Slow Radio

Tune in, drop out. It's time to go slow

Episodes

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Burren Cattle Blessing20190104

When Winter comes most hill farmers take their cattle off the high ground and place them in sheds until Spring. Geology allows them to do things a little differently on the Burren. In County Clare on the west coast of Ireland, the Burren is a flower-rich limestone plateau. In Summer the rock absorbs the heat and, like a giant night storage heater, it radiates the warmth out in the Winter. That makes life pretty agreeable for the region’s beef cattle. Each year the season to move the cattle is marked by a festival. The local priest sprinkles holy water on their coats and a chosen farmer walks his pregnant cows up the green road to the mountain grazing, followed by hundreds of locals and tourists eager to see the delighted leaping of the cattle as they reach the fresh grazing of their Winter home.

The sounds of the cattle treading a route travelled for hundreds of years provide a relaxing half hour that will transport you to the beauty and tranquillity of Ireland’s west coast.

Producer: Alasdair Cross

Thanks to farmer, Timmy Linnane and to the Burrenbeo Trust

Bliss out to the sound of a herd of contented cattle being walked to their winter grazing.

I Have Walked By Sweet Streams20190208

The slow build of a midsummer dawn chorus in Snowdonia, North Wales, interwoven with the sounds of the brooks, streams, and rivers that creep through the hillsides down to the lake by the village: this programme is a tribute to the landscape and past poets of the heart of Snowdonia.

An isolated farmhouse near Trawsfynydd was the birthplace of the iconic Welsh shepherd-poet Hedd Wyn. But there were hundreds more like him in this mountainous corner of Wales: the sons and daughters of tenant farmers, artisans and workers, who left school at 14 but were nurtured by the community, the chapel and the eisteddfod system, and emerged as writers skilled in the craft of strict metre poetry.

They left behind englynion – short poems in restricted syllables (like haiku), that often describe the landscape. Punctuating the serene Trawsfynydd soundscape, we intersperse englynion, by poets from the area, hearing them first in Welsh, and then in English. The poems, written a century ago and further back, draw on ancient traditions, and distil visual images into gems. Hedd Wyn’s most admired is translated as: “I have walked by sweet streams in the nervous wind of the hill pastures, the sunlight a white arm about the old neck of the mountains. ?

The impression is of a landscape haunted and re-populated by the poets that were moved during their lifetimes to write about their extraordinary surroundings – land they often worked hard on and tended themselves, and knew intimately.

With readings by poet and musician Gwyneth Glyn

A dawn chorus and poetry from Snowdonia

They left behind englynion – short poems in restricted syllables (like haiku), that often describe the landscape. Punctuating the serene Trawsfynydd soundscape, we intersperse englynion, by poets from the area, hearing them first in Welsh, and then in English. The poems, written a century ago and further back, draw on ancient traditions, and distil visual images into gems. Hedd Wyn’s most admired is translated as: “I have walked by sweet streams in the nervous wind of the hill pastures, the sunlight a white arm about the old neck of the mountains.”

Midnight At The Oasis20181207

Kalahari means ‘large thirst’ in the local language and between November and February summer temperatures can reach well over 40 degrees centigrade. To avoid the dry desiccating heat much of the wildlife has adopted nocturnal habits. Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson captures the changing soundscape from dusk to dawn, when you can see very little but hear everything; from the close up sounds of insects to the far-carrying contact calls of spotted hyenas. Producer Sarah Blunt

Nightingale Nocturne2018050720190608
20180506 (R3)

A rare chance to hear nightingales singing, with musicians responding to them, in the Sussex woods. This is a Slow Radio experience, immersing the listener in the magical sound of this special songbird's nocturnal serenades. They are joined under the trees by Clive Bell playing Japanese bamboo flute, and by folk singer Sam Lee.
This field recording was made in collaboration with Sam Lee, who hosts Singing With Nightingales events every Spring at secret woodland locations in Southern England.

Nightingales And Musicians In The Sussex Woods

A rare chance to hear nightingales singing, with musicians responding to them, in the Sussex woods. This is a Slow Radio experience, immersing the listener in the magical sound of this special songbird's nocturnal serenades. They are joined under the trees by Clive Bell playing Japanese bamboo flute, and by folk singer Sam Lee.

This field recording was made in collaboration with Sam Lee, who hosts Singing With Nightingales events every spring at secret woodland locations in southern England.

Musicians recorded in the Sussex woods one night in April play music with nightingales.

A magical late night listening experience - six musicians go into the Sussex woods to play nocturnal music with the nightingales, who gather there to sing at night each Spring. The soloists taking turns to respond musically to the nightingales are Clive Bell (Japanese bamboo flute); Laura Moody (cello and vocal); Sam Amidon, (violin and vocal), John Baily (rubab) with Veronica Doubleday (frame drum and vocal) ,and Sam Lee (vocal & harmonium). The entire programme takes place in the woods, recorded on one night in April. Verity Sharp presents, leading the listener into the wild nocturnal environment and describing the atmosphere, and folk singer and outdoorsman Sam Lee will explain the migratory behaviour of the birds, the character of their songs, and the habitats that they favour for singing.
This is a Slow Radio experience, immersing the listener in the remarkable and magical experience of the nocturnal songs of nightingales. They are rarely to be heard in England today, but this programme will lead your ears into one of the woods where they still migrate every Spring, to sing through the night.
And who knows what other sounds may be captured on the night - a fox bark, an owl hoot, frogs calling, the wind in the branches...

Night-time at the Zoo2019070520190704 (R3)

Slow Radio: Dusk to dawn at the Isle of Wight Zoo

On the beautiful Sandown Beach on the Isle of Wight stands a historic fort, now home to the Isle of Wight Zoo. It is run by the Wildheart Trust, which promotes the survival of endangered species, and is well known as a centre for rescued big cats who, along with pocket sized primates and other even smaller animals have a starring role in this portrayal of the sounds of the zoo. The programme moves from dusk, as the animals prepare for sleep, through the small hours of the night, when the silence is punctuated by the sound of snoring, to dawn and the beginning of a new day.
(The music is from the Symphonia Domestica, which Richard Strauss worked at while on holiday in Sandown in the early years of the last century, staying at a hotel just a few hundred yards from the zoo.)

Slow Radio: Night-time at the Zoo

Tune in, drop out. It's time to go slow.

Night-time At The Zoo2019070520190704 (R3)

Slow Radio: Dusk to dawn at the Isle of Wight Zoo.

On the beautiful Sandown Beach on the Isle of Wight stands a historic fort, now home to the Isle of Wight Zoo. It is run by the Wildheart Trust, which promotes the survival of endangered species, and is well known as a centre for rescued big cats who, along with pocket-sized primates and other even smaller animals have a starring role in this portrayal of the sounds of the zoo. The programme moves from dusk, as the animals prepare for sleep, through the small hours of the night, when the silence is punctuated by the sound of snoring, to dawn and the beginning of a new day.

Orford Ness - A Post-apocalyptic Walk2019060720190606 (R3)

Composer Iain Chambers takes a sound recording field trip around Orford Ness in Suffolk.

This site – an isolated shingle spit on the Suffolk coast – once played a key role in the UK's development of radar and ballistics. Since buying Orford Ness from the Ministry of Defence in 1993, the National Trust's policy has been one of 'managed decline' – these buildings are now overrun by nature.

The excitement felt by Bletchley Park's wartime codebreakers was once felt here too: Britain's greatest scientific brains; 400 civilians; the unacknowledged thousands of Chinese migrant workers, were solving a singular puzzle: how to build a nuclear weapon. Bomb-making justified as deterrence.

Today, Orford Ness gives an insight into what a post-apocalyptic built environment might look and sound like. Air ducts once used to ventilate missile laboratories now burst open, exposing the packed nests of roosting birds.

This programme takes listeners into buildings that are otherwise out of bounds, revealing the abundant wildlife now ruling the roost in the bomb ballistics buildings – we hear seagulls 'playing' the buildings with their cries; bees and skylarks; baby jackdaws duetting with the crunch of gravel footsteps; external metal stairwells transformed into aeolian harps: giant wind chimes peacefully intoning their pentatonic melodies towards the slow-moving vessels on the horizon.

Producer: Iain Chambers
An Open Audio production for BBC Radio 3

Sound Of Changes2018100520181004 (R3)

A sequence of industrial and domestic sounds from across Europe by composer Iain Chambers

The Cathedral2019040420190405
The Water's Music, A Piece Made Entirely From The Sounds Of A Northumbrian Burn2019051720190516 (R3)

'He made his habitation beside the water's music'. This line, from a poem by Martyn Crucefix, lodged in the mind of radio producer Julian May, inspiring an ambition - to collaborate with a brook to create a composition. By moving rocks, pebbles, sticks that drift downstream might the sounds of the stream be adjusted, 'tuned' and might a piece of music slowly emerge?

Tim Shaw is a sound artist and musician based in Newcastle. After auditioning several he finds a musical burn on a moor in Northumberland. He and Julian May record the sounds it makes, from the tiny tinkling trickle near its source to its disappearance under a bridge of resonant drainpipes, via niagarous waterfalls and sombre pools.

They intervene, building a ladder of rocks to create a chord as the water flows down. This is dry stone wall country so Julian builds a small one across the burn while Tim records the changes it makes to the sounds.

They use hydrophonic microphones, recording underwater to capture the music of the burn from its bed. They tie these to bits of wood, letting them drift downstream as 'sound pooh-sticks'. There is life here; in a pool by the burn they record strange pings, the sounds of tiny aquatic creatures. Sploshing about on chest high waders they stretch a rod across the burn with microphones attached at intervals along it. Recording first one, then another they create stepping stones - in sound.

In the first part of the programme Tim and Julian gather the sounds and explain what they are up to. They then present the composition they (mostly Tim, the musician) make out of this, a piece in three movements for Northumbrian burn, rocks, logs, hail and aquatic beasts, a piece of slow radio -'The Water's Music'.

Producer: Julian May

A musical collaboration between sound artist, radio producer and a burn in Northumberland

Slow Radio for Radio 3's Along the River week. Musician Tim Shaw and producer Julian May collaborate with a Northumbrian burn to create a piece - The Water's Music

'He made his habitation beside the water's music'. This line, from a poem by Martyn Crucefix, lodged in the mind of radio producer Julian May, inspiring an ambition - to collaborate with a brook to create a composition. By moving rocks and logs might the sounds of the stream be adjusted, 'tuned', and might a piece of music slowly emerge?

They intervene, building a ladder of rocks to create a chord as the water flows down. They use hydrophonic microphones, recording underwater to capture the music of the burn from its bed. They tie these hydrophones to bits of wood, letting them drift downstream as 'sound pooh-sticks'. There is life here; in a pool by the burn they record strange pings, the sounds of tiny aquatic creatures. Sploshing about in chest high waders they stretch a rod across the burn with microphones attached at intervals along it. Recording first one, then another they create stepping stones - in sound.

Producer: Julian May

Three Gardens In Trinidad20190308

Radio 3 transports listeners to Trinidad, just off the coast of Venezuela, immersing them in the sounds of the Caribbean island, with writer and actor Elisha Efua Bartels as a guide.

Through the sounds of three Port-of Spain gardens - her home by the river in Diego Martin, a garden in the lush valleys of St Ann’s, to a house up in the hills, Elisha reflects on the rich tropical sounds of the island. Frogs, hummingbirds, parrots and occasional rainfall form a slowly shifting, vivid soundscape. We pass through cycles of warm sunshine, then heavy tropical rain, each change reflected in the types of calls we hear from the birdlife and frogs. These aren’t rarefied idylls though - on a warm evening parrots noisily flock through, disturbing the peace. Sometimes a radio or the sound of a party drifts up from the valley below; dogs bark, cockerels crow.

Elisha describes the extent to which she’s both sustained by, and living at the mercy of, the wildlife around her – the parrots so loud she can’t hear the TV, the frogs soothing her to sleep at night - and how the sounds evoke a strong sense of 'home' for her.

A gentle journey through the sounds of Trinidad with Elisha Efua Bartels.

Walking Through Time20181102

Journeying through tolling, ticking, chiming, striking, whirring corridors of clocks.

The corridors of Upton House resonate with the sound of one of the largest collections of clocks in the country, hundreds of beautiful tolling, chiming, ticking masterpieces.

With the nights drawing in and leaves falling, this is a meditation on and an immersion in, the passing of time.

Starting in the library, the only silent room in the stately home, Dawn Barnes takes us on an acoustically-led journey through corridors of time, from the slow ticking of an ancient longcase clock to the ethereal chiming of a pocket watch.

Each clock makes a distinctive song of its own: the rustic ticking of lantern clock, the gossamer movement of a skeleton clock, the leisurely metallic descent of a rolling ball clock.

It's a serene voyage through changing fashions, duties, tastes and tones.

Led by the new sounds, we journey through the clunking, clicking energy of the electric clock room, pass by the early speaking clocks onto a heaving corridor of turret clocks being wound.

The programme builds as Dawn approaches the vaulted grand hall of the Museum of Timekeeping, crossing the gallery landing of hollow chimes, through striking and pealing, whirring and descending, until she reaches the crescendo of the midnight chimes.

Producer: Sarah Bowen