Graham Duff interviews Chris Watson, about his groundbreaking work with the experimental music groups Cabaret Voltaire and The Hafler Trio, his career as one of the world’s most celebrated wildlife recordists, his albums of field recordings released on the Touch label and his new site specific sound installation ‘No Man’s Land’. Contains extensive examples of both Watson’s music and field recordings. Headphone listening recommended throughout.
There’s another chance to hear A River of Steel which was first broadcast in 2016, on BBC Radio 4 on Tue 1 May at 11.02am and Monday 7 May at 21:02.
Chris Watson returns to Sheffield, the city of his birth to follow the course of its rivers across landscape and time in a tale of industrial development, little mesters and steel blades. Producer Sarah Blunt.
You can listen to Chris’s hour-long podcast on ABC here:
BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 6 June at 11.02am, repeated Monday 12 June at 9pm
The first of a new series of Natural Histories includes an interview and recordings by Chris Watson. A murmuration of starlings is one of our great British wildlife spectacles and never ceases to inspire and amaze as Brett Westwood and Tony Whitehead discover in a reed bed on the Somerset Levels. The programme also includes sound recordings by Tony Whitehead. Producer Sarah Blunt
Sarah Walker with Chris Watson
Sarah’s guest this week is one of the world’s leading sound-recordists, Chris Watson. Chris started out as a musician, he was a founding member of the influential Sheffield-based experimental music group, Cabaret Voltaire, but he soon put the microphone to other uses enjoying a career recording sound for film, tv and radio. He has specialised in recording wildlife and natural phenomena, striving, in his words, to put the microphone where you can’t put your ears. He has contributed to a number of David Attenborough documentaries in the Life and Frozen Planet series and has released albums of his field recordings. As well as discussing his work and life, Chris will be sharing some of his favourite classical music by composers including Britten, Messiaen and Felix Mendelssohn.
BBC Radio 4, Fri 14 April, 3.30pm
Another chance to hear this sound portrait in which Chris Watson captures the changing soundscape of an oak woodland in Northumberland as the seasons pass.
Producer Sarah Blunt
15-19th August 1.45pm
A series of five illustrated talks which explore our relationship with Rivers. Additional sound recordings by Chris Watson
Monday 15 August: A Salmon struggles on a weir as writer and naturalist Paul Evans reflects on Sabrina and the fish of no return.
Tuesday 16 August: Alan Read, Professor of Theatre at Kings College London recalls a childhood influenced by the Essex estuary.
Wednesday 17 August: Martin Palmer, Secretary General of The Alliance of Religions and Conservation reflects on the significance of rivers in religious stories and traditions.
Thursday 18 August: The relationship which writer and essayist Kathleen Jamie has with the River Tay changes when some Bronze Age swords are dredged out of its waters.
Friday 19 August: The sounds of the River are captured by Chris Watson when he follows the course of the North Tyne from the summit of Peel Fell in Northumberland to the sea at Tynemouth.
Matthew Sweet and his guests explore Jacques Cousteau’s The Silent World.
Produced by Lisa Davies
Here you can find a very helpful selection of radio progammes and soundscapes for BBC Radio 4 featuring sound recordist Chris Watson.
BBC Radio 4, Mon 30 May – Fri 3 June, 13.45-14.00
Narrator and Sound Recordist: Chris Watson
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson narrates five immersive soundscapes; each of which is a time compression; a spectacular natural event which has been recorded over hours, days, weeks or even months but which is presented here in less than 15minutes
Mon 30 May, BBC Radio 4, 13.45-14.00, The River Crossing
Sound recordist Chris Watson joins the annual migration of wildebeest in the first of a series of audio postcards capturing spectacular sound events in the natural world.
Tue 31 May, BBC Radio 4, 13.45-14.00 The Oak Woodland
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson captures the changing soundscape of an oak woodland over the four seasons.
Wed 1 June, BBC Radio 4, 13.45-14.00 Cima Verde
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson captures a journey in sound from the summit to the valley floor of Cima Verde in Northern Italy.
Thurs 2 June, BBC Radio 4, 13.45-14.00 The Lek
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson captures the sounds of an extraordinary dawn performance when he joins a group of male black grouse at a traditional courtship site.
Fri 3 June, BBC Radio 4, 13.45-14.00 The Reed Bed
Reed beds are magical places as wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson discovers when he spends a night capturing the sounds of a reed bed in Suffolk in the last of this series of immersive soundscapes.
Producer: Sarah Blunt
NATURE BBC Radio 4 Wed 13 July 21.02 The Fen Raft spider
Sound recordist Chris Watson gets up, close and personal with the Fen Raft Spider when he tries to record the males’ courtship behaviour, but it proves far from easy.
Presenter Chris Watson. Producer Sarah Blunt
BBC Radio 4 Sundays 19.15. 26 June – 10 July 2016
A series of very funny tales written and introduced by Lynne Truss in which the residents of an old house attic reveal what life is really like between the rafters and the floorboards
Sunday 16 June
In the first of three tales written by Lynne Truss, the Death Watch Beetle (Bill Paterson) and a bossy Queen Wasp (Alison Steadman) reveal the funny side of life in an attic.
Sunday 3 July
In the second of three tales written by Lynne Truss, a House Fly (Lee Mack) and a Soprano Pipistrelle Bat (Pam Ferris) reveal the funny and warm sides of life in an attic.
Sunday 10 July
In the last of three tales written by Lynne Truss, an Edible Dormouse (Hugh Dennis) and a Peacock Butterfly (Amanda Abbington) reveal the truth about what really goes on an attic of an old house in Amersham.
Sound recordist Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt
Wildlife sound recordist: Chris Watson
Producer Sarah Blunt
BBC Radio Wed 22 June, 9pm NATURE – The Joiker and the Echoes
Andé Somby is a Sami and a yoiker. When Andé invited sound recordist Chris Watson to record him yoiking near Kvalnes in the Lofoten Islands in Norway, Chris had no idea what an extraordinary and challenging experience this would be; not only to travel north of the Arctic Circle to record these ancient chants but also to gain an insight into the culture and beliefs of the Sami People.
BBC Radio Wed 29 June, 9pm NATURE – James and the Peregrines
An intimate and revealing audio diary recorded over a year by James Aldred following the lives of a pair of peregrines and the family they raise in a disused quarry near his home.
NATURE Wed 29 June, 9pm NATURE – The Rainforest Canopy
With a two metre wingspan, strong hooked beak and four inch talons, harpy eagles are one of the most powerful birds of prey in the world and have been known to attack people who get too close to their nests, so when wildlife cameraman John Aitchison agrees to spend a month on a tiny platform high up in rainforest canopy in Venezuela to try and film a young eagle chick hunting for the first time, it was with some intrepidation at what might lie ahead.
NATURE Wed 10 July, 9pm NATURE – Fen Raft Spider
Fen Raft Spiders as their name implies are water-loving spiders. Chris Watson gets up close and personal with these spiders when he tries to record their courtship behaviour as well as explore the extraordinary world of underwater sound in which these spiders live and hunt for food in the fenland ditches.
BBC Radio 4, March 2016
Mon 28 March – Fri 1 April 2016, 13.45-14.00
Brett Westwood is joined by naturalist Phil Gates in this informative and entertaining guide to some of our common coastal wildlife. Recorded last summer along the coast of Northumberland, each programme focuses on a different coastal habitat; rock pools, sandy beaches, sea cliffs, strandlines and saltmarshes. The series offers helpful advice on the appearance, behaviour and sounds of some of the typical species you’re likely to find, and reveals how they’re adapted to survive in some of our most hostile coastal habitats.
Wildlife sound recordist: Chris Watson
Producer: Sarah Blunt
For the current Resonance FM fundraising programme, there are two offerings:
1 A previously unreleased recording from Kielder forest – surround version.
2 The opportunity to come out recording with Chris in Northumberland on May 15th.
John McCarthy explores the sacred and profane place of birds in our daily lives.
He considers the many spiritual meanings birds have for humans. From doves as biblical heralds of the Holy Spirit to ravens in the Qur’an, birds are at the iconic heart of almost all world religions. But how did they get there? Is it their ability to fly which grips us? Or the apparent purity and beauty of (many) of their songs and calls?
Along the way, John explores the parallels between listening to Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending, hearing a dawn chorus in Kielder Forest and seeking a personal pathway to the divine. He also recalls a bird-inspired moment of hope during his time in captivity in Lebanon – a memory triggered by the music of the singer Fairouz.
John’s conversation with keen birdwatcher and author Stephen Moss reveals that the international bird of peace is not nearly as pacifist as it seems, and uncovers the true meanings of birdsong, which prove to be both paradoxical and far more profane than sacred.
The programme includes poetry from John Clare, prose from Gerald Durrell, and music from Canteloube, Respighi and Chris Watson.
The readers are Madeleine Bowyer and Peter Marinker.
Producer: Matt Taylor
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4
Chris Watson describes using the beam of the lighthouse to record seals on the Farne Islands at night – and remembers the curious slow motion aggression between the fighting tortoises of Dassen Island, off the western coast of South Africa. Also in this programme, Melissa Murray re-reads ‘To The Lighthouse’ by Virginia Woolf and Dermot Bolger remembers inviting Salman Rushdie to the Baily Lighthouse at the height of the fatwa.
Presented by Luke Clancy.
Chris Watson – Field Recording at Its Finest
“This week I had the absolute honour of talking with field recordist, musician, and audio ace Chris Watson. For those unfamiliar with Chris, he is considered one of the top field recordists in the world. He’s worked on Frozen Planet, The Life of Birds, Big Cat Diary, Life in the Undergrowth, Nature, Autumnwatch, and many more. If you want a bigger impression of this amazing artists work check out his website at www.chriswatson.net and you’ll get an even better picture. Needless to say, he’s had and is still pursuing a stunning career that many of us only dream of!”
Another chance to hear six characters in and around a garden pond, reflect on what life is really like between the lily pads and the buttercups. Written by Lynne Truss. Wildlife sound recordings by Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt
BBC Radio 4, Tue 25 Aug, 23.02 We hear from the tadpole (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and the dragonfly (Alison Steadman)
BBC Radio 4, Tue 1 Sept, 23.02 We hear from the water boatman (Sandi Toksvig) and the Great Diving Beetle (David Ryall)
BBC Radio 4, Tue 8 Sept, 23.02 We hear from the garden spider (Amanda Root) and the Great Pond Snail (James Fleet)