What will busy streets sound like when cars and lorries are electric? Sound designers are developing vehicle sounds to make them less dangerous. Listen to this Radio 4 Today programme clips to hear some examples:
Blog post by Alex O’Brien – Level 3 Audio Production.
For one of my final year projects I created a soundscape of Lincoln, which was showcased in The Little Red Gallery in the Bailgate. The concept behind this soundscape was to construct a sonic interpretation of 24 hours in Lincoln.
The piece is made up of 3 sections, Cathedral, Town and Evenings. Each section presents the listener with a different part of Lincoln. The recording process was very enjoyable but incredibly time consuming. For the Evening recordings I would often find myself sat in the cold recording traffic and such for hours on end or I would be in the Cathedral for hours at a time, listening closely for interesting sounds as they echoed around the Cathedral walls. I wanted to make sure I had every recording I needed to piece this 25 minute project together so I could layer these sounds up and paint an audio picture of Lincoln.
Having my piece showcased in a gallery was fantastic. Seeing people walk around the space, listening to my piece made me feel as if I had really accomplished something. But also working for a client was a great experience and it has definitely given me confidence in knowing that I can go out and get my work showcased.
Overall, the project process was a great learning curve and I’d love to do another sometime soon.
Listen to Alex’s Soundscape here:
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.
History has left many images that illustrate the destructive legacy of WWI, but there is almost a total absence of recorded sound – particularly from the field of battle.
When musician Stuart Staples from the British band the Tindersticks was asked to compose a soundscape for the war museum at Ypres in Belgium, he said he wanted to create something reflective.
Ahead of next year’s centenary, the Today programme’s Tom Bateman went with him to the location of some of the deadliest battles.
Speaking from the German cemetery Mr Staples explained: “It’s just about the humanity… people in Germany will feel the same as the people in the UK”.
Tindersticks’ new album Across Six Leap Years is out now and In Flanders Field will be released next year.
First broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday 22 October 2013.
Blog post by Senior Lecturer Dr Dean Lockwood.
On Friday 18th October, Mike Harding, founder and supremo of Touch, came to LSM to talk to Audio Production students taking the critical studies module, Auditory Culture. Given that some of the key concerns of the module are debates around the concepts of noise and the soundscape, it was a great opportunity to talk to someone intimately involved with a label which has specialized in promoting artists exploring precisely these areas. As quickly became clear, Touch has a philosophical orientation which propels it way beyond the narrow exigencies of the music industry. Touch has always been conceived as an art project rather than simply a label. Because of its obsessively experimental ethos, it has survived pretty much on its own terms and has never fit well with the complacent mainstream and its genre categories. As Mike explained, Touch was established in the early eighties in the wake of punk. Capitalizing on the energies generated by the so-called ‘New Wave’ independent scene, Touch was a key post-punk project, its first releases heavily involved in early cassette culture and the ‘mixtape’ phenomenon. With cassette magazines such as Feature Mist and Ritual: Magnetic North, Touch presented sophisticated cut-ups and powerful work by bands such as New Order, Einstürzende Neubauten and Cabaret Voltaire, as well as musics from around the world (before such a thing as ‘World Music’ existed). ‘No one ever said no’, which stands as a great testament to the label’s reputation and integrity. Mike took us, in the first part of his talk, through the early history of Touch, spicing things up with personal anecdotes, and in the second part addressed Touch’s present concerns. It is the home of artists such as Christian Fennesz, Bruce Gilbert, Ryoji Ikeda and Chris Watson. Mike played us a good selection of pieces which some of these artists have put out on Touch. These artists have in common, I would suggest, what we might term an ecological sensibility, a particular attention to the relations which comprise acoustic space, sometimes through glitch aesthetics, sometimes through field recordings or other means.
On Saturday 19th, Touch presented two world premieres at Lincoln Cathedral as part of the Frequency festival. The evening, after Mike’s introduction, commenced with Anna Von Hausswolff’s performance of an austere, resonant new score for the organ, titled Källan. Chris Watson and Hildur Guðnadóttir then presented a stunning new collaborative multi-channel sound work, titled Sönghellir (The Cave of Song), which I think captivated everyone present. Touch’s website describes the work as ‘a sound journey from under the waters of Faxafloi, Iceland, alongside some of the largest animals on the planet. Up, onto the lava beach, across the lava fields and reindeer moss to the foot of the snow mountain, Snaefellsnes. The journey continues up and then into the mountain, ending inside Sönghellir, the song cave…’ It was a perfect example of the art of acoustic space that Touch releases exemplify.
A new series of 30 parts started today on Radio 4 – ‘Noise: A Human History of Sound and Listening’, written and presented by David Hendy. This looks to be essential listening for Audio Production students. I especially recommend it to level 1 students – my module at level 2, Auditory Culture, focuses on various aspects of the topic of noise, and this series will be very useful background material to prime you for the module. A book, based on the series, is also now available.
University of Lincoln students who created an audio series about one of the world’s greatest scientists have had their work featured on Radio 4’s Material World.
Students and a recent graduate from the University’s Audio Production course were originally asked to produce an audio tour for The Gravity Fields Festival, which aims to celebrate the legacy of Grantham’s most famous son Sir Isaac Newton.
But the quality of the work is such the science programme Material World used extracts from it to introduce a 15-minute segment on the eight-day festival which took place at the end of September.
The audio, which was also serialised on BBC Radio Lincolnshire, features amateur actors and local schoolchildren and was all recorded on location – including Newton’s birth in the very same room at Woolsthorpe Manor.
Bryan Peter Rudd, the University’s Audio Production programme leader, put the team together following a request from the festival organisers and the BBC.
Bryan said: “This was a fantastic partnership for the University to be involved with. The quality of work produced by the students is absolutely tremendous and they achieved this while working under enormous pressure to very tight deadlines. I am extremely proud of them as they have shown the amazing quality of work our students are capable of.”
Luke Pickering, who recently graduated from the University with a first-class honours degree in audio production, led the student team which consisted of Jake Walker, James Drake and Stephen Bernard.
Luke, 22, who also spent the summer recording live bands, said: “Recording on location was something I hadn’t had much experience in so that aspect was really interesting. Between the four of us it worked smoothly and I’m really pleased with the finished product.”
Jake, 20, added: “It was a fantastic experience. When I told my mum the audio had been played on Radio 4 she was delighted, if I ever got to work on The Archers she’d probably cry. I was a bit scared as we only had a week to put it together but I learned so much which I can apply to future projects.”
Charlie Partridge, Managing Editor of BBC Radio Lincolnshire, involved the University after he was initially approached to produce an audio tour for the festival.
He said: “It soon became clear that it would also be suitable for radio drama. The University has amazing facilities and a great bunch of talented people, which is why I immediately contacted the media department. The students worked fantastically well from our point of view and it was great they had the opportunity to have their work broadcast, not only on local radio but also on Radio 4. I applied a real quality test to the finished product, so it was a real challenge for them. That kind of site specific drama is really difficult to get right but they did. It is in every way a professional recording and is testament to the very talented people both studying and working at the University of Lincoln.”
To listen to the episode of Material World which features excerpts from the radio drama go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01mwzwj from 16 minutes in.
Story by Marie Daniels – PR Officer
Firstly, World Service studio manager Robin The Fog used recordings made in Bush House at night to create The Ghosts of Bush. “Here, atmospheric noises are slowed down and looped, with the help of some of the World Service’s ancient reel-to-reels, to form a piece of beautiful, warm spatial exploration. Chords swell and harmonic patterns emerge out of the building’s crepuscular creaking or Robin’s whistling, using the labyrinthine Portland stone corridors of the building, at one time the most expensive in the world, as a giant reverb tank.” (The Quietus, 2012).
Ludwig Koch was once as famous as David Attenborough, as pioneering as ‘Blue Planet’ and as important as the BBC Natural History Unit. They all owe their existence to this German refugee who first recorded the music of nature. Through his archive and new field recordings the poet Sean Street tells the story of Ludwig Koch.
When Sean Street was recording in a store-room at the Science Museum for a Radio 4 archive programme he came across a grey crate, stencilled, as if it belonged to a band on tour, with KOCH on it. This was the disc-cutting machine which Ludwig Koch used for a decade to make the recordings of birds, mammals and insects that led to a new field of study, of broadcasting and the creation of the BBC’s Natural History Unit.
Sean and his producer then began investigating and discovered that Koch made the first ever wildlife recording, of a bird, when he was eight, in 1889 – and that it still exists in the BBC’s archives.
Koch was an effusive man and this led to several confrontations with Nazi officials, whom he despised. There is an extraordinary recording of him telling the story of a Berliner whose bullfinch sang ‘The Internationale’. He was carted off to prison and the bird ‘executed’. “Under dictatorship,” Koch observed, “even songbirds suffer”. He came to England, worked with Julian Huxley on theories of animal language, and recorded birds from the Scillies to Shetland.
In 1940 he joined the BBC and soon became a household name, beloved of comedians (there’s a great sketch by Peter Sellers parodying him at work) because of his resolute pronunciation of English as if it were German.
As well as being wonderful radio in itself his work was of great significance. It inspired producer Desmond Hawkins to start ‘The Naturalist’, (using Koch’s enchanting recording of a curlew as its signature tune). Sean Street uses his recordings and contributions of those who worked with him in what becomes a natural history programme in itself, with Koch the subject and Sean exploring his habits and habitat.
There is also an attempt to record curlews as he did so successfully, to shed light on the achievements of this courageous, influential and loveable genius. Today sound-recordists use tiny digital machines and sophisticated microphones. But there are other problems – traffic, planes, people – and fewer, shyer curlews.
Listen to the programme here
Producer: Julian May.