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Exploring new frontiers of space, carbon neutral atmospheres and a nod to Nana

This year’s TICE Music projects have been less about using formulas that are working right now and more about what we will be listening, streaming and watching in years to come. The lifestyle trends that were approaching left us with a few questions. What happens when we strip away technological advancements in live performance? Could the new frontier mean new sounds? Could we make music a tool for healing and improving quality of life? Soon enough, bands were given the choice of three live briefs and had three days to create their very own musical masterpiece.

Music project briefs 2019:

Project One: TICE Unplugged
Trend: Humans taking back control & Mainstream sustainability
Sponsored by: Universal Music Publishing Group, Tipping Point (Generator) and Newcastle University The International Centre for Music Studies (ICMuS)
Mentored by: Sam Burt

Project outline: The music industry has increasingly relied on technology over the past decade to make sounds unique, exciting and ‘on-trend’. But what is the value of an organic, stripped-back live performance? What happens when the guitar is no longer amplified, voices aren’t mixed on a microphone and there are no elaborate details…just the music? With the likes of BBC Live Lounge and Sofar Sounds become more popular, there seems to be an appreciation for simplicity. This inspired the challenge to write and perform a song with a zero-carbon footprint.

When you’re musically restricted, the main way you can create an impact and engage with the audience is by focusing on the message behind the lyrics. The bands did a fantastic job in writing some hard-hitting, catchy lines which covered important topics of self-esteem and climate change.

‘It’s the inside that counts, not your eyes, nose and mouth…’

‘Nature is a language, can’t you read?’

All bands had multiple vocalists and put that to use in the best way possible…harmonies! Through beautifully layering their voices, they took their songs to an entirely different dimension without having to use technological support. As well as this, their overall enthusiasm and teamwork created a wonderful atmosphere and really set the tone for what this project is all about – enjoying music collaboratively and in its purest form.

Project results: Students created their very own space at the Final Show gallery, decorating their space with bean bags and fairy lights. Whilst the audience (450 people) wandered around the gallery, they were accompanied by a series of live unplugged performances.

Credit: William Campbell and Jaha Bryant from Burnside Business & Enterprise College, Mia Johnson, Lotte Tonnesen Wood, Tilly Aveyard, Genny Bennett, Daisy Main, Amy Chapman from Marden High School. Erin Kerr and Summa Daniels from George Stephenson High School, Cerys Allen from Churchill Community College, Kimberley Wakenshaw from Norham High School and Scarlett Wilson Baker from Kings Priory School.

Project Two: A Song for Nana
Trend: Multisensory experience
Supported by: Professor Andrew Newman at Newcastle University and Newcastle University’ The International Centre for Music Studies (ICMuS)
Mentored by: Sam Burt

Project outline: We live in a society with a growing population of people over the age of 60 and alongside this, an increase in cases of dementia. It is incredibly hard to treat however, more people are aware that music has had a profound impact on those who are living with it. With this in mind, students were expected to learn about the disease in order to create and perform an original piece of music which can bring nostalgia and positivity to those who live with dementia.

We were pleased to have Professor Andrew Newman of Newcastle University stop by and give students greater context on what dementia is and the ways we can understand and communicate with those who live with it. This certainly sparked inspiration. At that point, they began to explore styles and genres which could bring the older generations back in time and carefully crafted lyrics that had a strong narrative.

Project results: Students had the opportunity to perform their original song live to an audience of over 450 people at the TICE Final Show.

Credit: Ellie Walker from George Stephenson High School, Emma Guy and Molly Payne from Marden High School, Grace Gonsalez, Homeschooled and Jack Archer from Longbenton High School.

Project Three: A Sky Full of Stars
Trend: The new space race
Supported by: Gothic Storm, Sontronics and Newcastle University’ The International Centre for Music Studies (ICMuS)
Mentored by: Sam Burt

Project outline: The new space race has resulted at the beginning of space tourism, with companies such as Virgin Galactic already taking bookings. So how could we musically showcase this exciting new experience for advertisement purposes? For this project, students were expected to create, perform and record an original piece which translates the feeling and implications of space travel.

The band spent three days composing a very complex piece of music using guitar, bass drums and piano. However, students took it to the next level by exploring more obscure sounds that can be made with the instruments. Eventually, they had musically narrated their very own space story.

Students were then able to do a live recording of their track, with special thanks to Newcastle University Studio Manager, David De La Haye. Not only did they have the experience of recording their own music but they also had the opportunity to learn about mixing and mastering their track to a professional standard.

Project Feedback:

Dan Graham – Gothic Storm (High-end production music inc. Avengers, Jumanji, Aladdin, Toy Story 4, Glass, Pet Semetary)

This has beautiful emotional guitars on the edge of distortion, wonderful spacey grainy keyboards and goes off into an exciting tight groove in the last section – the bass, guitar and drums are very well locked into each other.

The way it builds and builds, and the way begins and ends softly with keyboards give it an intelligent, well-thought-out structure.

Dan Burt – Composer/Border Scout


Great ethereal start and use of synths suit the space-like vibe, with the lead synth almost like a sonar-bleep reminiscent of NASA equipment. Guitars too are very trippy which lends itself well to this style. Definitely sets the tone of space-travel. Good use of delay creates a sense of space.

Drum build up and the rhythm section are nice and subtle which leads into a very uplifting chord sequence. Musically this is very uplifting without it sounding cheesy – very good for selling anything! The backend is nice and powerful and not too long – keeping it nice and succinct for advertisers. No real negatives here at all. Playing is solid and very tight with just the right vibe.

All in all, this is very good and hits the brief very well indeed.

Project results: The band had the opportunity to record their piece at Newcastle University Music Studios, which was then professionally mixed and uploaded to iPods for the audience to hear. Click here to listen to the track.

Credit: Harrison Mitchell from Churchill Community College, Lucy Dixon from John Spence Community High School, Aidan Boyer from Marden High School and Alexander Thompson from Burnside Business & Enterprise College

Music TICE 2019 Create Stage photo gallery:


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