Science Museum to display legendary Oramics Machine
Friday 19 August 2011
Fans of primitive electronica are licking their lips at the chance to view a unique instrument that has acquired near legendary status. The Oramics Machine was invented in the 1960s by Daphne Oram, the first director of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. It has been largely unseen for 20 years.
The proto-synthesiser will be the jewel in the crown of a forthcoming Science Museum exhibition. Unfortunately, visitors will not be hear the instrument – it is too fragile to be operated – but experts at Goldsmiths College, part of the University of London, have devised an emulator for people to play. There will also be an app to download.
All this is down to the devotion of one man – Mick Grierson, director of creative computing at Goldsmiths. He has built up a collection of Oram's recorded works, papers and artefacts. But he entrusted the restoration of the Oramics Machine, which was dumped in a barn by its last owner after a museum went bust, to the Science Museum.
"I'd always known that Daphne was a very important historical figure in this field and that she was never really appreciated as such for a number of reasons," Grierson explains. "Basically, I worked as hard as I could to change this by using whatever influence I had.
"This is the system upon which almost all contemporary sampling-type synths are based... and most importantly for many people, the programming interface is almost identical to what you use today to make music with a computer."
However, rather than clicking on a mouse, a user of the Oramics Machine simply drew lines or painted on to 35mm film. The patterns were picked up by light-sensitive elements and converted into sound. A great example of British ingenuity.
Oramics to Electronica: Revealing Histories of Electronic Music', Science Museum, London SW7 (020 7942 4000) to 1 December 2012
Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins gives rare glimpse of sensitive side with heartfelt open letter to her children penned in case she dies from epilepsy
- 2 Rihanna's Met Gala dress took one Chinese woman 2 years to make, was reduced to omelette meme in 2 seconds
- 3 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
Penny Dreadful, series 2 episode 1, review: It is still gloriously silly
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
Eurovision 2015: What date and time is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
How the Other Half Eat, Channel 4 - TV review: Swapping food trolleys shows how food and class are closely connected
Indiana Jones sequel confirmed by Lucasfilm - but will Harrison Ford return to the franchise?
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Sturgeon claims Scots 'appalled' by Ed Miliband's refusal to work with SNP