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Song of the Sea that Was

Visitors and locals will be able to play their own rock music in a new project highlighting the amazing geology found in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Limestone has shaped the landscape, flora and fauna and the way people have farmed and worked in the Dales over thousands of years. The story of the local geology is a story of changing landscapes, warm seas, strange creatures and the earth’s upheavals over millennia and yet, exciting though the story is, it is hard to tell it in a truly accessible way.

This project will change that – we will use the music of singing rock from local quarries to bring the tale to new ears in an innovative and exciting way.

A giant lithophone that anyone can play has now been installed in the garden at Malham National Park Centre. The lithophone was made by Quarry Arts from rock found in local quarries.

Purple Patch Arts and the Skipton Building Society Camerata worked with a group of adults who have learning disabilities to produce artwork and to compose tunes based on different aspects of the story of limestone.

Composer Tom Lydon took the tunes and created an orchestral piece that can be played by a professional orchestra on a lithophone – made from Carboniferous Limestone bars cut and shaped so that it can be played in the same way as a xylophone or glockenspiel.

The premier of the orchestral piece was played by Skipton Building Society Camerata on June 22 2016 as part of the Grassington Festival. The premier concert included The Song of the Sea that Was, Mozart’s Toy Symphony and Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.

Catherine Kemp, the Authority’s Learning and Engagement Officer, said: “The project is based at Malham National Park Centre and its name reflects the fact that the rocks were formed when the area was under seawater millions of years ago. This project will bring the story of our wonderful geology to life for visitors to Malham.”

The project, called ‘Song of the Sea that Was’, was made possible thanks to a £14,950 grant from the Arts Council and is being run by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).  

The ‘Song of the Sea that Was’ is a partnership project run by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority with Purple Patch Arts ( ), Skipton Building Society Camerata ( Quarry Arts ( ), Grassington Festival ( ) and composer Tom Lydon ( ).


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