On the 14th of October 1881, a terrifying storm suddenly smashed into the Berwickshire Coast in the South East of Scotland, taking the lives of 189 fishermen, creating 107 widows and hundreds of orphans.
“Stormsong 1881” commemorating the disaster, was written by 11 Eyemouth High School Students. It is performed on this recording by 35 students and staff from Eyemouth High School, 82 children from Eyemouth Primary and electric voice theatre.
It is a meteorological suite of music for voices, brass, woodwind and guitar based on the estimated three-hourly weather observations for Eyemouth provided by meteorologist Marjory Roy.
“... meteorologists use an international numerical code to exchange weather observations which are then used as the basic data for computer models to forecast the weather. The composer's used data I produced about the Great Eyemouth Storm of 1881 to create “Stormsong 1881” ” Marjory Roy
The music centres on Marjory Roy’s translation of weather reports from the Storm of 1881 into meteorological data in the form of coded information, representing date and time, station, types of weather – rain, cloud, wind etc. These numbers were translated into scales, creating melodic lines; tempi (wind speed); dynamics, and rhythms.
The words are from the Berwickshire News (Tues Oct 18th 1881). “Stormsong 1881” was previewed at Eyemouth Hippodrome on 26 October 2017, and premiered at the Ebba Centre, St Abbs on June 18th 2018.
Storm - Hannah Combe
A storm is coming, No it isn't, Yes it is, coming here
Dark Skies - Graeme Thomson
It is the 13th October 1881 - Eyemouth. We look up to see Dark Skies
Soft Waves Crashing - Mirren McTavish
It is the 14th October 1881 there are soft waves crashing on the shore, It should be ok to fish today
Bad Weather - Freya Herriott
Most of the boats have already put out to sea when there is a sudden turn to Bad Weather
Sea Salt - Duncan Horsburgh
The fishermen taste Sea Salt as they struggle to keep afloat
Rough C’s - Dion Trafford
---but it’s no good - everywhere there are rough C’s.
Wave - Katie Walker
Brave fishermen perish, destruction and violence, Out to the sea, strong northerly wind, heavy surf along the coast, In Eyemouth, Berwick, Burnmouth, Cove, Dunbar, Coldingham and more, Suffered loss of brothers, husbands, fathers and sons. So much grief and sorrow, dull misery, so many boats left, The Onward, Britannia, Alabama, Harmony, The Pilgrim, carrying our loved ones to their awful doom. More than one hundred men gone. Janet, Valley, Alice, Sweet Home, all gone for ever. We will remember....
Widowed Woman - Lois Atkinson
Lass O' Gowrie, Fisher Lasses, Snowdon, Two Sisters, Oh Harmony Oh Pilgrim Oh Radiant Oh Onward,
Janet, Alice, Lilly of the Valley
Tragic Days - James Oliver
The Eyemouth Disaster - Rhys White
Eyemouth is a scene of uncontrollable woe, Dead, missing, terrible grief, families, husbands, brother, fathers, lots of lost relatives, Sinking ships, sadness, Eyemouth disaster
Raingirl - Katherine Marsh
Invincible, Suffering, Forget Me Not, The Missing, Blossom, We will Remember......
Eyemouth Museum www.eyemouthmuseum.org
Come and learn more about the Great Storm of 1881 – locally known as ‘Black Friday’, and more besides, by visiting Eyemouth Museum, located in Kirk Square on Manse Road TD14 5JE. The story of the events surrounding Eyemouth’s fishing disaster are told in Peter Aitchison’s ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Please take a Cord’ written by Will Collin available at the Museum Shop.
St Abbs Visitor Centre www.stabbsvisitorcentre.co.uk is hosting an exhibit outlining how the music was created from meteorological data. Jill Watson’s four Memorial sculptures commemorating the disaster can be found at St Abbs, just outside the centre, and at Cove, Eyemouth and Burnmouth. The photo is of “Widows and Bairns” at Eyemouth. www.jillwatsonstudio.co.uk