Vote opens to find UK’s favourite coastal sound

Whether it’s the sound of waves rolling on to golden sands, seagulls crying from the clifftops or children playing on the beach, the National Trust, National Trust for Scotland and the British Library are on a mission to discover the UK’s favourite coastal sound, as part of a three month crowd sourced sound project, sounds of our shores.

Kittiwake at Cullernose Point, Northumberland. Credit Simon Elliott

Kittiwake at Cullernose Point, Northumberland. Credit Simon Elliott

At its mid-way point, nearly 400 sounds have already been uploaded by the public to the British Library website, receiving an incredible 25,000 listens.

From the amazing range of sounds already uploaded, 10 of the most evocative have been selected for a public vote.  The online poll opens today and closes at midnight on Thursday 27 August.

Cheryl Tipp, Curator of Wildlife and Environment Sounds at the British Library, who helped to curate the list of ten sounds, said: “In just six weeks we’ve had some brilliant recordings which show just how diverse the sounds of the coast really are.

“We want to showcase some of the best sounds while encouraging more people to get involved, especially over the summer holiday period.

“The poll will help us identify what people find so special about the coast; what sounds can truly transport them there and are so important to them.

“At the end of the project all of the sounds that appear on the map will then be added to the British Library’s Sound Archive, where they will join more than 6.5 million sounds dating back to the birth of recorded sound in the 19th century.”

The sounds that the public are being asked to vote for are:

  1. Children playing, Brean Sands, Somerset
  2. Dredging for oysters, Brightlingsea, Essex
  3. Ferries in the fog, River Mersey, Merseyside
  4. Ghost train ride, Brighton, West Sussex
  5. Kittiwakes, Northumberland
  6. Raft race, Mumbles, South Wales
  7. Seagulls, Monreith, Scotland
  8. Seals calling and snorting, Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland
  9. ‘Singing’ Sands, Eigg, Scottish Hebrides
  10. Waves breaking on the beach, Trwyn Llanbedrog, Wales
Children playing in the sea.  Credit

Children playing in the sea. Credit Ben Selway and National Trust Images

Kate Martin, area ranger for the National Trust at Formby says: “The range of sounds coming through is just so exciting!  Because we are an island nation people here have a great affinity and connection with the coast and some of these sounds are so evocative.

“It’s really hard to decide which is my overall favourite, but I think I will be voting for seals calling and snorting on Rathlin Island.

“This is because it takes me right back to standing on the cliffs of the Lizard peninsula as a child, shrouded in sea fog, and being petrified by the sounds of what I thought was drowned souls crying out from the watery depths until my Mum told me that it was just the grey seals calling to each other on the rocks below.”

Solitary seal on the beach. Credit NT Images

Solitary seal on the beach. Credit NT Images

All of these sounds will be added to the British Library Sound Archive – creating a snapshot of the beautiful and diverse UK coastline that future generations will be able to hear.

Sounds recorded, whether on a smart phone, tablet or handheld recorder, can be uploaded to the map via the audioBoom website or app (they are both free and easy to use). The sounds will then appear on the map, which will be hosted on the British Library website.

Musician, producer and founder member of Human League and Heaven 17, Martyn Ware, will be using the sounds submitted by the public to create a brand new piece of music for release in February 2016.

On hearing the sounds for the poll Martyn commented: “The amazing diversity of sounds submitted is something beautiful to behold.  There are human stories, working stories, unusual weather events, seaside fun, and, most of all, the immensely calming and contemplative sounds on the natural world, embodied by the great variety of wave impacts on our shores, the incredible number of different types of birdlife, seals, dolphins, porpoises – even the sounds of dredging for oysters and mussels.

“How do we attribute value to our relationship to the coast?  In innumerable ways…children laughing and playing on the sand and in the surf remind us all of a more carefree existence – the hard-to-describe pleasure of peace and contemplation in an ever more frenetic and digital world, where attention span gets smaller and smaller – trying to identify different types of wildlife takes us out of the moment and into a simpler but more significant type of existence.

“In a nutshell, go to the coast, close your eyes and reawaken the most underrated sense of all – hearing – and pay attention to the beauty of your sensory environment and you will be repaid a thousandfold.”

To get involved in the project and vote for your favourite sound visit Participants can also tweet about their favourite sounds using the hashtag #shoresounds.

The results of the poll will be announced on Friday 4 September.


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