excerpt from 'Life on air : memoirs of a broadcaster' pp. 40 (240 words)

excerpt from 'Life on air : memoirs of a broadcaster' pp. 40 (240 words)

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Life on air : memoirs of a broadcaster

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As the weeks went by [in Sierra Leone], so we got to know some villages particularly well and became friends with their chiefs.  One of them was exceptionally helpful and offered to stage a performance by his musicians and dancers in our honour.  We were delighted and decided to try to film and record it.

                The first item was a solo by the chief’s balange player.  The balange is a xylophone with a gourd suspended beneath each wooden key to act as a resonator.  As the musician played, I recorded him.  The villagers had not seen a recorder before, so when the piece was over, I wound the handle in the lid and replayed the sound of the balange through the small tinny speaker.  Everyone listened, entranced and amazed – except perhaps the balange player who suddenly found that he was no longer the star of the show.  He was not surprised, he said dismissively, that my box had learned that piece of his.  It was, as a matter of fact, a very easy piece.  He would play something altogether more difficult that would give it something to think about – and with that he started on another performance of impressive virtuosity, his two sticks, tipped with local gum, flashing at great speed across the wooden keys.  I replayed that too – and everyone except him seemed extremely impressed that my box could be such an adept pupil.

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excerpt from 'Life on air : memoirs of a broadcaster' pp. 40 (240 words)


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