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Episode 2

Episode 2 of 3

Four people whose professional lives revolve around listening reveal how they use sounds as indicators of health and quality.

Listening is about more than hearing as we discover with people who listen for a living, and have learned to interpret meaning in the sounds they hear. In this, the second of three programmes, the four listeners all listen to sounds which are indicators of health and quality. In the mid-1960's Bernie Krause became involved with early analogue synthesisers and when he and his musician friend Paul Beaver decided to make an album which incorporated natural sounds, Bernie was the one who went out on location to record natural sounds. The experience changed his life, and began to record and archive natural soundscapes. During the past 45 years he has spent listening and recording Bernie has become increasingly aware of how sound is an indicator of the health of a landscape or environment. "Of the 4,500 hours of marine and terrestrial habitats that I have recorded, 50% of those habitats come from now what I call extinct habitats ... the habitats are altogether silent or can no longer be heard in their original form". Sound is also an indicator of health when it comes to the human lungs as Dr Nabil Jarad demonstrates when he listens with a stethoscope, and simply tapping a piece of wood provides early stringed musical instrument maker, Roger Rose with the information he needs when choosing and shaping wood for an instrument "Everything about the instrument really affects the sound ...from when we start to choose the wood.." Finally, Valentin Amrhein describes what he and his colleagues have learned about the quality of an individual Nightingale by listening to their songs. It appears the nature and number of trills in a song is used by other males and females to determine the fitness and health of the singer.

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28 minutes

Last on

Mon 18 Aug 2014 21:00

Bernie Krause

Bernie Krause
Bernie Krause is a musician, writer, bioacoustician and founder of Wild Sanctuary, an organisation dedicated to the recording and archiving of natural soundscapes. Pic: Tim Chapman

Listen to the TED talk 'Bernie Krause: The Voice of the Natural World'

Roger Rose

Roger Rose is a specialist stringed instrument maker – a maker of Baroque bows and early stringed musical instruments, particularly Viola da Gamba.

See a selection of Roger Rose's work

Dr Valentin Amrhein

Valentin Amrhein is a senior lecturer at the University of Basel in Switzerland and also Director of the Research Station ‘Petite Camargue Alsacienne’ where he and his colleagues study the behaviour and song of Nightingales.

See more on the The Research Station Petite Camargue Alsacienne, founded in 1852

Read about Dr Amrhein's work with the evolutionary biology team at the University of Basel

Dr Nabil Jarad

Dr Nabil Jarad is a consultant chest physician at Bristol Royal Infirmary and Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at Bristol University.

More on Dr Nabil Jarad's work at Bristol University

Best of Natural History Radio

Best of Natural History Radio
This programme will be available to download for free shortly after the broadcast - via the Best of Natural History Radio podcast.


  • Tue 12 Aug 2014 11:00
  • Mon 18 Aug 2014 21:00