Nightingale & Violin Duet – 90 Years Since 1st Outside Broadcast

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90 years ago today (19th May), the BBC transmitted its very first outside broadcast and the stars of the show were cellist Beatrice Harrison accompanied by a very tuneful nightingale. To celebrate the anniversary, Senior Lecturer in radio Dylan Roys and I accepted the challenge from Reverend Mark Holden (Wragby parishes) to recreate the historic event in Lincolnshire.

Violinist Janet Welsh kindly agreed to join us in this quest and we headed off to Whisby Nature Reserve to recruit a willing nightingale to our band. As dusk fell, Graham Hopwood, our expert guide and one of Whisby’s wardens, attuned our ears to the song of the nightingale amongst the many other voices of blackcap, whitethroat and robin.

With our avian talent spotted and in full song, Janet began to play the tune Londonderry Air, just as Beatrice Harrison had done 90 years earlier. Dylan and I captured the beautiful duet with our modern hand-held recorders as trains whizzed by and jumbo jets cruised overhead.

The recordings reflect the massive changes in our sonic landscape since 1924. Graham chatted to us about the dwindling numbers of nightingales visiting Britain due to changes in their landscape and habitat too. However, the nightingale’s song remains as beautiful now as it did then.

Dylan Roys’s radio piece documenting the recording will be broadcast on May 19th on Siren FM. Listen here:

Listen to a clip of the recording here.

The piece was broadcast on William Wright’s BBC Radio Lincolnshire show on the 19th May 2014. Exactly 90 years after the original broadcast. Hear it here:

Huge thanks to Janet and Graham for helping to make this happen.

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Free Thinking – BBC Radiophonic Workshop

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The BBC Radiophonic workshop was founded in 1958 by Desmond Briscoe and Daphne Oram. This group of experimental composers, sound engineers and musical innovators provided music for programmes including The Body in Question, Horizon, Quatermass, Newsround, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Chronicle and Delia Derbyshire’s iconic Doctor Who Theme before being shut down by Director General John Birt in 1998.

In an edition recorded just as the Workshop prepare to release a new album, and tour the UK, Matthew Sweet brings together Radiophonic Workshop members Dick Mills, Paddy Kingsland, Roger Limb, Peter Howells, and Mark Ayres to reflect on the days and nights they spent in the workshop, coaxing ageing machines into otherworldly life, and pioneering electronic music. Also in the programme, The Prodigy’s Kieron Pepper and Vile Electrodes on the influence the Radiophonic Workshop had on them.

Listen to the BBC Radio 3 programme here:

Taking part in the programme:
Dick Mills
Mark Ayres
Roger Limb
Peter Howell
Paddy Kingsland
Matthew Howden
Kieron Pepper
Vile Electrodes
Steven Price

The 45 @ 65

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Sixty-five years ago RCA Victor launched a small, round, plastic green disc on to the listening public. Journalist David Quantick charts people’s love affair with the 45 rpm single and examines one of the most important revolutions in the modern music business.

The single was always aimed at the younger generation, while the LP originally catered for a middle-aged, middle-class, well-heeled audience. The cheaper 45 took on the poorer, cooler youth market and spun with it. The vinyl single launched rock and roll, pop and the teenager on the world and provided a lynchpin for Western popular culture. It has defined the popular music of last 60 years and shows no signs of dying.

In the first programme, David looks at the war of the speeds and the early, glory days of the vinyl single, which pitted stars like Judy Garland up against Frank Sinatra and then brought audiences Elvis and Bill Haley. All this, set against a brave new world of cheap ‘portable’ record players, exotic new vinyl jukeboxes and the birth of the singles charts.

David also examines the early days of the charts, the effect the single had on that new phenomenon, the teenager, the power the TV Music shows had on the single and the cultural power of the 45, from the revolution of rock and roll to teeny and weeny boppers and glam rock’s children of the revolution.

The series features contributions from Tom Jones, actor Martin Freeman, Myleene Klass, songwriter Diane Warren, musician Soweto Kinch, Bob Stanley from Saint Etienne, Michael Bradley from The Undertones, the Reverend Run, DJ Cosmo, Pete Shelley from The Buzzcocks, Pete Waterman, as well as DJs including Mike Read, David Jensen, Johnnie Walker, Bob Harris, and Bill Brewster Neil Fox amongst others.

Presenter/ David Quantick, Producer/ Anna Harrison and Frank Stirling for Unique Broadcasting

Episode 1

Episode 2

Congrats! Audio Production’s Alice Asbury Wins Excellence Award

Well done from all at LSM to Year 1 Audio Production student Alice Asbury who received the University of Lincoln’s scholarship award.

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Photo from Alice’s mum

The Excellence Scholarship recognised Alice’s outstanding academic achievement. She attained the highest amount of tariff points in one sitting during her BTEC Extended Diploma in Music. Alice’s accomplishment put her in the category of ‘the highest achieving new undergraduate students joining the institution.’

Lincoln School of Media’s Alice was one of nine first year students, from across the University’s Colleges, to get an Excellence Scholarship from the Vice Chancellor Professor Mary Stuart: “Scholarships represents a very special moment for us all here at the University of Lincoln, when we acknowledge the successes of our newest undergraduate students.”

Sound of Cinema – Sound and Fury

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How do sound designers use soundscapes and sound effects to manipulate excitement and emotion in the cinema audience?

As part of the BBC’s Sound of Cinema season, Trevor Cox, Professor of Acoustic Engineering, visits Pinewood studios to meet Glenn Freemantle, Danny Boyle’s sound designer. Freemantle describes the extraordinary lengths he went to in order to re-create the soundscape of a remote desert canyon in the film 127 Hours, so that the cinema audience hears exactly what the climber trapped under a rock for 127 hours hears as he tries to escape. And he shows how to build up the sound in a creepy scene to make the audience feel uneasy.

Trevor Cox also learns how the sound of a futuristic motor bike is created in the latest Judge Dredd film ? how does a sound designer create a sound that is incredibly powerful but also believable?

And there’s a revealing trip to a screening room in central London to experience the very latest technology in the world of cinematic surround sound

The Art Of The Loop

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Most current pop music is created not with live instruments, but from pre-formed, off the shelf chunks of music known as loops. Musician Matthew Herbert explores the art of the loop and the million-dollar industry that has grown up around it, and asks whether it is setting music makers free from the constraints of traditional instruments or killing creativity.

Loops are pre-recorded performances, typically of a solo instrument, and typically 1 or 2 bars long. Looping isn’t new – it started soon after the advent of tape recorders. But recent advances in computer technology and software mean that effects which once needed a full-scale studio costing thousands of pounds can be created for little or no cost on a laptop or even a mobile phone. A CD of loops costing £10 can be used to make a million-selling international hit, but who is the real composer?

Matthew once made an entire album from the sounds of a single pig’s life, so he’s no stranger to the benefits of loops and sampling. He talks to producers, musicians and loop-creators and experiments with technology ancient and modern; he hears from looping’s defenders and detractors and looks into a musical future which he finds fascinating but many find terrifying.

And, along the way, he builds a dance track out of a Radio 4 Continuity announcer.

Produced by Micky Curling
A Folded Wing production for BBC Radio 4

The Rise Of Digital Music

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Interesting piece on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme (27/02/14) featuring George Ergatoudis (Head of Music at Radio 1), Mark Williamson (Director of Artist Services at Spotify) and Paul Brindley (co-founder of MusicAlly).