Slow Radio

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Burren Cattle Blessing20190104When 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.

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Downtown Nashville, Tennessee20191027Think of the American South and one man-made sound plays out evocatively across the landscape: the horn of a passing freight train. For a century and a half it's been almost synonymous with the idea of America, particularly where the rural blends with the urban. In the city of Nashville, Tennessee - 'music city' - the last century has been accompanied by another signature sound: the honky tonk bar.

In this leisurely half hour, we witness the musical arrival of a freight train as it crosses the public highway into downtown Nashville. The rattle of the tracks and sonorous horn dissolve into the sounds of Broadway, the strip where every premises has windows open onto the street, spilling music out to draw tourists in. And between the bars, buskers plug the gaps.

It takes about half an hour to walk up and down Broadway from the Cumberland River - past honky tonks throbbing with Dolly Parton and Lynyrd Skynyrd covers, street renditions of Louis's Wonderful World and pedal-powered bars pumping out hits for bachelorette parties.

The sounds which compete for our attention within this cacophony provide as vivid a snapshot of contemporary Nashville as the freight train horn that sits so snugly within this cityscape, framing the downtown walk.

Produced by Hannah Dean with recordings by Alan Hall.
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 3.

A stroll down Broadway accompanied by sounds synonymous with the American South.

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From Dadar To The Stars20200223Prix Italia-winning producer Steven Rajam's arresting, intimate, breath-close binaural portrait of the intoxicating city of Mumbai in India.

From a walk through the narrow lanes of Dadar Flower Market as it springs into life in the early hours, to a hair-raising, ear-bending ride on an auto-rickshaw whizzing through traffic; from grandparents frolicking in the ocean surf, to the twilight hum of Bollywood blaring from inside of every taxi; hawkers by the sea, the roaring swell of commuters at Chhatrapaji Shivaji Terminus... and the frenzied joy of the Ganpati Visarjen (Ganesh Festival).

This is an aural trip like no other.

--

We begin at 3am - perhaps the only few short moments this city truly sleeps, with only the hum of electric lights and an arid breeze for company. Our first destination comes into focus: Dadar Flower Market - one of the largest on earth. Vast bundles of every bloom imaginable arrive and are tossed from high platforms - accompanied by yells and cries as they’re ferried to stalls, and sellers begin their patter. As the sun rises, we're whisked to Mumbai’s main train station, Chhatrapaji Shivaji Terminus, as it too sparks into life. Tannoy announcements in Marathi, English and Hindi pepper the preternatural calm as gradually, great diesel juggernaut huff and puff in... and tens of thousands of commuters huff, puff and rush out.

It's time to escape - via a hair-raising journey by tuk-tuk - to the “Gateway of India ?, Mumbai's harbour. Mid-morning, beside the sea, and commuters of a different kind - fishermen returning home - are bringing in their boats as tourists gawp and snap and are hawked at. A brief moment of repose in the back of a taxi is broken by the surreal and vivid sounds of local FM radio - complete with a swooning Bollywood soundtrack - as we arrive at Mumbai's beach, Chowpatty Gurgaon: a place where canoodling lovers rub shoulders with chattering pensioners, businessmen in suits weave past yelping children flying kites - all set to the thrum of sweepers on the boardwalk and the pulsing waves of the Indian Ocean.

Finally, as the sun goes down, we join the crowds filling every street in the city to celebrate the annual Ganpati Visarjen (Ganesh Festival) - immersed in the visceral sonic thrill of pulsating massed drums and celebration all around, as our journey ends. [Credit: "Indian Ganpati Drums" by loganbking @ Freesound.org (CC BY 3.0)]

Producer: Steven Rajam
An Overcoat Media production for BBC Radio 3

An intimate, breath-close binaural portrait of the intoxicating Indian city of Mumbai.

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

It's time to escape - via a hair-raising journey by tuk-tuk - to the “Gateway of India”, Mumbai's harbour. Mid-morning, beside the sea, and commuters of a different kind - fishermen returning home - are bringing in their boats as tourists gawp and snap and are hawked at. A brief moment of repose in the back of a taxi is broken by the surreal and vivid sounds of local FM radio - complete with a swooning Bollywood soundtrack - as we arrive at Mumbai's beach, Chowpatty Gurgaon: a place where canoodling lovers rub shoulders with chattering pensioners, businessmen in suits weave past yelping children flying kites - all set to the thrum of sweepers on the boardwalk and the pulsing waves of the Indian Ocean.

I Have Walked By Sweet Streams2019020820200423 (R3)A dawn chorus and poetry from Snowdonia

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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

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. ?

I Have Walked by Sweet Streams2019020820200423 (R3)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

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

If you go down to the woods tonight20200329Have you ever wondered what goes bump in the woods at night?

Hugh Huddy discovers the night-time soundscape of a woodland in Suffolk by placing a binaural recording box in a tree and leaving it there overnight. Listening back to the recording, the secret life of the dark woods slowly reveals itself.

Producer: Cathy Robinson for BBC Wales

Hugh Huddy places a recording box in a tree and discovers the secrets of a wood at night.

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Midnight At The Oasis20181207Kalahari 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

Dawn to Dusk in the Kalahari Desert - a timelapse recorded by Chris Watson.

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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 singing with musicians in the Sussex woods at night.

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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...

Nightingales2018050720180506 (R3)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...

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

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.
(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.

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.

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

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

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

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

Penguins v Seals - Tristan da Cunha2020100520201004 (R3)With extraordinary close-up recordings of his life as a vet, the bird population, the wildlife, the sea and the shore, veterinarian Joe Hollins brings his time on the island of Tristan da Cunha to the ears of the Slow Radio listener.

Joe has recorded over 20 hours of close encounters with wild life and domestic animals, and this Slow Radio piece will take the chance to really zoom in on the incredible richness of sounds which he has recorded here over six months.

This is one of the most unique locations for untamed wild life and birds and this has enabled Joe to get right in there among the penguins, the seals, and the sea birds that cover the cliffs. He is also present at every part of the farmer's life - sawing the over grown horns of the sheep, birthing calves, and helping with the milking.

The landscape itself is as rich a sound terrain - from getting on and off the tiny boats, and fishing vessels, scrabbling down the cliffs or into the heart of the volcano itself.

This will be one of those rare things - an animal paradise for the ears.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall

Music from
Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys
Imaginary Songs From Tristan da Cunha by Deathprod

Wildlife in your ears from the world's most remote island community - Tristan da Cunha.

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Rain on a Hot Tin Roof20200322Is there any sound as cosy as the sound of rain on a tin roof? The delicious feeling of being both in the middle of weather, but protected from it.
Take away the chill of northern climes, make sure you are close to the metal roof, and you get to hear the very essence of acoustic excitement; a rhythmic patterning that fills the air with excitement.
I've long been collecting sounds of rain on tin roofs; tin sheds under attack from the monsoons of Liberia; an unrelenting downpour on an open porch in a nutmeg plantation in Indonesia; a shanty boat in Tennessee under the full force of a lightning storm; a preacher exhorting his congregation to rejoice in the joys of God’s gift of rain , in the midst of an almost deafening roar of rain,

Lay back, let the radio’s magic shelter you from the storm.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall

Drench yourself in an acoustic downpour.

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Seals And Selkie Folk20200216Writer and poet Susan Richardson invites us to a seal-pupping beach on the Pembrokeshire coast; a world that has inspired tales of shape-shifting selkie folk and mermaids.

We stand above a cove. The air is filled with the haunting cries of the grey seals below us, and a soap opera of their lives unfolds. Through the human-sounding calls of the pups, the grunts and splashes of the bull seals as they are looking to mate again, and the sea birds and lapping water, we're immersed in the sonic world of one of the most remarkable coastlines of Britain. Susan considers the mythical stories around the creatures through poetry and her own observations, the ways their lives have intertwined with human ones, and the ecological threats they face in reality.

Produced by Cathy Robinson for BBC Cymru Wales

The haunting cries of grey seals in Pembrokeshire and tales of selkie folk.

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Slow Radio: Music, Life And Dementia20171015Music binds together the voices of people living with dementias.

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Sound Of Changes2018100520181004 (R3)Composer Iain Chambers creates a radiophonic sequence from the huge recording archive of the pan-EU Sounds of Changes project, a collaboration between 6 major European museums to document the huge change within our acoustic landscape.

In this new work, Iain sets up dialogues between the sounds of obsolete industrial technology employed in manufacturing, communications, transport and agriculture, along with domestic sounds from bygone eras.

Iain has worked with this sound archive for a number of years. His hoerspiel for Westdeutscher Rundfunk, 'The Eccentric Press', was a finalist in the 2016 Prix Palma Ars Acustica.

Here, the recordings are presented unmodified, in a through-composed, meditative sequence. We hear weaving looms giving way to typewriters; ticket-printing machines and foundries; obsolete computers and stationary steam engines. These previously-familiar, now long-forgotten sounds transport us back in time, evoking memories, and sometimes demanding consideration as quasi-musical material.

When our era is described to our ancestors, the pace of change will surely rival the industrial revolution. Sound of Changes documents this rapid change, as witnessed by the huge change in the acoustic landscape.

Cast list:

Tower clocks
Quartz clock ticking
Spirit duplicator
Manual cardboard cutter machine
Paper–cutting scissors
Card duplicating machine
Wall clock
Fire department bell
Lynotype line casting machine
Typographical printing machine
Trip hammer
Buttonhole machine
Ticket printing machine
Tumble-wash
Tug boat
Weaving machine
Braiding machine
Shuttle loom
Threshing with hand flails
Sawmill crankwheel
Angel chimes
Automatic telephones
Alarm clock
Pencil sharpener
Camera shutter release
Portable typewriters
Mechanical calculator
Cash register
Horizontal gang saw
Wire weaving loom
Stationary engine
Horizontal milling machine
Loom
Kessel sharpening machine
Floating mill, water wheel
Link bending machine
Pursemaker

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

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

Thames20191215Field recordist Ian Rawes embarks on a journey in sound along the Thames from Tower Bridge to the North Sea.

It begins inside the north bascule chamber of Tower Bridge, a brick-lined void where we hear the descent and raising of a huge counterweight.

Next we hear the wash of passing boats at an old coal jetty in Greenwich, then the clattering of flagpoles in the wind at the mouth of the Royal Albert Dock. Since the recording was made, the flagpoles have been removed during the Dock's redevelopment into a marina surrounded by new housing. Further east, there are the bangs and pops of a clay pigeon range on the Dartford Marshes heard from across the river. They're among the last audible survivors of the river's gunpowder age of wildfowling and cannon batteries.

The river matures into an estuary at the start of Sea Reach by Canvey Island, where repeated blasts of an oil refinery's siren make a vast and mournful noise. Pigeons coo and scuffle in a derelict building on the Kent shore as a prelude to the abundant sounds of wild fowl and insects on the Allhallows Marshes on a bright summer's afternoon.

Waves lap quietly at the shore before night falls, then a marsh frogs' chorus joins the deep hum of container ships passing to and from the deepwater docks at Tilbury. Along the estuary the sounds of nature are always intermingled with those of industry and transport, perhaps prophetic of the future of the natural world in general.

The journey ends at low tide on the Maplin Sands in Essex, a quiet wasteland of puddles and worm casts stretching to the horizon.
Producer: Ian Rawes
Executive Producer: Iain Chambers
An Open Audio production for BBC Radio 3

A journey along the Thames from Tower Bridge to the North Sea by field recordist Ian Rawes

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The Cathedral2019040420190405
20200426 (R3)
The evocative sounds of Durham Cathedral recorded across a single day.

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The evocative sounds of Durham Cathedral recorded in a single day. Huge spaces in a remarkable 12th-century building, the 300-year-old bells and quiet moments in smaller spaces.

We spent a whole day recording sounds from early morning when the cathedral is opened up at 7.00 am; the contemplative early morning spoken service; visitors to the huge nave of the cathedral; quieter moments in the smaller spaces of cathedral cloisters; the magnificent bells calling the congregation to prayer; the bustle of the cafe at lunchtime; the cathedral choir and organ; and the cathedral settling back down again to silence as it's locked up again at the end of the day.

The Cathedral2019040520200426 (R3)The evocative sounds of Durham Cathedral recorded in a single day. Huge spaces in a remarkable 12th-century building, the 300-year-old bells and quiet moments in smaller spaces.

We spent a whole day recording sounds from early morning when the cathedral is opened up at 7.00 am; the contemplative early morning spoken service; visitors to the huge nave of the cathedral; quieter moments in the smaller spaces of cathedral cloisters; the magnificent bells calling the congregation to prayer; the bustle of the cafe at lunchtime; the cathedral choir and organ; and the cathedral settling back down again to silence as it's locked up again at the end of the day.

The evocative sounds of Durham Cathedral recorded across a single day.

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The Flying Scotsman20200531An evocative and immersive journey on the Flying Scotsman from Manchester to Carlisle.

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The Flying Scotsman20200531We take a journey back in time to recreate the golden age of steam, travelling on the Flying Scotsman from Manchester to Carlisle. We have privileged access to the footplate of this iconic engine which weighs 100 tonnes and is nearly 100 years old. We hear coal being shovelled from the tender into the crackling fire, and the driver operating the train as it speeds along the track at up to 60 miles an hour. The train stops for water and we hear the chatter of the crew. We take a take an almost cinematic journey inside the moving train from carriage to carriage with snatches of the voices of passengers as we go. And we follow a waitress as she collects plates from diners on the train and takes them to the galley kitchen where fine food is prepared. We end our journey in Carlisle where our driver signs off before handing over to another driver for the return journey.

An evocative and immersive journey on the Flying Scotsman from Manchester to Carlisle.

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The Halyards Of Woodbridge20200503Iain Chambers records musical sounds along the river Deben amongst birdsong and boats.

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The Halyards of Woodbridge20200503Woodbridge in Suffolk is well known for its major Anglo-Saxon archaeological sites, including Sutton Hoo, burial site of Raedwald, the most powerful king of 7th-century England.

The town, bordered by the River Deben, has had a reputation as a centre for boat-building, rope-making and sail-making since the Middle Ages, with Francis Drake having ships built here.

But what caught composer Iain Chambers's attention on a recent visit was the striking sound of the halyards of the many boats moored in Woodbridge boatyard. Audible from the platforms of the train station, when heard up-close they create a bewitching collage of pitches and rhythms. These rhythms are constantly in flux, as different boat masts interact with each other, played by the wind.

This Slow Radio episode takes us from the boatyard in Woodbridge, along the River Deben towards Melton and back again. Alongside field recordings of the estuary’s curlews, dunlin, plover, redshank, avocets, lapwings, and sandpipers, we venture into a hidden sonic world made possible by contact microphones. These recordings allow us to hear the wind as a character itself, playing the taut halyards of boats, or exciting the large wire fences that border the river.

We hear the halyards pitched down, the patterns resembling a less clangorous relative of British church bell change-ringing, the pitches closer to Tibetan singing bowls.

Composed and produced by Iain Chambers
Recordings by Iain Chambers and Lisa Heledd Jones
An Open Audio production for BBC Radio 3

Iain Chambers records musical sounds along the river Deben amongst birdsong and boats.

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

The Last Oozings - Cider Making In Somerset20191222Britain has lost 90% of its traditional orchards. So, seven years ago the villagers of Haselbury Plucknett planted a Somerset orchard: 35 cider apple trees, all old varieties with names as gorgeous as their colours - Kingston Black, Sweet Crimson King, Slack-me-Girdle.

"Make sure a rainbow goes into your cider barrel," says Matthew Bryant, filling his bucket with windfalls.

In the tin shed at the back of his house Bryant, the cider expert and author James Crowden and friends gather to turn apples into cider, in the slow old way - and Radio 3 gathers all the sounds of the process. Apples drum as they pour into an ancient apple mill. Someone cranks the wheel and crushed apples splatter out as pomace.

Matthew and James layer straw on the cider press, built in about 1850. They spread the pomace on the straw adding layers to build the 'cheese'. As the crew screws down the beam, apple juice gushes. They wind it up again. Matthew takes a huge knife, cuts the splayed sides of the crushed cheese, placing the trimmings on top. The pressing begins again, the torrent of juice subsides until it drips like raindrops from a thatched roof. John Keats witnessed this 200 years ago. In To Autumn he writes: "Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,/ Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours."

The juice goes straight into the barrels. "Just leave it," Matthew says. "The natural yeasts will work their wonders. As it ferments, it fizzes and hisses. When that singing has stopped, it's time to bung the barrel."

The cider will be drinkable by new year, but it's best left until you hear the cuckoo in the spring. "What's wonderful," says Matthew , "is that that's when the trees are coming into blossom, and the whole thing is starting again."

Producer: Julian May

All the different sounds as Matthew Bryant turns apples to cider in the slow old way.

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The Last Songs Of Gaia20200628Sounds of animals and ecosystems under threat.

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The Last Songs Of Gaia20200628Sounds of animals and ecosystems under threat: Australian butcherbirds, Estonian forests and Amazonian ants.

As ecosystems collapse, a frightening number of species are falling silent. In a new series on Radio 4, The Last Songs of Gaia, Verity Sharp listens to how musicians and sound artists are responding. This edition of Slow Radio gives you the chance to immerse yourself in some of the featured soundscapes.

Composer and ornithologist Hollis Taylor spends months at a time recording at night in the Australian outback, surviving sinister encounters with pythons and ne’er-do-wells to capture the magical clarion-call of the pied butcherbird, whose endlessly inventive song has been much reduced in recent years of drought.

Jez Riley-French revels in exploring and revealing what is usually hidden to the human ear. His work includes the sounds of glaciers melting and mountains dissolving; here, he presents an extract from ‘ink botanic', an attempt to track the journey of certain tree varieties. It includes the creaking of spruce, pines and aspens in Estonia, recordings of the inside of branches and of roots taking in water in East Yorkshire, and a clearance fire in Australia.

Percussionist and composer Lisa Schonberg has a background in entomology and has worked in the Amazon recording and researching the sounds that ants make. Her soundscape invites us to experience the Amazonian ecosystem from the ants’ perspective - they chatter and stridulate in the foreground, with sounds of lawn machinery and machetes merging with the other wildlife in the reserve on the edge of Manaus.

Produced by Chris Elcombe
A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 3.

Sounds of animals and ecosystems under threat.

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

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

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. 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.

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

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

'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?

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.

Producer: Julian May

Three Gardens In Trinidad20190308Radio 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.

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

Walking Through Time20181102The 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

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

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