NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1924 __ 2LO BBC — Radio Drama — Sound Effects
Comment : “[...] Quite apart from the tasks of familiarising producers and actors with the new medium, means had to be found for substituting visual effects with their sound equivalents. These sounds had to be carefully adjusted in intensity and had to occur at the right psychological moment. Some of these noises were genuine - thus the sound representing splashing water was actually obtained by the use of a lead tank about 8ft long and 5ft wide. Other sounds were made by a collection of devices in an ante-room which remind one of an old-time marine store. Rotating cylinders, gripped by bands of canvas, created the effect of violent winds; large shallow drums, covered with coarse buckshot, when tilted, reproduced this breaking of waves and their backwash on a beach; another rotating drum, against which is pressed a pair of roller skates, was used to create the impression of a railway carriage bumping over the joints in the rails as the train travelled along at high speed. Stout sheets of metal helped, when sahken, to build up the storm scene, and hollow pipes with chains and percussion instruments helped depict appropriate noises at a distance”. (Burrows, Arthur, "The Story of Broadcasting", pp. 98-99)The Properties Store was formerly the Band Room, the latter being no longer required following the opening of the first floor music studio in January 1924. The variation in intensity of thse various soudns was obtained by opening and shutting the doors between the studio and the property-room where the sounds were made !. It is generally accepted that the first play written entirely for broadcasting was "Danger" by Richard Hughes and produced in January 1924 by R.E. Jeffrey. This brief but effective tragedy was set in a coal-mine. Shortless after, a comedy, "Light and Shade", again used the new techniques of wireless drama. It was the first of many radio plays to be written by L. du Garde Peach. However the first full-length radio play, "The White Château" by Reginald Berkeley, was not produced until November 1925 as costs and other difficulties inherent in the new medium were just too great. In July 1924 the BBC finally decided to establish a new drama department, under the direction of R.E. Jeffrey. Jeffrey was accommodated in Savoy Hill Mansions where he had ample room for rehearsals. Perhaps this was just as well as one of his first experiments with sound effects involved firing a shotgun over the banisters into the well of the staircase. He did not succeed; the noise sounded like flat champagne. A few months later Jeffrey was allowed to spend £50 for experimental purposes in connection with sound effects, and in November 1924 A. Whiteman joined Jeffrey's staff as "Effects Man". (Briggs, Asa, "History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom", Vol. 1, p. 201, 1961)
Source : Hennessy, Brian & John (2005), "The emergence of broadcasting in Britain", Southerleigh, pp. 324-327.

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