The Alchemists of Sound: BBC Radiophonics Workshop
Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 6:10 pm
If nobody here has seen this BBC4 documentary on the BBC Radiophonics Workshop, which existed from the late 50s through the 90s, I really, really recommend it. It's possible to find it out on the web. One quote in particular really hit home with me, and explains better than I could why I like building my own tools for music production. It is said by David Cain, a composer for the workshop:
I've been really fascinated by musique concrète lately, to the point I've considered getting old electronics gear and some tape decks and seeing what I can come up with. In the end, that's an impractical decision, but I would still like to explore the techniques and methods within the computer, if I can. Once upon a time, though the file is long lost, I did a composition in this style using Cool Edit, before it could even multitrack, and some non-real-time sound synthesis software that I used to make some neat sounds which I then processed, resampled to new notes, and stitched together. I wish I still had that file, which was saved as an MP2 because it was that long ago that I did it, on a 5x86 which was brand new.David Cain wrote:One thing about any definition of "Golden Age", for me, comes also within music, comes within art, comes within literature: It is the point where the desires of the creator are greater than the technology which is available. There comes a moment where the technology gets closer and closer to the sort of imagination and creativity of the writer, and in the end, if you're not careful, it overtakes. And suddenly, serendipity, which before was from your own sweat and blood, but you created something and thought, "goodness me, that's great", serendipity [now] comes by saying, "if I press one of these 397 buttons on this synthesizer, maybe I'll get something out of it." Now at that moment, the machinery is driving the creativity, and the creativity is not driving the machinery. And maybe that's where the Golden Age stops. Maybe.