August 15, 2011 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Radiophonics Workshop Founder Daphne Oram's Oramics Synthesizer "So there Dr. Mick Grierson was, wandering around a French barn, minding his own business when all of a sudden he happened upon an antique: one of the earliest modern synthesizers."

Daphne Oram was one of the founders of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, who are famous for the theme and effects in Dr Who. After leaving the BBC, she worked on her own synthesizer projects, including her "Oramics" synth, which is currently on display in the Science Museum in London (Location and Map).

Goldsmiths College, part of the University of London houses the Daphne Oram Collection.

You can buy a CD of her electronic music Here, and this page has a lot more information from various sources (for e.g. The Guardian) regarding Daphne Oram and the Workshop.

Previously on Metafilter: Dave started dating Kate behind Phils back, so Phil and Grant...

Everything you ever wanted to know about Dr Who.

Dr Who and the overthrow of the Thatcher Government.

Dr Who and piracy.

Stetsons are Cool.

Every Dr Who Theme From 1963 onwards.

Synth Collections: Synth Museum, Vintage Synth Explorer. (Thanks Box!)
posted by marienbad (11 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Lovely post. Thank you.

The demise of the Radiophonic Workshop was sufficiently traumatic for me that I've spent years trying to build my own little suitcase Sonascopic Workshop to explore sound in the joyous, exuberant spirit that ruled the roost at the BBC for an all too brief stretch. As the technology's shrunk, it's possible to have all the amazing soundmaking equipment they had there in a set of little boxes, leaving the impetus on us to find the play in all that machinery.

Still, one does sort of miss the monolithic mass of those glorious old machines.
posted by sonascope at 8:54 AM on August 15, 2011

That synth was hiding there as part of Daft Punk's evil master plan, and they would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for you stupid kids Dr. Mick Grierson.
posted by drezdn at 9:07 AM on August 15, 2011

Excellent post. Seeing the Radiophonic Workshop appear here always makes me happy.
posted by immlass at 9:08 AM on August 15, 2011

I've always loved the name Radiophonic Workshop. It's just so...British. And speaks to a period of transition and exploration.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:17 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's just so...British. And speaks to a period of transition and exploration.

It's always seemed a bit like a sort of fusion of a mad scientist's lab, a ham radio shack, a shed at the bottom of a garden, and the [Sonic] Explorer's Club.
posted by sonascope at 9:29 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also: The BBC Radio 3 "Sunday Feature" on Oram's life from 2008, Wee Have Also Sound-Houses.
posted by mykescipark at 11:34 AM on August 15, 2011

See also, regarding the Radiophonic Workshop's other great woman, Delia Derbyshire (and I'm sure it's been linked here before, but you can download it from this link): Blue Veils and Golden Sands
A BBC radio play based on the life of Delia Derbyshire, written by Martyn Wade and featuring Sonic Boom as himself.

One of the most colourful and interesting composers of electronic music, Delia Derbyshire was at the forefront of the development of this form, starting with a 10 year 'attachment' to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop where she is best remembered for her major part in realising the Dr Who theme tune. This is the story of her remarkable years before her sadly early death."
posted by Len at 3:12 PM on August 15, 2011

I should probably take this opportunity to mention the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's LP "Fourth Dimension", which is worth checking out if you like this sort of thing.

Also, great post, marienbad.
posted by hippybear at 4:06 PM on August 15, 2011

A compact, unique (?) history of optical synthesis. Not much discussed these days, but no doubt overdue for a revival.

Blame it on synaesthesia, blame it on long dark winters ... light and music have had a long secret affair.
posted by Twang at 5:05 PM on August 15, 2011

Sonic Boom as himself LOL
posted by stinkycheese at 9:51 PM on August 15, 2011

posted by SeƱor Pantalones at 12:04 AM on August 16, 2011

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