Bbc Radiophonic Workshop - A Retrospective Rar
Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen: Beyond The Scorched Earth of Counter-Cinema was produced to accompany a New York retrospective of the same name - the first to be staged in the U.S. - curated by Oliver Fuke and organised by the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture at 721 Broadway from 11-14 November 2016.
bbc radiophonic workshop - a retrospective rar
For many years the music on Doctor Who was closely linked to the output of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, a unit created by the BBC to specialise in sound effects using electronic equipment and often experimental techniques. Though they created music and effects for many productions (such as "Quatermass and the Pit" and "The Goon Show") electronic sounds were most often associated with Science Fiction on both the big screen and on television. So it was almost inevitable that there would be such a close relationship with Doctor Who, and many members of the workshop received credits on the programme for the music or the sound effects and frequently both. Even when the Unit wasn't credited directly, it was often involved behind the scenes, taking the music from the composer and enhancing it electronically with additional layers and effects.
Sadly with the proliferation of cheap synthesisers and music software, the BBC decided to close the department in 1998. Although the Radiophonic Workshop no longer exists as a BBC department, it still has a large legacy of audio material and equipment whose main curator is Mark Ayres. In addition, Mark Ayres and other former members of the organisation (Peter Howell, Roger Limb, Dick Mills, Paddy Kingsland, Mark Ayres and Kieron Pepper) have reformed as a group to continue to make electronic music. The new group call themselves The Radiophonic Workshop (without the "BBC") and are actively recording and performing, having appeared at a number of concerts across the country including the Prom concert in 2013 marking the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, the Glastonbury Festival in 2014 and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The reformed group released their first independent album in May 2017 under the title "Burials in Several Earths" and provided the soundtrack to the film "Possum" in 2018. Issue 28 of Electronic Sound magazine with a TARDIS cover features an in depth article about the old and new incarnations of the workshop and an optional CD of Workshop music.
After the theme, the next major audio requirement back in 1963 was the Tardis dematerialisation sound, and this was created by another member of the radiophonic team Brian Hodgson. Hodgson famously recorded the sound of a door key being dragged along the wound base strings of a piano, and treated this recording with special effects to create the tardis's sound. Quite often the Tardis sound was edited on the show for reasons of pacing, but it was a magical effect when the sound was played in full. Hodgson also created the Tardis "hum" and provided the characteristic throbbing sound of the Dalek city. Some sounds were created by recording source sounds and then manipulating them, while other sounds were created purely from electronic circuits. The Dalek voices were created by processing the actors' voices (initially Peter Hawkins and David Graham, then a few years later Roy Skelton, but now performed by Nicholas Briggs, who incidentally as executive producer of "Big Finish" has also created music for some of their earlier audio releases) through a device called a ring modulator. Peter Hawkins and Roy Skelton went on to create the voices for other monsters including the Cybermen. For their first appearance in "The Tenth Planet" the Cybermen's sing-song voices used unnatural rhythms and inflections, but their voices in later stories were processed electronically.
Towards the end of the 1960s Doctor Who became firmly established in the television schedules, and the programme entered a period of relative stability. Although the use of stock music continued for some stories, the name of Dudley Simpson became more and more associated with the show. By the time Doctor Who burst into colour in the 1970s with Jon Pertwee as the new Doctor, Simpson had essentially been established as the house composer and he was to continue in this role for much of the 1970s including most of the Tom Baker era. Although Simpson wasn't a member of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, he often worked closely with them to realise his music, and when he left the show the task of creating the incidental music again reverted to the workshop alternating between Paddy Kingsland, Peter Howell, Roger Limb, Malcolm Clarke and a few others.
As mentioned previously Delia Derbyshire (1937-2001) from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was the person who put together the Doctor Who theme based on the composition by Ron Grainer. In her works she generally used musique concrète methods i.e. recording real sounds and then manipulating them electronically. As a member of the workshop for 10 years she created electronic works to accompany various BBC productions, but after the title theme (which she reworked in 1967 for the Patrick Troughton era) she had only a minor involvement with Doctor Who. She realised a happy track called the "Chromophone Band" composed by Dudley Simpson for the story "The Macra Terror" (available on "Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume1: The Early Years 1963-1969), and a couple of her works "The Delian Mode" and "Blue Veils and Golden Sands" were used as stock music on the Jon Pertwee story "Inferno" (these electronic compositions are evocative and mysterious, and included on the CD "Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume2: New Beginnings 1970-1980").
Paddy Kingsland of the BBC Radiophonic workshop scored "Full Circle", "State of Decay", "Logopolis", "Castrovalva", "The Visitation", "Mawdryn Undead", "Frontios" and Episode 1 of "Meglos". He therefore covered the transition between Tom Baker and Peter Davison, and was one of the group of composers taking over from Dudley Simpson in 1980 and setting the standard for the new Radiophonic style, using synthesisers but frequently orchestral in conception. His music was fairly melodic and easy on the ear. Among other developments he created a theme associated with the character Adric (or with Alzarians in general) in "Full Circle" which was to be used later in the series, and a K9 theme which was only used in this story. He also briefly quotes the first 3 notes of the Doctor Who theme and the story has great sound design for the Marshmen emerging from Mistfall. He scored the first episode of "Meglos" because Peter Howell was ill with 'flu, but Howell recovered in time to complete the story. Kingsland and Howell had agreed on a consistent sound for "Meglos" and it works because the music doesn't appear to change significantly, and the story has vocoder type vocal effects for the Deons (using the EMS Vocoder). In "The Visitation" Kingsland uses period music (albeit created on synths) for the initial scenes which establish the mood and setting, near 17th century London linking the Great Plague and Great Fire. For his Doctor Who work (1980s onwards) Kingsland used the Roland SY2 and Oberheim OBX, Roland Jupiter 4 and live acoustic drums. He introduced a drum machine (Roland CR78) and also played a Fender Telecaster electric guitar. His music for "Full Circle" and "Meglos" (tracks by both Paddy Kingsland and Peter Howell) are on the album "Doctor Who at the Radiophonic Workshop Vol.4", and Mark Ayres interviews him in a special feature on "The Visitation" DVD. Outside of Doctor Who Kingsland created the incidental music and sound effects from the TV version of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and his Radiophonic music from a number of shows is available on a album called "Fourth Dimension". Some of Paddy Kingsland's Doctor Who work was done as a freelancer after he had left the BBC. More about Paddy Kingsland can be found at his studio website at PK Studios.
Roger Limb of the BBC Radiophonic workshop scored "The Keeper of Traken", "Four to Doomsday", "Black Orchid", "Time-Flight", "Arc of Infinity", "Terminus", "The Caves of Androzani" and "Revelation of the Daleks". Among these stories "The Keeper of Traken" has some great contrasts in its music. The planet on the whole and its garden are very peaceful with some gentle relaxing music, a theme for Nyssa full of innocence, and a dark brooding theme for the Melkur which turned out to be the Master's Tardis. "The Caves of Androzani" (Peter Davison's last story) is more ambient than melodic, including some military drums (e.g. the execution scene) and a tolling bell and suitably eerie & disturbing when required by the story. Roger Limb's "The Caves of Androzani" is the first soundtrack album to be released in 2013 as part of the 50th Anniversary tributes to the show. In the 1970s, Limb contributed (along with Delia Derbyshire, Paddy Kingsland and a host of other Radiophonic composers) to a BBC Radiophonic Workshop album called "Out of this World" (originally on vinyl but re-issued on CD as "Essential Science Fiction Sound Effects, Volume 2"). A track by Limb called "Passing Clouds" was famously sampled by Prince on the track "Eye No" on the "Lovesexy" album. Outside of Science Fiction, Limb scored a number of television series including a great electro-acoustic score (now released on CD, complete with the theme from Victor Hely-Hutchison' Carol Symphony using the Christmas Carol "The First Nowell") for the TV series "Box of Delights" (starring Patrick Troughton), "The December Rose" and an episode of "Bellamy's Backyard Safari".
Jonathan Gibbs of the BBC Radiophonic workshop scored "The King's Demons", "Warriors of the Deep", "Vengeance on Varos" and "The Mark of the Rani". The first episode of "The Mark of the Rani" contains a long opening shot and Jonathan Gibbs created some gorgeous music to accompany this, with thick (synth) string harmonies suggesting the rural historical English setting. Jonathan Gibbs was not the first choice for "The Mark of the Rani" since John Lewis (Brian Hodgson's business partner) who had completed episode 1 became seriously ill and had to be replaced. The DVD for "The Mark of the Rani" contains an isolated score track of Gibbs' music, and an alternative score track to illustrate how the episode would have sounded with John Lewis' music. A further feature on the DVD is an interview with Gibbs called "Playing with Time". "The King's Demons" has some nice period music (both acoustic and electronic), and in the story the disguised robot Kamelian plays the lute on screen, which was actually played by Jakob Lindberg on the soundtrack. The Special Edition of "Vengeance on Varos" also features some interview questions with Gibbs talking about the story's television fanfares and the atmospheric music for the different pychological colour zones.