Doctor Who Sound Pioneers To Turn The Internet Into A Giant Musical Instrument | Electronic music
The Radiophonic Workshop has always innovated in terms of sound, Doctor Who theme to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Now they are doing it all over again – this time using the Internet as a musical instrument.
A service of Latency will take place at a special online event on November 22 using a technique inspired by Locking Zoom Calls. The group includes composers from the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which created soundtracks for most BBC broadcasts from the 60s to the 90s and influenced generations of musicians from Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield to Aphex Twin, Orbital and Mary Epworth.
“The idea [of playing the internet] reflects our times, âsaid Workshop Member Peter Howell. âWe are all subject to the Internet now in ways we never could have imagined. And Bob and Paddy came up with an idea that literally uses what we all rely on for a creative purpose, using something we all take for granted, but in an artistic way.
Bob and Paddy are Bob Earland and Paddy Kingsland, who have been trying to figure out how to make music together while being forced to stay home during the lockdown. Bands and orchestras have struggled to perform live online during the pandemic, and most have prerecorded shows because it’s nearly impossible to sync instruments in different locations.
The internet has an unpredictable natural lag, or latency, caused by the milliseconds it takes for electrical signals from one computer to reach another, as anyone who uses Zoom has experienced.
The trick discovered by Earland and Kingsland was that they could extend the Internet delay from a few milliseconds to several seconds. Instead of trying to play at the same time, the Radiophonic Workshop will play one after the other – in sequence rather than in parallel.
âWe had the brilliant idea of use this latency to loop music“Earland said.” The sound is sent to someone, and they add to it, and it just keeps spinning. So you don’t count on everyone being on the same clock.
Roger Limb, who started his career as a TV announcer and once found Marc Bolan outside his BBC studio Maida Vale keyhole listening, said: About five seconds, listening to it, then reacting to myself.
Howell, who is also a speaker in film and television music, said: “It feels like playing live, it’s just that each person has a little bubble of time that they’re playing live in.”
The performance takes place the day before November 23, the anniversary date of the first transmission of Doctor Who in 1963 which is also Delia Derbyshire Day, in honor of the figurehead of Atelier Radiophonique, who created the sound of the show’s famous musical theme.
Derbyshire, who died in 2001, would have recognized the Internet latency technique since it created echoes and sounds using reel tape recorders.
Kingsland, who created most of the sounds for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio plays, said that while Derbyshire, who studied math and music at Cambridge, was often described as highly intellectual, she was also intuitive. âShe was very accomplished using the equipment, the old belt machines. And she was very good at things that happened by chance, happy accidents. “
Derbyshire’s reputation as a pioneer in electronic music has grown steadily. Delia Derbyshire: Myths and Legendary Tapes premiered at the London Film Festival last month, and BBC4 will revisit its work in an upcoming documentary on the Doctor Who theme.
An archive of her recordings – which she often tried to destroy but which were saved by her close friend and colleague Brian Hodgson – is now at the University of Manchester.
âShe grew up in Coventry during the war, and she told me the sounds she heard as a child were clogs on the cobblestones, air raid sirens and dropping bombs,â Mark said. Ayres, Radiophonic Workshop archivist. âAnd she tried to do something beautiful with that kind of sound for the rest of her life. It’s quite magical I think. Paul McCartney agreed. The Beatle asked Derbyshire and Hodgson to ask him to do an electronic backing track for Yesterday.
While that didn’t happen, she asked McCartney to do what Ayres described as the Beatles’ only unreleased song.
âDelia has been very involved in the [1960s] rave scene – she had worked with Yoko Ono, âAyres said. Derbyshire asked McCartney to contribute music to an event at the Roundhouse in London.
âAt the end of one of their sessions at Abbey Road, Paul McCartney reminded the band that they were supposed to do this track for this rave. John Lennon gave a hefty answer, but they got the tape going, Ayres said.
âBasically they ran around the studio punching things and cursing. After 15 minutes, they stopped the tape and sent it off. And it was the Carnival of Light.
The tape was later recovered. âWe know the tape still survives, but it’s in the possession of Paul McCartney. And I think they’ve all listened to it a few times and decided this is the best place for it.