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Delia Derbyshire: Pioneer of British Electronic Music

edited May 3 in Creations

Delia Derbyshire (5 May 1937 – 3 July 2001) was an English musician and composer of electronic music. She carried out pioneering work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop during the 1960s, including her electronic arrangement of the theme music to the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who.

She has been referred to as "the unsung heroine of British electronic music," having influenced musicians including Aphex Twin, The Chemical Brothers, and Paul Hartnoll of Orbital.

Here's a video bibliography of her life and creative work.

Comments

  • She is a pioneer of electronic music 😎

    Also Daphne Oram 🤓

  • @Moderndaycompiler said:
    She is a pioneer of electronic music 😎

    Also Daphne Oram 🤓

    +1.

  • @steve99 said:
    https://sisterswithtransistors.com

    Not so unsung anymore.

    Agreed. I think she’s very well known among electronic musicians, and many non-electronic musicians.

  • edited May 3

    I wasn't aware that she was so well known.

    I've changed the title of the discussion from Delia Derbyshire: Unsung Heroine of British Electronic Music to Delia Derbyshire: Pioneer of British Electronic Music.

  • edited May 3

    There's a new documentary about her that premiered at the London Film Festival and is supposed to be showing on BBC4 some time this month; trailer here, director radio feature here.

  • @DavidEnglish said:
    I wasn't aware that she was so well known.

    I've changed the title of the discussion from Delia Derbyshire: Unsung Heroine of British Electronic Music to Delia Derbyshire: Pioneer of British Electronic Music.

    I think she wasn’t so well known until her death, at which point a lot of people became aware of her contributions.

  • She clearly showed that it's not about the tools.
    It's about what to do with them.

  • @michael_m said:

    @DavidEnglish said:
    I wasn't aware that she was so well known.

    I've changed the title of the discussion from Delia Derbyshire: Unsung Heroine of British Electronic Music to Delia Derbyshire: Pioneer of British Electronic Music.

    I think she wasn’t so well known until her death, at which point a lot of people became aware of her contributions.

    Ain’t it always the way!

  • edited May 4

    The Delian mode was the most unexpected and engaging thing to show up in my youtube feed in ages. Was thrilled to learn about this fascinating lady and her analog playground.

    It sounded like Delia would have been uninspired by many of the rigid, grid based workflows we’re accustomed to today; probably too stale and inorganic for her taste. I like to imagine she’d be far more at home with an environment like Kyma, w/ a Pacarana and a Haken Continuum.

  • @ElektrikDiva said:

    @Moderndaycompiler said:
    She is a pioneer of electronic music 😎

    Also Daphne Oram 🤓

    +1.

    +1 . There's no Delia without Daphne.

    There's also Suzanne Ciani and Wendy Carlos. ..both amazing.

    Ciani is still really active and has some great workshop videos on YouTube where she demonstrates her techniques with the Buchla.

  • edited May 4

    Also don’t forget our Dutch Dick Raaijmakers a.k.a. Dik Natlab/Kid Baltan from Philips Natlab that even slightly predates the Radiophonic Workshop! The Radiophonic workshop started in 1958 while the Natlab exists from 1914. The tape music was made between 1956 and 1963. He worked with Tom Dissevelt on several electronic compositions by using banks of oscillators and tape. Some of the work I’ve got on re-released vinyl with the original covers from that time and you can also find some things on iTunes. The music was played during the world exhibition in Brussels in a sci-fi looking pavilion with visuals by Varese. Google is your friend to find some more info and video about the Natlab.

    Just an example from 1959:

    Back to Delia: love her work with Pot au Feu and Blue Veils & Golden Sands being my favourites.

  • edited May 4

    I saw that biography recently and it blew me away. Bit sad at the end. I've been influenced by Delia's work and didn't even know it.

  • @Bietfriek : fantastic footage! Thanks for that :)

  • @BitterGums said:

    @ElektrikDiva said:

    @Moderndaycompiler said:
    She is a pioneer of electronic music 😎

    Also Daphne Oram 🤓

    +1.

    +1 . There's no Delia without Daphne.

    Possibly. She certainly set things up for Delia to be able to work at the Radiophonic Workshop.

  • I did see Sisters with Transistors and it is a VERY good film. I'd highly recommend it.

    Cannot wait to see the Delia Derbyshire film when and if it makes to U.S. streaming.

    Thanks @ashh !

  • @michael_m said:

    @BitterGums said:

    @ElektrikDiva said:

    @Moderndaycompiler said:
    She is a pioneer of electronic music 😎

    Also Daphne Oram 🤓

    +1.

    +1 . There's no Delia without Daphne.

    Possibly. She certainly set things up for Delia to be able to work at the Radiophonic Workshop.

    undoubtedly, Delia would have been too pissed for the set up

    similarly, everyone tends to cite Bob whilst Raymond did most of the groundwork

  • edited May 4

    This doc goes well with the others

    For those who wonder, his house was destroyed a little while ago. Many people asked for a museum, but the mayor of Paris decided otherwise. Interests first, right ?

  • For people in the UK: the documentation will be shown next Sunday, May 16th, at 9 p.m. on BBC Four as part of their Arena program.

  • What, clashing with Fargo? How dare they.

  • @Philandering_Bastard said:
    For people in the UK: the documentation will be shown next Sunday, May 16th, at 9 p.m. on BBC Four as part of their Arena program.

    Dang! I really want to see this.

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