Cuckmere: a portrait

East Sussex Academy of Music, Lewes, 16th Jun 2017
Ocklynge School, Eastbourne, 23rd Jun 2017
Southover School, Lewes, 23rd Jun 2017
Cuckmere Haven, Exceat, Sussex, 7th Jul 2017
Hastings Academy, 5th May 2017

polyphonic, lyrical, fast

Genre: Works for 2-6 players


A portrait in silent film and music

SCORE by Ed Hughes

Version for chamber ensemble







Work in progress.


Cuckmere: A Portrait in Music and Moving Images.

Draft notes.


Silent film: Cesca Eaton

Music: Ed Hughes


Basic story.

Cuckmere Haven is a natural environment of outstanding beauty where coast meets sea on the South Coast of England. Our project depicts a year in the life of Cuckmere in 2016/17 at a time in which change is expected due to changes in policy about sea defences. As artists, silent film-maker and composer, we wanted to use moving images and music to record two main aspects simultaenously through a kind of poetic film: a year in Cuckmere across changing seasons (time); the river's journey from source to sea (space). The intersection of silent film and music produces effects and unique properties which are lost in conventional sound film and documentary. These might be noted as the potential to reveal landscape through a 'choreography' that interlaces picture and music, to heighten sensitivity to shapes and phenomena of the natural world, and a recognition that music in combination with carefully curated images can make the beats and patterns of passing seasons and the passage of time more palpable.



Music is used to express sonically the continuity of landscapes and also its dramatic changes (e.g. the shapes of downland and the dramatic cutting away of cliff edges). Music is used also to create large-scale contrast, to match the beats, patterns and moods of passing seasons. This is done with a clear structure in which four movements using contrasting tempos, themes and harmonies, map on to film sequences which record images of the changing seasons:

Movement 1. Autumn [not yet written]

Movement 2. Winter [not yet written]

Movement 3. Spring [music in draft. Quaver = 120. Tonal centre = G]

Movement 4. Summer [music and film complete in chamber version (five instruments). Crotchet = 88. Tonal centre = C]

As a result, there will be a complete piece lasting about 25 minutes with a clear reference to previous compositions (e.g. Vivaldi's Four Seasons) but, we hope, also new effects attained through modern approaches to harmonies, timbres and rhythms, and music to visuals counterpoint.

Our approach involves mixed methods (e.g. some scoring to picture, some editing to score). It is fair to say that the approach is overall choreographic, different from normal practices, in that the picture is often edited to the music, following careful discussion and collaboration at the conceptual stages of each section.


EH 5 Sept 2017