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Episode 5

Omnibus edition of the episodes from week five of a six week series made in collaboration with the British Library Sound Archive.

Henry David Thoreau is one of history's great listeners. His classic work Walden is dense with descriptions of the natural sounds he discovered when he swapped his Concord home for a simple cabin in the woods. But his peace was disturbed by a noise that presaged the age to come: the snort of the iron horse.

Professor David Hendy of the University of Sussex explains how the sounds of nature gave way before the industrial din.

As cities grew, next-door's noise became increasingly hard to escape. David follows the writer Thomas Carlyle's grumpy attempts at soundproofing, before travelling to New York to imagine the teaming, noisy world of the Lower East Side tenements in the early twentieth century.

We also discover the story of medicine's listening revolution - the stethoscope - and find out about the first attempts to use technology to turn ephemeral sounds into something captured permanently. David Hendy introduces bottled moments from the past, including the voices of Robert Browning and Florence Nightingale and 9/11 answerphone messages.

Signature tune composed by Joe Acheson.
Producer: Matt Thompson
A Rockethouse production for BBC Radio 4.

Release date:

58 minutes

Last on

Fri 19 Apr 2013 21:00

Noise retold by Matthew Herbert

Noise series retold by Matthew Herbert

The head of the New Radiophonic Workshop retells the Noise series using only the sounds.