Radio 3 is a network that is famous for letting things take as long as they take. Max Richter writes an 8 hour classical piece – yes we’ll do it!
Giving things time is important – while I grew up loving perfect, frenzied three minute pop songs from Punk bands like the Buzzcocks, I also discovered things that take time, that need to be considered, thought of, absorbed – things like Mahler Symphonies, or Bach solo sonatas. I learned to slow down and let things come to me slowly.
Mindfulness, putting all your concentration into something and leaving the wild world outside, to stop moving from one thing to another and just letting something take you, that’s what lies at the heart of Slow Radio. Like Blake, who could perceive Heaven in a Wildflower, or like Arnold, who on Dover Beach heard
“….the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.”
Slow radio can help you better to understand that wild world by dwelling in detail on simple things – birdsong, a river, the sound of a glacier melting. It may be a retreat while it is on, but you come out of it refreshed and strengthened. It doesn’t have to be, like life is, one darned thing after another. Concentrating on something seemingly simple can be a great thing to do.
Hence Horatio Clare’s walk from the Black mountains to Hay on Wye last year, which allowed the listener to dwell on the quiet but ever present sounds of nature, enhanced by music and poetry. In a couple of months we’ll be visiting Nightingales in their natural habitat, giving listeners a chance to hear and experience rare and profound beauty that is so often hidden from our everyday lives.
And this weekend on BBC Radio 3 in ‘A Cow a Day’ we record poet Pejk Malinovski , on the banks of the Ganges river near the ancient city of Varanasi , who at sunrise picks out a cow at random and starts to follow her. He continues to follow her until sunset. You hear the sounds of the city and are described what the cow is doing - mostly meditative, until they find themselves on the set of a Bollywood dance film. It’s another slow, beautiful journey undertaken by human and beast. Take time out to recharge and understand the world and all its crazy ways in a new light.