Stirling High School

Composers, Singers and Instrumentalists

Thermal Image by a student 

  • CLASS A self-selected N5 and Higher Music group
  • SCHOOL Stirling High School, Stirling, Scotland
  • HONOURS  The group all play instruments and have all done well in graded and national exams.
  • MINERVA SCIENTIFICA PROJECT Echoes from the Engine Shed, September 2018

Scientific Connections

The students visited The Engine Shed and spent time talking to the scientists and trying out their working methods.

X-ray diffraction and Oxygen made an impression on me!


Title: Argyle Tower
Composed by: N5 and Higher Students from Stirling High School
Written in: September 2018
For: 3 Female Voices, 3 Flutes, 2 Guitars, Bass Guitar, Piano, Keyboard, Vocal Percussion,  Stone Percussion

Performed by: The Composers, Amy Bilsborough, Frances M Lynch, Margaret Cameron and Eleanor Logan

First Performed: The Engine Shed, September 18th 2018 (where it was recorded live)

Argyle Tower

In 1685 Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll was executed at Edinburgh Castle. His story illuminates the life of his step-daughter, Lady Sophia Lindsay, who courageously freed him from Edinburgh Castle when he was first incarcerated, but found her rescue mission to have been in vain.  Her story, which places her at Argyll’s Lodgings in Stirling with the Campbell family, is paralleled and inspired by the work of scientists working for Historic Environment Scotland, based at the Engine Shed in Stirling. They are engaged on conservation work at Argyle’s Tower in Edinburgh Castle which marks the place of the Earl’s imprisonment.

The students have taken elements of the story interwoven with techniques used by the scientists in their work which they translated into harmony and melody by applying number systems from the data onto musical scales. You will find references to Moisture Analysis (data showing where moisture is collecting in the stone), Chemical Elements from the Period Table, X-ray diffraction from salt analysis and Thermal Imaging which shows cold and warm spots in the vaulted room. They also used stone and slate samples to create rhythms, some traditional music referring to the Scottish Country Dance entitled Sophia Lindsay, and texts written by or about the protagonists in the story. They have shaped their music to reflect their own composition voices and thus created a diverse and fascinating pallet of sound.

  • The Engine Shed and the Tower – a recording of sounds reflecting the students visit to the Engine Shed
  • Jamie Lee Kane – Argyll Wave – voice & Piano

A wave
Guide me to home land
A place
Which captured me and thrown
A girl
Who cared for me deeply
Saved from staying in an old broken cell
But to disappoint her dearly
Banished to some broken cell
After my men failed to show
In the take back of Edinburgh
Argyle Tower my old friend

  • David Beechey – Sophia’s Dance (3 flutes)
  • Sarah Park – Moisture Analysis (guitar, vocal percussion)
  • Eve Imrie – Chemical Elements (piano, bass, guitar, flutes, voices)
  • Erin Dormer – Aluminium (2 voices and piano)
  • Cameron Laird, – X-ray diffraction (3 voices)
  • Jude Fell – New Work (keyboard, guitar, flute)
  • Jaimie Mills – The Strong Stag (2 guitars, 2 flutes)
  • Erin McKenvie – Argyll’s Letter – (2 voices and piano)

You came an angel in the case to me
Expressly sent to guide and set me free
The great gate opened of its own accord
Then word came in my mind, I praise the Lord
When I was out I knew not where I went
I cried to God and new angels were sent
If ye desire what passed since to me,
Read the book of psalms and set me free

  • Kieran Wilson – The Rescue (bass)
  • Everyone – The Clock Stops – Stone Percussion

Stirling High School students performing at The Engine Shed


The class teacher is Amy Bilsborough. All of the students play instruments ranging from guitars and drums to flute, piano, violin, ukulele, and stones, and many sing in a choir.

Stone Percussion


There are at least 3 budding singers in the group and possibly 5 composers.

Two of the students are considering becoming scientists in the fields of biochemistry, environmental or medical science.

At The Engine shed with Maureen Young

Creating thermal images

Thermal images created at Argyle Tower and the Engine Shed

Musical Highlights

  • I enjoyed the different ideas and concepts of writing up music using data from different sources.
  • I really liked my melody and bass line
  • I might use weather data from a certain area and use my understanding of geography to incorporate into my composition
  • The music we heard, “Salt Tears” was extremely unusual and interesting

Water in a scale

Did You Know?

The students found the sessions unusual and often funny and slightly strange: –

  • but really fun
  • I liked the singing exercises on the musical scale on the floor

An Inspiring Woman

I really liked the whole concept of this project being about women scientists as they are not nearly as known or recognised for their work as men are.