David Attenborough WLTM trance producer

By Mark Savage
BBC Music reporter

Image source, Getty Images
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Sir David is running the remix competition to bring indigenous music to a new audience

At the age of 93, Sir David Attenborough is taking a belated detour into dance music.

The broadcaster, who has brought the natural world into millions of homes, is seeking a DJ to remix a field recording he made in Bali 70 years ago.

He's asking them to turn the three-minute recording of sacred gamelan music into a club-worthy Ibiza anthem.

Sir David first recorded the melodies while searching for a Komodo dragon in his 1954 BBC TV series, Zoo Quest.

"The villagers play this concerted music with extraordinary precision and real zest," he recalled.

"So it is haunting music that you hear every night - or you did in those days, in the villages of Bali."

He now hopes that, by fusing the original recording with modern production, the indigenous music of Indonesia can be introduced to a new generation.

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Sir David's recording of the gamelan music - known as Gender Wayang - was originally intended for use in the background of Zoo Quest, in which he accompanied staff from London Zoo as they ventured around the world to capture new specimens (an accepted practice at the time).

The naturalist often took a portable tape recorder on his travels to capture local sounds and music, but the majority of his recordings went unused, and lay dormant in the BBC Archive until he mentioned them in passing to Radio 4 producer Julian May.

May tracked the recordings down and helped compile an album of Sir David's discoveries - titled Sir David Attenborough: My Field Recordings From Across The Planet.

"Back in the 1960s, there were still parts of the world where European music had not been heard," the broadcaster told Songlines magazine last year.

"The traditions that had been developed over centuries were still continued with no knowledge of Western styles of music, which since then have enveloped the world.

"So these sounds which I captured with that clumsy tape recorder 60 years ago have a quality that you wouldn't be able to replicate today."

The competition to remix his Balinese field recording is being run in conjunction with Songlines magazine and new music funding body, the PRS foundation.

Sir David will judge entries with the help of a panel including Mercury Prize nominee Ghostpoet and BBC 6 Music presenter Cerys Matthews. They will whittle down the entries to six finalists, with a public vote choosing the winner.

Although it is the broadcaster's first official foray into dance music, his voice was sampled by Damon Albarn on the 2012 Gorillaz song Superfast Jellyfish.

There's also an Attenborough-themed rave night - David Attenborough Jungle Boogie - in which DJs throw down excerpts of Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II over club beats, while fans wear cut-out masks of the wildlife expert's head.

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"There's this sense of euphoria really when you hear his kind of dulcet tones over our sort of disco track," organiser Louis Jadwat told CBC radio last year.

"There isn't really a voice that's comparable to it."

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