Making music inspired by sand dunes

Dynamic Dunescapes

Musician and amateur entomologist Will Pearce shares his experience working with Dynamic Dunescapes and creating nine dune-inspired tracks.

Living in South Devon and spending school holidays in North Cornwall, the coast is my childhood. Seaweed, saltwater and sandy socks. When my partner once asked me where my ‘happy place’ was, my first thought was of eating half-melted ice creams at Polzeath with my family. Despite having recently metamorphosed into something of an insect obsessive, I hadn’t once considered that my ‘happy place’ might also be a haven for some extraordinarily tough species.

Sand dunes – a sort of collaboration between sand, plants and fungi – offer just enough protection from the elements for life to take hold. Behind them we find diverse ponds and sandy grasslands, which can exist only thanks to the shelter of the dune and constant shifting of the sand.

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Last year I started writing music about the natural world, and over the last couple of months I have been working with the Dynamic Dunescapes project to produce a new series all about sand dunes. Specifically, I have written about the species and dunes lucky enough to be looked after by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.

Up until now I’ve mainly written music about insects (especially beetles…), but I couldn’t help but be absolutely smitten with the dune’s other residents. There are 9 songs total, with orchids, amphibians, and molluscs all getting a feature. The music itself is predominantly inspired by jazz, with a heap of other influences mixed in, all accompanied by the sounds of waves crashing, cars indicating, and hole-punchers hole-punching.

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I’ve also animated the whole series. There’s a mix of 3D models and hand-drawn animations. The idea is that the songs are all part of one long journey through the dunes, visiting the different habitats and meeting the many inhabitants.

If this all sounds like there’s a lot going on, it’s because there is. The project grew a little from what I was first envisaging, but I am really pleased with the results! My hope is that by using music and visuals I will help people who might not otherwise connect with these habitats to appreciate the beauty of sand dunes.

I plan to release the full series on the 31st of October, and you can watch a trailer for the series on Instagram (@willpearcemusic), TikTok (@ukbeetlemania) or on my YouTube channel:

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Listen to the first of Will's songs

A man in a red ladybird costume smiles at the camera

About the Author

Will Pearce

Will is a musician and amateur entomologist, with a background in jazz and beetles. Will takes inspiration from the music of Bill Wurtz, Cosmo Sheldrake, and Louis Cole, with the intention of engaging new audiences with the natural world.

Website, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter.