Episodes

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Istanbul's Factory Of Tears2019061820190622 (R4)

Writer Isobel Finkel takes us to Istanbul, where art and censorship are never too far apart. The state’s attempts to protect citizens from illicit sounds have taken absurd forms over the years, from the banning of all Turkish-language music from the radio in the early 30s to more recent attempts to control and interfere with Arabesk, the kitsch and mournful soundtrack of the 70s and 80s which was excluded from the radio even while it was so popular it made up for three-quarters of the country's record sales.

We travel to the IMC, a vast modernist complex in the heart of Istanbul's old city that once formed a production line for Arabesk; a community unto itself where agents, record producers and record shops all crowded in on top of one another. Musicians seeking to make their name in Turkey of the 70s and 80s would turn up and audition on the steps of the IMC, where they found fame, fortune and official censure.

Isobel interviews producers, fans and stars of the genre to find out what the state was so troubled by - and speaks to a new generation of musicians who are rediscovering and reworking these once-forbidden sounds in today's Istanbul.

Presenter: Isobel Finkel
Producer: David Waters

An SPG production for BBC Radio 4

In Istanbul, Isobel Finkel explores the kitsch, melancholy, forbidden music of Arabesk.

Documentary strand looking at contemporary art movements across the globe.

Migraine2019062520190629 (R4)

Sound artist Alice Trueman writes a specially commissioned musical score to explore migraine attacks and their possible link to creativity.

Attempts to describe migraine have been made in visual arts and literature but here, for the first time, Alice Trueman creates a piece of sonic art - a musical evocation that unlocks the nature of the attack. A migraineur herself, Alice's music underscores the sensory disorientation and sense of altered reality experienced by many sufferers during a migraine, initiating non-sufferers into this other-worldly experience.

Central to the soundscape are the first hand experiences of migraine sufferers celebrated for their creative work, including artist JJ Ignatious Brennan, writer Lydia Ruffles and sculptor David Stephenson. While none welcome the migraine muse, some acknowledge its role in their creativity – a possibility that is explored with expert neurologist and historian of medicine, Dr Mark Weatherall.

Migraines are often described as an "invisible illness", taking place entirely within the sufferer's own private sensory sphere. Art of Now: Migraine brings these experiences out of the sufferer’s darkened room and into the open for all to understand.

Musicians:
Jude Rees - Woodwind and Saxophone
Alice Trueman - Violin
Joe Geoghan - Guitar

Composer: Alice Trueman
Producer: Anna Scott-Brown

An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4

Exploring migraine and creativity through a specially commissioned musical score.

Documentary strand looking at contemporary art movements across the globe.

Music Of The Kaka'i20190620

Farhad al-Kake shares the secret music of his ancient Kurdish religion, which is central to their faith but makes the Kaka’i a target for Islamic extremists in their homeland of Iraq.

Centuries of persecution have made the Kaka’i people of Iraq secretive about their faith. They believe they are the oldest religion in the world, and music is important to their worship. Many of their holy songs are thousands of years old, passed down from generation to generation, and are never played in public. In fact, the music of the Kaka’i has rarely been heard outside their community in Iraq before.

For the first time, in this programme, the Kaka’i share their rich musical heritage – music which some risk their lives to play.

Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the rise of Islamic extremism that followed, the Kaka’i have faced growing persecution from Muslim militants who believe their peaceful religion to be a false cult. They also believe music is "haram", or forbidden.

What’s more, in the Kaka’i religion, men and women are equal, and woman play music alongside men – making them even more of a target.

The Kaka’i are finally revealing their lives to the world in an attempt to thwart the risk of genocide.

Recorded on location in Kurdistan, with religious leader Farhad al-Kake as our guide, we’ll hear music from a secret past, and meet the musicians who preserve it, despite the risk to their lives.

Producer: Eve Streeter
A Greenpoint production for BBC Radio 4

Hear the secret, ancient music the Kaka'i people of Iraq risk their lives to play.

Documentary strand looking at contemporary art movements across the globe.

The Return Of Voguing2019041620190715 (R4)

Clara Amfo assesses the rise of voguing in the UK, a dance form with its origins among queer, mostly black and Latino people in the Harlem ballroom scene. Voguing is currently having a resurgence in popularity thanks to shows like Pose, Top 40 artists using the dance form in their music videos and live performances, and the current political climate.

Clara seeks out key players from the UK scene past and present, takes a lesson in some of the different vogue styles, and attends a ball where people are pulling incredible shapes, competing, and flaunting their outfits.

She also discovers a highly politicised subculture of deep importance - even a lifeline - to some members of the LGBTQ community.

Contributors include:
Jay Jay Revlon - dancer, activist and event organiser
Les Child - choreographer and founder of the House of Child
Roy Brown (aka Roy INC) - performer and first member of the House of Child
Darren Suarez - artistic director and founder of the House of Suarez
Marc Thompson - social activist and mentor

A Wisebuddah production for BBC Radio 4

Clara Amfo looks at the UK voguing scene, a unique subculture currently in the spotlight.

Documentary strand looking at contemporary art movements across the globe.