Slow Radio

by BBC Radio 3


average length





An antidote to today’s frenzied world. Step back, let go, immerse yourself: it’s time to go slow.A lo-fi celebration of pure sound.

Best Slow Radio episodes upvoted by the community

Last updated on March 30, 2020, 11:00 pm


Slow Radio - The Water's Music

May 21, 2019 • 32m

Slow Radio for Radio 3's Along the River week. Musician Tim Shaw and producer Julian May collaborate with a Northumbrian burn to create a piece - The Water's Music 'He made his habitation beside the water's music'. This line, from a poem by Martyn Crucefix, lodged in the mind of radio producer Julian May, inspiring an ambition - to collaborate with a brook to create a composition. By moving rocks and logs might the sounds of the stream be adjusted, 'tuned', and might a piece of music slowly emerge? Tim Shaw is a sound artist and musician based in Newcastle. After auditioning several he finds a musical burn on a moor in Northumberland. He and Julian May record the sounds it makes, from the tiny tinkling trickle near its source to its disappearance under a bridge of resonant drainpipes, via niagarous waterfalls and sombre pools. They intervene, building a ladder of rocks to create a chord as the water flows down. They use hydrophonic microphones, recording underwater to capture the music of the burn from its bed. They tie these hydrophones to bits of wood, letting them drift downstream as 'sound pooh-sticks'. There is life here; in a pool by the burn they record strange pings, the sounds of tiny aquatic creatures. Sploshing about in chest high waders they stretch a rod across the burn with microphones attached at intervals along it. Recording first one, then another they create stepping stones - in sound. In the first part of the programme Tim and Julian gather the sounds and explain what they are up to. They then present the composition they (mostly Tim, the musician) make out of this, a piece in three movements for Northumbrian burn, rocks, logs, hail and aquatic beasts, a piece of slow radio -'The Water's Music'. Producer: Julian May Sound Artist: Tim Shaw





Orford Ness - a post-apocalyptic walk

June 05, 2019 • 32m

Composer Iain Chambers takes a sound recording field trip around Orford Ness in Suffolk. This site – an isolated shingle spit on the Suffolk coast – once played a key role in the UK's development of radar and ballistics. Since buying Orford Ness from the Ministry of Defence in 1993, the National Trust's policy has been one of 'managed decline' – these buildings are now overrun by nature. The excitement felt by Bletchley Park's wartime codebreakers was once felt here too: Britain's greatest scientific brains; 400 civilians; the unacknowledged thousands of Chinese migrant workers, were solving a singular puzzle: how to build a nuclear weapon. Bomb-making justified as deterrence. Today, Orford Ness gives an insight into what a post-apocalyptic built environment might look and sound like. Air ducts once used to ventilate missile laboratories now burst open, exposing the packed nests of roosting birds. This programme takes listeners into buildings that are otherwise out of bounds, revealing the abundant wildlife now ruling the roost in the bomb ballistics buildings – we hear seagulls 'playing' the buildings with their cries; bees and skylarks; baby jackdaws duetting with the crunch of gravel footsteps; external metal stairwells transformed into aeolian harps: giant wind chimes peacefully intoning their pentatonic melodies towards the slow-moving vessels on the horizon. Producer: Iain Chambers An Open Audio production for BBC Radio 3