Go back to article: Capturing the song of the nightingale

Abstract

The first outside broadcast ever made by the British Broadcasting Company from a natural location was the Nightingale broadcast of 19 May 1924, in which the world-famous virtuoso cellist Beatrice Harrison performed a ‘duet’ with nightingales in her garden. The broadcast was made possible by the Marconi-Sykes magnetophone, an improved microphone developed for the early BBC. This paper explores the historical and cultural significance of the Nightingale broadcasts, with a particular emphasis on the emotive aspects, and explains the role of the magnetophone in this context. This paper was inspired by two recent acquisitions by the National Media Museum, two magnetophones donated by the BBC in 2012, and the personal archive of Captain A G D West, the BBC engineer who coordinated the first Nightingale broadcast, donated by his descendants in 2015.

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/150402/001