Sunday, 17 March 2013

Burn of sound

Golden birch leaves rustle in the disappearing sun while 
silver drops scar the reflecting surface of the water.
The above words came to my mind when resting on a bench alongside a small lake an early autumn a few years ago. I used words to describe a nature experience and express my emotional response to it, perhaps even using my imagination to conjure up new experiences. Irrespective of the kind of experience I had and the words I used to capture it, the very act of writing has made the experience a memorable one. The creative activity has etched it in my mind.

The community music project Burn of Sound, commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage to celebrate the Year of Natural Scotland 2013, aims to use the creative activities of writing and singing to deepen the participants’ engagement with Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve. One cannot only capture nature experiences through the meaning of words, but also through the rhythm and sound of words. The meanings and musical qualities of words can be further enhanced if set to music. A selection of the material written by participants during creative experience workshops in the first part of the community music project will therefore be integrated in a series of rounds that will be sung with participants during singing workshops in the second half of the project. 

The project Burn of Sound will start with a series of creative experience walks that start from the Muir of Dinnet visitor centre – for schools on Monday 29 April and Wednesday 1 May and for families and  on Saturday 11 May from 10.30 am to 12 noon. During those walks participants will be encouraged to use the meaning, rhythm and sound of words to capture their nature experiences. Families will have an opportunity to sing the rounds based on the material written during the creative experience workshops at the Muir of Dinnet visitor centre on Saturday 15 June from 10.30 to 11.30 am, whereas local schools and community groups will be offered singing workshops in the week starting 17 June in schools and the venues where they usually gather.

Parallel to the work with schools, families and community groups, the community music project will provide an opportunity for local artists, writers and musicians to explore how they, in their creative practice, engage with their natural world and if their experience would be different if they engaged through a different art form. This creative experience workshop for artists will take place on Saturday 11 May from 2 to 4 pm. The subsequent singing workshop, in which there will be an opportunity for further reflection will be held on Saturday 15 June from 2.30 to 4 pm.

If you are a family, school, community group or artist interested in participating in the project, please contact community musician Petra Vergunst at For more information about the project you can also contact Muir of Dinnet reserve manager Catriona Reid on

Other blogs on this project:
Images, words and sounds
I felt moss, I held water
Celebrate summer singing

Copyright text and image Petra Vergunst

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