Occasional posts on subjects including field recording, London history and literature, other websites worth looking at, articles in the press, and news of sound-related events.

26 October 2011

London sounds from 1930s and 1940s BBC radio

A NEW SITE section has just been added which features original 1930s and 1940s actuality recordings from BBC radio. I’ve been wanting to include historical sound recordings for ages.

It’s simply called Radio Actuality, ‘actuality’ being the term for real-life location recording in radio. It’s badly lacking some photographs but there’s a seed collection of twenty recordings there right now and more will be added regularly.

Here’s one example featuring Tiny Tim the busker from 1935:

How far removed this is from the practice of much modern-day busking: fresh-faced cellists in the shopping mall, committee-approved sax players on the London Underground, or the consolations of The Deer Hunter theme rendered on pan pipes, the soundtrack to a roadside shrine of wilting flowers.

The recordings have been digitised for the first time from their original 78 rpm BBC transcription discs. No attempt has been made at any reconstructive techniques to remove surface noise. Hiss and crackle are Time made audible.