BBC World Service To Air New Doc By Irish Broadcaster

Miriam Cooke's music documentary on sound and music in Prehistory ‘Symphony of the Stones' will be broadcast on 2 December.

In what is being described as a "fascinating and groundbreaking programme" by the BBC World Service, Miriam Cooke, who is originally from Kells in Co. Meath, accesses some of the most iconic ancient sites in Britain, Europe and the US to recover the soundtrack of the past by using an understanding of archaeology and new acoustic technologies.

It is produced and edited by Nick Minter for Wisebuddah and will be broadcasted on 2 December at 15.06 local time.

The shows asks the question, 'Ancient history wasn’t silent, so why is our study of it?'

In Symphony of the Stones, musician and archaeologist Miriam Cooke seeks to recover the soundtrack of our ancestors… and then write a song about it.

Miriam tests fascinating recent archaeological theories of acoustics and discovers the latest, exciting research on sound, music and ceremony of the past.

Miriam Cooke is an archaeologist, musician and broadcaster for BBC, C4, five, Discovery and National Geographic and was one of the presenters on BBC One’s Country tracks and BBC’s ‘The story of Now’.

A former International fashion model, Miriam trained and worked as an actress and musician before she was awarded a first in her BSc in Archaeology and a distinction in her MSc in Environmental Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. After this she attended Durham University on a PhD scholarship.

Miriam Cooke tells Hot Press: “Ancient history wasn't silent, so why is our study of it? ‘Symphony of the Stones’ is an exploration into what we know – and what we don’t know – about the sound of prehistory.

"About the earliest sound-producing instruments, about how and why people would get together to make noise, and about what purpose it holds. My quest is to understand the sound of prehistory and then… to write a song about it.

"This is my extraordinary acoustic time journey of 40,000 years, from a Palaeolithic limestone gorge in the UK to an American Indian reservation, and on to a mountain in the deserts of Utah, where the spirits of ancient animals may or may not be hiding in the rocks. I’m going in search of the original Rock Music.”

While Nick Minter, producer and editor has this to say: “In Miriam, we have a presenter who manages to meld various disciplines – archaeology, musicianship and broadcasting – to create a compelling snapshot of 40,000 years of human musical activity. From gourd rattles, lithophones and bone flutes to dark Spanish caves, Neolithic burial mounds and American desert mountains, this is a glimpse into how and why our ancestors began to make meaningful noise.”

Professor Rupert Till, University of Huddersfield, is lead contributor to the show.

“Archaeology, history, museums and heritage are often presented in respectful silence, but many of these contexts are oral cultures, or aurally focused," he stated.

"Today vision rules, but sound can still play a powerful role in understanding the past. An understanding of the acoustic ecology of the historic cultures can help us connect with our ancestors, can help to transport us back and give us a phenomenological experience of history.

"The acoustics of prehistoric sites are part of what makes them unique, along with what they look like and their material construction.

"And a wide range of musical instruments have been found by archaeologists, from 42,000-year-old vulture bone flutes to elaborate giant bronze Celtic horns.

In this documentary, we show how the study of these sonic elements of antiquity can help bring ancient lost worlds to life, before our very ears.”

As we say, it will be broadcasted on 2 December at 15.06 local time.


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