150 Years of Lost Audio Revisited

Share Article

Bournemouth University’s Professor of Radio Sean Street presents a special edition of Archive on 4 where he explores the forgotten treasures of the British Library’s Sound Conservation Centre.

Professor Sean Street from Bournemouth University

Professor Sean Street from Bournemouth University

The very existence of the Sound Archive recognises that we are at last coming to realise that sound recordings of the past 150 years are every bit as important as historical documents.

Bournemouth University’s Professor of Radio Sean Street presents a special edition of Archive on 4 where he explores the forgotten treasures of the British Library’s Sound Conservation Centre.

“The very existence of the Sound Archive recognises that we are at last coming to realise that sound recordings of the past 150 years are every bit as important as historical documents, ancient papyrus manuscripts and other precious artefacts,” said Professor Street.

Although the Sound Archive has existed for many years, the Conservation Centre is a relatively new addition to the British Library and, according to Professor Street, ‘there truly is something for every student, scholar and academic’.

It houses a wide a range of recordings, including popular music, world and traditional music, socio-linguistics, classical music history, natural history, oral history, radio, drama and literature.

Recent users of the facility include the actor Robert Lindsay, famed for his role in ‘My Family’. Robert recorded an audio book of an unpublished manuscript by Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He told Professor Street that no one except British Library staff had ever even seen the document that would soon be made available as a commercial recording.

It is this kind of audio gem that demonstrates the true value of the Centre. But when asked which piece of sound he considered the greatest in the collection Professor Street answered: “That’s too big a question! Just listen to the programme, it is so rich and varied.”

He added: “The Radio 4 programme does end on what for me is an unforgettably poignant note... A recording of a bird, the last of its species, made in the Philipines. The bird's mate had been killed in a hurricane shortly before the recording, and here he is, calling out to her, not knowing that he is now completely alone in the world. So when that bird died, there were no more of his species on earth. It's a bit like hearing the call of the Dodo I suppose.”

Archive on 4: Wall of Sound will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday 26 March at 8pm. It will be repeated on 28 March.

Another of Professor Street’s programmes from 2009, called "Ludwig Koch and the Music of Nature" will be repeated on Radio 4 on at 11.30am on Thursday 31 March. Ludwig Koch was the father of natural history sound recording, and was responsible for the first known recording of a bird, made in 1896.

Notes to Editors:
1.    BU is the UK’s Number One New University (first place among all institutions that became universities since 1992) according to The Guardian University Guide 2009 & 2010. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education)
2.    In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) BU is the fourth most improved university in the UK for the quality of its research (according to Times Higher Education).

BU Press Office: Tel: (01202) 963963 e-mail: press(at)bournemouth(dot)ac(dot)uk

http://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/news

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Sally Gates
Visit website