A Woman to Know: Daphne Oram

It's a sort of modern magic. — Daphne

(image via Wikimedia Commons)


Daphne grew up in 1930s England playing piano, performing organ recitals and even scoring a coveted spot at the Royal College of Music -- but she turned it all down for an entry-level job on the BBC sound engineering team. She was fascinated by tape recorders, public radio and "synthetic sound." She immediately began mixing electronic music for BBC programs, and the network was so besotted by her creations that they gave her funding to establish a Radiophonics Workshop, solely devoted to electronica experimentation.

But after a single year fighting with the BBC over how far her techno could go -- they wanted something a bit more familiar to audiences; she wanted something radically different -- Daphne left the workshop in 1959 to establish her own group, the "Oramics Studio." As head of Oramics, she became the first woman to design her *own* electronic instruments, within her *own* electronica studio -- and one of the first people ever to compose commercial techno scores, still heard today in hundreds of museum exhibitions, TV commercials and feature films.

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