Flexagon Radio

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Episodes

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01Hugh Aldersey-williams20150721

A series which encourages guests to "think with the heart and feel with the intellect". In this first programme, Murray Lachlan Young invites writer Hugh Aldersey-Williams to combine his favourite sounds and his most passionately held ideas in unexpected ways - by feeding them into an electronic device called 'The Flexagon'.

Murray has not prepared an interview but, instead, he and Hugh respond spontaneously to what the Flexagon returns to them in the form of short audio 'Flexes'. Neither of them knows which of the sounds, music and speech the Flexagon will select, nor how it will combine them. The idea is to throw up connections that might not otherwise have occurred to guests, and to encourage them to think and feel about their concerns and passions in a different way.

Hugh's list of sounds include evocations of a childhood spent in central London listening to Guards bands playing marches on their way to Buckingham Palace, and the children's literature he was read by his American mother. From later life, there's the flocking of coastal birds in Norfolk where he now lives and writes.

These, and Hugh's other sounds, are flexed together with audio suggested by his passion for linking science and the arts, and for breaking down the barriers between the 'Two Cultures' as expressed by C.P. Snow in the year of Hugh's birth.

The unpredictability increases as the Flexagon introduces some audio of its own, drawn from the BBC Radio archives, to create even more unusual associations between apparently disparate material, and to alter perspectives on familiar issues.

Producer: Adam Fowler

An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.

02James Rhodes20150728

A series which encourages guests to "think with the heart and feel with the intellect." In this second programme, Murray Lachlan Young invites concert pianist James Rhodes to combine his favourite sounds and his most passionately held ideas in unexpected ways, by feeding them into an electronic device called 'The Flexagon'.

Murray has not prepared an interview but, instead, he and James respond spontaneously to what the Flexagon returns to them in the form of short audio 'Flexes'. Neither of them knows which of the sounds, music and speech the Flexagon will select, nor how it will combine them. The idea is to throw up connections that might not otherwise have occurred to guests, and to encourage them to think and feel about their concerns and passions in a different way.

The sounds on James' list include the hubbub of concert audiences arriving and chatting before a performance, a Zippo cigarette lighter, the flicking of light switches, and Chopin's Polonaise-Fantaisie. These, and James's other sounds, are flexed together with audio suggested by his passion for music education.

The result is unpredictable but leads to surprising conversation and some unexpected improvisation on the grand piano at which James and Murray sit together in studio.

The unpredictability increases as the Flexagon introduces some audio of its own, drawn from the BBC Radio archives, to create even more unusual associations between apparently disparate material, and to alter perspectives on familiar issues.

Producer: Adam Fowler

An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.

03Marcus Du Sautoy20150804

A series which encourages guests to "think with the heart and feel with the intellect." This week, Murray Lachlan Young invites mathematician Marcus du Sautoy to combine his favourite sounds and his most passionately held ideas in unexpected ways by feeding them into an electronic device called 'The Flexagon'.

Murray has not prepared an interview but, instead, he and Marcus respond spontaneously to what the Flexagon returns to them in the form of short audio 'Flexes'. Neither of them knows which of the sounds, music and speech the Flexagon will select, nor how it will combine them. The idea is to throw up connections that might not have occurred to guests otherwise, and to encourage them to think and feel about their concerns and passions in a different way.

Marcus's sounds include evocations of the moment he discovered his passions for maths and for playing the trumpet, Indian and Ghanaian musical rhythms, and a 1930s speech by a German mathematician ending with the words "Wir müssen wissen. Wir werden wissen." ("We must know. We will know."), which he takes issue with.

These, and Marcus's other sounds, are flexed together with audio suggested by his passion for prime numbers, proofs and contradictions. The result is unpredictable and far ranging, taking Murray and Marcus into areas of doubt, faith, infinity and the possibility of knowing the unknowable.

The unpredictability increases as the Flexagon introduces some audio of its own, drawn from the BBC Radio archives, to create even more unusual associations between apparently disparate material, and to alter perspectives on familiar issues.

Producer: Adam Fowler

An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.

04Diana Quick20150811

A series which encourages guests to "think with the heart and feel with the intellect." In this final programme, Murray Lachlan Young invites actor Diana Quick to combine her favourite sounds and her most passionately held ideas in unexpected ways by feeding them into an electronic device called 'The Flexagon'.

Murray has not prepared an interview but, instead, he and Diana respond spontaneously to what the Flexagon returns to them in the form of short audio 'Flexes'. Neither of them knows which of the sounds, music and speech the Flexagon will select, nor how it will combine them. The idea is to throw up connections that might not have occurred to guests otherwise, and to encourage them to think and feel about their concerns and passions in a different way.

Diana's sounds include an air raid siren, eggs being beaten in a bowl, waves lapping on a Suffolk beach, nightingales singing and foxes barking.

The unpredictability increases as the Flexagon introduces some audio of its own, drawn from the BBC Radio archives using keywords and phrases suggested by Diana as search terms - including the women's movement, nuclear power, honesty and friendship.

This mix of archive creates even more unusual associations between apparently disparate material, and prompts a conversation ranging from dancing pigs and unexpected Indian roots, to the future of feminism and the quest for serenity.

Producer: Adam Fowler

An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.