BBC launches music and nature-themed programming as part of “Soundscapes for Wellbeing” project


The BBC launched Sound landscapes for well-being, a new project that invites the public to participate in a UK-wide ‘virtual nature experiment’ exploring the role of virtual nature experiences in improving well-being during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic .

The Virtual Nature Experiment will be conducted in collaboration with the University of Exeter to explore people’s reactions to digital nature soundscapes created by sound engineer Chris Watson and composer Nainita Desai.

BBC sound effects will relaunch its digital archive as an interactive platform, showcasing tens of thousands of recorded nature sounds. The sounds presented on the platform include the first nature recording made on a wax cylinder in 1889 and a meeting between David Attenborough and a mountain gorilla. Website visitors will be able to use the new ‘Mixer Tool’ feature to create mixes and share their soundscapes on BBC Sounds Effects.

A series of programs combining music and nature will be launched across the BBC over the next month. The New Music Show will feature a mix of Una Lee’s soundscape created with sounds collected in Antarctica; BBC Winterwatch presenter Gillian Burke will choose music and natural sounds from the BBC Sound Effects Library that will help her feel good in an episode of Slow Radio; Free Thinking will explore the concept of eco-criticism and Radio 6 will host an episode of “SUPERNATURE” which features interviews with Rhiane Fatinikun, founder of Black Girls Hike, nature writer Robert Macfarlane and Scottish composer Erland Cooper.

All programs involved in Sound landscapes for well-being are listed below:

From Monday 25 to Friday 29 January

Petroc Trelawny launched the Sound landscapes for well-being project with sound effects broadcasts from the BBC Sound Effects digital archive.

Music matters
saturday january 30

Kate Molleson explores how natural and musical soundscapes affect mental health and further explains “the virtual nature experience”.

New music show
saturday january 30

Hear Una Lee’s soundscape, which was created with sounds collected in Antarctica. Lee composes sound works that focus on the topics of time, memory, the human condition and ecology.

Slow Radio: Take me to your happiness
Saturday 31 January

BBC TV Winterwatch presenter Gillian Burke chooses music and natural sounds from the BBC’s library of sound effects that encourage her own well-being. Its soundscape includes the gentle lapping of the waves, the rustle of the wind in the leaves of ash trees in a wood, and the calls of doves and nocturnal crickets.

Alongside Burke’s soundscape there will be music by William Grant Still, Gustav Holst, Bill Evans, Aretha Franklin, Matthew Halsall and Reverend Milton Brunson.

Free thinking: eco-criticism
Tuesday, February 2

Lisa Mullen examines the links between literature and nature alongside a guest panel, asking how writers of history have viewed the environment in their work.

BBC sounds

Mary Anne Hobbs of Radio 6 created a Soundscapes for Wellbeing Ambient Focus Mix, which now features soundscapes of nature in 3D, providing a more immersive listening experience through headphones. The new version also features a new introduction by David Attenborough.

Radio 6

Lauren Laverne
monday 25 january

Starting Monday, January 25, the Radio 6 Music Breakfast show will air a weekly special, SUPERNATURE, in which Laverne will meet guests including Rhiane Fatinikun, founder of Black Girls Hike, nature writer and landscape designer Robert Macfarlane and multi- Scottish instrumentalist and contemporary composer Erland. Cooper.

Shaun Keaveny
monday 25 january

Musician Matthew Herbert will join Shaun to help him create his own natural soundscape.

Radcliffe & Maconie
saturday january 30

Radcliffe & Maconie will interview composer Nainita Desai about her soundscapes created for Virtual Nature Experiment. They will also talk to nature writer and podcaster Melissa Harrison about her experience of the great outdoors and play some of their favorite nature-inspired music.

BBC Two – Winterwatch
Thursday 28 January

Chris Packham will speak with Alex Smalley, PhD researcher at the University of Exeter, who designed The Virtual Nature Experiment with the BBC, about the project and how the digital nature experience affects us. The program will also include a preview of Gillian’s piece for Radio 3’s Slow Radio, and the Kaleidoscope Orchestra will perform music interspersed with sounds of nature.

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