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Oram, Daphne: Oramics [4 LPs - 2019 REISSUE] (Young Americans)

Repressed for 2019!
Daphne Oram, founder of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, in a remarkable 44-track collection 4 LP release showcasing her important work and curious nature: 155 minutes/8 sides of vinyl in a heavyweight 300 gram gatefold sleeve with rare archival material.

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product information:

155 minutes/8 sides of vinyl cut by Lupo at D&M, housed in a heavyweight 300 gram gatefold sleeve, featuring rare archive photographs

UPC: 5060165482450

Label: Young Americans
Catalog ID: YOUNGAM 001LP
Squidco Product Code: 13183

Format: 4 LPs
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: Great Britain
Packaging: 4 LPs in a Gatefold Sleeve


Daphne Oram-composer, performer

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Artist Biographies:

"Daphne Oram (31 December 1925 - 5 January 2003) was a British composer and electronic musician. She was one of the first British composers to produce electronic sound, and was a pioneer of musique concrète in the UK. As a co-founder of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, she became a central figure in the evolution of electronic music.

She was the creator of the Oramics technique for creating electronic sounds using drawn sound. Besides being a musical innovator, she was the first woman to independently direct and set up a personal electronic music studio, and the first woman to design and construct an electronic musical instrument.

Oram was born to James and Ida Oram on 31 December 1925 in Wiltshire, England. Educated at Sherborne School For Girls, she was, from an early age, taught piano and organ as well as musical composition. Her father was the President of the Wiltshire Archeological Society in the 1950s. Her childhood home was within 10 miles of the stone circles of Avebury and 20 miles from Stonehenge.

Work at the BBC

In 1942, Oram was offered a place at the Royal College of Music but instead took up a position as a Junior Studio Engineer and "music balancer" at the BBC. One of her job responsibilities was "shadowing" live concerts with a pre-recorded version so the broadcast would go on if interrupted by "enemy action. Other job duties included creating sound effects for radio shows and mixing broadcast levels. During this period she became aware of developments in synthetic sound and began experimenting with tape recorders. Often staying after hours, she was known to experiment with tape recorders late into the night. She recorded sounds on to tape, and then cut, spliced and looped, slowed them down, sped up, and played them backwards.

She also dedicated time in the 1940s composing music, including an orchestral work entitled Still Point. This was an innovative piece for turntables, "double orchestra" and five microphones. Many consider Still Point the first composition that combined acoustic orchestration with live electronic manipulation. Rejected by the BBC and never performed, Still Point remained unheard for 70 years, until on 24 June 2016 the London Contemporary Orchestra performed it for the first time. The world premiere of a revised version of Still Point was performed at The Proms in London on 23 July 2018 by the London Contemporary Orchestra.

In the 1950s, she was promoted to become a music studio manager. Following a trip to the RTF studios in Paris, she began to campaign for the BBC to provide electronic music facilities for composing sounds and music, using electronic music and musique concrète techniques, for use in its programming. In 1957 she was commissioned to compose music for the play Amphitryon 38. She created this piece using a sine wave oscillator, a tape recorder and some self-designed filters, thereby producing the first wholly electronic score in BBC history. Along with fellow electronic musician and BBC colleague Desmond Briscoe, she began to receive commissions for many other works, including a significant production of Samuel Beckett's All That Fall (1957). As demand grew for these electronic sounds, the BBC gave Oram and Briscoe a budget to establish the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in early 1958, where she was the first Studio Manager. The workshop was focused on creating sound effects and theme music for all of the corporation's output, including the science fiction serial Quatermass and the Pit (1958-59) and "Major Bloodnok's Stomach" for the radio comedy series The Goon Show.

In October 1958, Oram was sent by the BBC to the "Journées Internationales de Musique Expérimentale" at the Brussels World's Fair (where Edgard Varèse demonstrated his Poème électronique). After hearing some of the work produced by her contemporaries and being unhappy at the BBC music department's continued refusal to push electronic composition into the foreground of their activities, she decided to resign from the BBC less than one year after the workshop had opened, hoping to develop her techniques further on her own.

In 1965, Oram produced Pulse Persephone for the Treasures of the Commonwealth exhibition at the Royal Academy of the Arts.Film

Oram provided the prominent electronic sounds for the soundtrack of Doctor No (1962), uncredited. These sounds were used by the James Bond films up until Goldfinger (1964). Oram also added sounds to the soundtrack of Snow (1963), a short documentary by Geffrey Jones. After the success of Snow, she worked with Jones again and is credited for the Electronic Treatment (of music) of Rail (1967).Oramics

"We will be entering a strange world where composers will be mingling with capacitors, computers will be controlling crotchets and, maybe, memory, music and magnetism will lead us towards metaphysics."- Daphne Oram, An Individual Note of Music, Sound and Electronics (1971)

Immediately after leaving the BBC in 1959, Oram began setting up her Oramics Studios for Electronic Composition in Tower Folly, a converted oast house at Fairseat, near Wrotham, Kent.

Oramics is a drawn sound technique that involves drawing directly onto 35mm film stock. Shapes and designs etched into the film strips are read by photo-electric cells and transformed into sounds. According to Oram, "Every nuance, every subtlety of phrasing, every tone gradation or pitch inflection must be possible just by a change in the written form." The Oramics technique and the flexibility of control over the nuances of sound was an altogether new and innovative approach to music production. Financial pressures meant it was necessary to maintain her work as a commercial composer, and her work on the Oramics system covered a wider range than the Radiophonic Workshop. She produced music for not only radio and television but also theatre, short commercial films, sound installations and exhibitions. Other work from this studio included electronic sounds for Jack Clayton's horror film The Innocents (1961), concert works including Four Aspects (1960), and collaborations with opera composer Thea Musgrave and Ivor Walsworth.Oramics machine displayed at the Science Museum, London (2011)

In February 1962, she was awarded a grant of £3,550 (equivalent to £74,000 in 2018) from the Gulbenkian Foundation to support the development of the Oramics system. A second Gulbenkian grant of £1,000 was awarded in 1965. The first entirely drawn-sound composition using the machine, entitled "Contrasts Essonic", was recorded in 1963. As the Oramics research evolved, Oram's focus turned to the subtle nuances and interactions between sonic parameters. In this phase of Oramics, she applied her sound research to the non-linear behavior of the human ear and to perception of the brain's apprehension of the world. She used Oramics to study vibrational phenomena, divided into "commercial Oramics" and "mystical Oramics." In her notes, Oram defined Oramics as "the study of sound and its relationship to life."

In the 1980s Oram worked on the development of a software version of Oramics for the Acorn Archimedes computer using grant money received from the RVW (Ralph Vaughan Williams) Trust. She wished to continue her "Mystical Oramics" research, but a lack of funding prevented this project from being fully realized. [...]"

-Wikipedia (

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track listing:

01. Introduction
02. Power Tools
03. Bird Of Parallax
04. In A Jazz Style
05. Purring Interlude
06. Contrasts Essconic
07. Lego Builds It
08. Pompie Ballet (Excerpt)
09. Intertel
10. Ardwick High School No. 1
11. Look At Oramics
12. Rotolock
13. Purple Dust
14. High Speed Flight
15. Studio Experiment No. 1
16. Four Aspects
17. Kia Ora
18. Dr. Faustus Suite
19. Ardwick High School No. 2
20. Tumblewash
21. Studio Experiment No. 2
22. Snow
23. Rockets In Ursa Major (Excerpt 1)
24. Food Preservation
25. Studio Experiment No. 3
26. Bala
27. Episode Metallic
28. Studio Experiment No. 4
29. Ardwick High School No. 3
30. Fanfare Of Graphs
31. Studio Experiment No. 5
32. Brociliande
33. Mary Had A Little Lamb
34. Incidental Music For Invasion (Excerpts)
35. Costain Suite
36. Rockets In Ursa Major (Excerpt 2)
37. Passacaglia
38. Missile Away
39. Pulse Persephone
40. Ardwick High School No. 4
41. Nestea
42. Rockets In Ursa Major (Excerpt 3)
43. Conclusion
44. Studio Jinks
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Daphne Oram was the founder of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, a department she more or less single-handedly created in 1958, camping out at the BBC studios for nights on end splicing tapes and working with various modified machines to create her abstract soundscapes. Eventually the BBC bent under her pressure and in studio 13 created the soon-to-be-legendary Radiophonic Workshop, with Daphne Oram as its first director. Oram also invented her own "drawn-sound" technique, a process whereby strips of 35mm film would be manipulated before being fed into her home-made "Oramics" machine which would convert and "read" the film into sound. Despite her considerable and historic list of achievements, Oram's life and work remain largely unknown by the wider public. As this remarkable 44-track collection shows, however, her work ranks amongst the most varied and pioneering ever made, and it's quite incredible to think that this is the first time any of these precious recordings have been available on vinyl."-Young Americans

155 minutes/8 sides of vinyl cut by Lupo at D&M, housed in a heavyweight 300 gram gatefold sleeve, featuring rare archive photographs
Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings

Electronic Forms
Electroacoustic Composition
Solo Artist Recordings
Historical Recordings
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