Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Radio 4 Extra goes Radiophonic

In a rare moment of synchronicity (following my Radiophonic Workshop post yesterday), I was excited to hear an advert for a documentary* on BBC Radio 4 Extra this Saturday morning and evening.

Selected Radiophonic Works (9am - 12noon & 7pm - 10pm, Saturday 14 July 2012**)

Richard Coles tells the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop's extraordinary story.

In 1958 an extraordinary musical laboratory opened at the BBC. It was called the Radiophonic Workshop and provided music and sound for a wealth of BBC programmes, from The Goons to Dr Who.

With contributions from Coldcut, Dick Mills and Mark Ayres, Richard Coles explores the achievements of the unit and presents a carefully chosen selection of programmes showcasing the department's work.
 Very much looking forward to a Radiophonic Saturday morning here at L'Amour Electronique HQ...

* It seems to be a repeat of a programme first aired in 2008.
** Should also be available on the iPlayer for 7 days after - I'll post a link in the comments after the broadcast.

Sunday evening
I'm currently listening back to the 3 hour marathon broadcast. It's made up of various old programmes and archive clips, and presented by Richard Coles (who use to be in Bronski Beat and is now a vicar).

The first part is a great introduction to the Workshop looking at key members and examples of their recordings, in the context of other musique concrète, and how they were created (the tardis sound in the Dr Who theme was a key scraping up a bass piano string!).

The start of middle section is somewhat disturbing: an extended sequence called Within Dreams, in which various voices relate disturbing recurrent nightmares over a minimal Delia Derbyshire electronic soundscape.

Next is a full episode of The Goon Show parodying/paying homage to Quatermass & The Pit.

The final hour looks at the later period when the Workshop brought in a few EMS synthesisers to aid sound and tone generation.  Particular highlights: Inferno Revisited by Peter Howell, an imagined guided tour through Dante's Inferno, which took 6 weeks to complete and "practically exhausted the Workshop's Fairlight".



Unknown said...

Hello…I'm looking for a copy of this doc, since it has expired from the BBC site. You didn't by any chance download it, did you? Or know where it can be heard?
Lars Hoel

Dom said...

Hello Lars, thanks for the comment. I'm afraid I didn't record it... It may be that it will be repeated sometime in the near future, but who knows when.
You might be able to get some idea by contacting the BBC, or they might even be able to give you a copy depending on what you plan to use it for ;), as they have almost everything archived digitally these days.
Good luck.