Daphne Oram's audiovisual music synthesizer, 1957

Daphne Oram (1925-2003) was the co-founder and first director of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, a sound effects and music studio established in the 1950s that had a vast influence on electronic music and synthesizer technology. At the BBC and after, Oram developed an incredible new kind of sound synthesis technology, called Oramics. The video above offers a glimpse of her Oramics synthesizer, purchased from a collector in 2009 and now under restoration at the Science Museum in London. From DaphneOram.org:

  Wp-Content Gallery Oram Atbbc

Not only is this one of the earliest forms of electronic sound synthesis, it is noteworthy for being audiovisual in nature – i.e. the composer draws onto a synchronised set of ten 35mm film strips which overlay a series of photo-electric cells, generating electrical charges to control amplitude, timbre, frequency, and duration. This system was a key part of early BBC Radiophonic Workshop practice. However, after Daphne left the BBC (in 1959), her research, including Oramics, continued in relative secrecy.

"Oram was the first (and only?) woman to design and build an entirely new sound recording medium." (Hutton, J. 2003. Daphne Oram: Innovator, Writer and Composer. Organised Sound 8(1): 49-56. Camb: CUP).

"Daphne Oram's Oramics Post BBC Synthesizer" (MATRIXSYNTH via @chris_carter_)

Daphne Oram: An Electronic Music Pioneer