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 July 05, 2020, 10:30 pm


The Last Oozings - Cider Making in Somerset

December 22, 2019 • 32m

Britain has lost 90% of its traditional orchards. So, seven years ago the villagers of Haselbury Plucknett planted a Somerset orchard: 35 cider apple trees, all old varieties with names as gorgeous as their colours - Kingston Black, Sweet Crimson King, Slack-me-Girdle. "Make sure a rainbow goes into your cider barrel," says Matthew Bryant, filling his bucket with windfalls. In the tin shed at the back of his house Bryant, the cider expert and author James Crowden and friends gather to turn apples into cider, in the slow old way - and Radio 3 gathers all the sounds of the process. Apples drum as they pour into an ancient apple mill. Someone cranks the wheel and crushed apples splatter out as pomace. Matthew and James layer straw on the cider press, built in about 1850. They spread the pomace on the straw adding layers to build the 'cheese'. As the crew screws down the beam, apple juice gushes. They wind it up again. Matthew takes a huge knife, cuts the splayed sides of the crushed cheese, placing the trimmings on top. The pressing begins again, the torrent of juice subsides until it drips like raindrops from a thatched roof. John Keats witnessed this 200 years ago. In To Autumn he writes: "Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,/ Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours." The juice goes straight into the barrels. "Just leave it," Matthew says. "The natural yeasts will work their wonders. As it ferments, it fizzes and hisses. When that singing has stopped, it's time to bung the barrel." The cider will be drinkable by new year, but it's best left until you hear the cuckoo in the spring. "What's wonderful," says Matthew , "is that that's when the trees are coming into blossom, and the whole thing is starting again." Producer: Julian May





Last Songs of Gaia

June 28, 2020 • 31m

As ecosystems collapse, a frightening number of species are falling silent. In a new series on Radio 4, The Last Songs of Gaia, Verity Sharp listens to how musicians and sound artists are responding. This edition of Slow Radio gives you the chance to immerse yourself in some of the featured soundscapes. Composer and ornithologist Hollis Taylor spends months at a time recording at night in the Australian outback, surviving sinister encounters with pythons and ne’er-do-wells to capture the magical clarion-call of the pied butcherbird, whose endlessly inventive song has been much reduced in recent years of drought. Jez Riley-French revels in exploring and revealing what is usually hidden to the human ear. His work includes the sounds of glaciers melting and mountains dissolving; here, he presents an extract from ‘ink botanic', an attempt to track the journey of certain tree varieties. It includes the creaking of spruce, pines and aspens in Estonia, recordings of the inside of branches and of roots taking in water in East Yorkshire, and a clearance fire in Australia. Percussionist and composer Lisa Schonberg has a background in entomology and has worked in the Amazon recording and researching the sounds that ants make. Her soundscape invites us to experience the Amazonian ecosystem from the ants’ perspective - they chatter and stridulate in the foreground, with sounds of lawn machinery and machetes merging with the other wildlife in the reserve on the edge of Manaus.





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