To my ears, most Radiophonic music from the late 70s on is banal off-the-shelf hackwork, and by the early 80s synth-based chartpop had easily overtaken them in innovation. Pretty much everything from the late 50s to about 1975, though, is fucking classic in excelsis, especially the contributions of Delia Derbyshire, Phil Young, Madalena Fagandini, John Baker, David Cain and Paddy Kingsland (roughly in chronological order there). Nobody else has brought musique concrete and other avant-garde techniques into the daily lives of millions of people like the RW.
― Robin Carmody, Thursday, 22 March 2001 01:00 (15 years ago) Permalink
― DG, Thursday, 22 March 2001 01:00 (15 years ago) Permalink
Actually getting hold of any Radiophonic music not written for Doctor
Who is fucking difficult right now; however, the BBC has recently
released two CDs of music used in DW, including some of Delia
Derbyshire's work, and these are available through decent / large
record shops (possibly some online retailers as well, though I'm not
sure). What little non-DW material is available is often priced for
the collectors' market (read: horrendously expensive), however you
can still often find second-hand LPs of Radiophonic music, and often
in the most unlikely places; charity shops are particularly good.
Sonic Boom's said to be preparing a Delia compilation, and Mark Ayres
is promising a massive reissue programme including pretty much all
the RW's finest achievements. But nothing has been confirmed, to my
knowledge, from either source.
That said, DG, if you're interested in having some much rarer and, in
many ways, more interesting RW material, mail me privately.
The Mini CD Album featuring the music from the 1966 DR WHO
Episode 'The Tenth Planet'. The Episode was not only the last episode
to feature the first Doctor, William Hartnell, before he regenerates
but also the first to feature the Cybermen. Released 04/12/2000.
Robin is this part of the BBC Radiophonic workshop?
Those Cybermen were cool!, OT anyone remember collecting Dr Who cards
inside Wheetabix boxes circa the mid 70s?
In this essay of the histrory of pre industrial music they get a
mention 4. USE OF SYNTHESIZERS AND ANTI-MUSIC
Also the likes of Cabaret Voltaire have commented on their influence.
I read so many many different magazines, but i am sure that in the
past The Wire had an article on the BBC RW? anyone know?
― DJ Martian, Thursday, 22 March 2001 01:00 (15 years ago) Permalink
The Wire did indeed do a piece on the Workshop in their February 1992
issue - http://www.thewire.co.uk/out/0298_1.htm
― D.Zarakov, Friday, 23 March 2001 01:00 (15 years ago) Permalink
― DG, Friday, 23 March 2001 01:00 (15 years ago) Permalink
Robin did me a tape of a lot of stuff which sounded great (oh for
working tape facilities - I had to play it in my girlfriend's car,
though she got even more into it than me). The kind of 'spacey'
and 'weird' descriptions that lazily get attached to their music
bother me, though - and this is a general thing for soundtrack
instrumental music - if you're not hearing it in context (the
radio/TV show it was written for) then what does 'weird' actually
mean re. the Radiophonic stuff?
― Tom, Friday, 23 March 2001 01:00 (15 years ago) Permalink
the album you're thinking of is "Radiophonic Workshop 21", which came
out in 1979. I have all the first side and most of the second side
and, yes, it is split as you say, and, yes, there's a lot of limp off-
the-shelf hackwork on the second side, and, yes, the first side is
fucking classic and the second side is mostly dud.
Side two does, however, contain Paddy Kingsland's "A Whisper From
Space" (one of the very few analog-era pieces to chill the bone like
the early Derbyshire and Fagandini stuff does) and Peter Howell's
euphoric "Greenwich Chorus". Annoyingly I don't have two Kingsland
tracks which were originally on the second side ("Broken Biscuit
Club" and "Newton") because they'd almost certainly be better than
the banalities from Roger Limb and Malcolm Clarke that ended up there
(Limb's "Quirky" in particular is cursed by a kind of forced quasi-
poppy wackiness which makes you gag).
But it does have Dick Mills's "Thomas the Rhymer", which is awesome.
― Robin Carmody, Friday, 23 March 2001 01:00 (15 years ago) Permalink
"The kind of 'spacey' and 'weird' descriptions which lazily get
attached to their music bother me, though"
And me - though something which annoys me perhaps even more is when
people link *the whole* of the Workshop's output to some kind of
Wilsonian "white heat of technology" ethos. I hear it in John
Baker's work, obviously, from the titles down, but rarely anywhere
else. Also when people only list the obvious people to have been
influenced by the Workshop (the Pram / Broadcast / Plone continuum)
without picking up on its wider echoes; Timbaland's production
of "Try Again" and MBV's "Loveless" both pick up actually far more on
the squelches, endlessly layers of sound, and interchanges between
bass and melody line, that run through many of Baker's pieces.
Basslines have been picked up on from all sources; Delia
Derbyshire's "Pot Au Feu" has the rhythmic pulse of early house while
John Baker's "Factors" is propelled by a bassline indistinguishable
from that on Asian Dub Foundation's "Naxalite". That said, the
subgenre of "frightening childlike music", which Pram have made their
own, pretty much started with Delia; Broadcast sound like purists of
the 58-64 era and Plone take their jauntiness from Roger Limb and
their melancholia from Paddy Kingsland. And then there are the
renegade one-offs; John Baker's fucking over of "O Come All Ye
Faithful" with the noise of a till after each note and
retitled "Christmas Commercial"; for a supposedly po-faced soundlab,
this is the definition of pop's proud irreverence and disrespect for
all holy source material.
You're right, though. I think it surprises certain people so much
that such startling and unplaceable music was *written to order*, and
funded by a public corporation (rather than some Romantic idea of The
Unpaid, Starving Electronic Innovator) that they have to use lazy,
cliched terms to express it because they can't get their head around
it. Also, I think the "spacey" cliche may be down to people only
being aware of the Dr Who music and not realising just how many
different emotions and feelings were conveyed in the RW's output when
the programme concerned required them.
Being constrained by writing for a purpose probably prevented the
Workshop from succumbing to the worst excesses of prog-synth
indulgence in the 70s; Delia's longer tracks like "Blue Veils And
Golden Sands" and "The Delian Mode" are endlessly fascinating, but
the more conventionally of-the-time Paddy Kingsland could go on too
long when not writing for a purpose ("Vespucci", which was Kingsland
pretty much indulging himself, is at least a minute too long). Some
of his work sounds dated now, but "One-Eighty-One" is ferocious
freakbeat worthy of Perry & Colombier, and he almost sounds at times
like a kind of electronic folk fusionist; Kingsland's "Take Another
Look" (written I think for some kind of nature / wildlife programme,
and oh, you can tell) is essentially the Pentangle's "Light Flight"
rendered electronically (a massive compliment, BTW), and as far
from "the white heat of technology" as "Who Knows Where The Time
Goes" is from "We Can Work It Out". His soundtrack to The Changes is
unique and almost Arthurian in its resonance; what Mike
Oldfield's "Hergest Ridge" would be if it wasn't so blandly,
conventionally post-hippy and crap. In fact it's something of a
scandal that you can buy "Hergest Ridge" in HMV but you can't buy The
Changes soundtrack - hopefully Mark Ayres will bring justice about in
the long term (he told me that The Changes is in his priority list).
And, yes, I will be adding all the above to my site :).
― Patrick, Friday, 23 March 2001 01:00 (15 years ago) Permalink
As a note, the Tenth Planet release on Ochre doesn't contain
Radiophonic Workshop material, but is a pretty fine release all
the same. See http://www.ochre.co.uk
― DeliaDerbyshire.com, Sunday, 27 May 2001 00:00 (15 years ago) Permalink
You might also like to know that I have been disgracefully lazy in my
work compiling the site you suggested to me some time ago (he says,
― Robin Carmody, Sunday, 27 May 2001 00:00 (15 years ago) Permalink
― Andrew L, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (14 years ago) Permalink
― might as well use the real name now ..., Saturday, 7 July 2001 00:00 (14 years ago) Permalink
Thanks for your time
― Peter Wicks, Saturday, 7 July 2001 00:00 (14 years ago) Permalink
If you want me to copy for you his magical, almost neo-medieval 1973
album "The Fourth Dimension", and the other Kingsland stuff I have,
mail me offlist. The quality varies, with some of the melodies
sounding rather twee and overtly pretty, but at his best he's
unmatchable in the "full arrangements and fairly conventional song
structures" era of the RW. You might be interested in this:
― rpc, Saturday, 7 July 2001 00:00 (14 years ago) Permalink
Anyway, I've e-mailed you off-list and eagerly await a reply. Also, I
managed to get "The Earthmen" track off a friend who had this CD. I
*think* it's still available. I'm sure I almost bought it online
It's a pretty groovy track.. I love it.
― P Wicks, Tuesday, 7 August 2001 00:00 (14 years ago) Permalink
― ben*h, Tuesday, 2 October 2001 00:00 (14 years ago) Permalink
(though they do repeat docs originally broadcast on this digital channel on BBC two and I'm sure this will turn eventually)
― Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Sunday, 19 October 2003 12:46 (12 years ago) Permalink
Many good bits. I liked how all the tapes post-83 were going to be dumped but actually were stored in a room near the BBC orchestra for nearly 15 years and remained there bcz no one bothered to order the skip.
― Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 20 October 2003 09:09 (12 years ago) Permalink
Fortunately, she taped it, so HSA and I will watch it and report back.
― kate (kate), Monday, 20 October 2003 09:24 (12 years ago) Permalink
Anyone know where I can get a hold of that "Zwoooer oo-oo-oo" track? That sounded amazing on the program, but a quick scan of soulseek came up with nothing.
― Johnney B (Johnney B), Monday, 20 October 2003 11:14 (12 years ago) Permalink
― Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 20 October 2003 11:18 (12 years ago) Permalink
― Alan (Alan), Monday, 20 October 2003 11:48 (12 years ago) Permalink
― Alex in Doncaster (Alex in Doncaster), Monday, 20 October 2003 11:57 (12 years ago) Permalink
I think there was a CD retrospective issued and it was reviewed in the wire a few months back. I will check on that too.
I was thinking that ending on a place like that would be a dream (of sorts anyway).
x-post: wonder whether that ray cathode single made the charts (it was said that it sold a few copies but no chart placement was given).
― Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 20 October 2003 12:02 (12 years ago) Permalink
the other little trope / joke in the programme was the clock stuck at two minutes to eight (19:58, 1958, geddit?) - except sometimes it seemed to show a slightly different time
great stuff anyway
― zebedee (zebedee), Monday, 20 October 2003 12:51 (12 years ago) Permalink
― zebedee (zebedee), Monday, 20 October 2003 12:53 (12 years ago) Permalink
― zebedee (zebedee), Monday, 20 October 2003 12:54 (12 years ago) Permalink
― zebedee (zebedee), Monday, 20 October 2003 12:56 (12 years ago) Permalink
― robin carmody (robin carmody), Monday, 20 October 2003 13:01 (12 years ago) Permalink
― stevem (blueski), Monday, 20 October 2003 13:17 (12 years ago) Permalink
― robin carmody (robin carmody), Monday, 20 October 2003 13:26 (12 years ago) Permalink
― stevem (blueski), Monday, 20 October 2003 15:01 (12 years ago) Permalink
Because I think that the VCR of the person who taped it was slightly off its timer, because we got ten minutes of some godawful Matthew Barney documentary before it, and it cut off the last ten minutes. And they were just started to get into the restoration and archiving of the library bit!
The clock and the floating bloke in the background REALLY irritated me, it seemed to just take the piss out of what was otherwise a quite wonderful program - both loving and serious.
You should have seen HSA go into fits of lust at the oscillator banks, though. And whatever a wobulator is, I want one!
― kate (kate), Monday, 27 October 2003 10:04 (12 years ago) Permalink
― PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Monday, 27 October 2003 20:00 (12 years ago) Permalink
― Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 00:50 (11 years ago) Permalink
― Old Fart!!! (oldfart_sd), Thursday, 21 October 2004 01:05 (11 years ago) Permalink
― Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 01:09 (11 years ago) Permalink
― don, Thursday, 21 October 2004 04:40 (11 years ago) Permalink
great that the delia derbyshire website is back. nice to hear Moogies Bloogies again.
― koogs (koogs), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:12 (11 years ago) Permalink
http://www.delia-derbyshire.org for the real thing.
― Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:15 (11 years ago) Permalink
― Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 21 October 2004 12:37 (11 years ago) Permalink
― Ian Edmond (ianedmond), Thursday, 21 October 2004 15:28 (11 years ago) Permalink
The Alchemists of Sound
Thu 8 Feb, 11:20 pm - 12:20 am 60mins
BBC FOUR on BBC TWO
Alchemists of Sound traces the rise and fall of the Radiophonic Workshop, an in-house department established in 1958 to provide extraordinary sounds and music for the BBC's TV and radio services. Best known for its theme tunes to Blake's Seven, Blue Peter, Open University and The Body in Question and, of course, Doctor Who, this documentary reveals the complex techniques deployed by the Workshop long before synthesisers were invented.
The programme is narrated by Oliver Postgate, the voice behind the childrens TV classics Ivor the Engine, The Clangers and Bagpuss. [AD,S]
― Koogy Bloogies (koogs), Monday, 5 February 2007 16:43 (9 years ago) Permalink
Not sure I approve of mp3s encoded from still-available CD releases but there you go.
― zebedee (zebedee), Monday, 5 February 2007 17:26 (9 years ago) Permalink
― JimD (JimD), Monday, 5 February 2007 17:33 (9 years ago) Permalink
He used to appear on Swap Shop showing you how to make a Vorgon Cruiser out of washing up bottles etc. Matt something IIRC.
He was a bizarre parallel of the RWS, with the same aesthetic of economically-restricted grandiose futurisism
― Phil Knight (PhilK), Monday, 5 February 2007 21:51 (9 years ago) Permalink
― Koogy Bloogies (koogs), Tuesday, 6 February 2007 09:41 (9 years ago) Permalink
― Phil Knight (PhilK), Tuesday, 6 February 2007 17:23 (9 years ago) Permalink
Can anyone identify this snippet? Sounds Radiophonic to me.
― Alba, Wednesday, 24 October 2007 18:37 (8 years ago) Permalink
Does anyone have a copy of the BBC doc mentioned upthread they'd be willing to share? I can trade for something like my DVD-R of "The Changes"(w/ Paddy Kingsland music. Quite awesome.) Really wanna see this!
― Capitaine Jay Vee, Wednesday, 24 October 2007 18:45 (8 years ago) Permalink
Alba - hi,
fairly certain your mystery tune is raymond scott- something off teh "manhattan research" 2cd set which is indeed very radiophonic
― bob snoom, Wednesday, 24 October 2007 19:37 (8 years ago) Permalink
Fantastic, bob. Just checked the snippets on the Amazon page and it is indeed "Portofino" by Scott.
In the course of all that I found an ILM thread in which I noted that I really want to hear his stuff, about four years ago ...
― Alba, Wednesday, 24 October 2007 20:13 (8 years ago) Permalink
Portofino 2, rather.
If the Radiophonic Workshop documentary is "Alchemists of Sound", the whole thing's on youtube in several chunks. (Not to discourage anyone from offering a better quality version or anything, but I watched it on there a while ago. Wonderful 60s footage of Delia Derbyshire in the studio speaking with one of those very precise/nervous accents that don't exist any more.)
― a passing spacecadet, Thursday, 25 October 2007 09:33 (8 years ago) Permalink
I want this
Can't they re-press/release it on CD?
And you'd think they might notice that this goes for £40 and keep it in print! Or does BBC Records even exist still?
Did anyone hear BLUE VEILS AND GOLDEN SANDS, the Radio 4 play about Delia Derbyshire's life? I only heard about half of it at the time, but it was reallu good, as I remember. I wonder if you can listen to it anywhere still.
― Jamie T Smith, Thursday, 25 October 2007 10:25 (8 years ago) Permalink
Well you can get it on this:
The other two plays sound dreadful, though!
― Jamie T Smith, Thursday, 25 October 2007 10:39 (8 years ago) Permalink
there's a lot of overlap between the 4x10" and that cd. the vinyl is a couple of minutes too long to fit on a single cd, i ended up dropping the delia derbyshire bits because i had them on another cd somewhere.
i also have a copy of alchemists of sound but it's only a half-pal avi. must look out for a repeat and do it again properly.
the tomorrow people soundtrack is still available, the first white noise lp is just about to get a deluxe re-release and the first two doctor who at the bbc cds are still available, i think (yes, a tenner on amazon)
― koogs, Thursday, 25 October 2007 12:27 (8 years ago) Permalink
i recorded "alchemists" earlier this year -- february, in fact -- and have just got round to watching it today.
it's probably one of the best documentaries, if not pieces of television, i've ever seen. i don't know where to begin with it: the aesthetic, the research, the anecdotes, the sheer levels of mind-boggling genius contained within. o, and sonic boom, too!
there's a certain aesthetic that absolutely fascinates me yet is hard to quantify -- if anyone can explain what ties together my love (for example) of british modernist and brutalist architecture, public-information films from the 1950s to early 1980s and the mkI human league, feel free -- and so much of the workshop's output fits into that perfectly. i have to get hold of some of their stuff ... i assume there are collections out there?
as for the documentary itself ... it's stuck on my bloody humax and i need to work out a way of getting it off, 'cos that's a keeper.
wow. just ... awesome.
― grimly fiendish, Wednesday, 21 November 2007 17:58 (8 years ago) Permalink
hmm! even despite mark ayres's re-releases in 2002, this stuff isn't exactly easy to get hold of :(
― grimly fiendish, Wednesday, 21 November 2007 18:16 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Milton Parker, Wednesday, 21 November 2007 18:22 (8 years ago) Permalink
fantastic. thank you. i shan't do anything with it right now because, er, my bandwidth is rather tied up with something else :)
― grimly fiendish, Wednesday, 21 November 2007 18:24 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Milton Parker, Monday, 7 April 2008 19:21 (8 years ago) Permalink
release of 3 (2 reissues, 1 new compilation?) Workshop cds on 3rd nov.
no tracklistings given but the originals are here:http://www.discogs.com/release/173394http://www.discogs.com/release/173397
― koogs, Sunday, 5 October 2008 10:09 (7 years ago) Permalink
hmm. i devoted many hours to downloading as much of that stuff as i could find. it wasn't easy. this is pretty joyous news.
― right, we all start when the drum machine starts, lads (grimly fiendish), Sunday, 5 October 2008 11:58 (7 years ago) Permalink
Assuming that tracklisting's good, that's going to be worth getting hold of. Plenty of tracks from '21', and a selection of stuff from 'The Changes'.
Hope it's right.
― chad yellowhammer, Thursday, 16 October 2008 11:36 (7 years ago) Permalink
that's blindingly good. i managed to get hold of 21, but i'd certainly shell out for that.
― easy, lionel (grimly fiendish), Thursday, 16 October 2008 21:36 (7 years ago) Permalink
Sorry its only up for another day....
― Plaxico (I know, right?), Friday, 26 December 2008 20:58 (7 years ago) Permalink
I love the Mastered By Guy at the Exchange-type stuff.
― Plaxico (I know, right?), Friday, 26 December 2008 21:21 (7 years ago) Permalink
New Tristram Cary lp out on trunk.http://www.boomkat.com/item.cfm?id=281201
― koogs, Friday, 26 March 2010 13:19 (6 years ago) Permalink
love this, needs more rapping tho.
― Sir Chips Keswick (Merdeyeux), Saturday, 30 July 2011 23:09 (4 years ago) Permalink
― Milton Parker, Wednesday, 25 January 2012 23:19 (4 years ago) Permalink
Sat 14 Jul 2012 09:00 BBC Radio 4 ExtraSat 14 Jul 2012 19:00 BBC Radio 4 Extra(it's a repeat from 2008)
Richard Coles tells the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop's extraordinary story.
In 1958 an extraordinary musical laboratory opened at the BBC. It was called the Radiophonic Workshop and provided music and sound for a wealth of BBC programmes, from The Goons to Dr Who.
With contributions from Coldcut, Dick Mills and Mark Ayres, Richard Coles explores the achievements of the unit and presents a carefully chosen selection of programmes showcasing the department's work:
The Dreams (05/01/1964)The Goons (02/02/1959)Inferno Revisited (17/04/1983)Relativity (1974)Electric Tunesmiths (30/12/1971)Bath Time (1976)
― koogs, Tuesday, 10 July 2012 23:35 (3 years ago) Permalink
This is SUCH a tune:
― I wish to incorporate disco into my small business (chap), Tuesday, 10 July 2012 23:48 (3 years ago) Permalink
the Daphne Oram exhibit runs just a few more months at the Science Museum in London -
― TracerHandVEVO (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 11 July 2012 00:17 (3 years ago) Permalink
― Mark G, Wednesday, 12 September 2012 08:36 (3 years ago) Permalink
The BBC's Radiophonic Workshop, which created theme tunes and sound effects for programmes including Doctor Who and Blake's 7, is to reopen after 14 years.Composer Matthew Herbert, known for his use of "found sounds", has been appointed creative director.One of his first commissions is a "sonic memorial" to the BBC's Bush House building which, until recently, was the home of the World Service.The original workshop was known for its pioneering use of electronic sounds.Founded in 1958, it was best-known for creating the eerie swoosh of the Doctor Who theme tune, but its compositions were also used in numerous radio dramas, The Goon Show and The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.As well as music, the workshop created sound effects - from champagne corks popping to the distorted, strangulated voices of the Daleks.While the first workshop was based in the BBC's Maida Vale studios, the new incarnation will live online, at The Space, a new digital arts service developed by the Arts Council and the BBC.Herbert will lead "seven fellow cutting-edge collaborators" in making new sounds and music
Composer Matthew Herbert, known for his use of "found sounds", has been appointed creative director.
One of his first commissions is a "sonic memorial" to the BBC's Bush House building which, until recently, was the home of the World Service.
The original workshop was known for its pioneering use of electronic sounds.
Founded in 1958, it was best-known for creating the eerie swoosh of the Doctor Who theme tune, but its compositions were also used in numerous radio dramas, The Goon Show and The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
As well as music, the workshop created sound effects - from champagne corks popping to the distorted, strangulated voices of the Daleks.
While the first workshop was based in the BBC's Maida Vale studios, the new incarnation will live online, at The Space, a new digital arts service developed by the Arts Council and the BBC.
Herbert will lead "seven fellow cutting-edge collaborators" in making new sounds and music
― Mark G, Wednesday, 12 September 2012 08:37 (3 years ago) Permalink
REPLACE MURRAY GOLD WITH THE SOUND OF A DEAD PIG
― ┐(´ー｀)┌ (sic), Wednesday, 12 September 2012 09:27 (3 years ago) Permalink
I imagine this is what Kraftwerk's accountant looks like.
― Emeritus Professor of LOLology (snoball), Wednesday, 12 September 2012 10:42 (3 years ago) Permalink
Anyone going to this:http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/events/talks/electronic_music.aspx ?
― Jeff W, Wednesday, 12 September 2012 11:55 (3 years ago) Permalink
Just for fun:http://webaudio.prototyping.bbc.co.uk/
― Zweitgeist (doo dah), Friday, 21 December 2012 01:49 (3 years ago) Permalink
haha, there's a konami code on the ring modulator that lets you use a live input.
― wk, Friday, 21 December 2012 02:32 (3 years ago) Permalink
― night boat to mega therion (NickB), Tuesday, 18 February 2014 14:33 (2 years ago) Permalink
― OutdoorFish, Tuesday, 18 February 2014 18:49 (2 years ago) Permalink
― OutdoorFish, Tuesday, 18 February 2014 18:50 (2 years ago) Permalink
― OutdoorFish, Tuesday, 18 February 2014 18:51 (2 years ago) Permalink
was going to go to the Glasgow gig this evening - get well soon Dr Mills
― Ward Fowler, Friday, 21 March 2014 12:15 (2 years ago) Permalink
And why not
― Chuck_Tatum, Saturday, 14 March 2015 18:41 (1 year ago) Permalink