Anglia Ruskin academic explores roots of electronic music

Published: 22 August 2011 at 15:49

Dr Katy Price co-develops Oramics exhibition at London’s Science Museum

Dr Katy Price, of Anglia Ruskin University, is co-developing an exhibition at the Science Museum in London that explores the roots of modern electronic music.

Oramics to Electronica: Revealing Histories of Electronic Music runs until 1 December 2012 and showcases a range of electronic instruments, including the Oramics machine, as well as rare archive footage.

Dr Price said:

“The Oramics machine is a fascinating early synthesizer and it’s wonderful that it’s going on display for the first time at the Science Museum.  It works by the user literally ‘drawing’ on to transparent film and the machine then converts the drawings into strange new sounds.

“The story of Daphne Oram, the lady who designed the machine in 1960s, is almost as remarkable as the instrument itself.

“Daphne was a key figure in setting up the BBC’s famous Radiophonic Workshop, but left to pursue her own creative work.  While Delia Derbyshire is well known for helping to produce the iconic Dr Who theme tune, Daphne is a largely forgotten figure in the world of electronic music.

“Even her machine was forgotten about. It was actually found a few years ago in a barn in France and has only recently been restored.”

The exhibition, which is being supported by Goldsmiths College who helped to acquire the Oramics machine, will also feature a new interactive terminal which will simulate the machine to allow users to create music in a similar way to Daphne.

Dr Price, a Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Writing at Anglia Ruskin, is currently working with audience groups to develop written material to be displayed alongside the instruments later in the year.  The creative writing workshops aim to produce stories inspired by the instruments and also explore the idea of electronic sound in everyday life.

“The concept of using creative writing as a way of curating an exhibition is fairly new,”

added Dr Price, whose work has been funded by the Cultures of the Digital Economy (CoDE) Research Institute at Anglia Ruskin.

“Part of the challenge and excitement comes from inviting different groups of users to respond to historical objects and decide what makes them relevant today.”