And now for a Trade Test Transmission featuring test card ETP-1

Among the things I’ve been doing to establish myself in Downpatrick is build up a new collection of music. It can be Irish trad music or rock or classical or jazz and it can be brand new or it can be music I knew from the first nineteen years of my life, before I moved to England. In fact I’ve been downloading a lot of new songs from www.amazingtunes.com onto my mobile phone.

And here’s something remarakable. I discovered on YouTube just yesterday a lot of videos featuring the Channel 4 test card from 1982 to 1986. In those days Channel 4’s programmes didn’t begin until well into the afternoon. So in order to make up for a whole morning and early afternoon of nothing, Channel 4 broadcast a test card and some fine music to go with it.

This happened at a time when I was losing interest in pop music and had stopped following the Top 40. Out of sheer curiosity and to create a little background atmosphere I switched on Channel 4 at a time when I knew there would be no programmes. Now I would be grossly exaggerating if I said I was “blown away” or thought “Wow! This is the next big thing! Move over, Duran Duran and whoever else just happens to be in the Top 10!” No, I gradually warmed to the music to the extent that I regularly recorded bits and pieces of it onto a lot of C-90 and C-60 casettes. I found the instrumental music is better for listening to while reading, studying and idly doodling. Music with English vocals really distracts me.

I also noticed that the total music lasted six hours and, for example, if I missed some track at 9:30am I would almost certainly hear it again at 3:30pm. If I had enough patience and enough tapes I would probably have recorded the whole lot in one session!

But at some point around about the summer of 1985 I got interested in jazz and I reappropriated all my tapes to recording jazz programmes off the radio. And all the instrumental test card music was lost. Well, I was only 14 at the time. I just didn’t know any better.

And now, by heck, here are all those anonymous tunes coming back to me even as I type this entry! Thank goodness for YouTube and people like “cwilliams1976”!

Interested? Here’s a link to YouTube to get you started!

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3 responses to “And now for a Trade Test Transmission featuring test card ETP-1

  1. And furthermore, I’ve been making a playlist of all the clips of Channel 4’s test card music on YouTube. I’ve now got about an hour and a half which I can listen to while I noodle about on the computer.

    After all, staring at a test card can get a bit monotonous after a while.

  2. There were 8, around 1 hour tapes originally which played from the 31st August 1982.

    5 were compiled in house from a box of about 40 LP’s from KPM/Weinburger/Ready Music/Themes International – and more of the contemporary music libraries of the day.
    D.I. Music in Cheshire supplied tape 6 “Carmen Suite” (classical, only 52 mins long) and number 7, “Almost Together” (55 mins) – some tracks from the latter appeared on a BBC tape that D.I. compiled in 1985 (Almost together has now been compiled in stereo).

    Tapes were played from the top of the hour until 5 to, then some tone, very like the BBC! After a while the tapes were grouped into threes and dubbed onto VHS tape(!!!)

    In 1984 the first set of all classical tapes arrived – again stitched together as a 3 hour sequence.

    Compared to BBC tapes in 1982 (alright, some of BBC’2’s excepted, I had a soft spot for those) Channel 4’s output sounded fresh and modern – still does today!

    Check out http://www.testcardcircle.org.uk and clara@sculptor.net for more info…

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