The Radiophonic Workshop Reborn
With a few swooping and haunting notes, the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop created one of the most instantly recognisable theme tunes in television history. The Doctor Who opener is the most famous example of how the unit blazed a trail in electronic music from 1958 until its demise forty years later.
Fourteen years after the synthesisers fell silent, it is being reborn by The Space as the New Radiophonic Workshop led by creative director Matthew Herbert. You can find out more about the project here.
The New Radiophonic Workshop builds on the legacy of its predecessor, but instead of being confined to rooms full of equipment in Maida Vale studios in London, the new unit will instead be a virtual institution, an online portal and forum for discussion around the challenges of creating new sounds, and bringing together music composition and software design.
The new incarnation of the organisation consists of seven sound artists and engineers, including Herbert, Yann Seznec, whose mushroom spores installation can be watched , composer Max de Wardener and broadcast technologist Tony Churnside.
Musician Mica Levi – who has her own band Micachu and The Shapes – theatre director Lyndsey Turner and creative technologist Patrick Bergel complete the line-up.
Its first commission is The Sound of The Space.
In this 1965 film from the BBC archive, science programme Tomorrow’s World delves into the work of the pioneering sound engineers including Delia Derbyshire (pictured above) as they demonstrate how they generated music from a plethora of electronic sounds and effects.
The New Radiophonic Workshop have also contributed to Will Self’s digital essay project, also featured on The Space. Their work, features a reading by Self and a typewriter and requires Flash to work.