History of Electronic Music Update
Posted In: Daphne Oram, Graham Wrench, History of Electronic Music Update, Katie English, Science Museum, The Oramics Machine
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Update on History of Electronic Music co-curation programme at the Science Museum: when we finally made it to the opening night of the exhibition…
A lot has happened since the last update. After the formal sessions had come to a close I remained involved in the text writing and sourcing objects as well as some extra-extra-curricular meddling on my part which has certainly kept me busy but has definitely been worth it.
As we found out earlier in the project, writing text for exhibitions is a challenge – summing up what an object is, what it does and why anyone should care in 40 words is tough but then again I spent my school days being told off for being too succinct so in I leapt. The three of us who had volunteered for this took part in a text writing workshop where we studied the intricacies of label writing; grabbing the attention of the visitor, no jargon and so on. The object sourcing took us right up to the eleventh hour, with a TB-303 being found at absolutely the last minute.
Through many further discussions with Graham Wrench I have learned so much about the Oramics Machine as well as Daphne Oram’s philosophies and other projects. Being one for gaining a proper understanding of things I became very involved with working alongside Graham to shed further light on a few misconceptions about the machine and Oram’s work, as well as providing more information on the origins of the machine and the early days of its development.
So, to the opening night of the exhibition; all our hard work finally paying off as the full exhibition became a reality. The space was absolutely packed out with various figures from electronic music, journalists and of course the co-curators and museum staff. Brian Eno gave an opening speech before the crowd dispersed to wander through the exhibition. I enjoyed talking to Ed Baxter, head of Resonance FM, about Oram’s place in electronic music. The Oramics Machine, like so many one-off inventions around that time, is such a fascinating instrument in that its sounds were influential to a point yet it was never mass produced and sadly never realised its full potential. It seems fitting that the Oramics Machine sits in its own case, slightly separate from the rest of the exhibition; it was a complete one off and did operate simultaneously alongside and away from the mainstream.
Although the Oramics Machine itself has been on display throughout the summer, the exhibition now delves deeper into the history of electronic music. Spread over several cases you can find anything from the simplicity of a Stylophone to the complex Triadex Muse, battered synths to top of the range equipment. The lampshade that Delia Derbyshire used to create many sounds at the Radiophonic Workshop is on display along with various tape loops and intriguing bits of kit, all put into context by stories from the Radiophonic Workshop and EMS co-curators. With such a vast range of instruments and equipment on display it really is an electronic music geek’s paradise!
The exhibition is now on in the Public History space until December 2012. There are plans for performances, workshops and other activities over the next year so do ‘like’ the Oramics Machine facebook page to keep up to date with events.
- Katie English for Fluid Radio