As I was exploring ideas for the project, one of the first things that I really got into was the BBC’s Shipping Forecast.
I was reminded about it recently reading a wonderful longform conversation between Gavin Bryars and Ethan Iverson:
In England, we have something like that — no longer on the main channels — called The Shipping Forecast whereby five minutes before the main news you have a detailed account of the weather conditions at different stations, all the way around the British Isles from the extreme north, between Britain, Scotland and Norway, all the way round up to Iceland, one by one after another and the same language is used throughout: “wind variable”; “visibility moderate.” There are certain expressions that refer to quite precise numerical values. For most people, it’s quite abstract, it’s a sound that they know but probably don’t understand.
I’m kind of jealous that we don’t have anything like this in America. The diversity of our country’s people and places is wonderful, but we don’t have national shared moments like this. I also love the idea that people listen to it for comfort but not understanding. It’s more than a little bit of an inspiration for what I’m hoping to do with my piece.
You can’t embed the most recent editions of the Shipping Forecast, but you can listen to it here.