The week’s guest lecture was by Bill Brewster AKA DJHistory.
Bill is a passionate music fan and in his entertaining and inspiring talk he described how he has managed to make a living from the thing he loves – music.
Describing himself primarily as a record collector, Bill has worked as a journalist (which took him to New York and Geneva for two years), a DJ, a record company owner, a music producer, an A&R person, a record compiler, a liner notes writer, a music consultant, a website owner and an author (Bill’s book Last Night A DJ Saved My Life is the bible of club and DJ culture).
The audience for Bill’s talk was level 3 Audio Production students who will be looking for ways in which to turn their passion (be it radio, music or film-sound) into a sustainable living in the not too-distant future.
For me, what Bill represents, is how versatility, hard work and a love of your subject can create opportunities and, if you’re ready to respond, how one opportunity can lead to another.
Next year Bill is working on a project with legendary record producer and Chic main-man Nile Rodgers. Not bad for a lad from Grimsby!
The closure of Bush House, home to the BBC World Service since December 1940, has provoked two wonderful soundscape projects.
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.
Curiously, the word silent is an anagram of the word listen! In this edition of Something Understood the poet Seán Street reflects upon what can be heard in silence and the difference in its nature from stillness – the difference, perhaps, between doing and being.
Using poetry, prose and music, as well as some extracts of innovative international radio, Seán explores the positive and negative aspects of the subject, the ‘magic silence of possibility’, the peace and calm it brings in a noisy world, the silence of loneliness, alienation – and when keeping silent is sometimes tantamount to complicity. ‘The words “Silent” and “Listen” are anagrams of one another,’ says Seán. ‘That is perhaps very significant. I want to explore as far as I can the poetry that lies in silence, the point where sound and silence come together, as in the tolling of a bell, the place matter and spirit merge.’
With reference to the words of Rupert Brooke, John Berger and Rachel Muers and music by John Cage, Bob Chilcott, Jonathan Harvey, Erberhard Weber, Pink Floyd and Miles Davis.
Listen to the programme here
Produced by Alan Hall
A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4
Cultural commentator Paul Morley explores a history of popular music through some of the iconic recording studios in which classic albums were created.
Without them music as we know it would simply not exist. At its most basic, there’d be no technology to capture the sounds envisaged by the musicians and created and enhanced by the engineers and producers… and there’d be no music for the record companies to market and distribute. But more than that, the studios actually played a crucial part in the structure and fabric of the music recorded there – the sounds enhanced by the studio space itself… the potential and shortcomings of the equipment and technology housed in the cubicles… and the ability and ‘vision’ of the engineers and producers operating it all to find the new sound that makes the recordings sound different and fresh.
In the final programme of the series Paul Morley ventures to West London and one of the last major studio complexes to be built in the heyday of the music industry. But without an exalted musical history to fall back on and decades of experience to help run it, how do you go about creating a world-class facility frequented by the likes of Amy Winehouse, Mick Jagger and Rihanna… and how do you keep it going when all around you are closing their doors?
Cultural commentator Paul Morley explores a history of popular music through some of the iconic recording studios in which classic albums were created.
Without them music as we know it would simply not exist. There’d be no technology to capture the sounds envisaged by the musicians and created and enhanced by the engineers and producers… and there’d be no music for the record companies to market and distribute. But more than that, the studios actually played a crucial part in the structure and fabric of the music recorded there – the sounds enhanced by the studio space itself… the potential and shortcomings of the equipment and technology housed in the cubicles… and the ability and ‘vision’ of the engineers and producers operating it all to find the new sound that makes the recordings sound different and fresh.
Today he visits the world’s first purpose built recording studio, and possibly the most famous: the one at No 3, Abbey Road, a stone’s throw from a much photographed zebra crossing in London’s St John’s Wood. Opened by Sir Edward Elgar conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in a recording of “Land Of Hope And Glory”, the studios went on to record everyone from Adam Ant, The Bolshoi and Nick Cave… to XTC, Diana Yakawa and the Zombies – to say nothing of Pink Floyd and the Beatles.
But that’s not what’s drawn Paul Morley to these historic recording rooms – it’s the continuing work in capturing the sound of orchestras that is put under the spotlight in this programme. With the help of engineers and producers, composers and those that keep the studios running on a day to day basis, Paul explores how the relationship classical music has with the recording studio differs from the one that pop music enjoys.
“I’m just going to give a heads up that we’re going to wrap it up, …it’s almost time to go, we’re off. A couple more months of us and then it’s someone else’s turn to have a go.” (Chris Moyles on-air 11-7-12)
Yesterday (11th July) saw a major milestone in BBC Radio Broadcasting, in the form of the ritual that is the changing of the guard at the helm of the most listened to time-slot on UK Radio – The Breakfast Show, more specifically Radio One’s breakfast show. The reason – BBC wishes to bring down the average age of Radio One’s audience to 15-29.
Chris Moyles has been Radio One’s DJ at breakfast for years. Most students attending University will have grown up with him. Moyles has won awards, outraged people, increased ratings, climbed mountains for charity, gained weight, lost weight, spoken his mind and generally enjoyed great freedom as he lived out his dream. I have been struck by the amount of debate for and against Chris Moyles – (so much so that one of my own posts on the subject was deleted by a detractor, such is the strength of feeling held by some) He has been praised as ‘the most successful breakfast show host”, and Gary Barlow even wrote a parody song about Mr Moyles ‘The greatest DJ in the World?” http://youtu.be/1Ewaq9cmhLY
I have only met Chris Moyles once, (more of which later) but like millions of other people I feel that I know him well. Each morning on the way to work it was a ritual for me . Radio 4 until ‘thought for the day’ then switch over to find out what Chris Moyles and his ‘ZOO RADIO’ team, Aled, Tina, Comedy Dave, Dominic Byrne, were up to. Often they would spend ages just chatting and discussing topics of the day – occasionally even playing a record or two! People would ‘turn-up’, like the time a breathless Will.i.am brought round a USB stick with a temp mix of ‘This is love“.
I would argue, that to really understand Moyles, you have to listen over a reasonable length of time.
I don’t necessarily like Chris Moyles, he can be incredibly annoying, but he was also entertaining. He is also very proficient in ‘driving’ a radio desk. (backed up by a very efficient team no doubt) but he is a master at talking up to the vocal line, or matching beats, and reacting rapidly live on air, calling up tracks from the now completely digitised music and jingle library. When he actually played tracks I often liked the music he played. Moyles is a bit like Marmite – I can tolerate it, sometimes I really like it, but sometimes I just don’t want any!
You will certainly be hard pushed to find people sitting on the fence in their opinions of him. Radio One’s Ben Cooper described him as: “Quite simply he’s been the most successful breakfast show host in Radio 1 history.” – others find Moyles “utterly vile”, and “a nasty piece of work”
The breakfast slot is seen as key to audiences and image at Radio Stations. People listen driving to work, on the tube, on their phones and at home whilst burning the toast. It’s the slot that gets the nation going in the morning.
Not that Radio One gets the most listeners at that time in the morning. That award goes to BBC Radio 2, and another Chris, EVANS. In the period January to March 2012, Chris Evans Breakfast show scored weekly ratings of 9.23 million listeners against Radio One’s current incumbant Chris Moyles’s 7.1 Million. The other major player is that stalwart of speech radio the Today programme which averages about 6.1 million.
In an On-Air ‘announcement’ (listen here http://youtu.be/L–bVB8QU7M) Chris Moyles revealed to his listeners that he will be leaving Radio One’s morning slot in October after over 8 years at the helm.
Nick Grimshaw was later announced as the new Breakfast show host – and Chris moyles lost no time in playing a trick on Grimshaw, inviting him into the studio this morning (Thursday 12th July – and then leaving him totally alone in the studio without warning!
During his time in office, Moyles has seen the audience for Radio One in the morning rise from the doldrums, and remain high for several years – though now there are signs that Radio audiences are falling with the rise of streaming music services and other outlets.
Moyles has the record for the longest continuous radio show, he has climbed Kilimanjaro with other celebrities for Comic Relief, he has broadcast from various parts of the globe, as well as Hackney, London !! (The Hackney Weekend – community event ) Over the years hundreds if not thousands of incidents have occurred, which all have contributed to peoples feelings about Moyles. He can seem arrogant, but also has a considerate side and can read the mood of the nation well. Two examples display the paradox:
On Tuesday September 11th 2001, the terrorist attacks in America occurred just before Chris was due to go on the air at 3pm UK time. A decision was made not to do the usual show. Instead, Chris played non stop music, interrupted only by regular Newsbeat updates from Claire Bradley. He was wildly praised for his handling of the situation. The next three shows were much the same – featuring emails from listeners, stories from eye witnesses.
(taken from http://chrismoyles.net/teamchris.shtml )
In February 2002, Chris also got himself into hot water with the Broadcasting Standards Commission, when he offered to take Charlotte Church’s virginity on the day she turned 16. The complaints were upheld and Moyles forced to apologise. Despite this, Charlotte has made several subsequent appearances on the show, with Chris even presenting his Christmas Day show live from her mums pub in 2005.
Moyles’s home town is Leeds, where I spent three years in the mid 1980’s. During his departure speech he commented on how getting to the Radio One breakfast slot was a childhood dream. He certainly has worked his way up through a vast array of local radio stations, and I admire the way a Leeds boy made it to the big time – always good to see the seemingly Southern bias being challenged.
Rod McPhee writing yesterday in the Yorkshire Evening Post :
when he first arrived at Radio 1 in 1997 it marked a definitive end of an era of radio where Smashy and Nicey DJs still lingered. He almost sounded like a bloke who’d wandered in off the street and found himself thrust in front of a microphone. That was his gift though. It took a lot of skill and experience to sound that natural. You only have to listen to some presenters on some local radio shows (and some presenters on other Radio 1 shows) to realise just how smooth Moyles really is.”
( http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/lifestyle/columnists/rod-mcphee-chris-moyles-love-or-hate-him-you-have-to-rate-him-1-4730770 )
He has a reputation for brashness. Nicholas Lezard write in the Independent:
“I listened to his show the day after the broadcast. To my surprise, Moyles was humility itself, and barely referred to his award, preferring instead to play some great music and make some splendid topical jokes. Ha! Just kidding. He talked about almost nothing else for the first 21 minutes and 14 seconds of the show, by which time someone whispered into his ear and reminded him that Radio 1 was a music station, not a speech station. I had my smugometer to hand, to be scientific, but it exploded.”
( http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/chris-moyles-radio-1-830193.html )
Rod McPhee again :
“Moyles has always given the impression of being a sensitive soul, a reactive personality who takes things personally. Of course, he only gives a hint of this through occasional outbursts, but it’s there all the same. Which is why he’s not only one of the most successful DJs of the last decade but also one of the most interesting. He certainly seems to have more layers than his replacement, Primmie Hill It-kid Nick Grimshaw. Complete with standard issue bouffant and skinny jeans, he’s just a generic clone of modern youth.”
“…we should celebrate him in Leeds. Sure he’s never allowed his Loiner heart to bleed across the pages of newspapers and magazines, but that’s preferable to other stars who love to use their gritty, northern roots to cynically promote themselves.
Truth is, Leeds is a little better off for boasting Moyles in its alumni, and, laud or loathe him, Radio 1’s certainly a lot worse off for losing him”
Changing the breakfast presenter is generational thing at Radio One.
Samira Ahmed writing in The Guardian in November 2011 wrote:
“Radio 1’s dilemma is encapsulated in the totemic persona of its breakfast show presenter, Chris Moyles. Chris Evans’s spiritual heir, Moyles joined Radio 1 in the late 90s and has recently signed a new contract with the station. Now 37, the enfant terrible’s frequent alleged homophobic comments have seen him censured by Ofcom (in 2009) and “warned” by the Radio 1 controller, but, with his valuable ratings, always protected by management. (The new controller, incidentally, is Moyles’s former producer, Ben Cooper).
Whatever you think of him, and there have been plenty of critics, Moyles could be seen to represent what’s happened to adulthood – the phenomenon of extended middle youth, says Garfield, pointing to the demographic of rock festivals. A thirtysomething today is comparable in what they listen to, how they live and consume and how they regard themselves, to a twentysomething a generation ago.”
love or loathe him, we may be in for a quieter time at breakfast on Radio One for a while – my prediction is that ratings will fall under Grimshaw, then a new replacement will be sought, and that person may well become as infamous as Moyles, but it could take several years.
Oh and that meeting I had with Moyles? Well it was in the stairwell at Broadcasting House. I nodded at him and I think he muttered “eorgh” or similar. I don’t remember I was too busy looking at Mariella Frostrup walking down the stairs. Now there’s a radio personality!
CHRIS HAINSTOCK 2012
there is a sound archive of some of Chris Moyles radio shows here
what are your thought s on Chris Moyles and his legacy? –
Chris Bowlby profiles Ralf Hutter, the only founding member left of the German electronic band Kraftwerk. Coming from an obscure industrial background, Kraftwerk first formed in 1970, and are now credited with being hugely influential on a host of musicians and on music of diverse types, including electronic, hip hop, house and drum and bass.
Notoriously uncommunicative with the outside world, Kraftwerk used to only have a fax machine as a point of contact at their studio though Ralf Hutter says even that has now gone.
Krafwerk have just completed a major series of concerts in New York and are promising that they will be releasing a new album “very soon” – the first in nearly a decade.
An out-take from the rushes of a documentary currently in production here at University of Lincoln, called ‘A Boatload of Wild Irishmen‘. Due to be screened at Galway Film Festival 2010. (Editor Chris Hainstock, Written by Prof Brian Winston, of our faculty)
Here Cinematographer Ricky Leacock (interviewed at Lincoln University) recalls a tale of when he went to film a performance of an unfinished work by Prokofiev. In 1937 the Russian authorities had banned Prokofiev from working on the project at the time. Prokofiev died in 1953.
Much later in the 1980’s Ricky used a rather unorthodox technique to get the best sound he could using early Digital Camcorders, to make a film of a new performance of this unfinished work in Siberia, alongside Conductor Sarah Cornwell (who found the manuscript in Prokofievs handwriting) and Victoria Leacock’s daughter.
Ricky had spent his life working on film 16 and 35mm. In his early career, sound was recorded on acetate discs, and sent back to the labs, where it was transferred to film.
See this clip \Sound took weeks to come back\
He witnessed over the years the changing face of sync sound recording. He went on to teach at MIT in New York.