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Paddington Station: brass bands, bears and Brexit

Today’s sound is the unmistakeable Paddington Station – unmistakeable because it currently has a brass band playing classic standards on a platform between the leaving and arriving trains.

Here we approach the brass band, which is hard to make out amongst the hubbub, until we get close enough to hear them play a couple of tracks, ending with the UK’s national anthem ‘God Save the Queen’.

City version:

Our first reimagined sound comes from Seth Guy, who’s constructed this off-the-wall, thoughtful and at times hilarious collage piece from the sounds of Paddington, various TV shows, newsreel footage and other sources:

“In the original television series of Paddington Bear, each episode demonstrates that whatever trouble Paddington gets himself into he is always forgiven, that essentially the message is that the Brits are a tolerant people.

“Both preceding and in the aftermath of Brexit however, our newspapers, televisions and the internet were awash with material which would suggest that we are in fact anything but tolerant and, so I made this work primarily in response to that and our methods of consuming this material.

“Whilst making my own recordings of Paddington Tube as part of my research for the project, I discovered, owing to its acoustics, that the original field recording that I had selected – a “brass band playing at Paddington” – (heard in the first 30 seconds of Grin And Bear It), can’t have been made in the Tube station, and is in fact I believe made in the railway station instead.

“Coincidentally, I also discovered that in two separate episodes of Paddington Bear, both the railway and tube stations are visited by Paddington and the Browns.

“This gave me the idea to link the two stations and build a humorous narrative around that link that would draw attention to serious issues but also entertain and delight listeners.”

Memory version by Seth Guy:

Tom Thompson tackled the same sound, and he describes his reimagined piece thus:

“My piece is imagining and magnifying the sounds created by the physical structure itself as well as mechanical tones of trains produced over time and then retained in the form of echoes and sound memories interwoven with the more contemporary sounds of the original recording.

“I included sounds of the recording but thought of them as ambient tones blending into the acoustic assemblage of Paddington at the very time of their creation, remaining forever a part of the spacetime continuum.

“The sounds recorded were all created on my homemade experimental instruments, a four string electro-acoustic, four string Underwood typewriter and an electric Mbira.”

Memory version by Tom Thompson: