Dr Who's music workshop to get a digital makeover
The haunting sounds conjured by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop evoked the ambience of alien worlds and influenced contemporary artists from Orbital to Radiohead.
Now the unit, hailed as a pioneer of experimental electronic music, is to be reborn under a new digital partnership between the BBC and the Arts Council. Established in 1958, the workshop produced sound effects and incidental music for radio and television series including Blake's 7 and The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.
Its most famous creation remains the swooping Doctor Who theme music, produced in 1963 by Delia Derbyshire, who painstakingly cut and pasted sections of analogue tape containing oscillator test tones. The workshop also generated the whooshing sound of the Tardis materialising.
While electronic groups such as Kraftwerk built on the workshop's early use of synthesisers, the unit itself was closed in 1998. Derbyshire died in 2001. Yet their work has been re-released and sampled by generations of musicians and the surviving members performed a one-off concert in 2009 in response to demand from fans.
Yesterday it was announced the renamed New Radiophonic Workshop will compose fresh work as one of the highlights of The Space, a new freely-available digital arts service. Part of the London 2012 Festival, The Space will offer a platform for contemporary artists as well as historically important archive film, accessed on mobile and tablet devices and Freeview.
The New Radiophonic Workshop (NRW) will be led by Matthew Herbert, the electronic composer who has collaborated with Björk and been nominated for an Ivor Novello award for his soundtrack work. "What the [original] workshop achieved was the pinnacle of electronic music in this country, and it is all the more extraordinary given that it was conceived in the 50s," Herbert told The Independent yesterday.
He is already working on his first NRW commission. "The first thing is to define the sound of 'The Space'. There is a black hole in the internet and that is 'sound'," he said. "I'm interested in bringing together musicians and software technicians. You can tell stories in sound that you can't do with images."
He would like original members of the workshop to contribute. "We are interested in bringing them with us but we are also keen to find new, young people working in technology," he said.
There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turningTV
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rihanna 'nude photos' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 Frank Lampard equalises for Manchester City against Chelsea: how Twitter reacted
- 3 Stamford Hill council removes 'unacceptable' posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 4 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Downton Abbey series 5, episode 1, review: Revolution still seems far off
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written
Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since TV series ended in 2004
Downton Abbey series 5, episode 1, ITV, review: There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning
Friends 20th anniversary: Six things we wouldn't have without influential comedy series
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'