Radiophonic WorkshopA journey through time

Radiophonic WorkshopA journey through time

The Radiophonic Workshop was set up in 1958 to provide sound and electronic music for BBC radio and television drama. They are true pioneers, often mentioned in the same breath as Kraftwerk as real the electronic music legends.

The MatrixBrute is terrific.

Radiophonic Workshop has created a sound pack for MatrixBrute, in their classic, original style.

When I first saw MatrixBrute, the picture of it, it looked to me like someone had taken the MS20, supercharged it, and found a way to add a digital patch bay. You’ve got three oscillators, two LFO’s, and the patch bay, so you can within reason assign anything to anything. There are obscene, absurd modulations going on. Leads, pads, sci-fi zaps, it can do anything.

Here you will find vintage synthesizer patches, sci-fi sounds, and experimental sounds of the 60’s which are still very usable in the modern day. Import into your MatrixBrute and create your own Dr Who influenced soundtracks.

Take a listen to the sound bank

There were no keyboards.

That wonderful bloom of British Broadcasting when nobody knew what the limits were, that’s the same spirit in which Radiophonic Workshop was formed – what can we do with all this technology? We were providing something that other people in the recording industry couldn’t.

If you wanted the sound of a car crash or a door opening you could go to a sound effects library. If you wanted the sound effect of someone having a nervous breakdown, you need something a bit more creative.

We’d crash, bang, hit, stretch, reverse, and everything with tape. Most things were done with tape, cutting with razor blades, and putting things together. It was highly skilled and took weeks to make things. Whatever’s available, that’s what you’ve got to use.

"Everything was highly original, because the sounds were all ‘found sounds’ so it might be a cork coming out of a bottle if it was a sort of theme tune, anything that twanged or clanged, scraping stuff, highly manipulated to get the final sound."

Staying alive

In 1996 the BBC Radiophonic Workshop had been asked to close down, it had all become very affordable and Mark Ayres was asked to come in and archive it.

The kind of thing the Radiophonic Workshop started doing, which was tape music, and these rooms full of analog synthesizers were no longer necessary.

People still had an interest in what we had achieved, so we thought “why not put a band together and play some of our greatest hits?” The fantastic thing about doing electronic music the way we do now is we have this 50, 60 years of history that we draw on, we have the old analog sythesizers, those which still work, we have the digital synthesizers, we have the virtual synthesizers, trying to take genuine analog electronic music on the road should be interesting.

I spent two years writing incidental music for Dr Who. When Delia Derbyshire did the Doctor Who theme, the bassline is basically a plucked string, a single plucked string. She’d record the single plucked string onto tape, make a loop of it, then record that onto another machine and you’d have a whole line of these notes, but then you’d vari-speed the loop so to create all the pitches, then you’d record those loops all onto the other tape, so you’d have half an hour of D’s and half an hour of E’s and half an hour of F’s, and that’s the way you’d go through it, that’s how you’d make music, you’d cut your notes from a piece of tape.

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