A leading UK beatboxer has vocally recreated the nation’s best-known songbirds to celebrate the sounds of spring and encourage the nation to get outdoors and experience nature first hand.
The album of tweet music was commissioned by the National Trust after academic research found that listening to birdsong, one of the Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾, not only makes people calmeri but boosts positivityii. Despite this, almost one in five (19 per cent) rarely hear birdsong with 19 per cent of city dwellers regularly woken up by the noise of cars or planes.
Beatboxer and vocal sculptor Jason Singh visited National Trust places for inspiration before creating the album, which features birds and wildlife including Blackbirds, Robins, Woodpeckers, Crows, Skylarks, Owls, Warblers, Buzzards, Frogs and Crickets.
Singh explained, “I love the magic of spring, particularly at Tatton Park which I have been going to for years. When the silence of winter comes to an end, you can feel a real sense of change as the parkland erupts with noise, bursts of colour and new life. This is what makes spring so special for me and it’s this that I really wanted to capture in this project. “It was important to me that the bird calls and environments I recreated were as life like and authentic as possible, so it was great to work with the National Trust’s nature experts to better understand the flora and fauna of spring.” Listeners are set to find the new National Trust soundtrack a soothing experience after a recent psychological studyiii found that natural sounds have restorative qualities. The study found the that birdsong and other sounds of nature like a running stream help people recover much quicker from stressful scenarios compared with the noise of urban living.
University of Surrey Environmental Psychology PhD student Eleanor Ratcliffe, who is working on an ongoing study with the National Trust into the psychological impact of birdsong in people’s lives added: “It makes sense that people should find birdsong calming. Songbirds tend to sing when it is safe, and it makes evolutionary sense that we should feel calmer in a safe natural environment.”
In a poll of 2,000 people, the National Trust found that 42 per cent of those living in cities often feel ‘starved’ of nature. Over a third (35 per cent) have noticed a decline in the variety of birds they see in their area with continued building on Britain’s green spaces a major worry for 70 per cent of those questioned.
According to the research 42 per cent consider spring their favourite season with 77 per cent stating that they feel more optimistic during this time of year. Three quarters of the nation (75 per cent) also felt more connected to nature in spring while the sounds of spring bring back happy memories of childhood for over half (57 per cent).
The nation’s top ten spring sounds 1. Birds singing (69 per cent) 2. An early morning ‘dawn chorus’ of birds (60 per cent) 3. Tinkling stream (43 per cent) 4. A babbling brook (40 per cent) 5. April showers (37 per cent) 6. Lambs baaing (37 per cent) 7. Bees buzzing (34 per cent) 8. Wind rustling the trees (33 per cent) 9. Lawnmowers cutting grass for the first time this year (33 per cent) 10. Baby chicks chirping (29 per cent)
Matthew Oates, National Trust wildlife and nature expert added, “With 45.7 millionivof us now living in cities, we wanted to produce a unique piece of music that would bring the wonderful sounds of spring to everyone – no matter where they are! By developing this in a quirky, creative way, we hope our album of tweet music inspires families and kids to have fun in the outdoors this spring and enjoy all the benefits that the sounds of nature can bring.”
As part of its role in the Wild Network, the conservation charity has also highlighted some of the top places to spring spot this March and April in a drive to encourage more children to get outdoors and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature:
1. Mottisfont Abbey, Hampshire. Listen to a spectacular dawn chorus of birds in springtime at Mottisfont. This atmospheric 13th century property has its very own spring sound experience for visitors too!*
2. Tatton Park, Cheshire. This vast wild parkland is home to a deer park and an incredible 19th century mansion. Head to Tatton for misty spring mornings and listening out for the pitter patter of April showers.
3. Biddulph Grange Gardens, Midlands. The colourful spring blooms and greenery at Biddulph make this spot the place to hear honeybees at work.
4. Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire. Come to Hardcastle Crags to listen to the soothing sounds of babbling brooks and the tweets of baby birds. Be sure to tackle some of the site’s nature trails in April.
5. Brockhampton Estate, Herefordshire. A beautiful spot to listen to the sounds of baby lambs baaing at this beautiful parkland Herefordshire. On 22 April, Brockhampton will host Family Den Building Day – a chance to have fun learning survival skills.
6. Batemans, Sussex. From robins, rooks and blackbirds – take a sensory walk through the wooded landscape of the Sussex Weald.
7. Sheringham Park, Norfolk. Rarer chiffchaffs can be heard chirping within the varied woodland habitat of Sheringham Park. Tick some 50Things activities off your bucket list and learn how to track wild animals on 9 April.
8. Polesden Lacey, Surrey. Home to the great tit and song thrush, Polesden Lacey is in the rolling Surrey Hills just outside the M25. Head here on selected dates in April to climb in tree canopies with an instructor and zip wire, if you’re feeling brave!*
9. Quantock Hills, Somerset. Wonderful walks can be had here with incredible views of valley woodlands and hilltops. Listen out for the beautiful Skylark here.
10. Sugar Loaf & Usk Valley, Wales. The peaks and valleys of this dramatic region are a prime place to hear tinkling streams and spot swooping birds of prey. Join NT rangers for a family adventure in St Mary’s Vale on 19 April and tick off some 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾.
Later in the year, vocal sculptor and beatboxer Jason Singh will take up residency as the National Trust’s Sound Artist – running ‘natural’ beatboxing workshops for children at his favourite place Tatton Park. Singh will not only work with rangers to help kids spot birds and other spring wildlife but also show them how to use their own vocals to replicate the sounds they make.
The National Trust cares for over 300 historic houses and gardens, over 700 miles of coastline and over 617,500 acres across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/spring to experience ‘tweet music’ and find out more about places to enjoy this spring or tweet us @nationaltrust #tweetboxing