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We talk about the weather

Where there are radio broadcasts, there are radio presenters talking about the weather. We present four selections from the Shortwave Transmissions project in which weather reports are reimagined in all manner of different and extraordinary ways. Settle back and listen to our reimagined weather forecasts.

First up, tune in to ZMH286 Gulf Harbour Radio. reporting weather and sailing conditions and communicating with yachts sailing in the South Pacific, transmitted from Whangaparaoa, New Zealand:

Shortwave recording:

Janae Jean reimagined this recording, and she writes:

“Gulf Harbor Radio is a radio station that features weather conditions for ships offshore of New Zealand. The audio contains a lot of static along with hosts reading off weather reports. The static itself reminded me of the howling winds and roaring seas so I processed it to further accentuate that.

“Then I selected a section of the 30-minute recording that I preferred and used them as the backdrop to the piece. Then I took another clean version of the audio and cut out words and phrases to drop in between the music phrases after the musical part was completed.

“For the musical material, I composed a short melody that oscillates between major and minor and manipulated it many ways to create the themes. Lastly, I added the harmonic texture which mimics the sounds of wind and waves.”

Reimagined composition:

Next up, an Italian studio recording from RAI (Radiotelevisione italiana) of their maritime weather forecast. This recording was originally made in 1997.

Shortwave recording:

Zuunzug created this piece using the Italian weather report as source material:

“We’re used to working on loops and the repetitive speech of the maritime weather speaker immediately gave us ideas. Moreover, he gives the maritime weather for the Adriatic coast (among others) on which we made field recordings this summer.

“We therefore created a loop with samplers and synths to set the speaker’s voice to music, then we integrated some field recordings from the Adriatic sea. We took the whole source recording, we just sliced the phrasing a bit to give it more rhythm.”

Reimagined composition:

Now we’re off to Ireland, turning the dial to tune into Shannon Volmet, a Shanwick Radio broadcast from the North Atlantic Communications Centre, providing meteorological information for aircraft in flight within the Shanwick area of international airspace (in the north-east part of the Atlantic).

Shortwave recording:

Florian Staab reimagined this recording in a piece called “Moderate rain showers”:

“I used only the original recording source and did not add anything to it. I felt challenged to create a piece from this limited material, using various effects to create all the sounds. But mostly I chopped up the recording and pulled out a few bits that I found particularly interesting.

“This is a (rather repetitive) weather broadcast and it seems the weather was fair that day, except for some moderate rain showers and thunderstorms. As there were only very few of those, they caught my ear above the rest. The other constant in the recording were the repetitive numbers, reminding me of old spy number stations, so I decided to use the numbers as my base and provide some of the rhythm of the piece.

“The piece is broadly structured in three sections to explore different aspects of the recording while always returning to a central theme – weather, repetition and numbers.”

Reimagined composition:

Finally, it’s time for a cyclone warning, as we tune into an Australian announcement explaining the reason for a reduced signal strength. Cyclone Tracy put the Darwin transmitter site off air. This is a news bulletin, plus other selected items that were broadcast relating to the evacuation of Darwin.

Shortwave recording:

This broadcast was reimagined by Paul Collins, who notes:

“The radio announcer discourses on the necessity of improvisation for dealing with uncommon occurrences such as disasters. This became my watchword.

“This piece is an improvisation. Organized in a generally haphazard fashion, but an improvisation nonetheless.”

Reimagined composition: