Noise - A Human History - Omnibus

Episodes

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0120130322

A six-week series made in collaboration with the British Library Sound Archive.

Professor David Hendy from the University of Sussex visits the caves of Arcy-sur-Cure in Burgundy with musicologist Iegor Reznikoff to listen to evidence of the mind and beliefs of Neolithic people.

He travels to Ghana to hear the talking drum and explores our relationship with noisy nature.

Orkney's Neolithic sites feel like theatre stages, encouraging us to move through them in unfamiliar ways. Were these the kind of places where our ancestors came to make a spectacular din - or places where they came in search of silence and sensory deprivation?

Finally, David explains how sound - and its manipulation - is central to the shaman's power.

Series Producer: Matt Thompson

A Rockethouse production for BBC Radio 4.

0220130329

Omnibus edition of the second week of David Hendy's series, with the sounds of ancient Rome.

As the Roman empire grew, the city at its heart sucked in exotic goods, tastes, smells, colours, and - of course - sounds from all around the world. Professor David Hendy of the University of Sussex asks what we would have heard if we'd visited the city in its heyday and walked its streets.

He travels to one of history's great amphitheatres - the ruins of the Roman Colosseum - to explain the power of the noisy crowd: how it showed approval and what happened when it was displeased. And he explores the ecstatic soundscapes of underground house churches in ancient Rome.

Also, from Cicero to Martin Luther King, over the centuries, great orators have changed our minds, given us hope, and sent us to the barricades. David reveals their rhetorical tricks, and explains why President Obama's sharp ear for dialogue is one of his greatest assets as a speaker.

Noise: a Human History is a six week series made in collaboration with the British Library Sound Archive.

Series producer: Matt Thompson.

A Rockethouse production for BBC Radio 4.

0320130405

David Hendy continues his six-week series on the history of sound.

0420130412

An omnibus edition of episodes from the fourth week of a six-week series made in collaboration with the British Library Sound Archive.

Settlers arriving in America in the 17th century decreed the songs and sounds of native American Indians to be barbaric and wild - bloodcurdling hollering that might presage the most brutal of deaths. Professor David Hendy of the University of Sussex explores the colonial politics of sound.

He also squeezes among the crowded narrow alleys or 'wynds' of 18th Century tenement buildings in Edinburgh and explains how a similar cramped conditions in Paris led to a surreal and brutal massacre of cats.

David eavesdrops on the whispers, gossip and scandal of the eighteenth century house, and tells the salacious tale of John Burt, a navy captain from Canterbury, who took his young wife Harriet to court for impropriety - on the evidence of his cook.

This week also includes the soundscapes of slavery, and of civil conflict in 18th century Paris and 19th century America.

Signature tune composed by Joe Acheson.

Produced by Matt Thompson

A Rockethouse production for BBC Radio 4.

0520130419

Omnibus edition of the episodes from week five of a six week series made in collaboration with the British Library Sound Archive.

Henry David Thoreau is one of history's great listeners. His classic work Walden is dense with descriptions of the natural sounds he discovered when he swapped his Concord home for a simple cabin in the woods. But his peace was disturbed by a noise that presaged the age to come: the snort of the iron horse.

Professor David Hendy of the University of Sussex explains how the sounds of nature gave way before the industrial din.

As cities grew, next-door's noise became increasingly hard to escape. David follows the writer Thomas Carlyle's grumpy attempts at soundproofing, before travelling to New York to imagine the teaming, noisy world of the Lower East Side tenements in the early twentieth century.

We also discover the story of medicine's listening revolution - the stethoscope - and find out about the first attempts to use technology to turn ephemeral sounds into something captured permanently. David Hendy introduces bottled moments from the past, including the voices of Robert Browning and Florence Nightingale and 9/11 answerphone messages.

Signature tune composed by Joe Acheson.

Producer: Matt Thompson

A Rockethouse production for BBC Radio 4.

06 LAST20130426

Omnibus edition of the episodes from the final week of a six-week series made in collaboration with the British Library Sound Archive.

The rumble of artillery bombardment in Northern France could be heard as far away as Kent during the First World War. Up close in the trenches, soldiers experienced a sonic onslaught that continued night and day: howling shells, the machine gun's rattle, and the screams of injured men. Professor David Hendy of the University of Sussex visits Flanders to relay echoes from the Front.

He also explores the early days of radio and the seductive power of the disembodied voice, coming out of thin air from hundreds of miles away. In time, the radio became a trusted part of family life - and by the 1930s and 40s, the perfect medium for propaganda, as Joseph Goebbels recognized.

The programme also considers how music has been used to soothe us, cheer us, and make us productive over the past hundred years - and includes extremely rare recordings of wartime episodes of the much-loved BBC series, Music While You Work.

Next, David travels to Ghana's capital, Accra, a city so loud that visitors describe its streets as a visceral shock, and introduces an elegiac recording of the wild soundscape we've lost, captured by the celebrated naturalist, Bernie Krause.

And finally, he considers the modern quest for quiet. In the noisy modern world, silence has become an ever more desirable - and fashionable - state. We read books about it, go on retreats to find it, and soundproof our living and working spaces in its name. But when we have it is it what we want?

Is is actually a little noise that really makes us humans happy.

Signature tune composed by Joe Acheson.

Producer: Matt Thompson

A Rockethouse production for BBC Radio 4.