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date: 22 August 2019

Derbyshire, Delia [Russe]locked

  • Jo Hutton



(b Coventry, May 5, 1937; d Northampton, July 3, 2001). English composer. She read Maths and Music at Girton College, Cambridge University, and graduated in 1958. She studied alongside Jonathan Harvey, with whom she visited the Varèse/Xenakis/Le Corbusier expo in the Philips Pavilion at the World Trade Fair in Brussels in 1958. She went to the BBC in 1960 as a trainee studio manager and in 1962 was sent on ‘attachment’ to the Radiophonic Workshop, where she worked for eleven years.

As a talented pianist and gifted mathematician, Derbyshire was ideally suited to the experimental electronic music-making techniques in use at the Radiophonic Workshop. There were ¼″ tape machines, tone generators, and various electronic processing devices, many of which were cobbled together by BBC engineers from spare parts found in-house or in local markets. Derbyshire was particularly interested in the physics of sound. She could work out any harmonic series in her head and would use logarithmic tables to calculate the frequency of tones for different musical scales. This technique enabled her to use electronic equipment in a particularly flexible and musical way....

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