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kottke.org posts about Delia Derbyshire

Delia Derbyshire Demonstrates How Electronic Music Was Made at BBC Radiophonic Workshop

posted by Jason Kottke   May 05, 2022

In this video from 1965, electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire, who arranged the original theme music for Doctor Who, demonstrates how electronic music was made at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. It’s such a treat watching her construct songs from electronic sound generators and sampled sounds played at different speeds and pitches; you can even see her layering sounds on different tape machines and beat matching, just like DJs would years later.

Amazingly, you can try your hand at layering and looping this music yourself with this Tape Loops demo from the BBC. You can also make Dalek and Cybermen noises with the Ring Modulator, create Gunfire Effects, or use the Wobbulator (my favorite).

See also The Definitive Guide to Doctor Who Theme Music, the trailer for Delia Derbyshire: The Myths and the Legendary Tapes, and this incredible proto-techno track Derbyshire made in the 60s. (via @austinkleon)

A Detailed Analysis of the Doctor Who Theme Music

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 08, 2020

Delia Derbyshire

Even if you’re not a total sucker for old episodes of Doctor Who like I am, The Definitive Guide to the Doctor Who Theme Music is worth checking out to see how a very early piece of electronic music was constructed.

Created in 1963, the Doctor Who theme was one of the first electronic signature tunes for television and after nearly five decades remains one of the most easily recognised. The original recording of the Doctor Who theme music is widely regarded as a significant and innovative piece of electronic music, recorded well before the availability of commercial synthesisers.

I found this via Boing Boing, where Clive Thompson writes of the site:

I wish I had an analysis like this for more and more pop songs. The specific, nuanced decisions of musicians, producers and sound engineers are incredibly interesting, but can be really hard to tease apart just by listening to the mixed song.

Pictured above is Delia Derbyshire who, along with Dick Mills, arranged the theme music based on Ron Grainer’s composition.

Delia Derbyshire, the first DJ

posted by Jason Kottke   May 24, 2011

Lovely short film clip of BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s Delia Derbyshire demonstrating how to make electronic music using tape loops. Look at the beat matching!

It was Derbyshire who gave the original Doctor Who theme its distinctive sound. (via ★danielpunkass)