In a new thirty-part series for BBC Radio 4, Noise: A Human History, the story of our relationship with sound over the last 100,000 years is explored by David Hendy, Professor of Media and Communication at the University of Sussex.
In the series, which he made in conjunction with The British Library Sound Archive, Professor Hendy takes us from the caves in which prehistoric paintings were found where the echoes were strongest, to ancient Rome, and its babble, to pre-revolutionary Paris, where noisy cats were massacred, to the terrifying battles of World War I, and brings us right up-to-date, with a programme about how we cope with the cacophony of noises in the modern world.
The series of 15 minute programmes began on 18 March, and airs at 13.45 on weekdays. All thirty programmes are available via the website for some considerable time. Here, in brief, are the contents of the first twelve programmes:
‘Echoes in the Dark’, 1/30, 18 March
David Hendy begins his 30-part series in the prehistoric cave.
‘The Beat of Drums’, 2/30, 19 March
Humans have found many ways to communicate. David goes to Ghana to hear the talking drum.
‘The Singing Wilderness’, 3/30, 20 March
David listens to ‘The Singing Wilderness’.
‘A Ritual Soundscape’, 4/30, 21 March
David listens to ancient sounds in Orkney’s Ring of Brodgar.
‘The Rise of the Shamans’, 5/30, 22 March
David explains why sound is central to the shaman’s power.
‘Epic Tales’, 6/30, 25 March
David discovers how epic tales were remembered and passed down.
‘Persuasion’, 7/30, 26 March
Prof. Hendy explores the power of the orator.
‘Babble’, 8/30, 27 March
David Hendy listens to the babble of ancient Rome.
‘The Roaring Crowd’, 9/30, 28 March
David considers the visceral impact of a stadium full of noisy humans.
‘The Ecstatic Underground’, 10/30, 29 March
David eavesdrops on the private lives of early Christians.
‘The Bells’, 11/30, 1 April
David explores how the sound of the bell carries religion out into the world.
‘Tuning the Body’, 12/30, 2 April
Prof. Hendy on the role of sound in medieval morality.