Friday, 22 May 2020

Daphne Oram ‎– "Oramics (1958-1977)" (Paradigm Discs ‎– PD 21) 2007


A rather groovy electronic gig from the very early sixties...just look at that kit!..In fact, just look at that audience!

Yes there was life before Delia Derbyshire.
The Great Auntie of Electronica, and co-founder of the much lauded BBC Radiophonic Workshop,was Daphne Oram, Who ,in 1942, was offered a place at the Royal College of Music but instead took up a position as a Junior Studio Engineer and "music balancer" at the BBC. One of her job responsibilities was "shadowing" live concerts with a pre-recorded version so the broadcast would go on if interrupted by "enemy action".Other job duties included creating sound effects for radio shows and mixing broadcast levels. During this period she became aware of developments in synthetic sound and began experimenting with tape recorders. Often staying after hours, she was known to experiment with tape recorders late into the night recording sounds on to tape, and then cutting, splicing and looping them, slowing them down, speeding them up, and playing them backwards.A BBC employee yes, but an enlightened employee.It was she who foisted the idea that the Beeb should use electronics to create an atmosphere for some of the plays she was involved with...you know like those foreign french types were doing with Musique Concrete and stuff? This was around the early fifties, after she had been experimenting with electronics and tapes throughout the 40's.She created an orchestral work entitled Still Point.This was an innovative piece for turntables, "double orchestra" and five microphones. Still Point was likely the first composition that combined acoustic orchestration with live electronic manipulation. However, as was usual it was rejected by the BBC and remained unheard for 70 years, until on 24 June 2016 when the London Contemporary Orchestra performed it for the first time!
The BBC continued to refuse to have anything to do with any of that new fangled foreign music rubbish, but Daphne continued to demand that she had her way, until they relented and allowed her and Desmonde Briscoe to form the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in a few rooms at Maida Vale Studios.
Although,after hearing some of the work produced by her contemporaries and being unhappy at the BBC music department's continued refusal to push electronic composition into the foreground of their activities, she decided to resign from the BBC less than one year after the workshop had opened, hoping to develop her techniques further on her own.

This became known as "Oramics", and she even invented her own Oramics machine,which involved a system from which electronic sound could be produced from drawn images.The Fairlight in the 1980's had some facility that allowed that using a lightpen, but Daphne was doing this decades before that,using a marker pen and 35mm film. The machine itself is now on display at the London Science Museum in perpetuity......alas,not in working order.
But, above and beyond all that technical genius and no nonsense female bloodymindedness, she had a great image. The Blitz-era perm, the horn-rimmed glasses,the floral dresses,and that piercing BBC announcers voice, the kind that makes us Beta-males stand to attention and do whatever she tells us to do.....which in our case would be to very fuck off......or in her era.....bloody bugger off you moron will you please?
All this stuff is as DIY as you can get.All the equipment is home-made,done by herself, in her home studio...which was more studio than home.All tracks are from the post BBC era 1958-1977, recorded in her Tower Folly studio in Kent.
Daphne outside her rather lovely studio

We need more modern electronic acts to look like her, and have the same Heath-Robinson look for their equipment.Then we'll probably start listening again.
A Daphne Oram Look-a-likey Party anyone? We could all dress as Dapne and dance to "Lego Builds It" all evening?....prizes will be given for the best glasses,best Dress,and Best Hair. A dance off will be held to find the best Dancer who will received a copy of Depeche Mode's debut single ("New Life" I believe?)signed by myself as Daphne Oram....yes alright I dress like Daphne Oram most evenings!...Got a problem with that????

Tracklist:

1-1 Introduction 3:33
1-2 Power Tools 0:44
1-3 Bird Of Parallax 12:58
1-4 In A Jazz Style 0:37
1-5 Purring Interlude 0:42
1-6 Contrasts Essconic 8:15
1-7 Lego Builds It 0:56
1-8 Pompie Ballet (Excerpt) 3:35
1-9 Intertel 1:20
1-10 Adwick High School No.1 0:46
1-11 Look At Oramics 0:38
1-12 Rotolock 1:27
1-13 Purple Dust 6:45
1-14 High Speed Flight 0:49
1-15 Studio Experiment No.1 1:48
1-16 Four Aspects 8:05
1-17 Kia Ora 0:47
1-18 Dr. Faustus Suite 9:36
1-19 Adwick High School No.2 2:17
1-20 Tumblewash 1:59
1-21 Studio Experiment No.2 0:41
1-22 Snow 7:46
2-1 Rockets In Ursa Major (Excerpt 1) 4:54
2-2 Food Preservation 3:20
2-3 Studio Experiment No.3 1:07
2-4 Bala 1:42
2-5 Episode Metallic 5:28
2-6 Studio Experiment No.4 0:39
2-7 Adwick High School No.3 1:35
2-8 Fanfare Of Graphs 0:57
2-9 Studio Experiment No.5 1:14
2-10 Brocilliande 10:11
2-11 Mary Had A Little Lamb 2:37
2-12 Incidental Music For Invasion (Excerpts) 5:04
2-13 Costain Suite 13:16
2-14 Rockets In Ursa Major (Excerpt 2) 1:22
2-15 Passacaglia 4:28
2-16 Missile Away 2:06
2-17 Pulse Persephone 4:02
2-18 Adwick High School No.4 2:17
2-19 Nestea 0:28
2-20 Rockets In Ursa Major (Excerpt 3) 3:28
2-21 Conclusion 0:11
2-22 Studio Jinks 6:08

DOWNLOAD right now young man,pay attention and listen! HERE!

3 comments:

Elmer Sinnerfriend said...

I have this already and am listening to it as I type. Great that you shared with those who don't have this. "Food Preparation is playing now. Goes great w/anxiety reducing meds (Kushberry in this instance). Great music for quarantine.

Jonny Zchivago said...

Elmer...i'm playing it too....this is world heritage music. Before anything music. Should be shared with everyone.....food prep is finished, i go eat now..More Oram coming up.

rev.b said...

I always suspected my 1st grade teacher had a life outside the classroom as an early electronic music pioneer that I knew nothing about...