Bandstand Project

Ross Whyte

2018 Heritage Pleasure Ground Soundart

8 bandstand soundspaces across Edinburgh & Musselburgh with immersive sound app performances & exhibition.

Credits: Supported by: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Culture Fund and City of Edinburgh Council

Lewisvale Park Musselburgh


The bandstand has long served as the public site for community music occupying many of our public parks and promenades. This project invites us to once again find music as we stroll our public parks, to search out the music we hear, focussing on places where bandstands once stood, and a few that still do.

This project commissioned composer Ross Whyte to create a soundscape, one for each of the eight sites of the bandstands, with vocals recorded and performed with Portobello Community Choir. Lyrics and project concept/curation from Rosy Naylor.

A navigational app was produced working with web developer Steven Park which showed archive footage of many of the sites which no longer had physical bandstands. Whyte’s soundscape was then heard, increasing in volume as one walked their way to the location of the bandstand, or previous site as was the case for five of the sites. Each site was marked by a physical bandstand soundpost created by Orocco Joinery.

Leith Links

Popularity for the bandstand grew alongside the association of music as having an important moral influence. Coupled with this was the value laid on the social importance of parks to improve local communities and well being. In the 1830s recreational parks were seen to “lead to a better use of Sundays and the replacement of the debasing pleasures”

Paul Rabbitts: ‘Bandstands: Pavilions for music, entertainment and leisure’ 2018

Ross Whyte is a Glasgow-based composer, sound artist, and arranger. His composition, titled ‘The Great Exhibition’, is inspired by the early 1900s era of seaside entertainment and end-of-the-pier entertainers such as Harry Lauder.

‘The Great Exhibition’ combines recent sound recording with both archival and newly-composed material to present an abstract reimagining of the kinds of sounds and music that might have been heard at the various bandstands around Edinburgh.

The work contains 8 melodic lines performed by the Portobello Community Choir, with lyrics by Rosy Naylor. For the Bandstand App, the melodies can be ‘unlocked’ by visiting each of the 8 bandstand locations. They can be listened to individually or layered on top of each other, as each new melody is discovered. Together they form a complete song: ‘The Great Exhibition’.

‘The Great Exhibition’ is romantic, sentimental, light-hearted, and hopeful, and aims to evoke an atmosphere of a more innocent time.

Using the App

You can use the App to help you to find each of the bandstand spaces.

Once at each location you can listen to the track relating to that location, as well as view relevant archive material about its history.

Live Performances

with Portobello Community Choir:
Portobello Prom (previous site of bandstand) 1 Sept 2018
Ross Theatre Bandstand, Princes St Gardens Edinburgh 8 Sept 2018

View accompanying newspaper 

Funded By:

The BandStand Project was supported by funding from The Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo Culture Fund and the City of Edinburgh Council.

With support from Orocco Joinery for the building and installing of location soundpost markers.