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Saskia Huxham

'The Elemental Suite'

Saskia chose to complete an artefact EPQ, creating a stunning symphony named The Elemental Suite exploring the structure of the planet in Earth, Air, Water and Space movements. Each movement was thoughtfully planned out to last a duration reflecting the proportion of the planet they occupy, making the Earth and Space movements the longest. The composition travels from the core of the Earth to the crust, the ocean, air, mountain, atmosphere and finally space itself.


What was the inspiration for your project?

It is inspired by the structure and birth of our planet, reflecting on how our existence is based on a coincidence of a quantum event, and how we should pause to think of the gift of our creation. Each movement was inspired by something different: the Earth movement, layers and tectonic activity; the Ocean movement, the documentary series Blue Planet II and water cycles; the Air movement, volcanology and natural hazards; and the Space movement, my interest in evolution, philosophy and creationism.

What did you use to make the symphony?

I used musical notation software Sibelius to create the piece itself with 2 violins, a violoncello, a flute, a clarinet, a trombone, a piano, a horn in F and a bassoon. I also had help from books such as 50 Philosophy Ideas by Ben Dupré and Harmony Workbook by Rhinegold education, the advice of professional performers and composers, and inspiration from documentaries and the National Geographic TV channel.

Why did you choose this project?

It’s a good link between one of my interests - music and composition - and one of my preferred A level subjects - Geography, particularly physical geography, which deals with natural features such as coastlines.

What did you learn?

Over the course of composing The Elemental Suite symphony, I have not only greatly enjoyed creating a musical work inspired by the geographical wonders of the Earth (and beyond), but I believe that I have also developed musically in my ability to notate and formulate complex, interconnecting musical ideas in addition to controlling melody, instrumentation, harmony, rhythm, texture and dynamics. For example, I had to learn about the dynamic weighting as the different instruments I used have very different volumes e.g. the flute compared to the trombone, so I had to use different numbers of instruments to make sure the melody line was projected correctly.

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