THE BLOG

Sounds of Our Shores

29/06/2015 11:24 BST | Updated 25/06/2016 10:59 BST

Close your eyes for a minute. Think of a favourite place on the coast. Tune into your memory sound bank and start to imagine the sounds that fill the airwaves. It could be the sounds from the days spent at the coast as a kid when the day felt like it would never end. Or it might be a trip to a seabird colony clinging to the cliffs and creating an intense wall of sound.

For me it would be the sound of my kids on a hot August day running into the sea, yelping with delight, then realising the English channel is still a bit chilly, and running out again.

There is something really powerful about the sounds of our shores. Our sensory experience of being by the sea can fill our life with powerful memories and transport us to a place or time.

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The drama of the north Cornish coast, now known as 'Poldark country'

The coastline around the UK is a vibrant place. It's somewhere that we're drawn to time and time again. The thousands of miles and hundreds of islands around the coast have shaped our national identity and have become deeply embedded in our DNA.

Many of us spend a lot of time thinking about the coast - perhaps daydreaming about living by the sea with its seemingly eternal sunsets or the gentle and very re-assuring repetitiveness of the waves lapping the seashore.

This summer the National Trust, British Library and the National Trust for Scotland have come together to ask people to record sounds from the whole coastline of the UK - helping to crowd source a sounds of our shores coastal sound map. And it's not just the wild stretches of coast but the 15 per cent of coastline that is developed too - villages, towns and cities; ports, urban beaches or classic seaside towns.

It's a project - linked to the 50th anniversary of the National Trust's Neptune Coastline Campaign - that aims to capture a snapshot of how our coast sounds and also a chance to reflect on the changing relationship that we have with the coastline.

You could record a wonderful five minute soundscape from a stretch of coast rich in sounds, helping to create a chill out track inspired by nature. Or it could be the classic sounds from a busy beach; whether it is someone wrestling with putting up a deck-chair, the familiar sound of fruit machines on a seafront or the gentle background noise of people having a good time.

In the last century the relationship that we have with the coast has been transformed. It has shifted from a place of work to a place that we go to play. Yes there is vibrancy still to the working coast - busy fishing harbours and mega sized container terminals - but for most of us it about those special places that we like to visit time and time again.

Recording sounds couldn't be easier - on a smartphone or tablet computer - and it's a great way of creating a sonic equivalent of a postcard or photo; something that can be shared with friends and family. And best of all the sounds that make it up on the coastal sound map will end up in the British Library Sound Archive (one of the biggest in the world no less).

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Martyn Ware recording sounds on Brighton beach

The sounds that appear on the map will be used by musician and producer Martyn Ware (better known as one of the founder members of Human League and Heaven 17) to create a twenty-minute soundscape that will be released in February 2016.

So this summer use some of your screen time to record the sounds of our shores. You'll be helping to crowd source for a project that will capture the sounds from the UK coast for future generations to hear. It will also be a great way of seeing and hearing the places on the coast that you love in a new light.