Hearing Voices

30-minute radio piece commissioned by BBC Radio 3 (Between the Ears), 2004
Broadcast 2004 and 2005
on Radio 3 and 2006 on BBC World Service

Silver Award winner at the 2005 Third Coast International Audio Festival/Competition in Chicago


John Wynne

6 min excerpt

Hearing Voices is a ‘composed documentary’ which features recordings of various click language speakers from D’kar in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana.  Apart from the voices of various academics from the field of linguistics and endangered languages, every sound in this half-hour piece for radio is derived from the Khoisan subjects' voices and their environment.  Hearing Voices moves seamlessly between documentary and abstraction, language and music, weaving together interviews, field recordings and music in a compelling and adventurous exploration of languages on the verge of extinction. (BBC R3 Press Release)

Superb stuff! It was an enjoyable, intelligent, thought-provoking and unique 30 minutes. (Dexter Bentley, Resonance FM)

Best thing I've heard on the wireless for ages! (Rob Gawthrop, Hull Art Lab)

Hearing Voices presents much more in form and content, and their interrelation, than the current received rules of radio documentary normally allow. From the outset the listener is presented with a capricious sound world where aural objects shift and surprise, and conventions are undermined or mutated. From a northerner’s post colonial point-of-audition, where issues of representing the subaltern are riddled with dangers, many artists would grasp extant, albeit exhausted and ill-considered practices, or back out of the undertaking altogether. John Wynne, acutely sensitive to the hazards of the task in hand, and passionate about the subject matter, has found an approach that informs, but also questions. And it is within that implicit questioning that is built into the structure and treatment of the materials that a running critique is revealed.

John Levack Drever
Of Click and Glitch, Resonance Magazine Volume 10 Number 1
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