David Attenborough Wants You to Remix His ’50s Bali Field Recording: Listen


You know Sir David Attenborough. His is the comforting British voice that guides you through the wilderness as narrator for Planet Earth, Life and about 100 or so other acclaimed nature documentaries. The broadcaster and natural historian has dedicated his life to sharing the precious and endangered wonders of our world. Now, he calls on music producers to remix his 1950s field recordings of Balienese gamelan music as part of a competition in partnership with Songlines magazine and the UK's PRS Foundation for music talent and development.

According to a report by the BBC, Attenborough captured the recordings, in a style called "gender wayang," while filming for the 1954 series Zoo Quest. The bell-like sounds are made on bronze percussion instruments, and it rings quite beautifully. The field recordings, originally released on his album My Field Recordings From Across The Planet, are even funky in their rhythmic composition. Attenborough see a lot of potential here, and we do, too.

"The villagers play this concerted music with extraordinary precision and real zest … So it is haunting music that you hear every night — or you did in those days, in the villages of Bali," Attenborough is quoted by BBC. "Back in the 1960s, there were still parts of the world where European music had not been heard," the broadcaster told Songlines magazine last year … The traditions that had been developed over centuries were still continued with no knowledge of Western styles of music, which since then have enveloped the world … So these sounds which I captured with that clumsy tape recorder 60 years ago have a quality that you wouldn't be able to replicate today."

The remix competition is open to UK producers. Entries will be judged by Attenborough and expert panelists. The top six remixes will then be open to a public vote, and the winner will receive an award at this year's Songlines Music Awards on Nov. 30. Remixers can download the track "Gender Wayang" and enter the competition online. Remixes must be submited a private SoundCloud link by 6 p.m. on Monday, June 10. Learn more at PRSfoundation.com.