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Oram, Daphne / Vera Gray - Listen Move And Dance
Oram, Daphne / Vera Gray - Listen Move And Dance
Fantome | LP | 19

The British composer, musician and audio engineer Daphne Oram was a pioneering figure in the use of electronic music. Coming to prominence through her work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which she co-founded, Oram was one of the first British composers to feature electronic instruments in her work and has been rightly hailed as helping musique concrete to become accepted in Britain. Born in 1925 and raised in rural Wiltshire, close to Stonehenge and the ancient stone circle at Avebury, Oram eschewed a place at the prestigious Royal College of Music to take a junior engineering role at the BBC in 1942, she was often tasked with creating sound effects, leading to cut-up experiments with tape recorders and the development of synthetic sound, her composition Still Point, involving two orchestras, two turntables and five microphones, was deemed too radical by the BBC, though she was promoted to studio manager in 1950, leading to the gradual introduction of electronic music and musique concrete techniques on BBC soundtracks. In 1957, she composed the music for the play Amphitryon 38, using a sine wave oscillator and homemade filters, and this and other subsequent works led to the establishment of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop the following year, but Oram soon tired of the conservative constraints of the BBC, leading to her resignation in 1959 to pursue her own vision at the Oramics Studios for Electronic Composition, located in Tower Folly, a former hop kiln located at Fairseat, near the village of Wrotham in rural Kent. Oramics was a radical sound composition technique that sought to transform images to music, enacted by drawing onto 35mm film, which would then be read by photo-electric cells, in addition to its use in Radiophonic Workshop material, Oramics was also employed for sound installations, theatre productions and feature films, such as The Innocents, though financial pressures forced Oram to seek a range of commercial engagements in addition to creating her own artistic works. The Listen Move And Dance series of BBC programmes were devised as a radical new technique to help British schoolchildren learn how to dance, on the LP releases, Vera Gray arranged short adaptations of classical pieces by Bartok, Stravinsky, Shostakovich and others, designed for "stamping, punching, kicking and jumping" movements, as well as "running lightly, dancing on toes" and "shaking all about," which contrasted sharply with Oram's electronic abstractions, which seemed to have been beamed in from outer space.


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