Found Sound Bulletin #1

Originally conceived as a synchronized sound composition designed to be played simultaneously on audio-cassette tape and compact disc, the Found Sound Bulletin is an archive of lost voices, audio letters, home sing-alongs and phone conversations created for the Art Lending Library as part of Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art in 2012.

Drawn from a collection of found recordings unearthed from many years of sifting through car boot sales, second hand shops and flea markets, this compilation allows a brief glimpse into the everyday lives of others. These discarded recordings, rescued from the sea of cultural flotsam & jetsam are windows on another world, inadvertently captured for posterity on magnetic tape.

The piece was designed as a listening experience in two parts. Some recordings had previously been edited, arranged and mixed with sound effects and music to create a type of radiophonic micro-drama. For this edition these carefully composed sound pieces were prised apart and the voice elements put back onto cassette, allowing the listener to experience them as they were first discovered – on magnetic tape. The composed elements were compiled on accompanying CD. Following the spoken instructions on the tape the user could synchronise playback of these disparate elements for a unique listening experience.

Separating the compositions into their constituent parts throws into contrast the low-grade audio of the taped voices and the comparative high fidelity of the musical backdrops. It also serves to highlight the gulf between analogue and digital, found and composed material.

This piece was re-imagined as a radio broadcast for Resonance 104.4 FM in 2013 as part of the series ‘Data for the Doubtful’.


An urban soundscape composition that attempts to reveal the marvellous within the everyday. This piece was made from a series of field recordings gathered in Paris on two separate trips. The overall effect is of an audio journal or travelogue without narration. In the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolis we rarely have time to focus on the sounds that surround us. Many of the most interesting and unusual sounds only became apparent in hindsight through playback of the recordings captured. The recurrence of music and musical phrases provided by busking musicians produces a cinematic quality that was deliberately exaggerated by the edits and the division of the piece into different ‘scenes.’

Hubbub was first broadcast on Resonance FM in 2004 and was selected for ‘Drift’ a festival of sound and radio art in Glasgow in 2003. It was also released as a limited edition CDR on meagre resource records (mere 011).

Self Help Self Harm

A 30-minute Therapy Session with Dr. Vernon; sometimes grim yet occasionally amusing listening, guaranteed to make you feel worse than you did before you started. A trawl through the darker side of the human psyche. Tips and advice for the lonely, anxious, stressed and bereaved. Improve yourself the hard way.

Sorry folks, the Chatline is now closed.

First broadcast on Reboot FM, Berlin, 8th April 2004.

A Trip Down the Clyde

Produced for a micro-radio broadcast as part of an exhibition at the Fairfield ship yards for the Glasgow international festival of visual art in 2010 this nostalgic documentary features oral history interviews with people who used to work in the shipyards or holidayed on the river Clyde. The recordings were gathered during a series of  memory sharing workshops at the Lighthouse in Glasgow. The final piece is an evocative blend of voices, found tapes, music and sound effects. Part of the programme was originally commissioned as a soundtrack to accompany a film compiled from clips of amateur films from the Scottish Screen Archive edited by Rob Kennedy. It was screened as part of the exhibition, ‘The Clyde – Films of the River 1912-1971’ at the Lighthouse, Glasgow in 2009.

Featuring the voices of:
Hugh McGeorge
Tom Urie
John Alexander
Harry McColl
Claire Harker
Rita Harker

The radio version was also aired on Resonance FM and Glasgow’s Sunny Govan Radio 103.5fm in 2011.

The Leicester Tape Recording Club

The past is often said to be a foreign country. This programme features audio postcards from some of the inhabitants. The Leicester Tape Recording Club was a club for tape recording enthusiasts active in the sixties and seventies. Like a latter day Mass Observation, amateur radio producers and documentary makers sometimes unintentionally captured the minutiae of a now surreal suburbia. A forgotten world of bri-nylon, briar pipes and tank-tops met an arcane society who spoke of tape-speeds and soldering irons.

These programmes takes a nostalgic and humorous look at the club and its members. Ex-members memories wow and flutter like their disintegrating reel-to-reel recordings. This is a story not just of a club but a community, a community of hobbyists, amateurs and charming personalities who captured otherwise long extinct phenomena like ‘The Golden Wonder Boy’. Memories are made of hiss…

A four-part series about The Leicester Tape Recording Club, ‘Imagination Unlimited’, was aired on Resonance FM in 2008. Condensed versions of the series were broadcast across the RADIA network, on NE1 as part of the AV festival, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on the Framework radio show and as part of Sonic Arts Network’s Brighton Expo 2008.

See the ‘Tape Recording Club’ section for more information.

The Derby Tape Recording Club

The Derby Tape Recording Club started out as a six-part series of one-hour programmes on Resonance FM in 2002. The programmes were haphazardly constructed from a ramshackle archive of disintegrating open reel tapes bought from a car boot sale in Derby. A thirty-minute version was commissioned as a programme for BBC Radio 4 by Loftus Productions in 2003.

Programme note: “A few years ago radio producer Mark Vernon bought a hoard of old reel-to-reel audio tapes in a car boot sale in Derby, as a job lot with an elderly and very heavy tape recorder. Coaxing the old machine back to life, he realised he had rescued the jettisoned archive of the Derby Tape Club – a group of amateurs who made, played and swapped recordings in the 1960s and 70s, when domestic tape-recording was in its infancy and before the audio cassette had conquered the world. A radiophonic elegy to an anonymous group of people and their forgotten enthusiasm: domestic tape recording and amateur radio in the 1960s and 70s.”

This condensed version of the Resonance FM series ‘The Derby Tape Recording Club’ was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 8.30pm on the 1st March 2004.

See the ‘Tape Recording Clubs’ section for more information on tape clubs.

Evelyn’s Request

An audio collage combining excerpts, samples and audio quotes from a range of over 20 different popular films featuring radio broadcasts. Sampled films include: ‘Play Misty for Me’, ‘Radio Days’, ‘Talk Radio’, ‘The Fog’, ‘Warriors’, ‘American Graffiti’ and ‘Pump Up The Volume’. Radio is both the medium and the subject of this programme, a unique feature that is used to play with listener expectations, flitting between fictional radio stations with bursts of static, white noise and wild long wave frequencies as though scanning between stations. As this schizophrenic collage progresses numerous simultaneously developing narratives begin to catch the listener’s ear.

To some degree this is an investigation into the common use of radio as a device within film to explore specific themes such as synchronicity, community, rebellion and nostalgia – as well as the cliché’s of shock jocks, obsessive listeners, lifelines to the lonely, pirate radio and meditations on the concept of dead air. These acousmatised soundtracks allow us to examine more closely the ways in which one technological medium is perceived through another, examining the accuracies as well as highlighting stereotypes and distortions.

Full text

Radio broadcasts are often contrived as cinematic devices to provide continuity whilst switching between the perspectives of different characters or simultaneously occurring events. The omnipresence of the radio invites these parallel edits that are often used to set up contrasts or sympathies between characters or build up tension with increasingly rapid cuts between perspectives. When the soundtrack is separated from these scenes the subtle mechanics that are at work are revealed. We are still able to distinguish between differing environments through a variety of acoustic clues; the low sound of cicadas in the background of one environment, the poorly tuned slightly distorted signal of another, the reverberant sound of a car radio in the still of the night or the tinny sound of someone listening in on cheap headphones.

The realization of this programme in the form of a broadcast marks an important distinction that elevates these cinematic fragments and clips from radio fiction to radio fact. Brought together here is an unusual collection of films, genres, characters and stories that span the last four decades. For the duration of the broadcast the actors playing these characters – the DJ’s, presenters and talk show hosts, for the first time became real. Hearing their voices over the airwaves makes this transformation possible and conversely turns the tables; we are now able to make perceptions about the medium of film through the medium of radio.

This work takes in examples from an eclectic and wildly diverse set of films, from teen angst drama’s and horror films to nostalgic reflections and imbecilic comedies. The mood of the piece reflects this diversity in its schizoid leaps between the inane, the ridiculous, the shocking, the horrific and the profound – just like the best of real radio.

Originally commissioned for the Drift festival of radio art in association with New Media Scotland. This piece was first aired on Resonance 104.4FM in 2005. An updated version was aired as part of the Radio Art Space project by CONA in Slovenia in 2011.

Featuring audio clips and samples from the films: ‘The Fog’, ‘Radio Days’, ‘Airheads’, ‘Pump Up The Volume’, ‘Classy Kill’, ‘Couch Trip’, ‘Dead End’, ‘Good Morning Vietnam’, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’, ‘Reservoir Dogs’, ‘The Truth About Cats & Dogs’, ‘American Graffiti’, ‘Urban Legend’, ‘Warriors’, ‘The Big Swinger’, ‘The Fisher King’, ‘Talk Radio’, ‘Good Morning Vietnam’, ‘Joe Dirt’, ‘The Ladies Man’, ‘Do The Right Thing’, ‘Grosse Point Blanc’ and ‘Play Misty For Me’.

No Such Thing as a Quiet Hammer

Vernon & Burns, thinking aloud, offer a quiet meditation on noise. Extracts from interviews with noise pollution officers from Dundee City Council’s Environmental Health Department are combined with found sounds, songs, field recordings and other voices to create this experimental live radio piece. Part audio collage, part documentary this is an unorthodox investigation into attitudes towards extraneous noise and noise pollution.

Commissioned by Extrapool (NL) in 2005 for ‘Audiotoop’ – an evening of live, performed radio plays and Hörspiel. The full programme was aired on Resonance FM in June 2008. A condensed version appears on ‘Play’, a CD and publication produced by Extrapool, 2006:

The Eldritch Transmissions

The Eldritch Transmissions: A Study in Radiophrenia

A radio play by Vernon & Burns originally commissioned by WORM for Café Sonore, VPRO Radio 6 (NL).

The diary of a missing person gives disturbing clues to his disappearance. An insomniac relies on his radio to offer company during the long hours of the night. Amongst the fuzz and static in between stations the thoughts of his neighbours begin to intrude upon the airwaves. As he eavesdrops on the lives of those around him we become acquainted with a number of characters and their stories, the amusing, the eccentric, the everyday and the plain odd. But amongst the banal babble of his neighbour’s lives lurks another more sinister sound…….

An innovative and surreal Lovecraftian tale which incorporates music, sound effects and field recordings to present a chilling but darkly amusing story of voyeurism and the intimacy of the radio voice.

The Eldritch Transmissions was aired on VPRO Radio 6 (NL) and Resonance FM in 2008 and was also selected for Sonic Arts Network’s Expo 2008 in Brighton. A CD version was released in 2010 as volume #5 in WORM’s Horspil series.

Histoires Contaminées / Contaminated Stories

Over recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in storytelling traditions in Quebec. ‘Histoires Contaminées’ explores the idea that in folk traditions a story is a constantly evolving form given new shape by each teller. Although the details may change the underlying archetypes remain the same.

Four local storytellers were invited to adapt or improvise a story that would include four predetermined items or themes. The intention was to create four points of correlation where the different narratives would meet or overlap. These stories were then used as raw material; edited, re-cut, processed and combined, to create a completely new narrative. The resulting work, ‘Histoires Contaminées’, is an unorthodox radio play in the tradition of German Hörspiel. Voices merge with field recordings, found tapes and abstract sounds in a simultaneously meditative and delirious audio montage. The ambiguous meaning is intended as a point of departure for the listeners imagination.

Celine Jantet
Claudette L’Heureux
Ginette Morin
Nicolas Rochette

‘Histoires Contaminées’ was produced during a 3-month residency at PRIM in Montreal, Canada in 2008. The residency is an exchange programme between CALQ, PRIM, the Scottish Arts Council and the CCA in Glasgow. ‘Histoires Contaminées’ was first broadcast on CKUT 90.3 FM, Montreal, September 2nd, 2008. Limited CDR edition of 50 (mere 023).