Vote opens to find favourite coastal sound

Whether it’s the sound of waves rolling on to golden sands, seagulls crying from the clifftops or children playing on the beach, the National Trust, National Trust for Scotland and the British Library are on a mission to discover the UK’s favourite coastal sound, as part of a three month crowd-sourced sound project, sounds of our shores.


At its mid-way point, nearly 400 sounds have already been uploaded by the public to the British Library website http://www.bl.uk/sounds-of-our-shores, receiving an incredible 25,000 listens. Around 30 sounds from Scotland have been uploaded so far, stretching from Birsay in Orkney to Monreith in Dumfries and Galloway.

From the amazing range of sounds already uploaded, 10 of the most evocative have been selected for a public vote. The online poll https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/soundsofourshores opens today and closes at midnight on Thursday 27 August.

Cheryl Tipp, Curator of Wildlife and Environment Sounds at the British Library, who helped to curate the list of ten sounds, said: “In just six weeks we’ve had some brilliant recordings which show just how diverse the sounds of the coast really are. We want to showcase some of the best sounds while encouraging more people to get involved, especially over the summer holiday period. The poll will help us identify what people find so special about the coast; what sounds can truly transport them there and are so important to them.

“At the end of the project all of the sounds that appear on the map will then be added to the British Library’s Sound Archive, where they will join more than 6.5 million sounds dating back to the birth of recorded sound in the 19th century.”

The sounds that the public are being asked to vote for are :

1. Children playing on Brean Sands, Somerset
Contributor: https://audioboom.com/Danjw
2. Dredging for oysters at Brightlingsea, Essex
Contributor: https://audioboom.com/duncanhoot
3. Ferries in the Fog – River Mersey, Merseyside
Contributor: https://audioboom.com/PETE_DOVER
4. Ghost Train Ride – Palace Pier, Brighton
Contributor: Simon Sound
5. Kittiwakes at the nest, Northumberland
Contributor: https://audioboom.com/simonelliott
6. Raft Race, Mumbles (Wales)
Contributor: https://audioboom.com/jonozero1
7. Seagulls and Waves at Back Bay, near Monreith (Scotland)
Contributor: https://audioboom.com/frenchbloke
8. Seals calling and snorting on Rathlin Island (Northern Island)
Contributor: https://audioboom.com/martpr73
9. ‘Singing’ Sands, Eigg, Scottish Hebrides (Scotland)
Contributor: Anonymous
10. Waves breaking on the beach at Trwyn Llanbedrog (Wales)
Contributor: https://audioboom.com/adam_jb_long

Dr Richard Luxmoore, Senior Nature Adviser for the National Trust for Scotland said: “These sounds somehow sum up the variety of our Scottish coastline. The unique sound of Eigg’s singing sands will come as a revelation to many, while the lapping of waves and cries of gulls at Monreith is much more familiar, yet equally evocative.”
Stuart McLean, the sound artist who recorded the Seagulls and Waves at Back Bay, near Monreith clip says: “I live in Wigtown, near the sea in SW Scotland. It’s famous for its bookshops and book festival and triple parking outside the Co-Op. I chose that part of the beach at Back Bay (there is a Front Bay as well – they really knew how to name things round here) as it’s near Butchers Cave where the walls run red due to mineral deposits and what have you. As luck would have it the tide was out meaning that part of the beach could be reached.
“Since moving here in 2004, we have been regulars at Back Bay in all weather – much to the children’s dismay – so it seemed fitting to record the sound from there before anyone else did.”
All of these sounds will be added to the British Library Sound Archive – creating a snapshot of the beautiful and diverse UK coastline that future generations will be able to hear.

Sounds recorded, whether on a smart phone, tablet or handheld recorder, can be uploaded to the map via the audioBoom website or app (they are both free and easy to use)http://audioboom.com/channel/soundsofourshores . The sounds then appear on the map, which is hosted on the British Library website.

Musician, producer and founder member of Human League and Heaven 17, Martyn Ware, will be using the sounds submitted by the public to create a brand new piece of music for release in February 2016.

On hearing the sounds for the poll Martyn commented: “The amazing diversity of sounds submitted is something beautiful to behold. There are human stories, working stories, unusual weather events, seaside fun, and, most of all, the immensely calming and contemplative sounds on the natural world, embodied by the great variety of wave impacts on our shores, the incredible number of different types of birdlife, seals, dolphins, porpoises – even the sounds of dredging for oysters and mussels.

“How do we attribute value to our relationship to the coast? In innumerable ways…children laughing and playing on the sand and in the surf remind us all of a more carefree existence – the hard-to-describe pleasure of peace and contemplation in an ever more frenetic and digital world, where attention span gets smaller and smaller – trying to identify different types of wildlife takes us out of the moment and into a simpler but more significant type of existence.
“In a nutshell, go to the coast, close your eyes and reawaken the most underrated sense of all – hearing – and pay attention to the beauty of your sensory environment and you will be repaid a thousandfold.”
To get involved, visit http://www.nts.org.uk/Site/Sounds-of-our-Shores/Sounds-of-our-Shores/ for tips on recording sounds on the coastline and information about how to upload them on to the map. The National Trust for Scotland has also produced this short video to encourage folk to get recording: https://youtu.be/R1QDq64ZYtA.

Participants can share their sounds on social media using the hashtag #shoresounds.

The results of the poll will be announced on Friday 4 September.

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