Electronic pioneer Daphne Oram recordings now available

 Images  Guardian Music Gallery 2008 Aug 04 1 Do6-2266-1

Daphne Oram (1925-2003) was a pioneering electronic musician and sound engineer at the famed BBC Radiophonic Workshop. I've posted previously (link, link) about her amazing creativity and invention of Oramics, an electronic musical instrument based on converting drawings on 35mm film into sound textures. The Young Americans label has just issued a luxurious 4 LP vinyl collection drawn from Oram's massive sound archives. "The Daphne Oram Tapes" includes 46 tracks, a total of 2.5 hours of previously unreleased material. And this is just volume one! From the album description:

"'The Daphne Oram Tapes: Volume One' is the result of almost two years spent trawling through the archive in an attempt to piece together a coherent document of one of the most pioneering and genuinely experimental characters in electronic music history. Although some of Oram's recordings have surfaced on the 'Oramics' compilation, this set reveals a much more complex, dark, sometimes disturbing and often beautiful body of work which has, until now, been partially obscured by the more recognizable Radiophonic bleeps and whirrs the Workshop is best known for. This first volume focuses on Oram's love of experimental forms, of Musique Concrète, of the science and mystery of sound and composition. It comes at a time when her work is only just starting to gain wider acknowledgment in scholarly as well as popular circles. The 'Oramics' machine (the first electronic musical instrument in history to be designed and built by a woman) has gone on display at the Science Museum in London, an important step in what will no doubt be a sustained effort to assert Oram's rightful position as one of the most important figures in modern music. Working through the archive has been a life changing experience, revealing a wealth of musical treasures that include recordings and sound effects made for '2001' and Jack Clayton's 'the Innocents', all the way through to field recordings made in Africa."

You can purchase it from Amazon in the US and Boomkat in the UK

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  1. Another interesting female Radiophonic Workshop pioneer is Delia Derbyshire. Quite an institution. I still listen to the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy programs.

  2. “The ‘Oramics’ machine (the first electronic musical instrument in history to be designed and built by a woman) has gone on display at the Science Museum in London.”

    For a moment there I thought it was included in the display because it was an exciting thing in its own right.  Good thing for that helpful parenthetical comment.

    Her ‘Oramics’ machine has gone on display at the Science Museum in London.

    There, I fixed it.

  3. Really? LP only? That’s disappointing. If every bit of the work had been recorded and processed in the analogue domain then it might be understandable. But otherwise it just smacks of some vinyl elitists masturbating furiously at the thought of their superiority and cleverness. 

    Hopefully a digital release will become available.

    1. Not according to the record label’s information that I posted above and will repeat here:
      “Although some of Oram’s recordings have surfaced on the “Oramics” compilation, this set reveals a much more complex, dark, sometimes disturbing and often beautiful body of work which has, until now, been partially obscured by the more recognisable Radiophonic bleeps and whirrs the Workshop is best known for. “

  4. She must have been an awesome seamstress as well. You can’t tell me that dress is off the rack.

  5. Hmmm… avant-garde composer Harry Partch had a piece called “Daphne”, another one called “Daphne Of The Dunes”.  Would that have anything to do with this lady?

    1. “Daphne of the Dunes” was the soundtrack to the film “Windsong” that Partch made with eccentric recluse Madeline Tourtelot, which was an adaptation of the Greek legend of Daphne and Apollo.

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