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British Library asks how and why people archive sound

To celebrate 140 years of recording, the archive looks at who gets to select the sounds we keep

As part of Season of Sound, the British Library presents Selector Responder: Sounding Out The Archives on 8 December. The evening will look at some of the ethical issues involved in archiving sound, says the event’s curator Ella Finer. “Who gets to respond to sounds in the archive: the politics of access to collections housed in institutions, and how strangely sound is a subject in this,” she continues. Ella is the daughter of Jem Finer, and is the trustee to his work Longplayer, recently archived at Goldsmiths Univeristy. The process, Ella says, “was the provocation for the event at the British Library, considering the near impossible methods of archiving the continuous, the longplaying, the ephemeral”.

Sounding Out The Archives will feature audio alongside responses from Noah Angell on Connie B Steadman’s collection of The Badgett Sisters; Larry Achiampong on West African recordings from the archive; James Bulley on the Daphne Oram Archive; Ben Elliott on wildlife and environmental sounds; Marysia Lewandowska on the Women's Audio Archive; Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski on Lambeth Women’s Project Archive; Flora Pitrolo on the New Spectacularity Sound Archive; Holly Pester on the audio poetry of Henri Chopin; plus The Wire contributors Nina Power on the Her Noise Archive and David Toop on the BBC Sound Archive of the early 1970s.

Selector Responder: Sounding out the Archives will take place on 8 December, starting at 7pm. Listen to the Badgett Sisters below