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The Sound Den at East Pool Mine

The great thing with the Sound Den is that the direction and creativity are very much driven by the young people and the surroundings we find ourselves in, therefore it was important to get a tour of East Pool Mine in as soon as we could in the hope of some inspiration!

This took place on an early February morning, where seven young people from various locations across Cornwall and Plymouth met at East Pool Mine, Redruth, all set for 3 days of creative music making.

Most of the young people had never met before so were a little apprehensive over what they’d signed up for, however after a few ice-breaking games led by our fabulous practitioners, Giles, Jo, and Issy, East Pool Mine started coming alive with the sound of laughter, chatter, and of course instruments being played. 

Day 1 — Megan and JJ from the National Trust took everyone on a fabulous tour which included a short film explaining about Cornish mining. Highlights of the tour included going through the tunnel, looking up through the tall chimney, the engine house, and also seeing how many could fit into the cage that took the miners down underground! 

Following the tour, the young people spent the rest of Day 1 exploring sounds on different instruments, some wanted to have some time developing their singing, and they took inspiration from the tour and the surroundings we found ourselves in. As the day came to a close it was clear that friendships had been made and everyone went away looking forward to returning the following day.

Day 2 — Was an early start for some, but we were so fortunate to have brilliant transport from Volunteer Cornwall who made sure all our young people could attend no matter how far away they had to travel from. Today the young people were straight in, diving into the biscuits, getting the instruments out, and excited for another day of creativity.

Jo had positioned some percussion instruments around the room, here there was also various mining equipment on display, and lots of stonework. Task one of the day was to get creative with the instruments and the items in the room. Some of the young people were a bit skeptical that music could be created in this way, but soon realised that what was being produced actually made the music of the mine!

One of the young people had demonstrated a great skill with words and phrases derived through inspiration from the mine; he was invited to write lyrics and set about this task immediately. The other young people went off into small groups to be creative with instruments of their choice, in many cases instruments that they were not familiar with!  A chord progression, that one of the young guitarists uncovered, was shared with each group and that then formed the base of what was to follow! The final product was starting to take shape without anyone really knowing how things would fit! Here you can see them in action!

After lunch, all the young people came together and some had a go at directing and piecing their creative ideas together. A structure was formed, the lyrics were shared and ‘Hollow Ground’ was well on its way. The young people went home that evening with recordings of the vocals in the hope that those who wanted to sing on the final production could learn the melody. It had been another very exciting day of filling the mine with music!

Day 3 – Our final day together, and our chance to put all the creative work into a final production. There was a lot to get through; Giles came armed with recording equipment, and there was a real buzz in the room in anticipation of getting the music recorded. Overnight one of the participants had spent time coming up with a new guitar motif which everyone loved and it became a feature of the final product. The plan was for a few rehearsals of the piece, some tweaks as required, and then to get the final piece recorded before lunch! A lot of work and concentration but it was achieved! ‘Hollow Ground’ was composed and recorded in just 2 and a half days! 

After lunch the young people had a chance to reflect on their time at the Sound Den, and then a final performance of everything that had been recorded, which included an improvised track by two of the young people, was shared to Megan and JJ in the cinema room! Feedback from the young people was fantastic with many of them having enjoyed trying different instruments, they enjoyed exploring the mine, new friendships had been made, and inspiration given to try new musical things.


 A truly fabulous 3 days! 

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