the music, the youth orchestra take it from there and call the shots about how they want the music and the sessions to play out.

Fran Hutchinson, Senior Community Engagement Officer, Dynamic Earth