Patterns: the details

This section covers:

Award levels and key criteria


Performance (world premiere)


Intellectual property


The awards

The core of this competition is the awarding of a prize for the crafting of a way to express the elements of the Mendeleev Periodic Table in musical form, so that using this, music can be composed and played.

This might be in the form a new kind of notation for an existing ensemble, such as a jazz band, string quartet, or rock group; or it might take the form of an entirely new kind of  musical instrument – possibly (but not necessarily) taking the form of composition software; or a contraption of any kind.

There will be three prizes, 1st 2nd and 3rd, at £1000, £500 and £250.

These three levels will be open to entrants of any age.  However, if we are able to increase the amount of prize money through more funder contributions, we will introduce a 4th, specifically for school-age entrants.

The key criteria will be creativity; versatility; and replicability.

  • Creativity:  the translation of the table into music should be as inventive as possible, and there will be marks for the sheer cleverness with which the chemistry is expressed in sound, ie: reflecting the actual nature of the chemicals.
  • Versatility: as far as possible, the instrument created should be capable of producing music in a range of styles; and marks will be given for flexibility.
  • Replicability: as the intention is for the instrument to be playable in schools, as a teaching tool, as well as in musical events, marks will be given for low cost and portability.

Judging panel

The winning entrants and the specific piece to be performed (if the entrant produces more than one) will be chosen by a panel of judges.

The judging panel will consist of members of the CSC; local members of the Royal Society of Chemistry; and representatives of the Academy of Music and the Arts (a part of Falmouth University); and of the wider arts and music community in the Duchy. We intend to invite those who have been involved in previous UNESCO projects celebrating Cornwall’s mining heritage, whether as makers, or as judges.


Resonance festival performances

A piece of music composed using the winning entry instruments will then be played, as a world premiere performance, in the award ceremony, which itself will be part of a weekend programme of events showcasing the science(s) of sound – the “Resonance” festival – in early summer (date and venue t.b.c.) 2020.

We anticipate active interest and involvement from local radio, including the local BBC; and quite probably regional TV, or beyond; but as yet there is no programming scheduled.  We hope – but cannot at this stage promise – that the Cornish diaspora will engage, via social media and live streamed events.

A number of local institutions will also be involved in the festival programme, whether as venues and/or as sponsors; we have close links already with the STEM ambassadors for in-reach to local schools; with the Chamber of Commerce, for outreach to industry; and with the Eden project, Goonhilly etc.   All activities of the festival will be recorded for posterity (thus appearing in the annals of the RCPS, the RIC, and Kresen Kernow), to leave a legacy.


Wider distribution

We envisage that the instrument (or software programme) that wins the award will be able to be used to teach children in schools, in particular, of the elegance of Mendeleev’s achievement, and also to engage them actively in using it to make music that speaks to their own lives and landscapes.

NB: We do anticipate that many entries will most likely take the form of musical software, but if so, the resulting music must be playable on any readily available equipment, such as schools would certainly have. (This could be in form of a PC programme, app, or on cheap specialised hardware such as a Raspberry Pi, which is widespread in schools.) Likewise, any contraption should use materials that are relatively easy to source locally.

Although, for effect and relevance (and because it is our own chosen boundary), this competition is reserved for the people of Cornwall – one of the poorest counties in Europe* – the deliberately ‘low tech’ requirement for the award entries will ensure that the resulting ‘instrument’ can be used to inspire children everywhere to start to see the eloquence of pattern – the resonance, indeed –in all natural sciences; and so perhaps to consider a life in the sciences.

Otherwise, musicians everywhere might perhaps be encouraged to adopt this within their own culture, as a new medium to express a sense of place, and to incorporate in their work. This activity touches, for example,  on several strategic objectives of UNESCO – education, science, and heritage.


Intellectual property

Intellectual property for software and any future applications of the concept for commercial use will be shared between CSC and the winning entrants, on a ratio of 2:1, with the winning entrants holding 66% of the eventual value, and the CSC retaining 33%.

Should the winning entrants choose to give away their creation, on a Creative Commons licence or comparable, the CSC will be perfectly comfortable with that choice; and will only expect recognition – as a credit, but no revenue-  from its distribution.