Season of Sound at the British Library

Season of Sound at the British Library

Friday 6 October to Saturday 11 March

The British Library delves into its sound archive which includes over 6.5 million recordings of speech, music, wildlife and the environment. Accompanying the exhibition will be a programme of events that will explore over 140 years of recorded sound since the invention of the phonograph in 1877. 

Running in the Library’s temporary exhibition space until 11 March 2018, the exhibition will reflect on the importance of radio, recording and sound on our lives and cultural heritage.  On display will be an eclectic mix of sounds from the archive, some of them for the first time, alongside rarely seen records, players and recorders.

Steve Cleary, Lead Curator of Literary and Creative Recordings at the British Library, said of the exhibition: "The British Library has always been known as the home of the nation’s words, but visitors may not be aware that we are home to the nation’s sounds, too. We’re delighted to be opening up our sound archive with this Season of Sound, as part of our ongoing work to preserve and allow access to the nation’s sound heritage."

Season of Sound events:

Happy Hour: Listening Pleasures on a Friday Evening

Fridays from 6 October 17.00 – 18.00. Free / Entrance Hall.
Be transported to a rainforest, revisit musical treasures or experience rare recordings for the first time, played in hi-fidelity through Bowers & Wilkins Sound System, all within the Library's Entrance Hall. Guest selectors will open your ears and mind in these regular Friday evening sound experiences. See our website for the full programme.

Stories of Silence and Sound: Bella Bathurst and Erling Kagge
Friday 6 October 19.00 – 20.30. £10 / £8 / £7 / Knowledge Centre.
How does it feel to spend 50 days in silence? Do we ever really experience a true absence of sound? What can deafness teach us? Join writer Bella Bathurst and explorer Erling Kagge as they discuss our emotional relationship with sound, noise and silence; the need for them and the desire to escape them.

Late at the Library: The Radiophonic Workshop and Guests
Friday 13 October 19.30 – 23.00. £22 / £20 / £18 / Entrance Hall. 
As the in-house composers of music and effects for the BBC, the Radiophonic Workshop created the sonic backdrops for Doctor WhoThe Hitchhikers Guide to the GalaxyTomorrow’s World and countless others, and are hugely influential. Now they’re back, performing classic material as well as new album Burials in Several Earths with special guest Martyn Ware (Heaven 17, Human League) with visuals by DFuse and guset DJ Tom Middleton.

Soundhouses: The Radiophonic Workshop at 60
Friday 13 October 18.30 – 19.45. £25 / Knowledge Centre.
The inside story of the electronic production house. Ticket price includes entrance to the Late event.

Super Sonic: A Day of Audio Adventures
Saturday 25 November 10.00 – 18.30. £22 / £20 / £18 / Knowledge Centre.
A one-day mini festival delving into the world of recorded sound. From the earliest days of radio to cutting edge BBC technology, via turntables, record-your-own audio booths and illicit records from Soviet Russia. 

Late at the Library: Sonic Boom
Saturday 25 November 19.30 – 23.00. 
£15 / £12 / £10 / Entrance Hall.
A night of aural delights on the Bowers & Wilkins Sound System. DJs and attractions to be announced soon: keep an eye on the Library website for details.

Sounds at the British Library: Meet the Curators
Monday 27 November 13.00 – 14.30. Free but ticket required / Knowledge Centre.
Music, voices, and the natural world: the British Library is home to over 6.5 million sound recordings made over 140 years. Get an insight into the collection at this free event and hear how Library plans to save and share even more.

The Longplayer Conversation: Chris Watson and David Attenborough
Monday 27 November 19.00 – 20.30. £15 / £12 / £10 / Knowledge Centre.
An evening of extraordinary sounds and discussion between long-time collaborators, sound recordist Chris Watson, and naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough.

Selector Responder: Sounding out the Archives
Friday 8 December 19.00 – 21.30. £12 / £10 / £8 / Knowledge Centre.
Ten quick-fire responses to the British Library’s sound collection from artists and specialists, curated by sound artist Ella Finer. Speakers include Larry Achiampong, Holly Pester and David Toop.

Feeling Sound: Evelyn Glennie in Conversation with Colin Blakemore
Thursday 14 December 19.00 – 20.30. £12 / £10 / £8 / Knowledge Centre.
Think hearing is just sound waves hitting your ear drums? Think again. Percussionist Evelyn Glennie’s unique connection to her music comes from having lost almost all of her hearing by the age of 12. She joins neuroscientist Colin Blakemore to discuss how we can all really listen.

For more information on the Season of Sound events programme, please visit the British Library online.