British Library launches Season of Sound

british library season of sound

The British Library is celebrating 140 years of recorded sound with events and performances featuring Radiophonic Workshop, Dame Evelyn Glennie and David Toop.

Listen: 140 Years of Recorded Sound, which opens on 6 October in London, will explore how sound has influenced our lives since the phonograph was invented in 1877.

The free exhibition will also examine the innovations in recording technology and radio broadcasting which have transformed our listening experience during that time.

A corresponding Late at the Library ticketed strand will feature a performance by electronic pioneers Radiophonic Workshop alongside Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware and DJ Tom Middleton, as well as events with naturalist David Attenborough plus musicians Dame Evelyn Glennie and David Toop.

Highlights also include the Super Sonic one-day mini-festival on 25 November, which delves into the world of recorded sound from the earliest days of radio to cutting edge BBC technology, via turntables, record-your-own audio booths and illicit records from Soviet Russia.

Visitors to the Season of Sound events will have the opportunity to hear an eclectic mix of sounds from the British Library archive including many rare and unpublished recordings.

There will be items on display from its rarely-seen collection of records, players and recorders, exploring how technology has transformed our listening experience.

Steve Cleary, lead curator of literary and creative recordings at the British Library, said: ‘The British Library has always been known as the home of the nation’s words, but visitors may not be aware that we are home to the nation’s sounds, too.

‘We’re delighted to be opening up our sound archive with this Season of Sound, as part of our ongoing work to preserve and allow access to the nation’s sound heritage.’

Season of Sound is part of the British Library’s Save our Sounds programme, which launched in 2016 to address the threat to the nation’s sound collection by digitising those rare, unique or fragile recordings which are most at risk.

The initiative also delivers online resources and a programme of activities across the UK, connecting people with their audio heritage.

The Season of Sound events programme will run until late March 2018, with events still to be announced.

For more info, and to book tickets, please see