Oramics Machine, Daphne Oram, BBC Click Jan 8, 2012


Sound and Music

Sound and Music

Another often unsung pioneer of British experimental music was Daphne Oram (1925-2003) who took a job at the BBC at age 17 and co-founded the Radiophonic Workshop there in 1958. During her childhood she “subjected the family piano to various experiments, such as sticking objects under the strings to change the tone quality - long before she had heard of John Cage and his prepared piano”. (The Wire, March 2003)
Whilst the prepared piano can itself be considered to be something reinvented by each composer to suit their own needs and requirements, for the purposes of this exhibition Oram's contribution is her Oramics Machine.
Oramics was a 'drawn sound' technique originally developed in 1957, expanding into the composition machine from 1962 onwards and which involved drawing on glass slides and parallel tracks of 35mm film, creating masks to control the amount of light reaching photocells. Through this technique pitch, rhythm, dynamics, envelope, vibrato and timbre could all be controlled.Later in life Oram worked on converting the Oramics Machine to RIX computer technology, although unfortunately this is a project she was never able to complete. Interestingly there is now an Oramics iPhone app, thereby (after a fashion) completing this work on her behalf.

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  • Title: Oramics Machine, Daphne Oram, BBC Click Jan 8, 2012
  • Creator: BBC
  • Date Created: 2012-01-08


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