The BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop was a group of composers and sound artists who created sound effects and theme music for BBC programs from 1958 to 1998. Their groundbreaking use of electronic music can most famously be heard in the “Dr. Who” theme song.
Now, the Radiophonic Workshop has been relaunched with a new digital focus. It’ll no longer be confined to the physical space of the BBC’s Maida Vale studios in London, existing instead on the BBC/Arts Council digital arts service called the Space.
British electronic experimentalist Matthew Herbert has been appointed Creative Director of the new program (which seems like a natural fit). He’ll work with seven collaborators– composers, sound designers, producers, technologists and more– to research and implement “new ways of making and presenting sound and music,” according to a press release. Among those collaborators are Mica Levi of Micachu and the Shapes.
“The rapid pace of change in technologies has meant are imaginations are struggling to keep up”, Herbert said in a statement. “By bringing together the people making the technology with people making the music, we are hoping to find engaging answers to some of the modern problems associates with the role of sound and music on the internet, in certain creative forms and within broadcasting.”
The Workshop’s first commission is a sprawling collage of sounds called The Sound of the Space– listen to it over at The Space. Future work includes a piece called Small, Smaller Smallest that “comments on the consumption of music using small handheld devices, the impact of free downloading on the relationship between the composer and audience and the role of the mobile phone at concerts” through the use of field recordings from a concert.
On October 7, London’s Southbank Centre will host “The Radiophonic Workshop in Public”, a series of events celebrating the Workshop.
Here’s the “Dr. Who” theme: