Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stop and Listen – BBC World Service invites audiences to Save our Sounds

Iconic images of cities, from the Sydney Opera House to the canals of Venice, are etched in the public's imagination, but BBC World Service is on a quest to celebrate the often overlooked quality of sound. From bells, to taxi horns and the shouts of street traders, BBC World Service's new multimedia season Save Our Sounds is on a quest to make people around the world stop, listen and think about the defining noises around them.

The Save our Sounds website - – has launched an innovative interactive sound map. Audiences are able to record, and upload sounds on to the world map to become part of a sonic worldview and an online archive of global noises.

Resident Save Our Sounds micro-blogger Kate Arkless Gray will be talking to acoustic practitioners and audiences online and via Twitter ( @BBC_SOS) , building a community around the project. The website will also feature regular 'sound challenges' and a 'desperately seeking sound' appeal'*. Later in the season users will also be able to create their own soundscapes in a virtual 3D landscape.

As part of this season, a new two part documentary, Discovery: Save Our Sounds will premiere on Wednesday 8 and 15 July at 2030 BST on BBC World Service*. Presented by acoustician Professor Trevor Cox, this series features a range of experts including architects, urban planners, environmental scientists, sound artists, psychologists and social scientists, all concerned with acoustic ecology in the urban soundscape. The series will examine the impact of sound on people's lives, and question whether some distinct noises, from street markets, to bells and street hawkers, are actually at risk of disappearing, drowned out by new technologies and generic sounds like cooling fans and traffic.

Professor Cox also travels to one of the noisiest cities in the world, Hong Kong, where engineers are pioneering new approaches to acoustic management, as well as meeting an expert in the UK, who has been commissioned to create the urban soundscape of the future.

Other BBC World Service programmes will be involved in the Save our Sounds season. Outlook, from 15 June will focus on sounds from five parts of the world which maybe in danger of disappearing, from the fish wives of Angola whose songs resonate through the streets of Luanda, to chai wallahs pouring tea on the streets on Delhi.


Notes to Editors:

For further information on Save our Sounds please contact Penny Crook, BBC World Service publicity on +44 (0)207 557 1142,

*Save our Sounds will transmit on Wednesday 8 and 15 July at 2030 BST on BBC World Service –UK and Europe schedule. The documentary will also be available online as a podcast -

Go to to find The Interactive Sound Map, 3D Soundmaps, and blogs

The Save our Sounds Twitter feed is: @BBC_SOS

Interactive Sound Map

For more information on how the interactive sound map go to - This site also contains Information and tips on recording and uploading material on to the map.

*Desperately Seeking Sounds

Save our Sounds want to hear from audiences about the sounds they want to hear again. Perhaps a childhood sound or a noise from a favourite longed for city. Email us at telling us which sound you'd love to hear again, and where in the world you heard it. We'll then try and match-make you with the sound and you can tell us if we've got it right.

BBC World Service is an international multimedia broadcaster delivering 32 language and regional services. It uses multiple platforms to reach 182 million listeners globally, including shortwave, AM, FM, digital satellite and cable channels. It has around 2,000 partner radio stations which take BBC content, and numerous partnerships supplying content to mobile phones and other wireless handheld devices. Its news sites include audio and video content and offer opportunities to join the global debate. For more information, visit To find out more about the BBC's English language offer and subscribe to a free e-newsletter, visit