BBC has launched its Soundscapes for Wellbeing initiative which aims to bring nature to everyone during lockdown.
Soundscapes for Wellbeing aims to connect audiences with nature through creative programming on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 6 Music, BBC Sounds and BBC Two’s Winterwatch, as well as through new access to the BBC Sound Effects archive.
As part of Soundscapes for Wellbeing, the BBC and the University of Exeter have commissioned The Virtual Nature Experiment. By joining approaches from the arts, natural history, and science, this experiment will explore the emotions people feel when they engage with natural environments via varying online and broadcast formats, from rich visual scenes, to immersive natural sound recordings and big budget wildlife documentaries. Both sound recordist Chris Watson and film composer, Nainita Desai, have created soundscapes for the experiment.
Audiences are invited to take part in the 10-minute experiment from home, and can in turn, help scientists understand how best to bring the benefits of nature to people who can’t easily get outside. Using a laptop or phone device, participants will be asked to play one of several short videos and answer a series of questions.
New to the BBC Sound Effects digital archive are 17,000 new nature sounds, added to the 16,000 sounds already available, well as a new Mixer Tool function, allowing users to create and share their own Soundscapes. Available for personal, educational or research purposes, the digital archive allows audiences to escape aurally around the world from the comforts of their living room.
Rebecca Sandiford, BBC Music Commissioning Executive, said: “Soundscapes for Wellbeing is a collaboration involving teams right across the BBC, offering imaginative ways for audiences at home to immerse themselves in the natural world – something we all need right now. Our UK-wide research with the University of Exeter invites people to help scientists create robust insight into the benefits of digital nature experiences, and audiences can investigate the effects for themselves by exploring our newly launched BBC Sound Effects archive and listening to the creative content on radio, TV and digital specially produced for the project.”
Alan Davey, controller of BBC Radio 3, added: “Helping listeners enjoy the healing powers of both music and nature has always been vital to Radio 3. This is especially true in a time of lockdown, frantic news cycles and uncertainty. The perspective and space to think that music and nature offers couldn’t be more important for our mental well-being, and offers something genuinely meditative and restorative. We hope our immersive programming across the BBC as part of Soundscapes for Wellbeing will continue to bring the riches of music and nature to life, particularly for those who have been unable to experience the escape of the open air this past year.”