Sound and vision blog

Sound and moving images from the British Library

23 January 2023

Recording of the week: Bob Cobbing (1920-2002)

This week’s recording of the week was selected by Steve Cleary, Lead Curator, Literary and Creative Recordings.

Black and white photocopied image of Bob Cobbing

Above: Image of Bob Cobbing from a scan supplied by Jennifer Cobbing in 2008. Photographer not known.

This is a selection from the personal tape archive of the British sound poet Bob Cobbing.

The archive comprises recordings of Cobbing - solo and with various collaborators - in live, studio and home settings. The British Library acquired it in 2005.

The Library is also home to Bob Cobbing’s manuscript archive.  And we hold copies of many of the publications issued by Cobbing’s Writers Forum imprint, as well as books about his artistic practice.

This particular piece, ‘WORM’, was recorded in 1966. It was among the tracks issued by the Library in 2009 on a CD compliation of Cobbing’s work called ‘The Spoken Word: Early Recordings 1965-1973’.

That CD is now long out of print and hard to find. Soon though, we will be making available - for free online listening - a selection of further treasures from the vaults. Our thanks are due to Barbara and Patrick Cobbing of the Bob Cobbing Estate, and also William Cobbing, for helping this to happen.

Keep an eye on our social media channels for news on the launch of our new ‘sounds’ web site.

Listen to Bob Cobbing

Download Bob Cobbing transcript

Note: The downloadable transcript is for the benefit of people with a hearing impairment. It is not intended as a guide to how the words should appear on the printed page. Cobbing published various treatments of the piece over the years. One published version has the words in horizontal lines from left to right, but also in four columns. Another visualisation sees the words printed off-register and arranged in wiggly vertical strings. The impression given is of worms on the ground, viewed from above.

Text and recording are copyright of the Bob Cobbing Estate, Used with permission.

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