Bore me to sleep.
September 10, 2012 2:43 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know where (if) I can find mp3s of recordings made for museum exhibits? I'm thinking of things in the vein of Martyn Ware's Tales from the Bridge; ambient music and gentle voiceovers?

I fell asleep listening to Tales from the Bridge the other night and it reminded me of staying at the lodge at Uxmal last autumn, falling asleep to the voiceover from nightly ceremonial reenactments at the site.

I would like to find similar recordings (read: boring) to fall asleep to; apparently it works better than sleeping pills for me. I'm thinking particularly of the kind of recordings that are either playing on a loop in specific areas/exhibits of a museum, overhead, or recordings that users can start when they walk into an exhibit or interact with a display/object.

They can be in any language, though bonus points for English, German, French or Russian. Variable or no background music is OK, too. Any suggestions of high quality ambient sound mp3s, good for sleeping, are welcome as well.
posted by peacrow to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Here's an archive of the audio tours of the exhibits at SFMOMA. I'm sure other major museums would have pages similar to this for their past exhibits.
posted by marylynn at 3:05 PM on September 10, 2012

Best answer: There's such a thing as a chatterbox, a machine (sometimes rigged to a public address system) which is designed to use speech-like sound to raise the ambient noise level in a location. Why would you want to do that? The BBC bought one (years ago) because they had large open-plan offices and a single phone could interrupt every single person in the room. (There was a minor taxpayer --oops, I mean license-payer revolt at this expense and they returned it, but anyone who could object to this probably didn't work in an open-plan office.)

The other thing I'd suggest is recording some foreign language radio from the internet. The ABC (Australian public radio) broadcasts over Papua New Guinea in a creole called Tok Pisin, which was once a trade language-- pidgin-- mixture of English, Dutch, and Native language. It's fascinating to listen to language with semi-familiar words used strangely. That may or may not make you sleepy.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:15 PM on September 10, 2012

Best answer: Brian Eno has a ton of installation albums:

Compact Forest Proposal
Extracts for Music from White Cube, London 1997
Kite Stories
Music for Civic Recovery Centre
Music for the Marble Palace

Also, I can't find full-length videos, but you'll definitely want David Sylvian and Holger Czukay's Plight and Premonition album.
posted by mykescipark at 5:48 PM on September 10, 2012

Best answer: I wonder if the BBC's A History of the World in 100 Objects would work?

In addition, there are lots of courses on iTunes U about history and dozens of other subjects - any of which you may find sufficiently boring [grin]. Here's a list of history courses at MIT's OpenCourseWare, but you might find anthropology or economics or poli sci more sleep-inducing.
posted by kristi at 9:37 AM on September 12, 2012

Response by poster: All excellent answers. Thank you! I'm sure my sleep hygiene is about to vastly improve.

I lol'd at "you might find anthropology ... more sleep inducing." I was an anthro PhD student for the past three years. My best naps ever were in my History of Archaeology course. Maybe what I really need are tapes of those lectures.

Thanks again!
posted by peacrow at 9:51 AM on September 15, 2012

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