Daphne Oram’s legacy at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop is one of pioneering sound design and a vanguard attitude towards modernizing music production techniques. One of Oram’s memorable 1960s experiments was the “Oramics Machine”, which ran film strips across photo-electric cells which would in turn translate the images from the film into control voltages used to modulate parameters like duration, timbre and frequency. It was a machine that sought to do away with standardized hierarchies of thinking and producing sound. In the 1970s, she attempted to produce a smaller scale prototype called the “Mini-Oramics” which sadly never came to fruition. The “lost” blueprints of the Mini-Oramics have now not only been recovered, but thanks to the dedicated work of PhD candidate, Tom Richard, turned into a working prototype using only synth parts that would have been available at the time. Watch the video above and witness how powerful this “period piece” technology actually is.
Listen to a few of Oram’s own productions on this wonderful mix featuring 35 female experimental musicians.