Airdate: The Soundtrack of Australia

Over two episodes on ABC, tune in your ears to Australia and how it sounds.

Two part doco series The Soundtrack of Australia, featuring ABC Radio’s Dr Ann Jones, will invite audiences to open their ears to the sounds of the nation.

Part I:

In 1977, planet Earth sent a Golden Record of its sounds into space with NASA’s Voyager probes. This ‘cosmic’ calling card inspired ABC Radio’s nature journalist Dr Ann Jones to create her own version of a golden record of Australian sounds.

Australia is a stunning country, but we seldom tune in our ears to how it sounds. Over two episodes, Ann explores how it’s made, what messages it carries and how humans are harnessing its power.

In the first of two parts, Ann examines the nature of sound itself. Ann begins with the iconic sound of an Australian summer: the cicada. Dr Nathan Emery shows how this tiny creature can produce sounds above 100dB, the equivalent to standing next to a jack hammer.

Ann doesn’t just want to collect sounds, she wants to understand how they are made. Inside an acoustic shed, Aussie beatboxer Tom Thum helps to demonstrate resonance and frequency. Combining his vocal gymnastics with cymatics allows us to visualise the physics of sound.

Ann’s search for authentic sounds of Australia leads her to Didgeridoo maker Kristian Benton to dissect the sonic signature of this unique instrument. Separating out the different frequencies of soundwaves reveals its “timbre”, the quality that gives the didgeridoo its unmistakable sound.

In the Victorian wetlands of Dunghala, Ann explores how sound can reveal hidden worlds. Through the science of eco-acoustics, we’ve gained fresh insight into one of our most endangered and mysterious species of birds, the Australasian Bittern.

In Victoria’s Sherbrooke Forest, Ann is lucky enough to witnesses a rare event of sound in the making, as a male Lyrebird teaches a youngster their song.

This episode ends by looking at the ways humans harness sound. From chanting at the footy to sound techniques used by First Nation’s people in Songlines, that helps Ann to boost her memory.

Production Credit: ABC

8:30pm Tuesday 15th August on ABC.

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