The History Of The BBC Radiophonic Workshop

Pioneers of Sound is a short documentary that looks at the history and influence of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop was originally created in 1958, to create sound effects and music for radio. It was closed in March 1998, because other alternatives had become available.

Since then, several of the original members of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop have regrouped as an electronic music group, Radiophonic Workshop.

BBC Recreates Sounds Of Radiophonic Workshop With HTML Audio

The BBC has published some online demonstrations that recreate the sounds of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop using the Web Audio API:

Explore the BBC sound of the 1960s with our 4 demos of Radiophonic equipment, built with the new Web Audio API standard. Each demo comes with commented code, so you can learn how to build your own audio applications.

The demos include simulations of the Workshop’s gunfire effects, the ‘Wobbulator’, tape loops & a ring modulator.

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BBC Radiophonic Workshop Back With ‘Listen To The Space’

The New Radiophonic Workshop makes its debut today on new digital arts service The Space and BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

While the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop is known for creating classic sound effects and music, between 1958 and 1998, in a makeshift audio laboratory, its successor is virtual.

The Space – the new digital arts service developed by the Arts Council and the BBC – has appointed experimental composer Matthew Herbert as Creative Director of the New Radiophonic Workshop. His mission is to lead seven fellow cutting edge collaborators on ‘an exploratory journey’ to discover new ways of making and presenting sound and music.

The New Radiophonic Workshop builds on the legacy of its predecessor, but rather than being confined to rooms full of equipment in the BBC’s Maida Vale studios, the new unit is a virtual institution, an online portal and forum for discussion around the challenges of creating new sounds, and bringing together music composition and software design.

Matthew Herbert says, “It is the perfect time for the rebirth of the workshop – the rapid pace of change in technologies has meant our imaginations are struggling to keep up. By bringing together the people making the technology with people making the music, we are hoping to find engaging answers to some of the modern problems associated with the role of sound and music on the internet, in certain creative forms and within broadcasting.”

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BBC Radiophonic Workshop Returning

The BBC and the Arts Council of England have announced that they are reincarnating the Radiophonic Workshop.

The Radiophonic Workshop – in its original incarnation – was a pioneering electronic music studio, responsible for sound effects for several generations of BBC shows, and iconic music, like the theme from Dr. Who.

The new Radiophonic Workshop will, unfortunately, not be an old-school electronic music studio, filled with reel-to-reel recorders and knob-laden devices, but a virtual institution.

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