THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Sound and vision blog

3 posts from June 2013

28 June 2013

Acky one two three I see children's dialect on TV

Jonnie Robinson, Lead Curator for Sociolinguistics writes:

As a Sky Blues fan it's great to see Cov take centre stage in ITV's new comedy drama Love and Marriage, which I can thoroughly recommend and not just because one of the main characters plays City's club mascot, Sky Blue Sam. Location drama is a great vehicle for exploring regional speech and identity, as are the Library's accent and dialect recordings. The accents in Love and Marriage are a bit hit and miss, but Niky Wardley is certainly convincing as Heather McCallister - not surprisingly given her performances as Lauren Cooper's best friend Liese Jackson in The Catherine Tate Show, which I've always considered the most linguistically accurate comic portrayal of that variety of teenage speech.

What excited me most, though, in this week's episode (26.06.13) was a scene at the family camp where Caitlin spotted someone hiding behind a tree during a chase game and called out: rally one two three Uncle Charlie I see you. Hats off to the scriptwriters for choosing that particular phrase as this brilliant seeking game is known by a variety of names across the country. I remember playing it almost daily as a child in the 1970s only a few miles up the road in Sutton Coldfield, where it was (and still is) 'acky one two three'. I don't know whether the scriptwriter or maybe Caitlin herself is a Coventrian, but if not they should certainly be congratulated on the thoroughness of their research. Mind you, I'm not sure why Pauline (played by Alison Steadman) responds with ready 1,2,3 Caitlin unless this is intended to lend even more authenticity to the scene in that grandma joins in enthusiastically but 'gets the words wrong'.

Research into children's lore carried out by Iona and Peter Opie in the 1950s confirmed a wide range of names for this game, including 'block one two three' in North East England and Scotland, 'relievo one two three' in Wilmslow, 'forty forty' in South East England, 'mob' in Bristol and South Wales, 'pom pom' in Norwich, 'I-erkey' in Leicester, 'hicky one two three' in Chester and - crucially - 'rally one two three' in Coventry (Children's Games in Street and Playground, 1984 p.161). More recently folklorist Steve Roud reports continued enthusiasm for the game and similar diversity in terms, even quoting an explanation offered in 2007 by a nine-year old boy from Coventry of the rules of 'rally one two three' (The Lore of the Playground, 2010, p.87). Sound recordings made by the Opies in playgrounds across the UK are available on the Library's Sounds site and the Playtimes website explores a century of children's games and rhymes through archival collections and contemporary fieldwork carried out in schools in London and Sheffield.

Sadly I doubt I'll play 'acky one two three' for a while, but when I do bagsy not on.

19 June 2013

Capturing Weather

Cheryl Tipp, Natural Sounds Curator writes:

Weather has quickly become one of the most popular collections in the Environment & Nature section of British Library Sounds. Currently standing at 123 field recordings from around the world, this collection invites the listener to explore the sounds of rainfall, wind and thunderstorms. Many recordings were made by Wildlife Sound Recording Society member Richard Beard who has donated almost 3000 field recordings to the British Library's Sound Archive. Below are some of the highlights from his most recent contribution:

Wind in Cypress Trees along the Great Wall of China

Rain falling on a plastic porch, Isle of Wight

Thunderstorm over an urban garden, London

One of my favourites is an 8 minute recording of a gale battering the west coast of the Isle of Wight. Made towards the end of 2012 in a coastal bay, this recording is dominated by the crash and swirl of a sea being forced into shore by an unrelenting wind. The muffled cries of a Herring Gull and the harsh calls of a Jay are the only sounds that rise above this constant onslaught.

Gale by the coast, Isle of Wight

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Weather is an evolving resource and new recordings will be added over the coming years. If you are interested in contributing material to this popular collection, please do get in touch.

(image courtesy of Richard Beard www.iwwildsound.co.uk)

10 June 2013

Sound, Listening and the Art of Field Recording

There has been a flurry of new books in recent months that deal with the interlocking subjects of sound, listening and field recording. The first to emerge was In the Field: the art of field recording (Uniform Books), edited by CRiSAP Directors Cathy Lane and Angus Carlyle and launched during the In the Field symposium held at the British Library in February.

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This anthology brings together an impressive collection of interviews with practising field recordists with diverse interests, methodologies and experiences. From Annea Lockwood's fascination with rivers to Ian Rawes' work in documenting the sounds of London, these conversations give insight into the working lives of some of the most respected figures in the field recording community. Other interviewees include Gruenrekorder co-founder Lasse-Marc Riek, Japanese sound artist Hiroki Sasajima,Vancouver Soundscape Project member Hildegard Westerkamp, British field recordist Jez riley French, anthroplogist and ethnomusicologist Steven Feld and Berlin-based recordist Peter Cusack.

Next came David Hendy's Noise: a Human History of Sound & Listening (Profile Books), written to accompany the 30 part BBC Radio 4 series of the same name. From prehistoric times to the present day, Noise explores the role of sound and listening in the history of Human culture over the past 100,000 years.

Noise a human history

Noise begins with the acoustic characteristics of caves used by our prehistoric ancestors and concludes with modern day methods used to retreat from the noise and bustle of contemporary life.  Music, speech, echoes, chanting, drumbeats, bells, gunfire, laughter, birdsong, machinery, water and much more are covered in the book and were the foundations of the series that was developed in collaboration with the British Library's Sound Archive.

Finally, Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age (Polity Books) by Dr Kate Lacey from the University of Sussex was published in May and explores the practices, politics and ethics of public listening. Michele Hilmes from the University of Wisconsin-Madison wrote of Listening Publics:

'At once subtle and stunning, Kate Lacey's exploration of the history and concept of listening as a distinct cultural practice adds immeasurably to both the field of sound studies and our understanding of the role played by mediated communication in modern history. This careful delineation of aural practices shows how central the act of listening has been in the formation of social structures and ways of understanding the world around us.'

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Upcoming releases to look out for include The Memory of Sound: preserving our sonic past by Professor Se√°n Street and the anthology On Listening which explores the many ways in which skilled listening can mediate new relationships with our physical environment and those that we share it with.