Music for Serena the mermaid @ CEDA



CEDA is a centre for SEN/D children and adults in Exeter, Devon. During June & July 2012, Alex Ivanovich, Luke Turner and Jonathan Westrup from DM South West ran a series of five music sessions with adult service users. Our brief was to create a piece of music to accompany a piece of art that was being made by participants at the centre with the help and guidance of artist Ros Hammond. We were also keen to show CEDA staff how they could best use the new music equipment that had recently arrived at the centre. This training element was to be an important part of the project.

The sculpture is a life-sized mermaid named Serena, who has been washed up on the beach at Teignmouth in her wheelchair, a net full of litter and waste trailing behind her. The story behind the artwork involves Serena leaving the sea because of the harm done to it by humans. She arrives on land full of hope for a new life away from all the pollution, only to find that the land has been affected just as badly. The stunning sculpture was on show during August and into early September 2012 at Teignmouth seafront as part of the TRAIL 2012, the Environmental Sculture Trail. Find out more about the Trail 2012 here


Serena, Luke & Sarah-342x456

Using the artwork as inspiration, our group developed the story and created a piece of music to complement it. We used a number of different instruments for this, including Soundbeam 5, Skoog, Keyboard, microphone, iPad, percussion, guitar, mandola and digeridoo. We had five days (spread out over five weeks) to write and record the music. We started by looking at the sculpture (which was then halfway finished) and devising a more detailed narrative for it. This eventually developed into a four part story, which provided 4 musical moods or movements for our piece:

1. Serena is unhappy about the state of the sea and decides she must leave her home and go and live on the land.

2. Serena is happy to arrive at Teignmouth and make her new life on the land.

3. Serena is shocked and angry at the condition of the land – humans have been damaging it as much as they have the oceans!

4. After spending some time on the land, Serena is happy to discover that a lot of people are trying to reduce pollution, recycle more and use renewable energy. She is hopeful for the future.

The transition between each movement is signified by a splash sound effect, which was triggered by Amy, using a switch placed by her foot.

We hope you enjoy the piece!
In week 2, work continued on what the group wanted the music to sound like, which instruments people enjoyed playing and which sounds worked well together. In week 3, participants took a trip to Teignmouth to record sounds for use in the piece. They used handheld digital recorders to record atmospheric sounds like stones being dropped, an anchor being drawn up and waves crashing on the beach. These were then imported into the Skoog and Soundbeam and replayed by our musicians.

Amy-342x456 Chris iPad-456x342 Keyboard-456x342 Mark skoog-342x456 Rachael Beam-456x342







In weeks 4 and 5 we focussed on arranging and performing the piece, moving through the 4 sections with volunteer James Smythe conducting the group. We recorded the performance each time and then listened back, discussing what went well and what could be improved. On the final day we did a few takes, the best one being the final one, which you can now hear on Soundcloud here:


Rob seaside-342x456



A few weeks after the final recording, the group took another trip to Teignmouth. We saw Serena in all her glory on the seafront. We set up a stall near the sculpture and performed the piece of music. We also invited members of the public to come and try out the musical instruments and to learn about how the music was created.

Thanks to Craig at CEDA for helping to organise the sessions and the two seaside outings, to Sarah and Helen for facilitating the workshops and to James who had a hugely positive impact on the project in his voluntary role.

Lastly, (and most importantly!) a huge “well done!” goes out to all the CEDA participants who contributed to the music: Rob, Amy, Mark, Kath, Chris, Rachael, Karen, Rachael M & Justin.

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