Archivist Responds: Yes, Virginia, Delia Derbyshire Really Was That Awesome

A sadly out-of-print album of Delia Derbyshire’s music, with Brian Hodgson, Don Harper. It came as no surprise to me that Delia Derbyshire, composer and BBC Radiophonic Workshop maestra, would have created incredibly forward-thinking music in the 60s. But when one track seemed to predict IDM and modern electronica, the story of Derbyshire’s vintage “dance” track spread over the Interwebs, and even aroused suspicion of fakery. Delia Derbyshire Recordings Found, Including Ahead-of-its-Time Dance Track David Butler of the University of Manchester was one of two archivists who started undertaking the work of assembling a library of Derbyshire’s ground-breaking work. He …

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Delia Derbyshire Recordings Found, Including Ahead-of-its-Time Dance Track

Here’s some very good news from the UK: pioneering electronic music composer, sound designer, BBC Radiophonic  virtuosa and Doctor Who theme creator Delia Derbyshire left us more recordings than previously thought. Some 267 tracks of music and documentation were found in her attic. The Radiophonic Workshop’s Mark Ayres – who has been single-handedly leading the charge to make sure the Workshop’s place in history is safe – had been preserving them. But now this archive will be a “living archive,” meaning, at last, we should get to hear them and new music will be commissioned for the archive from musicians …

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Audiovisual Inspiration: Agriculture Gone Electronica, in TRACTOR

TRACTOR from tsaworks_martin Böttger on Vimeo. Composer/electronic musician Bruno Dias sends us his latest collaboration, with visualist Martin Bottger. It was a distance collaboration – so just the kind of thing you could be working on with musicians and visualists you know. Bruno writes: We never had the opportunity to meet face-to-face and this work was carried along the last couples months with Martin working on the visual side in Maya and then After Effects in Berlin and me developing the sound narrative that would then drive the visuals one here in London. I worked on sound using as main …

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Weekend Inspiration: Party with Experimental Sound Like It’s Montreal 1967

Simon James writes with still more free sound — and free, indeed, as Montreal Expo in 1967 (the World’s Fair) brought together some of electronic sound’s most radical musicians, the type of gang who could freak out a crowd today as much as forty years ago. Thanks again for the mention of Tone Generation. I just thought I’d draw your attention to another related piece I produced with Ian Helliwell last year. It was called ‘Expo 67 – A Radiophonic collage’ and was a snapshot in sound of the Montreal worlds fair in 1967. Tristram Cary composed music for the …

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Music Tech History Day: “What The Future Sounded Like”, Tristram Cary, and a Forgotten Chapter of History

While Moog is a household name, the UK’s Electronic Music Studio is a kind of "forgotten chapter" of electronic music history, as the documentary above suggests. EMS is significant not just for technological innovation, but musical experimentation — not to mention their cheeky British sense of humor and topless nude women crawling toward synths in their ads. (That and the best synth slogan of all time, "Every Nun Needs a Synthi.") For whatever reason, there’s likewise very little online documentation regarding the late Tristram Cary — even though the likes of Pink Floyd, the Moody Blues, and King Crimson made …

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Tristram Cary, Tape Music Pioneer, VCS3 Designer, Composer, Dies

It’s been a rough week for electronic music — having lost Bebe Barron, we’ve now lost one of the other great early pioneers of electronic music, South Australian Tristram Cary. Tristram is credited by some as the father of tape music, originating tape music techniques in World War II. He’s notorious to the general public and sci fi fans as the composer of the music for the Daleks in Doctor Who (along with other music) — like an evil counterpart to Delia Derbyshire, who built the studio Cary would later use. But he was also a pivotal composer of music …

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Obituary: Bebe Barron, Pioneering Electronic Composer

There are pioneers and artists — and then there are people whose impact is great enough that they become inseparable with the history of a medium. Bebe Barron, along with husband Louis Barron, was far enough ahead of her time that her ideas remain futuristic today. The Barrons didn’t just produce the first full-length electronic film score with Forbidden Planet; they created an ambient sonic world between music and special effects, and tied it to cybernetic theories. That score stands in contrast to films still dominated by Alfred Newman-style, post-Wagnerian theatrics. Today, artists are only just re-discovering the possibilities of …

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Avant-Garde Sound Poet Henri Chopin Has Died, But Give Him a Listen

Musician, composer, and musique concrete artist Henri Chopin has died, writes Seth: he has been and remains a figure whose sound work is very important to me, so i thought i’d share it with you all. he was a sound poet who used reel-to-reel tape as his paper, performance instrument, and collaborator. Chopin is lesser-known than some artists even in the concrete world, so if you don’t know his work, there’s no time like the present to discover it — quite a lot is available online. Videos and comments at WFMU Beware of the Blog Lots and Lots of Sound …

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Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pioneering Composer, Dies

The composer at Queens Hall, Edinburgh, recently. Photo: phnk, via Flickr. A massive pioneer in thought about composition and electronic music in particular, an inspiration to rock and pop figures as well as academics, and sometimes a lightning rod for controversy, Karlheinz Stockhausen died this week. (Thank you to everyone who wrote in to let us know.) Stockhausen’s thinking about sound in all his work has had a deep impact on electronic music, particularly in his influential early works for tape and, by the 1960s, live electronics mixed with instruments. And, of course, aside from earning bonus points for showing …

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The Joy of Modular: Exploring the Buchla 200e at BuchlaWorks Site

For many, the notion of producing sound by patching spaghetti-like nests of cords in hardware is a historical curiosity. Even among those who appreciate this hardware for what it is, conventional wisdom says such instruments aren’t really modern. (Don’t even ask the various universities who gave up on using and maintaining the gear entirely, relegating them to dusty closets — or much worse.) Modular synths are under pressure in 2007 to compete with lots of new technologies. Is it worth making music with them? Composer/musician Richard Lainhart has taken up what is perhaps the most modern of modular analog synths …

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