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date: 17 August 2019

Oram, Daphne Blakelocked

  • Sophie Fuller


(b Devizes, Wilts., Dec 31, 1925; d Maidstone, Kent, Jan 5, 2003). English composer, technician and inventor. Educated at Sherborne School for Girls, she turned down a place at the RCM in order to work at the BBC as a music balancer for classical music broadcasts. A pioneer in integrating music and technology, she began to experiment with sound manipulation in 1944 and in 1950 submitted her work Still Point for orchestra, five microphones and manipulated recordings to the BBC. In 1957 she established a radiophonic unit at the BBC and was one of the directors of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop when it opened in 1958. Later that year she left the BBC and set up her own studio in Kent. Her experiments in converting graphic information into sound – aided by Gulbenkian grants in 1962 and 1965 – led to the development of her Oramics system, a photoelectric digital/analogue composition machine that gives the composer control of subtle nuances in all parameters (including amplitude, envelope shaping, rhythm, timbre control, microtonal pitch and vibrato), which are drawn onto ten parallel tracks of 35mm film and then transported by a motor through the photoelectric sound-generating system. In the 1960s Oram lectured widely on electronic music and many composers, including Thea Musgrave, used her studio facilities....

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