Sounds from home
A new series of sonic tutorials
When London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) closed to the public on 17 March 2020 due to COVID-19, the Unlocking our Sound Heritage (UOSH) project team began to work from home. Funded by the National Lottery and led by the British Library, LMA is one of 10 regional hubs to join the UOSH project in 2018. Together we aim to preserve and provide access to half a million of the UK's rare and unique sound recordings.
Before the UOSH team began working from home, a series of training events had been planned throughout 2020 for its public and GLAM (Gallery, Library, Archive and Museum) audiences. These events would share the knowledge we’ve learnt on the project, working with sound archives, to encourage and inspire audiences to look at their own collections, and see how they too could help save our nation’s sound heritage.
As we couldn’t engage our audiences in person, we decided instead to create a monthly series of online videos via our YouTube channel. Robin Warren, Audio Preservation Engineer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage, here introduces the first two of these videos.
"‘Wow! This is incredible… Like the soundtrack to ‘Alien’ or something!’"
It’s safe to say that the presenters of BBC London’s regular ‘Making A Difference’ feature were intrigued when they chose the inaugural edition of our planned series ‘Sounds from Home’ as the opening to their daily bulletin back in May. It was the first in a series of short video tutorials suggesting creative or practical projects that viewers could undertake during lockdown, using material from LMA as sources of inspiration. Galvanised by an experimental graphic score found in a 1976 boxset from the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) entitled ‘Creating Music In Class’, this was a trip both into the far reaches of outer space and back in time – all without needing to go outside. By combining the progressive spirit of the graphic score with a few basic instructions, the video attempted to bring the ideals of the ILEA boxset into the twenty first century and inspire a whole new generation of youthful sonic explorers to set out on their own journeys of discovery - armed only with a few household items and a sense of adventure!
Preserving your Records
For our second offering, launched in June, we encourage audiences to go hunting through their own personal archives at home in search of vinyl and shellac discs to discover, catalogue and preserve. It’s a lot more practical but no less exciting and will hopefully serve either as a solid introduction to those encountering the joys of analogue sound for the first time, or a quick refresher for those dusting off collections after decades languishing in basements or attics. We even had a test subject in the shape of Tim Hughes, a UOSH project volunteer who has been using his time under lockdown to dig through the records of his student days in the 1970s. Hopefully the practical tips and suggestions offered in this video will help him and many others up and down the land to preserve their treasured recordings for future generations. And who knows what exciting new sounds or unfamiliar voices they might uncover along the way?