The Longplayer Conversation: How do we Save our Sounds?

Longplayer Conversation

How do we connect with the sounds of the past if they are going extinct themselves? Save our Sounds will enable the future generations to experience the entire collection.

Save our Sounds

Imagine 6.5 million sound recordings gone in a flash. As we move into the digitised future the National Sound Archive, in a preserved collection at the British Library, runs the risk of vanishing due to format obsolescence.

To get an idea of how vast the collection is, the sound recordings date back to the the 1880s up until present day including sounds from the environment, music, speech and wildlife.

However many are making strides to transfer the sound recordists’ data to new formats that can be saved for years to come. Namely, the British Library. They have put together a programme called Save our Sounds.

In 2015, the British Library raised funding to put together a plan of action which would involve the whole of the UK. Today, the British Library is partnering with other institutions across the UK in 10 regional locations to create a national preservation network. Throughout the community they are raising awareness through the Save our Sounds campaign, where they are hosting events with key sound recordists in the industry.

British Library hosts The Longplayer Conversation

This week we had the pleasure of attending one of the events hosted by the British Library. What better way can you celebrate the work of sound recordists in the field than attending The Longplayer Conversation with Chris Watson and David Attenborough? We were impressed by their experience and tactic as sound recordists. The part of the discussion that we found fascinating was about parabolic sound cones and how Watson, being precise as he is, would lower a lavalier mic into a termite mound to capture the audio of termites deep below ground.

Longplayer is a musical composition by Jem Finer that will play for 1000 years without stopping. Every moment of the piece is unique, never playing the same thing twice. Longplayer Trust has made this free to the public can now be heard at lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf, as well as streamed online. There is even a dedicated app!

How to get involved

As you‘ve read above, the need is great, but together we can see that the Sound Archive remains a piece of history everyone can enjoy.

If you’d like to donate to Save our Sound you can do so by following this link.

Or send an email to sound-archive@bl.uk discussing how your organisation can help preserve the sound archive.


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