The BBC Radiophonic Workshop, In 1969, Answers The Question “What Is Electronic Music?”

In this recently shared BBC Archive footage, the Radiophonic Workshop answers the question, “What is electronic music?”

The clip, originally broadcast 3 August, 1969, features Desmond Briscoe, head of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, explaining the fundamentals of synthesized sound, with the help of Daphne Oram, David Cain and John Baker.

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop, founded in 1958 to provide sound effects and music for BBC productions, rapidly became one of the most influential electronic music studios in the world.

4 thoughts on “The BBC Radiophonic Workshop, In 1969, Answers The Question “What Is Electronic Music?”

  1. Just in case anyone isn’t familiar with Daphne Oram and her Oramics machine …

    “the light sensors activated small relays (electronic switches) which in turn controlled a network of resistors and capacitors which eventually controlled the pitch of a master sawtooth oscillator. Oram referred to these pitch codes as neumes. These circuits were based on digital flip-flops (memory cells) and as such, it was a very early digitally controlled oscillator, for which Oram was granted both US and UK patents.

    This sawtooth signal then became the time-base signal for the wave-scanners, which worked like oscilloscopes in reverse. The signal repetitively drove bright dots across the X axes of four cathode ray tubes at the frequencies prescribed by the neumes. Then a feedback circuit with another type of light sensor (called a photomultiplier) forced the dots to follow the drawn patterns up and down. The four different timbres were then derived from the Y axes of the cathode ray tubes, outputting electronic waveforms analogous to those drawn by the composer.”

    Sadly, another creative legend who wasn’t celebrated enough in her lifetime.

  2. She was truly brilliant and way ahead of her time in terms of conception and Ideas.

    She deserves to be more recognized!

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