[NetBehaviour] 'Kraftwerk Who?' Pioneering '50s Synthesizer unearthed in French Barn.

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Sun Aug 14 13:52:36 CEST 2011

'Kraftwerk Who?' Pioneering '50s Synthesizer unearthed in French Barn.

By Daniel Cooper.

So there Dr. Mick Grierson was, wandering around a French barn, minding 
his own business when all of a sudden he happened upon an antique: one 
of the earliest modern synthesizers. Grierson, a professor at Goldsmiths 
University in London did what any expert in the field of electronic 
music would do, and whisked it back to the motherland for restoration. 
The Oram "Oramics" Synthesiser (sic) was built by Daphne Oram in 1957, a 
year before she co-founded the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to research and 
develop electronic music. Political wrangling within the corporation 
forced her to leave in 1959, and she retreated to a farm in nearby Kent 
to tinker with her invention. After her departure, the Workshop shot to 
fame for creating the original electronic theme to Doctor Who. In order 
to create music on the Oram, a composer painted waveforms directly onto 
35mm film strips which were fed into the machine. Inside, 
photo-electronic cells read the light pattern and interpreted it as 
sound. Check out the video to see the arrival of the machinery back into 
England where it'll be on display all the way through December 2012. If 
you're really interested you can tap Dr Grierson's homebrewed Oramics 
iPhone app (linked below for your downloading pleasure) to create your 
own futuristic theme songs, '57-style.


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