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Sir David Attenborough seeks DJ to create hit remix from 70-year-old recording

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 08/05/2019 Harriet Brewis
David Attenborough wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Local News RSS EN-GB

Sir David Attenborough is hunting for a DJ to remix a “haunting” field recording he made in Bali almost 70 years ago.

The legendary naturalist, who turned 93 on Wednesday, has launched a competition to find a “UK music creator” to turn a three-minute recording of sacred Indonesian gamelan music into a dance floor hit.

The ancient melodies of gender wayang are performed by Indonesian gamelan ensembles during spiritual rituals. Sir David managed to capture one such performance on a portable cassette recorder during a trip to Bali in 1956.

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“The villagers will sit down while the leader of the gamelan orchestra will convey his composition, teaching them, one at a time how to play,” the broadcaster recalled.

“They then 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.”

The then fresh-faced presenter had travelled to the island as part of the 1950s BBC TV series, Zoo Quest.

He had been commissioned to search for Komodo dragons alongside staff from London Zoo, and was mesmerised by the local sounds.

"Back in the 1960s, there were still parts of the world where European music had not been heard," the TV veteran told Songlines world music 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."

David Attenborough street art in London

The nature documentary icon said he wants to introduce traditional indigenous music to new generations, and believes putting a modern spin on his 63-year-old recording may be the way to do it.

Budding music producers are invited to submit their entries on the Songlines Remix Competition website, to be judged by Sir David and an expert panel, including Mercury Prize nominee Ghostpoet and BBC 6 Music presenter Cerys Matthews.

They will then whittle down the entries to six finalists, with a public vote choosing the winner, who will then perform at this year’s Songlines Music Awards in November 2019.

Participants will have until 6pm on Monday June 10 2019 to submit their remix, and the public vote will run from July 19 until September 15 2019.


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