iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for The Foghorn: A Celebration

Listen now 30 mins

Listen in pop-out player

Last on

Sat 26 Feb 2011 15:30 BBC Radio 4 FM only

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 22 February 2011

Peter Curran celebrates the humble foghorn's powerful role in music, literature and film.

The foghorn was invented in 1855 by Robert Foulis, a Scotsman living in Canada who heard the low notes (but not the high notes) of his daughter's piano playing whist walking far from the family's fog-shrouded coastal cottage, thus inspiring the first steam powered fog horn. But beyond the sea, it's 'whale-like' sound has inspired artists, writers and musicians to use the foghorn both as symbol and instrument.

Peter Curran hears from foghorn composer of 'Maritime Rites' Alvin Curran, Jason Gorski, aka The Fogmaster, who used to conduct guerrilla foghorn concerts in the Bay Area of California, and takes a tour of Portland Bill lighthouse in Dorset, with keeper Larry Walker, taking the opportunity to set off an almighty Victorian foghorn. He also joins James Bond film music and future 2012 Olympic theme music composer David Arnold, who tries to digitally recreate the foghorn's cry, and Dr Harry Witchel, who analyses Peter's yearn for the sound as a child.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

  • The Foghorn at Portland Bill Lighthouse, Dorset. Presenter Peter Curran

    The Foghorn at Portland Bill Lighthouse, Dorset. Presenter Peter Curran

  • A winter's evening at Portland Bill Lighthouse, Dorset

    A winter's evening at Portland Bill Lighthouse, Dorset

  • Portland Bill Lighthouse, Dorset

    Portland Bill Lighthouse, Dorset

    BBC Radio Producer, Sara Jane Hall is caught by a gust of wind while recording the foghorn at Portland Bill Lighthouse, Dorset

  • Jason Gorski, The Fogmaster

    Jason Gorski, The Fogmaster

    Jason Gorski, aka The Fogmaster, he used to conduct guerrilla foghorn concerts in the Bay Area of California. This shows him in his 'soundproof' costume

    Photography by Jason Gorski

Broadcasts

Featured in...

  • Pick'n'mix

    A selection of weird and wonderful programmes on Radio 4

  • Afterhours

    A selection of weird and wonderful programmes, perfect for late night listening

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss