*Founded in 1958 by Desmond Briscoe and Daphne Oram, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was home to a maverick group of experimental composers, sound engineers and musical innovators. In a series of small studios within the labyrinthine corridors of the BBC Maida Vale complex, the Workshop explored new ways of using – and manipulating – sound.
Drawing on the principles of musique concréte, found sounds, early electronics, oscillators, handmade synths and tape loops the Workshop created the other-worldly soundtrack to some of BBC television and radio’s most iconic programs: The Body in Question, Horizon, Quatermass, Newsround, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Chronicle and Delia Darbyshire’s iconic Doctor Who Theme – still the high water mark for British electronic music nearly 50 years after it was recorded.
The influence of the Radiophonic Workshop on popular music has been profound. From The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd through to many of today’s most successful electronic artists and DJs (who have ensured the RWS albums are amongst the world’s most sampled recorded works) – the Workshop’s legacy continues to grow as new generations of musicians discover their rich catalogue of recorded works.*
As part of the Northern Ireland Science Festival 2018 Dick Mills & Mark Ayres gave a talk at the Sonic Arts Research Centre in Belfast, hosted by Stephen Rainey. The talented pair gave an insight into the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (Past & Present), Equipment, Techniques, Innovations, Revelations, Sound examples, Radiophonic myths, legends and stories. The audience was treated to photo slides from a big over-head projector along with original audio played & analyzed from TV hit show ‘Doctor Who’ created by the workshop in 1963. View some of the photos on display from the event: