Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Delia Derbyshire - "Blue Veils and Golden Sands-The Unsung Heroine Of British Electronic Music" (BBC Transcription Services) 2002

Ten years before 'Autobahn' the British public were exposed to popular electronics by the government funded BBC Radiophonic Workshop,who pioneered the art of making electronics useable and coherent for the average working man.It all started with Delia Deryshires rendering of Ron Grainers 'Doctor Who Theme'.I dunno if that bass-line has ever been bettered? What makes this more intriguing is that in the semi-socialist state that was post-war Britain, this was all done without recognition or plaudits, in complete anonymity in the bowels of BBC Maida Vale studio's where 20th century music history was recorded from The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, to Joy Division and Frank Sidebottom. The BBC also had its own composers on the payroll although they categorically avoided this,as Ms Derbyshire explains......"The only way into the workshop was to be a trainee studio manager. This is because the workshop was purely a service department for drama. The BBC made it quite clear that they didn't employ composers and we weren't supposed to be doing music." One of these 'composers' was the one and only, Delia Derbyshire,who has posthumously risen inexorably towards 'Legendary' status as not only a pioneer of women in Electronic music,but as a pioneer of all Electronic music.
Using the notoriously non-existent BBC budget, Delia and her collegues, worked tirelessly with basic equipment to create other worldly music that wasn't being produced anywhere else in the early sixties outside of the Avant Garde arena,which was basically just using electronics to make funny noises.God knows what shite Stockhausen would have come up with for the Doctor Who Theme,and Morton Subotnik was still deciding whether to use Silver Apples or Oranges for his Moon.
The thing is, Delia did 'weird' as well.There is much of her work that would stand up effortlessly in the Avant Garde arena if it ever allowed someone from the BBC to be taken seriously.
The radio plays she did with Barry Bermange in 1964/65, "Inventions For Radio", are among some of the most bizarre pieces of Musique Concréte ever made.
They will be coming up; but as there is inexplicably NO(!?) Greatest hits of Delia Derbyshire,or of The Radiophonic Workshop, in existence?This file contains the BBC Play based on Delia's life (featuring Sonic Boom/Pete Kember of Spaceman 3),and 20 of her most popular pieces,including the one that started it all, "The Doctor Who Theme".
Here's a great quote by Delia about the Dr Who Theme,that shows the BBC's faultless socialist principles:"I did the Dr Who theme music mostly on the Jason valve oscillators. Ron Grainer brought me the score. He expected to hire a band to play it, but when he heard what I had done electronically, he'd never imagined it would be so good. He offered me half of the royalties, but the BBC wouldn't allow it. I was just on an assistant studio manager's salary and that was it... and we got a free Radio Times. The boss wouldn't let anybody have any sort of credit."
Personal favourite , "Ziwzih Ziwzih OO-OO-OO", could have been taken from The Residents 'golden era',also ten years hence!Or as inspiration for The Mole Show, almost twenty years later! Delia was also far more anonymous than The Residents could ever be.Hardly any pictures exist of her,the same images cropping up endlessly.
She left the workshop, and music, in 1975 to do ordinary jobs,complaining that Synthesizers were killing electronic music,believing that it should be hand-made.She has a point.Music is made by machines more than ever in the 21st century.
'You will be Replaced' is a line you'd expect from an episode of Doctor Who.....now its becoming a reality.
However, Delia Derbyshire was never replaced.The synthesizers never cut the mustard.


The Unsung Heroine Of British Electronic Music(BBC Radio Play 2002) 
01 - Introduction
02 - There Is No Such Thing As Silence
03 - The Meaning Of Sound
04 - A Glass Or Two Of Wine
05 - My Real Living Room
06 - Doctor Who
07 - New Music And Open Minds
08 - The Effect Of The Soul On Sound
09 - Another Day At The BBC Radiophonic Sweatshop
10 - Some Recognition
11 - Remembering Without Trying
12 - Credits
The Music (1962-75):
13 - Doctor Who (Original Theme)
14 - Time On Our Hands
15 - Arabic Science And Industry
16 - Know Your Car
17 - Mattachin
18 - Pot Au Feu
19 - Happy Birthday
20 - Ziwzih Ziwzih OO-OO-OO
21 - Towards Tomorrow
22 - Door To Door
23 - Air
24 - Science And Health
25 - Chromophone Band
26 - A New View Of Politics
27 - Environmental Studies
28 - Chronicle
29 - Great Zoos Of The World
30 - Dance from ''Noah''
31 - Blue Veils And Golden Sands
32 - The Delian Mode
33 - Time To Go
34 - Doctor Who (Closing Theme)

DOWNLOAD a fix of heroine HERE!


ximeremix said...

Thank you so much for this. I've been looking forward to listening to the play for ages.

Keep up the Delia stuff

Thank you once again.

dee_seejay said...

Oh whaat this is fantastiche cheers Jonny

Rob said...

Thanks as usual, another blinder....

Bodhi Amol said...

Hello, here two Radio Documentaries about Delia Derbyshire and Daphne Oram from the BBC: