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07 JANUARY 2012

Oramics to Electronica: Revealing Histories of Electronic Music

"The story of Electronic Music, from the sound experiments of the 1950s through the digital revolution to today, is one of invention and innovation. Developed with a team of electronic musicians, our exhibition charts this history with examples of music making technology spanning more than 50 years. ...

The story begins with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Electronic Music Studios (EMS), two organisations that broke musical boundaries in the postwar years. Objects from this era include the EMS VCS3, the first portable synthesiser.

Also on display is the Oramics Machine, a revolutionary music synthesiser that was created in the 1960s by Daphne Oram, founder of the Radiophonic Workshop. Daphne created this visionary machine that could transform drawings into sound, and it was recently acquired by the Science Museum in co–operation with Goldsmiths, University of London."

(The Science Museum, 2011)

Fig.1 "Oramics to Electronica", Directed, Produced, Filmed and Edited by Jen Fearnley & Nick Street, Commissioned by The Science Museum, London.

Fig.2 "Daphne Oram", Mick Grierson, Director of Creative Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Director of the Daphne Oram collection.



1950s1960s • Acid House • BBC Radiophonic WorkshopBritish • creative computing • creativityDaphne Oramdevicedigital pioneersdigital revolution • drawings into sound • electronic music • Electronic Music Studios • electronic musician • EMS • EMS VCS3 • engineerexhibition • Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument • futuristicGoldsmiths College (University of London)historyinnovationinventionmachine • Mick Grierson • musicmusic making technology • music synthesiser • musician • Oramics Machine • Oramics to Electronica • pioneering • portable synthesiser • postwar • Public History Project • Radiophonic Workshop • revolutionary • science and technologyScience Museum of Londonsound experiments • Speak and Spell • synthesiser • synthesizer • TB303 • TB303 bass synthesizer • technologytoyUKwomen in music


Simon Perkins

Lost tapes of the Dr Who composer

"Delia Derbyshire was working in the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop in 1963 when she was given the score for a theme tune to a new science fiction series.

She turned those dots on a page into the swirling, shimmering Doctor Who title music – although it is the score's author, Ron Grainer, who is credited as the composer.

Now David Butler, of Manchester University's School of Arts, Histories and Cultures has revealed for the first time the existence of 267 tapes found in Ms Derbyshire's attic when she died in 2001.

They were, until last March, in the safekeeping of Mark Ayres, archivist for the Radiophonic Workshop – and have lain unheard for more than 30 years."

(Nigel Wrench, 18 July 2008, BBC NEWS)



1963 • archivist • authorshipBBCBBC Radiophonic Workshopcomposercultural heritageDelia DerbyshireDoctor Who • Manchester University • Mark Ayres • music compositionpioneerpioneering womenRadiophonic Workshop • Ron Grainer • science fictionscore • shimmering • soundtrackswirling • tapes • televisiontheme tunetitle musicUKwomen in historywomen in music


Simon Perkins
06 NOVEMBER 2008

The 50th anniversary of the Radiophonic Workshop

"This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Radiophonic Workshop, the BBC's experimental unit for electronic sound. It also marks the 10th anniversary of the workshop's death after a long period of decline. But almost as soon it was gone, it began to assume cult status. A Radiophonic ghost began to haunt the peripheries of pop culture, audible initially as an influence on 'retrofuturist' groups such as Boards of Canada, Broadcast and Add N to (X). In the past five years, there has been a steady flow of Radiophonic–related reissues from labels such as Mute, Rephlex, Glo–Spot and Trunk; a BBC4 documentary, Alchemists of Sound; and a South Bank symposium organised by Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley. There have been two plays about the workshop's Delia Derbyshire, and when Doctor Who was relaunched in 2005, unfavourable comparisons were made between the Radiophonic team's original electronic music and the orchestrated flatus of Murray Gold's updated version. This summer, the Southbank Centre held a symposium on Daphne Oram, the workshop's co–founder, and there was news about the discovery of a huge cache of unreleased material by Derbyshire, the workshop's most brilliant composer. In November, Mute is set to issue a double CD compilation, 50th Anniversary Retrospective, including nuggets never before released."

(Simon Reynolds, 20 September 2008)

The Alchemists of Sound (TV 2003) [].



195850th anniversary • Add N to (X) • audio engineering • avant-gardeavant-garde musicBBCBBC FourBBC Radiophonic Workshop • Boards of Canada • Bob Stanley • composerDaphne OramDelia Derbyshiredigital mediadigital pioneersDoctor Whoelectronic musicelectronic soundexperimental musicexperimental sound • Glo-Spot (publisher) • Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy • Murray Gold • musique concrete • Mute (publisher) • patch panelRadiophonic Workshopreel-to-reel • Rephlex (publisher) • retrofuturism • Saint Etienne (band) • Southbank Centretelevision documentary • The Alchemists of Sound (2003) • Trunk (publisher)


Simon Perkins

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