Friday, March 23, 2007

Something a little different for Friday

This week there will be no woefully out of print Friday.

Today I would much rather talk about an unsung (to the casual listener) hero who pioneered electronic music production. HER name was Delia Derbyshire. The name may not be familiar, but her work certainly is to any Sci-Fi geek worth their salt.

Delia joined the BBC in 1960. During that time she composed quite a bit of incidental music for radio plays and television shows.

In 1963 she was asked by composer Ron Grainer to produce the theme song for a new show on the BBC called Dr. Who. Delia as a part of the Radiophonic Workshop labored for weeks on the theme song. Her production was such a major component of the success of the theme that Grainer reportedly tried to get her a co-composer credit. Due to BBC red tape (and a slight bias against women working in productions) This was not meant to be.

To listen to the song in modern times it sounds very straight forward. However in 1963 the luxuries of multi-track recorders, and synthesizers did not exist. Each note had to be recorded to tape, and spliced together to form loops which were then syncipated and the output was then recorded into a final mix. Sound complex? Here is a short video clip (which was posted earlier this week on the excellent Create Digital Music blog) that demonstrated the process by none other than Ms. Derbyshire herself

Delia continued working in music production throughout the 60's and 70's. By the mid 70's though she was disillusioned with the future of electronic music and dropped out of the industry all together. Her interest was re-peaked in the 90's but sadly she passed away in 2001 at the age of 64.

Much of the incidental music that she produced IS woefully out of print. Some things can be found on ebay, or through vintage record shops. (several of the Avant Garde recordings she did with various groups have been re-issued ove rth eyears, but can be hard to come by) For the most part though the music is floating out there floating in the ether waiting to be heard again.

DOWNLOAD Dr. Who Extened theme

Delia Derbyshire dot org -featuring interviews, music clips and a discography

Martin's Delia Derbyshire page An audiological chronology. A conscise biography of Delia with a ton of information.

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