Daphne Oram

THURSDAY 7th April 2011


Door Times : 8pm

£4 on the door


Daphne Oram (1925-2003) was a pioneering British composer and electronic musician. She was the creator of Oramics, a synthesis technique which used visual images to create electronic sounds. She is credited with creating the very first piece of commissioned electronic music for the BBC in 1957 (the score for Amphitryon 38) and she was instrumental in the formation of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, becoming its first director in 1958. Leaving the BBC less than a year later, she founded her own electronic music studio where she produced the electronic soundtrack to the 1961 horror film The Innocents, as well as various concert works and compositions. After her death in 2003, the British improvisor and instrument builder Hugh Davies inherited her archive of papers and tapes. Following Davies's death in 2005 the collection was accessioned by Goldsmiths, University of London.

The programme for the evening will include:

• A presentation by Dan Wilson tracing the evolution of the philosophies behind Oramics, and Daphne Oram's progress in reconciling the physical and metaphysical aspects of sound. Oramics made incursions into the mysteries surrounding occulted conceptions of sound: its alleged healing and restorative powers, its role in providing ‘inspiration’, its analogies in colour, form and number, and its archaeoacoustics. 

• A biographical sketch in the form of a presentation by Jo Hutton, looking at Daphne Oram's role at the BBC in developing electroacoustic music and radiophonic art in Britain, as well as her subsequent independent studio work and the development of her drawn sound technique which emerged in tandem with the design and build of Oramics.

• A joint presentation by Mick Grierson and Chris Weaver on the evolution of the Oramics machine, its potential significance as one of the first British computer music systems, and the plans for its future conservation.

• A video presentation by Graham Wrench, the former RAF radar engineer responsible for building the first prototype of the Oramics machine.

Interval entertainment will come from Fari B who will be spinning previously unheard material from the Daphne Oram Archive.

Drawn Oramics


Dan Wilson is a composer, writer and instrument builder. Jo Hutton is a sound artist/musician and BBC Studio Manager who has studied Daphne Oram's music and Oramics since 1985. She has published articles on Daphne Oram inOrganised Sound and Diffusion magazines. Dr Mick Grierson is the Director of the Daphne Oram Collection and the Centre for Creative Computing and Computational Arts, both at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has a background in experimental audio-visual composition and signal processing, specifically brain computer interfacing for electronic music and image interaction. Chris Weaver is production manager at London's first radio art station, Resonance 104.4FM. He is active as an electronic musician and instrument maker as well the musical director of the station's radio orchestra.

Daphne Oram website
Reading List - on The WIRE blog

The Wire Salon is a monthly series of salon events, hosted by The Wire magazine, and dedicated to the fine art and practice of thinking and talking about music. The events consist of readings, talks, panel discussions, film screenings, DJ sets and even the occasional live performance.

The WIRE website