“Doing Bird”, Scotland’s Sounds at HMP Perth

by Steve Urquhart, radio producer and sound artist

Inmates at HMP Perth engage with archive birdsong and oral history recordings from the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club in a unique, creative audio art collaboration.

Peesweeps meet hip hop beats, grouse unlock coded prison language, and an unhatched kestrel chick provokes philosophy…


“To be a bird, even just for a day, would be… freeing. Just free. Where would you go? I don’t know – I’m just gonna fly!”

In prison, people are literally separated from the outside world, and from the natural world. It can be disturbingly easy to disconnect from life beyond prison walls.

And yet, a sound that’s often cited by prisoners as one of their few direct live links with the outside world, is birdsong.

When the National Library of Scotland invited artists to engage community partners with archive audio collected by members of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club, I proposed working with people being held in one of Scotland’s prisons.


“With birds, there’s a pecking order – same as there is in the jail!”

Why prison?

In prison, avian language and symbolism are widespread. ‘Doing Bird’ is a slang term for being in prison, as is ‘jailbird’. Many prisons are divided into ‘wings’. Bird tattoos often have specific meanings.

Among the principal stated objectives of prison are constructive engagement, recovery and reintegration. Through the powerful sensation of sound, I wanted to bring the outside world directly into prison, to encourage inmates to actively consider – and to engage creatively with – life, experiences and sounds far removed from their cells, as they prepare for release.

Those taking part are all producer-presenters at HMP Perth’s ‘Insider Radio’ (the station launched in 2021). Together they’ve produced the ‘Doing Bird’ mixtape – Side A and Side B – two ambitious, personal and celebratory new compositions for radio and digital listening, blending archive material with their own stunningly imaginative responses through music, spoken word, and sound art.


“Some mornings, between 3 and 4am, I’ll hear a smaller bird, like a robin. That sound takes me back to being at home.”

Engaging with Scotland’s archive birdsong recordings encourages the men to recall positive memories, to spark creativity, to reflect on the purpose of prison, and to re-evaluate their connection to the world beyond prison walls. They also think deeply about the accessibility and value of oral history recordings, and about who gets to be involved.

The two pieces (each 19 minutes in duration) are created by eight inmates working at HMP Perth’s Insider Radio, in collaboration with the sound artist and radio producer Steve Urquhart.

‘Doing Bird’ was first broadcast on Insider Radio, HMP Perth, in March 2022, and scheduled for broadcast on National Prison Radio in Spring 2022. Listen to extended clips from the mixtapes here…

Doing Bird Mixtape – Side A.
Doing Bird Mixtape – Side B.

… and check out the full length versions on Steve’s Soundcloud page…

SIDE A: https://soundcloud.com/listentosteve/doing-bird-a

SIDE B: https://soundcloud.com/listentosteve/doing-bird-b

‘Doing Bird’ is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland. It’s also supported by the National Librarian’s Innovation Fund, and by the Scottish Prison Service.

Photography copyright Steve Urquhart

Unlocking Our Sound Heritage Artist In Residence – Jenny Sturgeon – Releases Two New Films

We’re so excited to share the release of two pieces made by Unlocking Our Sound Heritage Artist in Residence Jenny Sturgeon on a project she led with 30 participants. The films – which you can watch below – feature music, words and field recordings as well as archive recordings from the National Library of Scotland sound archives. 

These residencies are made possible thanks to the support of the National Library of Scotland, British Library Sound Heritage and National Lottery Heritage Fund.

As Far North as Anything Grows

You can download the sound for this piece on Bandcamp here.

Pushing, Reaching, Falling, Replacing

You can download the sound for this pieces on Bandcamp here.

Jenny has made the audio pieces free to download, however if you’d like to pay for the track, all profits will go to highland rewilding charity Trees For Life.

The Work-Ins of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, 1971-1972: Hearing the Voices of the Protests

By Cara Melissa Evans 

Almost fifty years have passed since the events of the ship worker protests against the liquidation of UCS in Glasgow. This blog focuses on the audio recordings from the sound collection at the University of Glasgow, from those involved in the protests, along with news coverage and interviews. My name is Cara Melissa Evans and I have had the opportunity to work on this project alongside the National Library as part of my MSc course with the University of Strathclyde. I have analysed and listened to the collection to summarise and discuss the contents in this blog, as part of this project. 

When we talk about history, we always think of physical history – books, museums, historical sites. We think to learn from history we have to read or see it, but another great way of historical learning sometimes goes overlooked: sound history. Instead of reading the words of historical people, we can hear them instead, from the preservation of technology and records. Sound engineering and recording has come a long way during the 20th and 21st centuries, but in doing so has allowed the preservation of audio history. We can now listen to the voices of the historical figures we read about, hear the emotion and the meaning within their voices. It connects us with a deeper meaning, and in the case of this collection, lets us connect with the people that felt so passionate about their jobs and livelihoods. 

A protest meeting regarding the closure of the Shipyards Photo by the Morning Star 

The stories of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders and workers are ones ingrained in modern Glaswegian history. While the years have gone by, it is hard to deny the impact of these men and women upon working-class society in the area. Many Glaswegians will know someone or be related to someone involved, or even be someone involved in these events. Following the collapse of the company which had come to be known as UCS (Upper Clyde Shipbuilders), the threat of over 6,000 job losses loomed following the government’s refusal to subsidise the company. This sparked mass protests from the workers who stood to lose their jobs – If this went ahead, then many of them would be unemployed and unable to provide for their families and themselves. The shipbuilding in Glasgow had deep history that stood to be lost also, and so the fight for the Upper Clyde began. 

Protests automatically were the go-to to show resistance and upset at the decision. However, the trade unions involved feared that to simply protest would lead to the government closing the shipyards for good, rather than allowing other companies to purchase them. The answer was revolutionary: a work-in. The workers would not refuse to work, but instead would be the only ones working and operating the shipyards until a change in the policies were made. Within the collection, opinions are voiced on this topic and it is clear to see how controversial the decision to work-in was. To those against it, the workers were reckless. To those involved and for it, it showed the government what the people of Glasgow were made of. 

The collection presents a mass of different opinions on the work-ins. Some recordings are less than 1 minute long, and others run up to 20 minutes discussing the events. Background noise can often be heard, due to the equipment being used to record these interviews and clips. There are many names in the collection that are intrinsically linked to these work-ins. Expect to hear from the likes of Jimmy Reid, the spokesperson of the work-ins, and John Davies, the Conservative government Secretary of State for Trade and Industry at the time. Much of the collection talks in professional terms, discussing the policies and difficulties of the back and forth between the government and workers. While listening, the story of the protests and the passion of those affected by the policies can be heard – With rousing speeches, loud marches, and thunderous applause in response. The heart and passion of the working-class people involved in the work-ins is loud throughout, speaking of revolution and unity. The phrases and terminology used in speeches were to reflect on these issues, with an example being a speaker stating: “What a colossal uprising this is!”. 

Spokesperson Jimmy Reid addressing a crowd in 1971. Photo by smn archive 

Throughout these audio recordings, the working-class sense of unity is a theme consistent in the voices of the protestors. What these people were enduring came to resonate not only with the rest of Scotland, but many areas of Wales and England wherein the working-class people were suffering hardships under the Conservative government. The movement started to become about more than the shipbuilders, but about galvanising the people to seek better livelihoods and incomes for themselves, and better working conditions. The UCS work-ins were recognised around the world, and the response especially from within the UK began to grow sympathetic and supportive. It highlighted multiple issues that Scotland, as a heavily Labour-minded country at this time, held with the Conservative government regarding working-class people and their treatment. The passion can be heard clearly in the speakers, those who viewed the work-ins as a way to better conditions and situations for the working-class of not only Scotland, but Britain too. The UCS workers gained support from celebrities too, including John Lennon, Billy Connolly, and Tony Benn. 

Signs at a protest voicing opinions and desires. Photo by Barrykade   

In February 1972, the efforts paid off and the government gave in to the workers’ demands. Two new companies were established (Govan Shipbuilders and Scotstoun Marine LTD) and the workers had won out with their work-ins. After listening to the hardships discussed on the audio records, it must have been an overwhelming sensation of relief and pride that their efforts had led them to victory.  

This collection is involved in a project called Unlocking Our Sound Heritage, in which the National Library of Scotland is working alongside multiple other institutions to preserve sound history. The project is run by the British Library and its 10 hubs across the UK, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The hope for the 3-year project is to digitise and preserve over 5,000 collections with the help from volunteers and collaboration partners. With the current climate and technology moving forward so rapidly, digitisation of these collections will keep them from getting lost and allow access to future generations to a special area of history. You can keep up to date with the project’s progression over at @ScotlandsSounds and with the hashtag #saveoursounds to be involved! Read more about the project here.

With thanks to Hub Project Manager Jeni Park for her supervision and coordination, and for allowing myself and others to undertake roles in this important and intriguing project. 

Further Reading: 

For a broader history surrounding the protests and shipbuilding, see Crisis on the Clyde the story of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders by Jack McGill. London Davis-Poynter, 1973. 

For a more general history of shipbuilding within the UK, see “Labour in the British Shipbuilding and Ship Repairing Industries in the Twentieth Century” in Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Workers around the World: Case Studies 1950-2010, edited by Murphy Hugh, Varela Raquel, and Van Der Linden Marcel. (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2017) 47-116 

Reflection for UOSH Placement. Reflections on Connecting Stories

by Rachel Gladstone, UOSH Volunteer

Having spent the vast majority of the first COVID-19 lockdown transcribing mountains of old family letters whose contents danced from stories of an all-girls Edinburgh boarding school, flew over Paris in 1815 before the Battle of Waterloo and sailed across the Suez Canal at the turn of the twentieth century, I thought that I was ready for my placement with the National Library of Scotland. 

Little did I know that I would be thrown back, headfirst, into a University of Glasgow lecture theatre, listening to the poets of the Scottish Poetry Renaissance, reminding me why I decided to take Scottish Literature and Language as an undergraduate degree. I have dived headfirst into searching for poems charting the emigrant experience of the Scots diaspora in Canada with Malcolm Ferguson. I have walked the streets of Glasgow with William McIlvanney, consider life, love and sexuality with Edwin Morgan and that wide, wild expanse of Hebridean soundscape that encapsulates Sorley Maclean’s Gaelic poems- haunted though they are by the rise of fascism in the 1930s, Guernica and the Spanish Civil War. 

Little did I know that I would become intimately acquainted with Discogs and the BBC Radio Genome; particularly when the poetry reading or oral history had been taped over by a CD of Al Stewart songs, snippets of church services, or the end of a radio programme debating Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection! Walking the streets of old St Andrews and Leith, dropping into a meeting held by the Scottish Council of Tenants pulls the political and social struggles that Scotland faced throughout the 20th century into sharp relief as the ship building that held so much of Scotland’s economy together crumbled under Margaret Thatcher’s government. Hours of frantic searching later and I find myself listening to discussions on the power of steam railways, sitting as a fly on the wall on oral history meetings with the men who still remembered with fondness the days of steam railways.  

Coming into this placement in the middle of an ILS MSc with the University of Strathclyde gave me some inclination of how the metadata gleaned from the recordings can be used to develop the British Library Sound and Moving Image Archive. What I wasn’t expecting were the head scratching moments when the cohort were introduced to (shock horror!) a different format of cataloguing than the one we are learning in class. Sitting on these discussions and listening to the ever-patient Rob Smith talk about the reasons why the traditional FRBR model is not suitable for archiving audio collections and why, when you get out of library school you have to use all of your knowledge of MARC fields and RDA formatting to essentially wing it the way the British Library wants you to, were fascinating. As an aside, Rob and Jenni both deserve medals for answering all of the e-mails that have been sent over the last few weeks in such a calm, patient, unflappable way. Can that be arranged? 

The thing that I want to take away from this placement is the importance of stitching together stories in order to create a soundscape of Scottish history and culture. The oral histories, poems and memories of yesterday’s Scotland that are locked away on compact cassettes and minidiscs, need to be told. They need to be told because they tell a story of another time, of the joys and sorrows of communities remembering a culture and a time that goes beyond the occasional gremlin attack on the National Library of Scotland’s One Drive and the frustration of uncooperative Excel spreadsheets. They tell a story of a place, a time and a people who owe it to us to remember them with dignity and respect. 

Volunteer Reflections

by Richard James, UOSH Volunteer

Before starting my university work placement cataloguing sound recordings for the National Library of Scotland as part of their ‘Unlocking Our Sound Heritage’ initiative, I wasn’t sure what to expect to hear on my first week’s recordings. As I approach the end of the placement, I’m still just as unsure what I’ll hear on my final weeks’ recordings – and therein lies both the fun and the challenge of what I’ve been doing for the last two months.

A given week’s recordings may feature readings given at the Scottish Poetry Library by poets both well-known and amateur alike, or they may chronicle the shop stewards’ meetings of Clydeside ship builders as they discuss the events leading to their famous industrial action, or they may simply recount the warm and humorous tales of former steam-engine drivers reminiscing about their days working on the railways in Fife. (Or, now and then, they may play random snippets of pop music with no explanation.) The exciting thing about this placement is, you never know until you hit play.

During the two months of the placement, I’ve learned a lot of useful and practical information regarding how to catalogue audio recordings: I’ve learned what sub-fields are and how to use them, I’ve learned how to find and choose subject headings, I’ve gained experience chasing elusive snippets of information down rabbit holes and various tips and tricks to ensure you don’t return from these warrens empty-handed.

More than anything else, however, I’ve learned how rich and interesting our sound heritage can be. I’ve heard stories of mobs of impoverished miners descending on the more affluent town of Thornton to raid the local shops, I’ve become invested in the surprisingly cloak-and-dagger politics surrounding the building of a leisure centre in St Andrews and I’ve found myself, to my own surprise as much as anyone’s, becoming entranced by Finnish poetry being read in the centre of Edinburgh.

I still have two weeks’ worth of recordings to get through before finishing and, although we know this last batch features oral histories gathered from residents of Leith in Edinburgh, who knows what stories will be revealed when I actually get the headphones on and listen to them. I know one thing, though: I can’t wait to hit play and find out.

Bedroom Basement Tapes and Demonstration Tapes: Demo recordings by Kevin Low and Fiona Carlin

by Fraser Linklater, UOSH Volunteer

Every year, ​Basement Tapes Day ​ offers the public the opportunity to listen to unearthed analogue recording formats found at home, through the use of audio playback devices that would otherwise be difficult to access. This year Adam Low, a Glasgow-based DJ, promoter and producer, took the opportunity, afforded by the ​National Library of Scotland Moving Image and Sound team, to digitise recordings created by his father, Kevin Low, along with his musical collaborator Fiona Carlin.

The recordings, which comprise mainly of demo tapes from across a number of years, were digitised in-house by Conor Walker, the Audio Preservation Engineer at Kelvin Hall. Some were produced professionally at what was Wilf’s Planet recording studio on Broughton Street, Edinburgh, while others employ the basic technology of a 4-track portastudio, both producing equally rich and blissful results. The demos feature a plethora of unique and interesting compositions, ranging from feedback laden early-post punk, embellished with soaring alto saxophone lines, all the way to stripped back electronic numbers that utilise early drum machine and bass sequencing technologies. They stand as fascinating encapsulations of a time in Scottish music in which innovation and creativity met head on with the emergence of complex digital instruments, resulting in a synthesis of perfect pop music and computer-world experimentation. Interested to hear more about the context of the recordings, I met up virtually with Kevin for a chat about these tapes.

Kevin Low and his guitar

I kick off our discussion by talking about Kevin’s entry into the world of music. While working as a freelance photographer for the music press, Kevin attended numerous gigs in Edinburgh at the beginning of the punk scene. He describes seeing a number of bands such as The Clash, The Ramones and The Cramps perform in Edinburgh during the late-1970s. In particular, he recalls the feeling of rebellion and new-beginnings in the air, “it was incredible. It was the beginning of everything. It was the reset. It was the pull-the-plug-out-and-put-it-back-in-again moment.” We go on to discuss the formation of his band, a post-punk outfit with singer Fiona Carlin on vocals and himself on guitar. “We had never played any instruments, but we were really excited by the post-punk bands performing in Edinburgh at the time, the likes of Josef K and especially the Fire Engines … We went and bought instruments and knew somebody that was in a band, so they let us use their practice room. And then, we learnt how to play. I use the word ‘learnt’, but we really didn’t even know a chord. So I bought Bert Weedon’s ‘Play in a Day’, and learnt a couple of chords.”

Shortly after, the band were offered a slot supporting the Edinburgh outfit Visitors, a group Kevin insists to this day were a lost gem of Scotland’s post-punk scene. Thereafter, the band went on to release two singles, ​Penniless ​ and ​Love of My Life, ​ and perform a number of live gigs at venues across the city, refining their style of playing to an unmistakably classy sound representative of the time, awash with saccharine guitars and emotional vocal melodies that float through the simplistically arranged compositions.

After a fond reminiscence of rambunctious gigs at Clouds in Tollcross and the Picturehouse, Kevin explains the group’s evolution and eventual shift away from syncopated guitars towards a more club-inspired sound. He credits the nightclub scene in Edinburgh and the emergence of
the 12 inch single as catalysts for his change in musical approach. “We were getting excited by dance music and techno, and a bit jaded by the jangly sound of a lot of independent music… We started off wanting to sound like The Fire Engines, and then ended up wanting to sound like The System. Not the kind of sound you’d expect a boy from Montrose to want to sound like!” On the topic of nightclubs, Kevin goes on to name a number of Edinburgh haunts from days-gone-by; The Hoochie-Coochie club, Coasters, and Tiffany’s in Stockbridge. Concerning clubbing’s bearing on the sensibilities of musical groups at the time, he points out that “it just got into the bloodstream of the bands that were going to the clubs. It was a gradual thing, but it was a natural thing. It made sense when you think about it.”

Excited by the emergence of drum machines and bass sequencing, he sold his collection of punk 7 inch records in order to afford these new and expensive technologies. As a group, they began navigating the world of digital instruments without any formal knowledge of their workings. “You had to sort of shuffle through and learn. We didn’t know how to play guitars, just as we didn’t know how to programme sequencers – so it actually took months, through trial and error. And, going back to any of the musical notes or chords that are on these tapes – it’s all trial and error.” If it was trial and error, it must have been a lucky bit of trial, as throughout the more electronic recordings in question, notes from bass sequencers and synthesizers seem to bounce off carefully programmed drums with sparkling effect. Piecing together Kevin’s reflections with the audio from the tapes, it is impossible to tell the level of intuition that is channelled through the instruments. It doesn’t sound naive and elementary; rather deliberately paired back, sophisticated and stylish, with lively bass lines bringing form and momentum to sweeping melodies.

When the topic of conversation segways to tapes, he explains their role in facilitating a kind of music sharing that was until then difficult. “There was a lot of passing over and sharing music via that format. Some things would get passed about that you wouldn’t have found otherwise – I remember listening to Gil Scott Heron for the first time via a friends mixtape… Sharing demo’s was also big. You would get a demo of another group and then swap it for one of your own. The funny thing about that is that you don’t know where any of those tapes have ended up. One of our tracks ended up on some compilation cassette in Germany. I dread it because it says in brackets ‘live’ next to one of our tracks. That will sound horrendous!”

Demo Tape ‘Mixed Down’

We close off the interview by talking about Kevin’s experiences sending music to John Peel, a hero for many music lovers of that time and beyond. He discusses waiting outside the BBC studio in central London, asking Peel to play a recording of their second single ​Penniless ​ . “He was a really important figure for a lot of people. He also gave money to a lot of bands, telling them to put a record out.”

Throughout the conversation, Kevin is passionate to discuss his time making music and being immersed within Edinburgh’s rich artistic scene. He concludes by insisting that he never wanted to ‘become a musician’, he simply ‘wanted to create things’. To this day, Kevin still holds this passion, creating expressive art, portraiture and otherwise, through the medium of paints. Reflecting on the conversations as a whole, a common theme seems to be a strict dedication to making and ‘trying out’ within the artistic process, without which none of these recordings would be quite as timeless in their appeal. After all, without the digitisation of these tapes, I probably would never have heard them see the light of day. Happily, I have, and it excites me for any future encounter I might have with a mystery collection of tapes such as this.

Kevin Low now works as a visual artist, having shown his work throughout the UK and, most recently, in Australia. To find more about his art, find him on Instagram at @mrkevinlow or via his website ​ https://www.kevinlow.net/ ​ .
Adam Low is a Glasgow-based DJ, producer and promoter, running club nights under the banner of Partial and producing music through the alias Pigeon Steve.

I would like to extend a massive thank you to Kevin Low and Adam Low for allowing me to discuss the topic with them and listen to these recordings. Additionally, a special thank you is required for Conor Walker, without whom none of this would have been possible.

The excitement gleaned from little stories

by Rob Smith, Cataloguing Co-ordinator, UOSH

The following is part of series for World Audiovisual Heritage Day 2020, where people were given the opportunity by the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage team at National Library of Scotland to listen to recordings that they had not been able to listen to for a long time, asking them to reflect on listening in to the past.

Instantaneous disc “Revolutionary Study” Chopin and Part of Waltz in Ab by “Margaret McGeoch (over 92)”

Hidden amongst old vinyl and shellac records are usually some special and very unique audio gems. ‘Instantaneous’ discs offered people a means of making a recording instantly and taking it home with them (https://obsoletemedia.org/acetate/). While they resemble 78rpm shellac records, they are much more fragile and it was not unusual for these discs to only get played a handful of times. In fact, they might not be played for decades as the technology to play them fell out of fashion and then into obsolescence.

Fiona Petrie and her mother, Caroline Campbell, have two of these discs in their possession. One of these discs contains recordings of Caroline’s grandmother, Margaret McGeoch, playing piano at age 92.

Fiona and Caroline joined me for an interview to talk about this disc and what it was like to listen to the recordings found on it. Caroline was “totally impressed” by her grandmother’s piano playing and her ability to play these complex classical pieces from memory. Fiona never had the chance to meet her great-grandmother. She found the anecdotes and “little stories” told by Caroline, which were evoked by listening to the recordings, exciting to hear as it allowed her to connect with her family’s past.

Listen to Margaret at the piano while I talk to Fiona and Caroline about these recordings below. Many thanks to Fiona and Caroline (and Margaret) for taking part!

Speaking to Fiona and Caroline about the recording with clips of the recording

A family’s Christmas message, 1950

by Jeni Park, UOSH Project Manager

The following is part of series for World Audiovisual Heritage Day 2020, where people were given the opportunity by the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage team at National Library of Scotland to listen to recordings that they had not been able to listen to for a long time, asking them to reflect on listening in to the past.

In the 21st century it seems almost run of the mill to send a voice clip from your phone, however 70 years ago the opportunity to visit a recording studio and record sound to send to distant relatives was an exciting prospect.

Today I have had the opportunity to speak to Margaret* about her experience of doing just that, and the associated reminiscences the recording prompted.

Instantaneous disc Side 1
Instantaneous disc Side 2

The year was 1950 and Margaret’s Aunt Agnes was part of a teacher exchange programme and went to live and work in Bermuda for a year, which was later extended to three years.  In the run up to Christmas, the family decided to make their own record at Larg’s in Dundee. Margaret thinks they may have seen an advert about it in the local newspaper.

Instantaneous disc from Larg’s, Dundee.
Photo courtesy of Margaret

Larg’s was primarily a music shop, selling new and second-hand instruments, accessories, sheet music and records. It is fondly remembered by Dundonians as the place to be, whether you were a musician, aspiring to be one or just liked music. In the 1950’s they set up a studio for the recording of instantaneous discs.

An instantaneous disc was intended to be a quick method of recording and replaying sound for radio or as the initial recording that would then be mastered into a vinyl disc. Although the recording equipment was quite bulky, it quickly became popular for the general public and could be seen at the fair or on the pier. This allowed ordinary people to record a kind of audio postcard, a song for your sweetheart or, as in Margaret’s case, Christmas Greetings to be sent to a family member on the other side of the world.

Most of the family arrived in the family car ‘Suzie’, Margaret recalls her mother joking that Suzie’s bigger successor should be named ‘Susan’.

Jim, Ethel, Granny and Agnes.
Photo Courtesy of Margaret.

When they arrived at Larg’s they were shown into the recording studio. They stood in a circle around the microphone, which hung from the ceiling and to 5-year-old Margaret it seemed very high up. Margaret thinks that everyone else in the family had written scripts and perhaps read from them on the day, but she hadn’t started school yet, so she had to learn hers off by heart. Because of this Ethel and Winnie sound much more formal than she remembers them sounding, and she thinks that perhaps Granny might have said less than she meant to.

Margaret explains that she felt both excited and a little nervous at the prospect of doing the recording, as they only had one attempt to get it right and everyone had to say their piece within a short time limit. Here she explains the pressure and the relief

Margaret talks about recording onto the disc

I asked about Aunt Ethel and her attendance of the Angus Ball and  Margaret recalls that though the women in the  family enjoyed  Scottish Country Dancing, it wouldn’t have been Aunt Ethel’s usual scene and that it was probablya special memory for her to have mentioned it in the recording.

When they took the record home, they were not able to listen to it before sending it away as they didn’t have a gramophone.

When Aunt Agnes received the record, which took many weeks to make the journey from Dundee to Bermuda, she was only able to listen to it once because it made her feel homesick. It was only after Aunt Agnes had passed away that the recording was found again. Margaret believes she understood how her aunt felt as she had some trepidation about hearing the voices of those no longer with us.

Recorded sound can be an emotional medium but hearing everyone start to laugh at the end of the recording made her smile, making it a happy memory.

Margaret reflects on being able to hear the recording back

Margaret is looking forward to playing the recording for her granddaughters who think it is cool to be able to hear their granny’s granny. The experience has made her want to tell her grandchildren the importance of recording people rather than just snapping a photograph. There is something far more tangible and memory-inducing about being able to hear someone’s voice and it brings back many memories.

*Margaret’s family wished to withhold their surname.