17 October 2015

Just another Radiophonic reminiscence

Special Sound: The Creation and Legacy of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop by Louis Niebur was my first proper cover-to-cover read of a book in the electronic music field. Like anything it has more and less successful aspects, but generally it provides just the right level of detail -- just enough to understand the inner workings of the RW, the people involved and its general development over time. Occasionally the book slips into cinema lingo that isn't really of interest to musicians; is it really necessary, for example, to know the definition of terms such as "acousmetre" and "synchresis"? I'd have much preferred some more in-depth information about how the music was actually produced rather than long analyses of its effects and functions on British TV.

Still, there are several really neat things about this book, one of which is that it's linked to a website which has some rare audio and video examples; these are then used as a basis for explanation and analysis in the book itself. The website is password-protected, which is strange considering it's possible to view both username and password on the first page of any preview from Google Books or Amazon. With that in mind, I hope no one kills me if I share the website and login details (which are the same for every copy of the book)
Username: Music2
Password: Book4416

The "Cloud Burst" excerpt featuring music by Roger Limb is definitely a favourite (see 5.1 of the Video section). It's perfectly representative of that time in the early 70s when the RW was at its prime because at long last it was not being held back by shortages of equipment and funding. And when I say "at its prime" I mean the Workshop at large. In terms of individual achievement Delia's work in the 60s is always going to beat anything produced later, in my opinion. Incidentally the excerpts from Amor Dei (3.7-3.9 of Audio), mostly done by Delia in 1964, are also quite unqiue in that they shed light on her working process. It's almost unthinkable how the voice of a solitary boy soprano (3.7) became the formless and ethereal swell of voices in 3.9.

2 October 2015

Know who you are at every age

... One of the most valuable lessons I've learned. And hardly a year passes when I don't have to re-learn it.