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Between the Ears


Innovative and thought-provoking features on a wide variety of subjects

Innovative and thought-provoking features on a wide variety of subjects
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Innovative and thought-provoking features on a wide variety of subjects




The Last Elfdalians

Swedish artist and photographer Maja Daniels explores the mysteries of the endangered Swedish forest language Elfdalian. Maja didn't learn the language herself, but her grandparents speak it and she has long been fascinated by its mysteries. Spoken in the remote forest region of Älvdalen - a place thick with forest and steep valleys - Elfdalian used to be the main language of the area, but Swedish has increasingly become dominant and few young people speak it today. In a collage of forest...


The NHS Symphony

The patterns and flows of life in the NHS captured in immersive stereo, with specially commissioned music sung by NHS staff and The Bach Choir. In the maternity unit at Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital, the heart rate of an unborn child gives cause for concern. Across town at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, patients with critical heart conditions are closely monitored hour by hour. Downstairs in A&E, staff begin their shift not knowing what awaits them. Between the Ears marks the 70th anniversary...


The Mind's Eye

You can never see through someone else's eyes, but can we, by stealth, tap into people's visual imaginations? The mind's eye is something most of us take for granted - the 'secret cinema' inside our mind, turning sounds into shapes, characters into faces - it sometimes seems like a sixth sense. For those who have it. Constantly viewing our own personal visuals, we are powerless to control it, and no one else can see it but us. "A man hitting his head with a bible" or "A tree being chopped...


Right Between the Ears

When Ken Hollings underwent surgery at Moorfields Hospital for a detached retina he experienced an unexpected symphony inside his head, right between the ears. The sounds have haunted him ever since. Musician Martin McCarrick also found himself in a terrifying and unsettling world of head noise that began with a perforated ear drum and ended in a rare medical condition. He too has never forgotten the unexpected world of noise he heard between his ears and has set about recreating it. In this...


The Sheep of Art

What's the difference between the sheep found in art and real sheep? In a sheep bell rich melange, we go in hunt of the real thing, with sheep farmer, author of world best-sellers "Driving Over Lemons" and ex-Genesis member, Chris Stewart, and academic, writer and potential Bo-Peeper Alexandra Harris. Those famous shepherds watching their flocks by night were, of course, following in a great tradition - guarding sheep, leading them to pasture, and then probably killing their babies - just...


Drever, Ligo

The detection of Gravitational Waves in 2015 was hailed as an astounding breakthrough in the world of physics and a triumph for the. LIGO project, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. But the discovery was also a triumph for the men and women who had worked at LIGO during tumultuous times. DREVER, LIGO, is the poet Robert Crawford's meditation on the Scottish physicist Ronald Drever, and his role in the search for Gravitational Waves. Music by Jeremy Thurlow. Producer:...


The Three Second Rule

The three second rule - once more like folklore or hearsay - has been discovered to be the happiest condition for the human brain. In this imaginative journey through the synapses a work, rest and play - Susan Aldworth, Artist in Residence at York University, slips inside a scanner, under the suprvision of neuroscientists Professor Miles Whittington, and Dr Fiona LeBeau, who she has been working with on a project exploring sleep, to discover whether paying heed to the three second rhythm of...


Between the Ears: The Plot for Karl Marx

Karl Marx's penultimate journey was as a corpse in a coffin being trundled up the very steep hill of Highgate to what should have been his last resting place - a three-guinea plot in Highgate's East Cemetery - in March 1883, buried alongside his wife Jenny von Westphalen. The next year a memorial procession to his grave was turned away, but ever since then the Socialist world and the curious began to beat a path to his grave site. But then, in 1954, they dug Karl Marx up and turned him into...


The Shanty Boat

'Hey man, you're living my dream...!' The cry rings out once, twice a day from people who catch sight of the shanty boat as it wends its way down the back waters of the USA. Hand built out of reclaimed redwood by artist, anarchist, and surprisingly practical river boat captain, Wes Modes - his aura is that of a modern day Huck Finn, his ships mates are friends and lovers and 'Good dog Hazel' is always on the couch, on guard, or under the table. In a rich tapestry of watery atmosphere,...


Give Me Space Below My Feet

Is it possible to take the legendary climber 93-year-old Gwen Moffat back up into the mountains? Gwen was Britain's first ever female mountain guide and only gave up scaling peaks in her eighties, but set us a challenge: to give her the sensation of climbing once again, from the comfort of her armchair. In a new poetry commission, Helen Mort attempts to do so by weaving Gwen's memories with an original poem and binaural recordings she made of a climb in Langdale in the Lake District....


Danu - Dead Flows the Don

'The old pagan gods, when ousted by Christianity, took refuge in the rivers, where they still dwell' - Old English saying David Bramwell has a fascination and fear of water. He grew up by a water tower, close to the heart of Doncaster: a place of mystery and wonder to him, the highest building in the area, almost a kind of temple. 'We have wandered too far from some vital totem, something central to us that we must find our way back to, following a hair of meaning' - Alan Moore With deep...



Alice Oswald's radio poem Rain was commissioned by Radio 3 in 2016 as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations. Written and performed by the poet, Rain was inspired by a visit to Romford Essex, which experienced a dramatic sudden rainstorm in the early hours of June 23 that year. The poem examines the effect this natural atmospheric occurrence has on an urban environment and its population. A version of Rain has been created in binaural sound. Listen on headphones for the full effect. Rain...



The innovative composer and electronic music pioneer Matthew Herbert physically deconstructs the instruments of a string ensemble while they play one of Beethoven's late string quartets, considered by many to be the epitome of chamber music. In a new commission, with an original performance by the Tippett Quartet, Beethoven's String Quartet in F major Op.135 is lovingly rendered until it starts to decay, collapse and become unrecognisable. The music unfolds with the sounds of the quartet...


Seelonce, Seelonce: A Call for Help

Last summer the musician Tim van Eyken had to make a distress call while afloat. He was struck by how, at the moment of greatest tension and stress, the language used was calm itself. Instructions were simple and clear. Indeed, during the crisis language itself almost disappeared through the imposition of radio silence (the call 'Seelonce, Seelonce') clearing the airwaves so rescuers could listen solely to signals from those who had called for help. Tim van Eyken, the dramatist Joseph Wilde...


White Rabbits in Sussex

In a melting magical funnel of musical love (and the odd bit of reverb), musician David Bramwell investigates the unlikely story of how, in 1969, an amateur dramatic production of "Alice Through the Looking Glass", starring a young Martha Kearney, became one of the most sought-after psychedelic records in the world. Sony Award-winning musician David Bramwell heads out over the Downs to Ditchling, Sussex, where Peter Howell and John Ferdinando first met as teenagers - creating the soundtrack...


Alice at Crackpot Hall

Newcastle writer David Almond investigates the story of a wild child who was said to roam the Yorkshire Dales near Crackpot Hall in the 1930s - and makes a surprising discovery. Crackpot Hall is an ancient, ruined farmhouse near the village of Keld, which lies on the crossroads of the Pennine Way and the Coast to Coast Path in Swaledale. In its time, it has been a hunting lodge, an office for the local lead-mining industry and a family farm. The acclaimed children's writer David Almond has...


Wake Up Baby

A baby sleeps. A man in another room watches her on a screen. Her loving father? No. This man does not know this baby. He's in another country, thousands of miles away. And, each night, he watches a different baby. Wake Up, Baby! is an atmospheric journey into the sometimes unsettling world of "reassuring" technology. The media storm that surrounded the 1932 'baby Lindbergh kidnap', and the subsequent trial, planted the fear of child abduction into the public imagination. In 1937, Zenith...


Into the Valley

Monument Valley, which straddles the state lines of Arizona & Utah, is a place most of us have seen & never visited or listened to. The 'true West' of John Ford movies and endless car adverts. Mark Burman takes his microphone through the red dust of history with Navajo guide Larry Y. Holiday. Chased by the storm clouds and lightning, theirs is a trip through nature's own movie set. At the turn of the 20th Century very few outsiders had penetrated its mysterious spaces. Spanish priests,...


School for Harmonicas

Imagine a town of harmonica players; sounds a bit surreal? Now 'Between the Ears' gives listeners a chance to hear the harmonica as a truly virtuoso instrument, always an instrument of the people - portable, affordable and playable. Acclaimed poet Kim Addonizio turns harmonica student, heading to blues school with pen, mouth, and a stack of harps at the ready, in search of the sweetest sounds. Trossingen in Germany may be the world capital of harmonicas. Every street echoes to the sound of...


The Simpson Ferrograph

Early in 2013 record producer Dan Carey bought a vintage tape machine at a charity shop in Streatham, South London. The Ferrograph recorder came with a box of 7-inch tapes containing an audio documentation of the previous owner's social life as a young man in the 1950s at a time when reel to reel tape recorders were state of the art audio technology. Among the recordings was a poetry reading event featuring an unusual selection of texts, from obscure comic verse to sections from the King...