David Attenborough And The Natural History Of Folk

Episodes

First
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
2014021220140806
20170329 (R2)
19970105 (R4)

Another chance to hear... David Attenborough is renowned for his bringing spectacular nature into the nation's living rooms. But his first television series, broadcast 60 years ago, was quite different - and yet not unrelated. As a young producer Attenborough made 'Song Hunter', six programmes presented by the American folk music collector, Alan Lomax (who had recorded Leadbelly and Jelly Roll Morton) in which traditional musicians from all over Britain and Ireland sang and played.

'Song Hunter' was broadcast live so no longer exists. But Reg Hall saw the programmes on the base where he was doing his National Service. This was a life changing experience and he went on to work with and record several of the musicians featured. Prompted by such recordings, David Attenborough recalls the trials and wonders of the enterprise: how, seeking to book the great Traveller singer Margaret Barry, the production office called police stations throughout Donegal asking them, when next Barry was brought in drunk and disorderly, to let her know there was a ticket to London, a television appearance and a fee ready for her. How Lomax blew the budget bringing half a dozen women from the Hebrides to perform their tweed waulking songs. How he had to battle with BBC bureaucrats for permission to let the musicians drink beer while on the air.

At this time the Corporation was engaged in a great endeavours, the BBC Folk Music and Dialect Recording Scheme. Peter Kennedy, Seamus Ennis, Hamish Henderson and Bob Copper were employed to gather songs, tunes, tales, customs and dialects. They travelled all over Britain and Ireland and recorded 700 people aged from 6 to 96. Some these turned up in 'Song Hunter'.

So Attenborough's career began with folk music. More than this, the way that the material was gathered - searching for, finding, waiting and recording people in their natural environment - has much in common with the way that, to this day, natural history programmes are made.

Some of the personnel and the equipment overlapped. Peter Kennedy did pioneering work recording birdsong with the parabolic microphone he used for recording musicians. The BBC issued LPs of folksong and LPs of birdsong made by the same people, with the same gear, sharing the same office.

David Attenborough recalls those days, as do Bob Copper and Peter Kennedy in previously unbroadcast recordings. Chris Watson, who works with David Attenborough today, considers the parallels of natural history sound recording and the collecting of music. And, to David Attenborough's delight, there is remarkable music by some of the people he first broadcast 60 years ago in 'Song Hunter'.

Producer: Julian May.

Some of the personnel and the equipment overlapped. Peter Kennedy did pioneering work recording birdsong with the parabolic microphone he used for recording musicians. The BBC issued LPs of folksong and LPs of birdsong made by the same people, with the same geaDaviDavid Attenborough and the Natural History of Folk

Genre: Factual

20140212

20140806

57 Minutes

R2

R4

Genome: [r4 Bd=19970105]

speaks for the Week's Good Cause about a charity which promotes the conservation of birds.

DONATIONS TO: British Trust for Ornithology. [address removed]

GENOME:

David Attenborough: My Life in Sound

20131216

In an exclusive interview for Radio 4 David Attenborough talks to Chris Watson about his life in sound.

One of Sir David's first jobs in natural history film making was as a wildlife sound recordist. Recorded in Qatar, David Attenborough is with wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson, there to make a film about a group of birds he is passionate about, The Bird of Paradise. It is in Qatar where the worlds largest captive breeding population is and it is in this setting Chris Watson takes Sir David back to the 1950's and his early recording escapades, right through to today where David Attenborough narrates a series of Tweet of the Day's on Radio 4 across the Christmas and New Year period.

20140119

David Attenborough is renowned for his bringing spectacular nature into the nation's living rooms. But his first television series, broadcast 60 years ago, was quite different - and yet not unrelated. As a young producer Attenborough made 'Song Hunter', six programmes presented by the American folk music collector, Alan Lomax (who had recorded Leadbelly and Jelly Roll Morton) in which traditional musicians from all over Britain and Ireland sang and played.

Producer: Julian May.

'Song Hunter' was broadcast live so no longer exists. But Reg Hall saw the programmes on the base where he was doing his National Service. This was a life changing experience and he went on to work with and record several of the musicians featured. Prompted by such recordings, David Attenborough recalls the trials and wonders of the enterprise: how, seeking to book the great Traveller singer Margaret Barry, the production office called police stations throughout Donegal asking them, when next Barry was brought in drunk and disorderly, to let her know there was a ticket to London, a television appearance and a fee ready for her. How Lomax blew the budget bringing half a dozen women from the Hebrides to perform their tweed waulking songs. How he had to battle with BBC bureaucrats for permission to let the musicians drink beer while on the air.

At this time the Corporation was engaged in a great endeavours, the BBC Folk Music and Dialect Recording Scheme. Peter Kennedy, Seamus Ennis, Hamish Henderson and Bob Copper were employed to gather songs, tunes, tales, customs and dialects. They travelled all over Britain and Ireland and recorded 700 people aged from 6 to 96. Some these turned up in 'Song Hunter'.

David Attenborough recalls those days, as do Bob Copper and Peter Kennedy in previously unbroadcast recordings. Chris Watson, who works with David Attenborough today, considers the parallels of natural history sound recording and the collecting of music. And, to David Attenborough's delight, there is remarkable music by some of the people he first broadcast 60 years ago in 'Song Hunter'.

Producer: Julian May

Another chance to hear... David Attenborough is renowned for his bringing spectacular nature into the nation's living rooms. But his first television series, broadcast 60 years ago, was quite different - and yet not unrelated. As a young producer Attenborough made 'Song Hunter', six programmes presented by the American folk music collector, Alan Lomax (who had recorded Leadbelly and Jelly Roll Morton) in which traditional musicians from all over Britain and Ireland sang and played.

'Song Hunter' was broadcast live so no longer exists. But Reg Hall saw the programmes on the base where he was doing his National Service. This was a life changing experience and he went on to work with and record several of the musicians featured. Prompted by such recordings, David Attenborough recalls the trials and wonders of the enterprise: how, seeking to book the great Traveller singer Margaret Barry, the production office called police stations throughout Donegal asking them, when next Barry was brought in drunk and disorderly, to let her know there was a ticket to London, a television appearance and a fee ready for her. How Lomax blew the budget bringing half a dozen women from the Hebrides to perform their tweed waulking songs. How he had to battle with BBC bureaucrats for permission to let the musicians drink beer while on the air.

At this time the Corporation was engaged in a great endeavours, the BBC Folk Music and Dialect Recording Scheme. Peter Kennedy, Seamus Ennis, Hamish Henderson and Bob Copper were employed to gather songs, tunes, tales, customs and dialects. They travelled all over Britain and Ireland and recorded 700 people aged from 6 to 96. Some these turned up in 'Song Hunter'.

So Attenborough's career began with folk music. More than this, the way that the material was gathered - searching for, finding, waiting and recording people in their natural environment - has much in common with the way that, to this day, natural history programmes are made.

Some of the personnel and the equipment overlapped. Peter Kennedy did pioneering work recording birdsong with the parabolic microphone he used for recording musicians. The BBC issued LPs of folksong and LPs of birdsong made by the same people, with the same gear, sharing the same office.

David Attenborough recalls those days, as do Bob Copper and Peter Kennedy in previously unbroadcast recordings. Chris Watson, who works with David Attenborough today, considers the parallels of natural history sound recording and the collecting of music. And, to David Attenborough's delight, there is remarkable music by some of the people he first broadcast 60 years ago in 'Song Hunter'.

Producer: Julian May.

Nature broadcaster David Attenborough on his early TV work - producing folk music shows.