This all-day celebration of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop included talks and performances by Dick Mills, Jean-Jacques Perrey, Dana Countryman, Brian Duffy and Broadcast.
In 1963 a groundbreaking TV signature tune was first aired and a generation of young viewers dived behind the sofa. The Doctor Who theme is still the most famous product of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop which is 50 years old this year. The workshop was a pioneer of weird and wonderful electronic sounds in the days before synthesizers, samplers and multi-track tape recorders, and it was staffed by a bunch of nonconformist innovators. It ceased to be part of the BBC in 1998, but continued to influence a new breed of composers and musicians.
The day began with an illustrated talk by original workshop member Dick Mills, who was also chief sound effects producer on Doctor Who for almost 20 years. Followed by a screening of Life, Laughter and Loops, a documentary about the pioneering developments of Jean-Jacques Perrey and his work with Robert Moog and others. The day concluded with a special illustrated lecture and tape loop demonstration by Jean-Jacques Perrey himself, his inventive work since the 1950s firmly placed electronic music within popular culture and influenced a generation.
The evening performances featured a rare live performance by Jean Jacques-Perrey with collaborator Dana Countryman. Also on the bill was an exclusive Radiophonic DJ set by the UK band Broadcast and a live performance by electronic artist Brian Duffy in collaboration with a participation group from The Sage Gateshead.
Dick Mills is a British sound engineer, specialising in electronic sound effects, which he produced at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Mills was one of the original staff at the Radiophonic Workshop, joining in 1958 as a technical assistant. Some of his earliest sound work was on the 1958 serial Quatermass and the Pit and The Goon Show. It is for his later work on Doctor Who for which he most remembered. In 1972 he started to create ‘special sound’ for every episode of the programme, with the exception of two four-part stories, until it ended in 1989.
Jean-Jacques Perrey was born in 1929 he is a French electronic music producer and early pioneer in the genre. He is best known within the sphere of popular music as a member of the influential electronic music duo Perrey and Kingsley, and for his unusually light-hearted style of music. He continues to release music including the 2006 CD The Happy Electropop Music Machine and in 2008 Destination Space, both are collaborations with Dana Countryman.
Broadcast, are an electronic band founded in Birmingham, featuring Trish Keenan and James Cargill. They have released three albums, several EPs, two singles and EP collections. Their style is a mixture of electronic sounds and Keenan's 1960s influenced vocals, with amorphous samples and analogue dissonance giving it a retro-futuristic sci-fi edge.
Brian Duffy is an award winning sound artist and creator of the Modified Toy Orchestra. He is at the forefront of music created by circuit bending, which often involves rescuing electronic toys from car boot sales, and converting them into new musical instruments.
Produced by NO-FI for AV Festival 08. Supported by the PRS for Music Foundation.