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.
Grierson, a professor at Goldsmiths University in London did what any expert in the field of electronic music would do, and whisked it back to the motherland for restoration. The Oram "Oramics" Synthesiser (sic) was built by Daphne Oram in 1957, a year before she co-founded the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to research and develop electronic music. Political wrangling within the corporation forced her to leave in 1959, and she retreated to a farm in nearby Kent to tinker with her invention.
After her departure, the Workshop shot to fame for creating the original electronic theme to Doctor Who. In order to create music on the Oram, a composer painted waveforms directly onto 35mm film strips which were fed into the machine. Inside, photo-electronic cells read the light pattern and interpreted it as sound.
Check out the video to see the arrival of the machinery back into England where it'll be on display all the way through December 2012. If you're really interested you can tap Dr Grierson's homebrewed Oramics iPhone app (linked here for your downloading pleasure) to create your own futuristic theme songs, '57-style.
A brief glimpse of Daphne Oram's pioneering and unique Oramics synthesizer, designed in 1957 after she left the legendary BBC Radiophonic Workshop to pursue the project.
This short film features Dr Mick Grierson, Director of The Daphne Oram Collection, acquiring the synthesizer from a collector in 2009.
The machine is now in the hands of The Science Museum in London and is currently being restored. It hasn't been performed with since the 1970s.
Contact me (Nick Street) regarding the documentary film
Dr Mick Grierson - Director of the Daphne Oram Collection
For more information on Daphne Oram and her machine
Interesting. I assume the Doctor journeyed to 1957, just in time for Daphne Oram (sounds like the perfect name for a companion, doesn't it?) to 'invent' the device that would end up being used to compose the music for his show.
By the way, there must be something like a natural affinity between film, keyboards and women inventors. Hedy Lamarr, who you may remember as a Hollywood movie star, co-invented spread-spectrum communication using a pianola.
You find brilliant people in the unlikeliest places.
I had never heard of this!
Very interesting, very creative. I had never heard of her. I'm glad you posted this, Michel. I will download the iPhone app.
Throughout her career she lectured on electronic music and studio techniques. In 1971 she wrote An Individual Note of Music, Sound and Electronics which investigated electronic music in a philosophical manner. Besides being a musical innovator her other significant achievements include being the first woman to direct an electronic music studio, the first woman to set up a personal studio and the first woman to design and construct an electronic musical instrument.
And she is not even mentioned in articles about the inventor(s) of the synthesizer :-(
I got me the iphone app. =)
It is really interesting.
And this whole factory now all fits neatly in a corner of your Ipod...