Arts & Ideas - The Radiophonic Workshop

The BBC Radiophonic workshop was founded in 1958 by Desmond Briscoe and Daphne Oram. This group of experimental composers, sound engineers and musical innovators provided music for programmes including The Body in Question, Horizon, Quatermass, Newsround, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Chronicle and Delia Derbyshire's iconic Doctor Who Theme before being shut down by Director General John Birt in 1998. Tying into the 2020 celebration of classic Prom concerts, this episode of Free Thinkin

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This is the BBC.

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This podcast is supported by advertising outside the UK.

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Sounds music radio Podcast by Matthew Sweet ideas podcast the sound of which is brought to you by an old lampshade with a razor blade and lots of magnetic tape.

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Time to start looking for you. Would you like some more of it?

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time to stop choking

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This is a message for the citizens of the new Atlantis. Can you hear us? Can you hear us? Where do we go from here?

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Give Me A Sign

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Full centuries ago the philosophy of Francis Bacon, imagine the world of the far-flung future. He called it the new Atlantis the Utopia in which the citizens conducted experiments experiments with the elements with meteors with light and with sound back in the twentieth century a little Outpost of that Utopia was built here sound House at the End of This Corridor in maida Vale West London. It doesn't look much but in the new Atlantis in years to come they will say this is where it began in the radio phone equipped shop was invited to work at the workshop. You're into a job that you didn't know what was involved you worked in room 17.

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And the department was founded on April 1st. Now if you was in the bones costing industry back, then you wouldn't have stored it over very well for Success at the BBC radiophonic workshop with a neat for decades 1958 to 1998 conventional relationship with time and space. The radiator is touring the country that claimed Glastonbury this summer on the road with a cargo of antique synthesizes tape decks and also late is a dick Mills Pizza Howell Rodger Lim Patty Kingsland the musical director Mark as a member of the team with the Prodigy wherever they go to audiences cheer them as if they were hearing a well-loved banned from the 1960s reformed for the workshop is the super group who never were it was founded to put

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Juice Music and Sound couldn't be play live. But let's go back to the beginning. Let's press the fast return switch right at the start of the story is a woman surrounded by oscillators and Loops of Magnetic Tape by the men who want to stop her inventing the radiophonic workshop introduce yourself Daphne the boss the permission to experiment with sound.

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He introduced me to a very small hike and finished by saying I'm just sore from the BBC employs a hundred musicians to make cool sounds they are classic gray and in batwing specs on a floral-print frock. There's a picture of her up on the wall at the science museum in London. Just nearby the weird sound making machine. She constructed from bits of wire on an old wooden commode. The photo has a touch of Bletchley Park Daphne valves roaches dials clipboards young men in crumpled suits that Mills remembers he was one of them this picture in the front is sometimes I wish we definitely in a very ladylike dresser that time behind her this dezmon Briscoe in his suit and

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It was always very structured being terribly correct, but to an onlooker. Yes, it's not reading the news in the evening dress cuz it just was down in those days and you have to know your place. But what was that place? I tried not to notice has to be the band of both ends at the end of the corridor the codebreakers the fools on the hill the small button Market group of eccentrics the big institution tolerates for a while until the first two decades dezmon. Briscoe was the man trying to keep charge.

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What is the weather for Lake Workshop some of the repair radiator fans? What does the well I suppose that we started off from a load of negatives. We are essentially specialist in sound. Apparently we did sounds that nobody likes plays that nobody could understand according to Desmond. It was very difficult to be beautiful. Now, I don't know if he was choking personally when they shouldn't do anything but help producers trying to do we must be allowed to file which also with some sort of ambitious statement above it to these.

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The brain see ringtones that broke out of the Earth in quatermass and the pit dezmon Briscoe decoded feedback and turn the schools by hand in order to give the rising pitched discomforting unevenness life from Mars featuring screaming beneath the London Underground to a place far from here, but crystalline aliens growing tanks using the power of your thoughts. Brian Hodgson made this with perspex a Dictaphone motor and the nib of a cone waste you at Fountain Pen the devilish wall of sound built by Malcolm Clark.

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Above it to this the kind of electronic music that might have been played the coach of George the third owls theme for Jonathan Miller series The Body in question who makes those people at the end of the corridor where it was relaxed then abandoned entirely Patty Kingsland. I can remember when some Desmond started turn introducing a leave form, which was some time you want to be away and

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Some of the sordid details followed by any comments and I wrote in the comment section. Is this phone really necessary?

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Condom that's my nipples.

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That's what I heard the explosion from the office before he stamped on the car door and walked in on my room. But you know, that's the sort of thing that was starting to have which never happened under the auspices of the right shame The Tick's just described and we were starting to say, I mean when I started it at the BBC just I need a couple of years before that people being sent home for not wearing a tie. Literally. I don't think sent off to get a haircut goes with wiring allowed to wear trousers, but who'll remember that that was the ethos in about 1966 or 1970?

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Because of flower power law diploma or that it was actually changing? In it cuz it changed in the workshop to you and Desmond relax visible sign those I think he's sandals a medical reason. He was excused boots in the Army and he had actually sandals Ochi painted Soldier black Titan black in order to match this evening dress. He would West black sandals with an evening dress with a fool talks and everything was in the Army but it did have spaces within it when weirdness was encouraged Pizza Howell the idea of being different even if I don't actually different but they like the idea of it and I think that's when the workshop came along like, they really like the idea that there's something happening that could be of great interest to people and with with with genuinely the pioneering newt.

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Barratry, and I think that's what really got to them and they were just fascinated to find out the fact that it was very long Corridor with very drab rooms with neither here nor there. They'd already painted this picture for themselves. I think perhaps that's why the workshop is so tenacious in the cultural memory like Bletchley Park, its very existence. You see eccentric genius Rings loudest in the story of the workshops. Most mythologized employee.

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The God got to go do I think I've always be independent but I must say that I first read the book when it comes to the music I gave back to the Greeks and the irrational fear is a healthy thing to do for anyone. I think my photo but is to do electronic sounds pretty good at writing extended Melody.

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David sheff enjoy creating relationships with stockhausen feed Maxwell Davis Brian Jones and Paul McCartney. She could have busy and sleazy pop record with Anthony Newley engineered with Yoko Ono happening in Trafalgar Square composed and Anthem to celebrate the Centenary of The Institute of electrical engineers by interpreting the actual letters i e 100 in two different ways. The first one in MOS code version using the most for I-80 100 this I found extremely with McClain.

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And so I decided to use the full stops in between the eye and the two Amy's because. Has a nice sound to it to goes de da de da de da.

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I wanted to have as well as ethnic motive have a musical motive running throughout the whole piece. And so I interpreted the letters again into musical times. I becomes B.

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The Remains and 100 I've used in the Roman Forum FC

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Cambridge educated math graduate a music for her with a matter of calculus patterns equations sounds harvested from The Real World from the objects around her from her own body dilutes them processed them arrange them and precise mathematical relationships 1 2 3

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Naughty lyrics parenting she finds the note on the piano sings back to it drones back to it and then begins transmuted into music. This work-in-progress has never been broadcast before but these sounds are on the way to becoming one of her most evocative Works blue veils and Golden Sands.

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Well the second most evocative.

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The best producer of lamb that she had in her mind. Talk to you.

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description Paris

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Play music sounded really electronic turn off from Paris and because of 84 Nic Vape Shop with a below the line cost workshop and Rundgren episodi fish. No titles as usual something like a black and white negative and he took the timings and went away to his private beach in Portugal and write the school and he came back with a skull with a distracting.

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Wind clouds and Suites and swoops. And actually Emagine beautiful descriptions. The Brice line was just a stupid twined piece of Steel why the swoopy melody was an oscillator that The Apprentice Stone indeed. We did have a bank a dozen or slightest use them all at once. They the cloud sings. We just want know that these are all components found not preformed notes or anyting Eminem practice like hell

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And then copy them and overlay them and copy them and overlay them in the Traxxas like hell.

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Joker touch the aliens and hear the cries of strange birds and watch them wheel in another sky

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How about some corners of the universe which affect the most terrible things?

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Which act against everything that we believe in?

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They must be fought.

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Anybody else?

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Nobody in the universe can do what we have to be happy. Then I realized the moon copy them and I will either move practice like hell inside or outside. I'm up in the same Dimension. That's transdimensional engineering.

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Pioneer but it can be cold out on the frontier.

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Let's go back to the late 50s early 60s.

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Denis is working through the night on her own in a windowless room making these strange sounds and that has to have some impact on the whole route post Shirley.

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Some people say that the possible to create a new sound but it was it is possible into the noise a dump tomorrow. She might say well maybe whether you're going to go now. I can avoid, little Basin have a pet store have another think about it and she did that till 2 in the morning. I believe you're not

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Delirious wonderful lady but she took snuff and she liked a drink from time to time behind that there was this terrible pain shortness by herself and high productivity wasn't High it took a long time for her work to emerge. I'm just so much about it a great deal. I would put you down as a traveler Roz's in the arrival. She enjoyed the planning and the journey, but she found it terribly hard to make a final decision to save. This is good enough to go to the double broadcast and yet if she had a commission come in the next day she would be in Suzy azzam 210% and ready to go.

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And she often had lots of help from people. I come Braun Hudson fridge since I'm the cool stick and so it was kind of a rather angst-ridden things to get stuff out. But when she did get it out, you know certain things with very special indeed and that's what they do. There was about ready. She wasn't confident and I think CM has huge doubts about whether she was able to do it as well as she ought to be doing it and she suddenly wants to close

00:21:35
The ethos if you want to call it a night of the workshop is changing deadlines were becoming more and more pressing particular as we watching more more for television and I think both she and perhaps stonebakers. Well, it was one of the early signs of the workshop. They found it difficult to work within those constraints and also the very fact that they techniques with changing as well the whole idea of using types in that way was, but it's something still being used but it was being overtaken by people who work he will play as such as myself and guitarist us a picture and how they became more more Reliance on that approach to the product that we were coming up with.

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Mark as there is a. In about 2 years. In fact where it goes from totally take music pretty much totally to massage music and the bridge is is ready Delia and John who was carrying on with the type techniques when people like MattyB coming in and then starting on the on the motion to know how to take next medical John Dandy left in the new generation came in and carried over to send this message. Just thought about how electronic music should be made or is it is it discontinued?

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Event Horizon is actually very steep in that it was old type music and found sounds and if you wanted electronics and you have to create it using distance lightest and then put it on tape in the manipulation as if it was up in the other found sound seven listen to so I just came in and initially the busiest recent is really designed as a sort of electronic sound that you would create electronic sound pretty X type. I'm a manipulated again, but I'm bored. I'm so suddenly became more recognizable a musical instrument that it became far easier to play a tune on it rather than have to use type techniques.

00:23:54
so Delia Derbyshire gained a reputation as an energetic and Incorruptible innovator and the greatest corruption know she saw it was the synthesizer the synthesizer is it in 1972 the BBC insisted that she used to rework the theme of Doctor Who they wanted to

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Caught up the title music and they wanted to put an extra to pause hair put some extra feedback on the high frequencies.

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They took some toys and you know it existed. I was really very short is what I had to do in the coast.

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When she left the workshop in 73, she actually backed the car up to the entrance and emptied the contents of a studio in which she then took her and putting cereal box in stuck in the attic for you is where they were rediscovered off she died, but they weren't finished Pieces by and large was a couple of most types of which we would go back but by and large they withhold little bit so tight she discarded a little bit to work in type which ended up with over the floor and at the end of her project. She would join them all out and stick them in a hurry up and put it on the Shelf just in case you needed it again and each will have to understand sticky tape labels on them and she knew what they meant. But if you caught box with 50g of type h which had probably 50 or a hundred sticky labels on all of which type of therapy is a dried out and falling off. So you've got the box with if you were able to type and 50 x 50 labels.

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It's very difficult workouts bought that is fascinating little better sound a little bit of experimental individual lines. Are there a such a fascinating troll but I work out fine large. What is water more goes where and how its ties up and is is a is a very difficult task in 2002. Khoury in Oxfordshire to autistic. We're planning to use projections and sound to persuade an audience that time and space will be manipulated in this most generic of Science Fiction environment for the invitation to take part was lying on her door mat. She breathes her last in a hospital in northamptonshire. The event went ahead without her Kingsland Rodger. Lim took part. I made it a tribute to that Fallen comrade and to the workshop disbanded by the BBC 4 years previously. I was there on that night, too.

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What champagne?

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Can't wait.

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The Wolves the Quarry kid twist Shimmer impossible sounds Ricochet from the rock face. Everyone there on that freezing cold night near that the radiophonic workshop was too important to forced to be committed to Decay into silence did the new generation of musicians who carried it sounds within them and Amplified them and treated the flute to the Pettigrew them until they resonated again and you work if you saw Sandra Bullock and George Clooney tumbling through space in gravity. Then you would have heard the oscar-winning school by Steven Price who grew up with the work Shop music ringing in his he is very old electronic music happening all the time around then it became pretty much the sound of of my childhood as much as

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I grew up in and then 30 30 in 20 minutes while I think about bout music in the way. They can kind of look to send me the meeting picture of a human sound like a human being in both nose always a sense that that it was the music that that came from a place of experimentation the places of real Freedom. It wasn't kind of traditional music. It was a little older than that. It wasn't a string quartet playing something beautifully with something that did that same emotional rolled-up transmitter electronic and experimental play engaged in work had the sense of that. I'm a feeling the anxiety of their influence. So haunted by the

00:29:07
What is this in a couple of times? I mean one particular explicit the world ends. Could I get a right and we share a lot of this stuff and one of the first times that we go to sending me a link thing. I like this sound bites him going on with the moment you realize that we were going to work together, you know.

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Without film in particular was the whole story was was basically an alien invasion of a very ordinary English town and we were talking about things like Blake 7, which I think it'll say those found some kind of male version of those sounds became something that would definitely play in my mind. There is some real talk to me. So I was very kind of trying to recreate that sound, you know, and then we trade that feeling is of some strangeness in the Norton replaced.

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I meant another time if you know what I did to school for chemical gravity sounds that transforms and we wanted it to feel like a very strange and unique sounds the same time without recording a little thing like voices for actual string is was on floating them down and changing the song or things bites by using kind of potentially more than I thought him to be typed in 50 years ago recording on a brass and slowing it down and seeing what the quality would being. Well. Good at I'm in trying to get some of that human quality, you know that I used to get

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Hello, this is finding something that the house that weird relationship with a picture while you know, you before the town against and all of a sudden the two things. I would like to become more than the sum of the cops and say anything might be the solution to a problem. You know, it it might be at something very traditional. It might be a piece of coral me this morning. I was writing something for her full of quiet. But but I think we might be treated in a certain way and suddenly becomes a different kind of suicides. It's

00:32:04
Karen pepper once percussionist to The Prodigy and then you recruit to the radiophonic workshop. Remember thing. I must have been preteen and seeing programs at dicknose. He's right in front of work show up and sing the night and seeing the 90 credits. Remember the name of it on the sound and took him out right in the Sounds in the textures. I remember thinking though. I wanted to be involved in that somehow size really strange. I found myself in this position now because Shannon Thompson,

00:32:39
We went to Belfast and did it take the other day and three of us but to the cathedrals have a look with you next door to the the venue and the day after that has a lot of experience but mostly because Karen Spano and just went over to it started up his phone and play the lovely piece on it with this beautiful a psychopath coming around from the cathedral and I'm sure he's going to make that into a beautiful piece which he just stood there and then no complaints from people wandering around and I need wish I was about to turn my phone on cuz I was about 50 yards away and that would have made a lovely kind of combination that we didn't do that next time.

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What's it like to be part of that kind of intergenerational collaboration a sharing of process and a sharing of the love of things not being perfect. It's the sharing of diving into something and getting rid of the presets and tweaking stuff and making mistakes and recording those mistakes and analyzing and then picking the best ones cuz otherwise if you could go with this great technology Roland's bringing out why the coolest bringing out a web Innovations bringing out and all these other bringing out if you use presets in those towns, you're only going to sound like everyone else has bought that stuff. But if you coming deep and you link those people would Source in soil Samplers up with other bits of equipment and you record it in different ways. Can you fold my light patterns when nobody else replicate that that's when you get individual music that no one can replicate and it's not a thought and recent thing yourself.

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I'm trying stuff now and going down with a flock of committing committing to the sound there and then and then picking the best best and that's what we've been doing. And that's why I've always kind of dancer linking up with his garden doing that. It's very exciting Martin Swan a vile electrodes and we met in the Green Room to radiophonic Workshop gig just simply the fact that went back in the day when they were doing it was so much more difficult introducing a kind of young generation to the fact that we have a easy nowadays to to be making our music. We potentially have an easier if we won't stay that either one of the reasons why we always kind of United massive. I don't take kind of berries in Rise of them. And yeah, we awake at the question. Why don't you just do it with you? No backing track and won't know. I'm relaxed. What kind of paying all cheese to the people that

00:35:29
Toys R Us basically is another point about you saying about recently mugshots of recent events already discovered and transition element actually of the in this country. We've tended not to appreciate electronic music in the way that they haven't made some other countries in France and Germany in America.

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In France and Germany, for example, they always revered that composes every night every called hit them now from called as it's being a really important guys and PSG ffp only and Steakhouse in you know, you go to these huge big as the Music In classical music and Crossing out if we were they haven't called and with popular culture and an in the UK disconnect between Port Jeff open music on an Costco near from God and this is just actually where it's going to be in broken together at the restaurant Workshop will make him is avant-garde music and it's been listen to buy children was a generation of children are growing up listening to this incredible album God electronic music that's priceless, and that probably didn't happen anywhere else in the world.

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The album God is now being appreciated by everyone and watch for the kids to have it that way. Do you think I have that to be that long term separation? In fact produced something rather rather fruitful. Absolutely. I think you said throughout throughout the 1970s kind of explanation of punk bands of spriggle play unspoken Crystal. And then you said then with that this will send it with the experiment. Francois County in Depeche Mode route to Office Depot fans what they making some real experimental tracks well,

00:37:39
And then you see it again throughout the 90s boy bands were we're actually making commercial music. But with you it was something else that was really interesting and different on the UK is under sleep on the road later than that from the music. I don't think that's entirely because of that. So why am I stuck the hidden Legacy of the episode in the in the in the mind of cicadas?

00:38:08
how exactly

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that was the sound of a aluminium stainless steel food container wanging having been heated by Denise is going to be some Curry putting that in a minute or something like that. You could make something with that couldn't you?

00:38:33
Is that the title?

00:38:40
What's up?

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Acacia tree and Lisa Joy for us because we getting a bit cool through being patronising treated light science and to have somebody who appreciates and extends on what we started doing is just fabulous and I can't believe it when we when we think I'm sincerely foot for doing it. I saw your designer understand how to analyze what we did.

00:39:55
You not hearing what the vine electrodes did with that sound of forks, scraping against aluminium once they go to work on it.

00:40:21
Utopia is a Fulton from Fashion since Francis Bacon's Day-O the visions and replace them darker ones human evolution may already have stopped. The machines are taking up the slack Destin perhaps to be the citizens of a post-human world in which an electronic beings of the dominant life form in which the coat-check we inhabit today lives only in the dreams of our successes the dinosaurs now live in our dreams if they were curious about that history these electronic beings, they might trace it back here to what once was made available to the ghost of this Corridor to the place where in the 20th century people and machines gathered to make music together to them Daphne Oram electronic sound patterns. Dezmon. Briscoe smashing screams Delia Derbyshire as blue veils and Golden Sands might be the Primal works of art.

00:41:21
Can I have the experience the flow of electronic Pulses from ancient recordings? They might feel what we feel when say we look at the cave painting in lascaux when dream about the lost people who made that Mark on the bad rockwool. They might say as they filled hum of ancient also laces here is where we began here. Is that first Spark about culture ignited in the radiophone it Workshop.

00:41:53
We also have sound houses where we practice and demonstrate all sounds and that generation. We have Harmony's which you have not of quota sounds unless us live sounds divers instruments of Music likewise to you unknown some sweeter than any you have together with bells and Rings the dainty and sweet. We represent small sounds as great a deep likewise great sounds extenuate and Shaw we make divers trembling warblings of sound which in that original our entire. We also have divers strange an artificial Echoes reflecting The Voice many times and sump that give back to voice louder than it came.
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