Networked_Music_Review

The History of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

radiophonic_01.jpgThe History of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

50 years ago this month (April 2008), the most celebrated electronic music studio in the world was established. We trace the history of the Radiophonic Workshop, talking to the composers and technical staff who helped to create its unique body of work — Steve Marshall

image: Before the Workshop: Daphne Oram manipulates a tape loop at Broadcasting House, watched by Frederick Bradnum, 1956 or ’57

I was 10 years old. As the last ‘whoosh’ of the Doctor Who theme dissolved into a wash of tape echo I sat transfixed by the light of the television, eagerly reading all of the end credits. “Wow!” I exclaimed. “I want to get a job in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop when I grow up!”

“I’m sorry, son,” said my father. “You won’t be able to do both.”

Although it never felt like a ‘job’, I did eventually get to work in the Radiophonic Workshop. I was only there for three months, but I’ve never stopped going on about it. Wouldn’t you too, if you’d been lucky enough to have worked in the most famous electronic music studio in history?

The story of the Radiophonic Workshop began half a century ago, in 1958.

Britain in the 1950s was a bleak place, as the nation struggled to rebuild itself after the devastation of war. Food rationing had continued right up until 1954, when bananas finally came back on sale; anything worth having was still in short supply. We now think of the ’50s as the rock & roll years, but the UK charts for 1958 tell quite a different story. Elvis was there for a few weeks; so was Jerry Lee Lewis — but the chart is mostly dominated by the likes of Perry Como, Connie Francis and Vick Damone. It was a dull time for music, but things were about to get more interesting…

Read more: http://radioartnet.net/11/2011/04/14/the-history-of-the-bbc-radiophonic-workshop/


Jun 16, 2011
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Networked_Music_Review (NMR) is a research blog that focuses on emerging networked musical explorations.

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