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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Sun Song

Air Date: Week of December 29, 2000

The sounds of charged solar particles hitting the atmosphere and the voice of the man who records them, set to a swirly rock n’ roll beat by producer Barrett Golding.

Transcript

CURWOOD: The northern lights, or aurora borealis, make some of nature's most sublime performances. They're pulsating sheets of white and colored lights streaming down from the heavens above the North Pole. Auroras appear when surges of charged particles from the sun hit the earth's magnetic fields. The particles emit light, and, it turns out, they emit sound as well. But unlike the lights, you need special equipment to hear the sound of the aurora. Steve McGreevy has some of that special equipment. He calls himself a natural radio recordist, and he travels around in a van capturing the sounds of natural phenomena. Steve McGreevy invited producer Barrett Golding to turn these sounds of the aurora borealis into radio. The result is called Sun Song.

(Crackling and whistles accompanied by guitar)

McGREEVY: There's just a whole litany of different natural radio sounds to record.

(Sounds continue)

McGREEVY: Whistlers and growlers and howlers and tweaks.

(Sounds continue)

McGREEVY: Particles from the sun are hitting earth's magnetic field and generating these noises, probably several thousand miles out in space.

(Sounds continue)

McGREEVY: It's beautiful. It's primordial. It's Mother Earth singing.

(Sounds continue)

McGREEVY: Space weather.

(Sounds continue)

McGREEVY: And it's wild. Oh, listen to this. Oh, this is beautiful.

(Sounds continue)

McGREEVY: Wow.

(Sounds continue)

McGREEVY: It's Mother Earth singing.

(Sounds continue up and under)

CURWOOD: Sun Song was produced by Barrett Golding with natural radio recordist Steve McGreevy and the sound of the aurora borealis. Music by Jeff Arnsten and the band Racket Ship. Sun Song was made possible with a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as part of the Hearing Voices series.

 

 

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