Cities and Memory BBC television interview

Cities and Memory BBC television interview


Now, the British Library is helping to
chart the biggest-ever map of the sounds of nature. Cities and Memory has been
created to record the sounds you might otherwise ignore in the city, including
how human sounds impact upon nature. Well, I spoke to Stuart Fowkes about some of
the more surprising sounds you can hear around London. STUART: Well, there’s the sounds of
urban wildlife I’m sure everyone’s aware that there’s
pigeons and all the rest but for example if you listen on the sound
map there are parrots in Abbey Wood which is very interesting which a lot of
people maybe wouldn’t… yeah parrots down there, wild parrots living in London so
that’s one of the interesting sounds you can hear from from London on the map. “I’ve got some of the sounds that people from your website that people will find
familiar, let me, these are some of the beautiful sounds that we capture. The
impact of humans and these sounds, what’s that like? I mean are we really affecting
the nature around us by the noise we make? STUART: Yeah, so humans, obviously we’re a
noisy bunch and we are getting louder all the time so to give you one example
the sounds in the oceans have doubled every ten years for the
last 50 years and that’s all due to the sounds that we’re making, so shipping
noise, drilling, fracking, those kinds of things and those have a serious impact
on wildlife. “What effect does more road traffic and more people and
pollution, what effect does that have with the noise we’re making
through our vehicles? STUART: “So one example is birdsong – so some birds can adapt
quite nicely to it: for example, robins tend to sing more at night
now than they do during the day and that’s just their way of adapting so
they can still do their territorial bird song. Other birds adapt
in different ways, so for example they sing at higher pitches so they
can be heard above the traffic noise and that can be a problem for them because
higher pitched sounds can often be less attractive to mates and it can be
harder to hear so it’s harder to defend your territory if you can’t be heard and
also it’s harder to attract a mate if you’re singing at that higher pitch. So
it’s a real danger in a real problem for them and it’s caused by a huge amounts
of traffic noise. “I know you’re working closely with the British Library
on this one, what’s their role in all this?” STUAR:T Well, the British Library were kind enough to just donate some sounds to the project so
some of the sounds from England are from the British Library, but the majority of
them have actually been sent in by people around the world so people who
dedicate their lives to recording the sounds of nature with really nice
high-end equipment, sending sounds in from Thailand, Indonesia, Senegal, right the way through to people who have just recorded the
sound of birds in their back garden on their mobile phone and sent that through
as well. So it’s a huge collaboration with hundreds of people involved.

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