Thursday, 18 August 2011

Mr Fist & Madame Roar

Featured Artist 1

Mr Fist
1 Spam Baby (4:43)
2 Daddy's Drunk for Christmas (4:04)
3.Nothing for Christmas (3:34)

Miss Mousie's Track Of The Week
Disturbed - Indestructible

Tadpole's Feature (Radiophonic Workshop)

1. Cork & Bottle (0:08)
2. Cork & Bottle 2 (0:19)
3. Shampoo Bottle (0:32)
4. Dr Who (2:24)
5. Relativity (8:16)
6. Bath Time (3:01)
7. Come All You Faithful for Till (0:41)
8. Untitled 1 (1:50)

Featured Artist 2

Madam Roar
1.Alabaster Snowstorm-6dcb (4:37)
2.Woman Of Crystals (3:51)
3.Prospector (3:11)
4.Full Bloom (3:18)
5.Crush Me (3:15)


Hayseed Dixie - Alien Abduction Probe

Why Christmas songs in August? Mr. Fist has left soundcloud and “Spam Baby” is the only track of his I have that isn't part of his X-Mess set – yes all the other tracks from that set are just as dystopian as the 2 I played.

Two Delia Derbyshire Interviews

Interview One

This article was originally published in Boazine 7.
Text: John Cavanagh
TV themes are so evocative - a couple of bars of Trumpton, Wonder Woman, The Prisoner, The Herbs, Randall & Hopkirk (deceased) or whatever and you're transported to another place. Maybe the most famous one of all is the eerie wail which told millions that the Tardis was off again: the Doctor Who theme. Way back in 1963 the producer of this new pilot series wanted a piece of music which sounded like the French group Le Structure Sonore who played music on resonating glass rods. They couldn't afford to use them for a series which might not run for a few weeks anyway, so they called on Delia Derbyshire of the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop who took Ron Grainer's tune and created the Doctor who theme as we know it using a dozen valve oscillators which were never designed for any kind of musical application. For once, cutting corners produced a classic and more than 35 years on Delia appeared at a recent Doctor Who convention and spent over three hours signing autographs for enthusiastic fans. Aside from this theme, little is known about Delia... you'll see her name-checked by Sonic Boom and soon - thanks to Drew Mulholland of the Mount Vernon Arts Lab - you'll be able to hear her music on cd for the first time. Derbyshire's sounds are amongst the greatest discoveries we've made: timeless and unique. We think people need to know more about her, so I spoke to Delia on the 'phone for Boa and started out by saying that she had an open mind to sound of all sorts...
DELIA: Oh my goodness! That's brilliant that you said that! I was trying to analyse myself and I've got an open attitude to sound. Golly! We are on the same wavelength! I came from - what they'd like to call themselves - an upper working class Catholic background in Coventry. I was there in the blitz and it's come to me, relatively recently, that my love for abstract sounds [came from] the air-raid sirens: that's a sound you hear and you don't know the source of as a young child... then the sound of the "all clear" - that was electronic music. I mentioned the Catholic bit: I was taken to benediction as a child and it was all in Latin -plain song hymns in an abstract language. After the worst blitz I was shifted to Preston, where my parents came from. It's only today that I've realised that the sound of clogs on cobbles must have been such a big influence on me - that percussive sound of al the mill workers going to work at six o'clock in the morning.
Delia was a very bright child. By the time she was four, she was teaching other children to read.
The radio was the most important thing in her life as primary school couldn't really bring her much information. She started learning piano at eight and a half then got a scholarship to a grammar school which didn't approve of her out-of-school music studies. Her father wanted her to learn 'cello, but the school said they had enough cellists and put her to the violin:
DELIA: I hated the bloody violin! You haven't actually seen me, but I'm pretty big, very tall and my arms outspread are longer than a guardsman's! Me on this little violin - I was never happy and so after I was at the BBC I had an urge to take up double bass. I had lessons from the double bass principle at Covent Garden. After quite a few lessons he said "you'd be a very good asset to a ladies orchestra"!! (Delia's voice rises to a cadence at this point at the old guy's nerve!). Directors who came to see me work used to say "you must be an ardent feminist" - I think I was a post - feminist before feminism was invented!
JOHN: I think an individualist is more accurate really.
DELIA: Golly, I realised that... people that are just interested in self promotion and money are not my thing... you should see my last birthday card, a lovely one from America, with a whole shoal of fishes in silhouette with their mouths turned down and one fish swimming the other way with a smile on its face and printed on the card was "to an independent thinker". (much laughter) I think that sums me up; I did rebel. I did a lot of things I was told not to do.
The BBC started the Radiophonic workshop in 1958. The idea was to have a department providing, at low cost, theme and incidental music plus sound effects for radio & t.v. series. Today some of this stuff sounds quaint and dated but Delia's work stands out thanks to her ultimate resource - a limitless imagination. When Ron Grainer wrote the melody for the Doctor Who theme, he supplied only abstract direction.
DELIA: On the score he'd written "sweeps", "swoops"... beautiful words... "wind cloud", "wind bubble"... so I got to work and put it together and when Ron heard the results.. oh he was tickled pink!
This theme alone should have given Delia legendary status, but within the BBC much of her music was rejected. One theme was considered too lascivious, a schools theme was too complex for the target age etc. Outside the BBC Delia was in demand, scoring music for films, fashion shows even commercials (much to the chagrin of the Corporation!).
Barry Miles' Paul McCartney biography says that Delia was approached by Paul to arrange a backing track for "Yesterday".
DELIA: He never came to the workshop. I always did work outside and he came to (Peter) Zinovieff's studio and I played him some of my stuff - that's all... but it was the phrase length he was interested in. I've always been non-conformist: I don't like the 8 bar or the 12 bar standard thing. They're all beautiful in their own way, but why not explore different phrase lengths? (Paul) never came to the workshop... Brian Jones did - golly! There we were with our hand tuned oscillators and he went into it with his frilly cuffs and things as though he could play it as a musical instrument! He died very young and I cried buckets. Pink Floyd (came to the workshop) and I took them down to Zinovieff's place.
JOHN: was Syd Barrett still in the band?
DELIA: How do you expect me to know?... I paid for the bloody taxi for all these people!
Derbyshire left the BBC in 1972.
DELIA: Something serious happened around '72, '73, '74: the world went out of tune with itself and the BBC went out of tune with itself... I think, probably, when they had an accountant as director general. I didn't like the music business.
JOHN: What actually happened after you left the BBC?
DELIA: Crazy, crazy, crazy! I was the best radio operator Laing Pipelines ever had! I answered a job in the paper for a French speaking radio operator. I just had to sleep - everything was out of tune, so I went to the north of Cumbria. It was twelve miles south of the border. I had a lovely house built from stones from Hadrian's Wall. I was in charge of three transmitters in a disused quarry. I did not want to get involved in a big organisation again. I'd fled the BBC and I thought - oh, Laing's... a local family firm! Then I found this huge consortium between Laing's and these two French companies.
Aside from the Doctor Who theme, Delia Derbyshire's music is not widely available. There are several tracks on a 1968 BBC lp known to collectors as the pink album. Among these are pieces written for t.v. dramas... Ziw-zih Ziw-zih Oo Oo - one of the most remarkable sounds I've ever heard with backwards chanting for th egod of an ancient civilisation... the incredible atmosphere of Blue Veils and Golden Sands evoking a hazy sun and a tribe travelling across a desert wilderness... and these still sound more radical and sonically unfathomable (how did she do it?!) than so much of today's "cutting edge".

Now Delia is being discovered and, 30 years on, time seems to be catching up with her ideas. She's fired up, wanting to create new music and experiment with '90's technology... can't wait to hear the results! When I spoke to her I'd heard she was suffering from breast cancer and I didn't want to bring the subject up... but she did. Delia just said that she was not terminally ill and she wasn't sure how this rumour had got around - nor did she have a problem talking about it; she had been on Radio Four's Woman's Hour doing just that the previous week!.
DELIA: I've got a funny you can throw in. You can say that when you 'phoned me I was just back from the Doctor Who convention and before that I'd been having it off in the Derbyshire peak district!! (much laughter) Do you like that? ... oh I'm SO PLEASED!! I'm glad we built up to something!
Delia Derbyshire - the music is unique and, as they say, out of this world - the personality is inspiring. Yup... when Delia makes the scene, the scene is made!!
Many thanks to John Cavanagh and Gayle Brogan for allowing reproduction of the interview (well I'm sure they would if they knew about it)

Interview Two

This interview, originally conducted in December 1999, first appeared in Surface magazine in May 2000.

Sonic Boom: What was your route into music? Did you study music at school?

Delia Derbyshire: No, but I studied piano to performer level outside school. I went to Cambridge University to read mathematics, which was quite something for a working-class girl from Coventry, because Cambridge was at the time, and probably still is, the best place for mathematics in the country, if not the world. Tell that to the Americans! I managed to persuade the authorities to allow me to change to music, much against their judgement. After my degree I went to the careers office. I said I was interested in sound, music and acoustics, to which they recommended a career in either deaf aids or depth sounding. So I applied for a job at Decca Records. The boss was at Lords watching cricket the day I had my appointment, but his deputy told me they didn't employ women in the recording studio.

This is the guy who turned down The Beatles, no doubt.

No doubt. I knew the BBC had a Research Department, and I knew that there was such a thing as the Radiophonic Workshop, that was credited with doing fantastic sounds for broadcast programs. People weren't generally allowed to work at the Workshop for more than three months at a time. They thought it would send people crazy.

I think it'd send me crazy.

Well, it's a beautiful way to be crazy, I can tell you.

Absolutely. Would it be fair to say that you've often applied a mathematical relationship to music, or that you see the two overlapping?

Oh, absolutely. Yeah, yeah. There's been, since the ancient Greeks, a very close link between music and mathematics.

Since Pythagoras, in theory.

Well, since Pythagoras in mythology. This is a sort of discipline. People think that composers sit there with their pen over the manuscript paper, and God sends his inspiration down the top of the pen onto the paper. Well, in some cases it seems perhaps they did; perhaps Mozart. But in other cases one has to impose a discipline, and the discipline of number is an excellent discipline. The Fibonacci sequence people have been using for centuries.

Is this the one where architecture and music relate in their proportions?

Nature's numbers; the number of leaves on a fern, the number of seeds on a sunflower head, and how they are arranged... this is the Fibonacci sequence, used in art and architecture and music. Although when you hear it in music, it is not recognised. Even George Gershwin used it in Porgy and Bess. Now who knows that?

I watched this thing on telly about Roman architecture, and they were saying that the proportions of the building were based on Pythagorean ratios, directly related to harmonic musical relationships. There is a magic, perhaps, to certain number relationships. Or even certain numbers themselves somehow have magic... or a strength at least.

They're built into nature, so of course our bodies respond to those numbers, even at a subconscious level. And now everyone's working in fractals, and, for the last two decades, Chaos theory. Probabilistic random stuff. It's not totally predetermined from the start, what you're going to get. Surprise is a nice element in music.

That's exciting. The best thing about having these rules is when you break them and it makes something beautiful. The Doctor Who theme was one of the first pieces that you did, and it's turned out to be one of the most important themes, ever: People recognise it within a few split seconds. The sound of it is at least ten years ahead of its time. If Kraftwerk had released that in the mid '70s, it would have sounded cutting edge then, over ten years later. It's interesting to me that almost straight away after joining the Workshop you were able to do a realisation like that. It seems a big jump from studio manager to that sort of thing.

It's in my blood, it's just my instinct. Absolutely. That's all I can say.

When you were a studio manager, did you ever get a chance to have access to any of the equipment and do any recording yourself?

Well, I was an excellent studio manager. I was so brilliant at playing LPs of classical music! Some people thought I had some kind of second sight, because there was a programme called Record Review, and they just played tiny extracts from records. And one of the music critics would say, "Look, it's on this side of the LP. I don't know where it is, but it's where the trombones come in." And I'd just hold it up to the light and see the trombones and put the needle down exactly where it was. And they thought it was magic. So a brilliant instinct I must have had. I was appreciated the short time I was a studio manager.

One thing that strikes me about the Radiophonic Workshop is how well it's remembered by a lot of people. But when you actually go through and back over the stuff, it's only a minority that is really great, and the majority of it was crap, churned-out-for-TV tunes.

Well, this was the level of what was demanded, and this was why I eventually left. I didn't want to compromise my integrity any further. I was fed up with having my stuff turned down because it was too sophisticated, and yet it was lapped up when I played it to anyone outside the BBC. The BBC was very wary, increasingly being run by committees and accountants, and they seemed to be dead scared of anything that was a bit unusual. And my passion is to make original, abstract electronic sounds and organise them in a very appealing, acceptable way, to any intelligent person. But it was set up as a service to the drama department. It was nothing to do with music, and that's it.

I heard a story that you made the longest [tape] loop in the Radiophonic Workshop, that went out into the corridor.

Yes! It went out through the double doors and then through the next pair; just opposite the ladies toilet and reception. The longest corridor in London, with the longest tape loop!
Although it's like a really labour-intensive process, your music sounds incredibly organic.
Oh yes, organic's good. And the feeling of it growing quite slowly, as one's putting it together. When you hear it for the first time when it's put together, it's such a delight. Yes, very labour-intensive. I used to work all night. I used to work nights a lot, and never really admit to how long I spent recording.

It's a good time to work. You know the phone isn't going to ring and Joe isn't going to pop in from next door for a chat.

And you don't have to listen to the engineers' love life problems. But also at night I could use all the Workshop's equipment. But this loop I made in the middle of the day, unfortunately.
We believe in limited resources, don't we?

Absolutely. I'm dead keen on limiting resources.

It stretches the mind more.

To be given total freedom… I mean, we come back to Maya Angelou- "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." You need to have discipline in order to be truly creative. If you're just given total freedom to do anything you like... You've got to impose some discipline on either the form you're going to use or the sounds you're going to use.

Aphex Twin was saying that he's sold a lot of his equipment, because he'd sit there and look at it, and couldn't make up his mind.

If you cannot discipline yourself...You'd end up... "Oh I like this, I like that, I want it all at once."
There's a lot of mood and organic feeling encapsulated in your sounds, which some people wouldn't immediately associate with electronic music.
The boss man [at the BBC] had said that "it's impossible for electronic music to be beautiful... until Delia came along."

Talking about limited resources, I think one thing that appeals to us both about Peter Zinovieff's EMS VCS3 machine is that it's really quite a limited selection of resources, but it's got infinite possibilities of interconnection and patching.

Peter Zinovieff was doing the most interesting things. He didn't claim to be a musician, he didn't claim to be a composer. But imagine one of these beautiful London townhouses... the drawing room on the first floor was totally crammed with telephone relay equipment, where he was working on his random sequencers.

Probabilistic stuff.

And I thought, golly, this is the way things should go. And, I think, it was my belief in Peter that encouraged Victoria [Zinovieff] to really believe in him. Because he was Russian aristocracy, and the circle in which he mingled regarded him as a dilettante. That was a beautifully interesting time, everything was mechanical. This was before voltage control. So we worked together for a couple of years.

Yes, as Unit Delta Plus?


You set up the organisation to bring electronic music more to the fore in advertising and TV and film music?

We wanted to bring it to the public, yes.

How about these 'happenings' you were involved with? I know there was an event in 1966 at the Chalk Farm Roundhouse called Rave or Rave On, and Paul McCartney was top of the bill…

Oh yes, there were two of the Beatles there, Paul and George. It was basically a concert of pre-recorded electronic music.

Carnival of Light, it's called. It's apparently a legendary piece [Both laugh]. It's meant to sound dreadful. But no one's ever heard it, and for a Beatles thing, that's the big deal.

Well, they'd played around with, er… sounds.

You were also involved in an event at the Watermill Theater near Newbury.

Peter Zinovieff organized an evening of electronic music and light effects. The music was indoors, in a theatre setting, with a screen on which were projected light shows done by lecturers from Hornsey College of Art.

Didn't they have light boxes in the lake?

Yes, that was outside, yes, in the mill pond.

That was September, '66?

Yes, it was billed as the first concert of British electronic music. I mean, that was a bit presumptuous...

How about the piece you did, I believe that was around '66, with Anthony Newley?

Ah… That was a bizarre, er… ditty!

Quite a psychedelic…

It isn't psychedelic!

It's a sort of '60s humor psychedelic…

The late Anthony Newley told his label that he wanted to do something electronic. So they got on to me. So I produced this bloopy track and he loved it so much he double-tracked his voice and he used my little tune.

It's one of the most surreal records of the period. It has a pervy lyric about how he can't control himself, and the sight of all the girls and their flashing pink thighs.

The winking knees in the rain, and their mini-skirts. I'd done it as a lovely little innocent love song, because he said to me that the only songs are, "I love you, I love you" or songs saying "you've gone, you've gone."

This is "I can't control myself." It's called Moogies Bloogis or something.

Yes, Moogies Bloogis! I'd written this beautiful little innocent tune, all sensitive love and innocence, and he made it into a dirty old raincoat song. But he was really chuffed! Joan and Jackie Collins dropped him off in a limousine at my lovely little flat above a flower shop, and he said "If you can write songs like this, I'll get you out of this place"! It was only a single-track demo tape. So he rang up his record company saying "We want to move to a multi-track studio". Unfortunately the boss of the record company was on holiday, and by the time he returned Anthony Newley had gone to America with Joan Collins, so it was never released.
There's a visionary piece you did, Ziwzeh Ziwzeh Oooh Oooh Oooh ...

Oh, I adore that!

What was it used for?

This was for a television science fiction film. I did the music for the whole programme. It was probably in the mid '60s and this bit of the drama was when they had this big boss robot who starts a new religion, and he's like the high priest, and all the other robots sing this hymn to him.
What did the robots look like?

Oh, I don't know. I never watched the stuff. I had a script, that's all. The actors, I got them to chant. The words they were singing were, "Praise to the master, his wisdom and his..." something… "his wisdom and his glory." I turned it backwards first, then chose the best bits that sounded good backwards and would fit into a rhythm, and then speed-changed the voices. Then I used just this one bar repeated which had [previously] been rejected from a science and health program for being too lascivious for the schoolchildren. It was like a science program... it was supposed to be about sex, but under another name. And then the producer had the nerve to turn down my music, saying it was too lascivious. It was just twangy things with electronic pick-ups, and I just used a single note and then did little glissandos on it and pitched it and treated it. But the 'Ooh-ooh-ooh' isn't me… that's wobbulator, pure wobbulator. That's a piece of test equipment that does wave sweeps.

Peter Zinovieff and you had been friends for a few years, and he'd been building his studio up and starting to get into computers, which was some of your early exposure to computers. Didn't you introduce [avant garde composer] Stockhausen to Peter Zinovieff at one time?
Oh! I would collect everybody! I took Pink Floyd there in a taxi.

Didn't Brian Jones come and visit you one day in the Workshop as well?

Oh yes, the late Brian Jones.

The late Brian Jones. I like how you say that.

Well, everybody's dying off around me. I'm still here, in spite...

You're definitely not the late Delia Derbyshire.

I cried into my washing-up when I heard he'd died.

You cried into your washing-up!?

In the days when I used to do washing-up. I've perfected my minimalist living technique so it is no longer necessary. I can cry into my…


Into my chopped garlic, yes.

So it seems you were quite pivotal in introducing people to [each other] around that period. Pink Floyd were one of the first bands to use electronic sounds in mainstream music. Even Mick Jagger bought a Moog. It isn't very well documented, that whole period of time. It's an interesting period… the sort of cross-fertilisation. You were around there and introducing people.

That's right, yes. I was always very generous in telling people everything I knew. Some people made themselves into little islands. They were very secretive about their work and their techniques… but I was always very generous.

You worked with Yoko Ono for a while. What was that all about?

Yes, I did a film soundtrack for Yoko Ono. While she slept on my floor.

That must have been 66-ish.

No, later than that. It would be '67 or '68. It was about the same time that she met John Lennon. Because when we were having our or… oh... orgy on the carpet. We had a… golly, my goodness! So yes, she did her Bottoms film. And we did the soundtrack for the shorter film, which was the wrapping of the lions in Trafalgar Square, which was a happening. I also did the music for Peter Hall's first feature film, Work is a Four Letter Word. I did the electronic part of the music… the bloopy bits when they'd taken the magic mushrooms.

You did the psychedelic scenario bits! What did you do after the Radiophonic Workshop?
[laughs] I made my name in several spheres...

You did all sorts of jobs, none of which were music related...

Yes, I was "the best pipeline radio operator ever": An unsolicited testimonial when British Gas was crossing the country in the mid 1970s. Then I worked and lived with one of the founding members of the first group of Chinese abstract artists, the late Li Yuan Chia.

So how long ago was it that I met you?

We first met September 1998.

When I first started talking to you about music, it didn't seem to be something from your past. You seemed to have very strong thoughts about sound and music, and about wanting to make music again.

I'm passionate!

The music I've heard you working on now has a lot of the qualities from your material of 35 years ago.


Do you feel that you're on the same musical quest, almost?

I just have a passion to make abstract sounds. A deep-rooted physical passion.

We are also planning an electronic music festival. What's our acronym, Delia? MEMA, is it?
No, MESMA. Multi-sensory Electronic Sound, Music and Arts. That is because there is a line which people might like to draw for themselves... the difference between electronic sound and electronic music. And we want to associate it with light, and vibrations of every sort, including tactile vibrations. A tie-in between sound and light, movement, sculpture...

A whole day or two of experiences, for people to check out electronic sound from the past, and the present, and hopefully the future. We're considering various workshops including one where Delia would show some of the techniques involved with tape splicing...

And a VCS3 with an elongated joystick...

And very simple things like a theremin. For people to be able to try a theremin... it'll be a big deal to a lot of kids. What sums it up best, apart from electronic, is interactive. We're very keen for people to be able try stuff, and experience the joy of it…

And lie on the vibrating bed!

To experience sounds in as many ways as possible and experience the joy of it through various unusual sound controllers and performances by various pioneering sound sculptors...

...and by smelling the fibre-optic flowers.


The BBC Radiophonic Workshop, one of the sound effects units of the BBC , was created in 1958 to produce effects and new music for radio, and was closed in March 1998, although much of its traditional work had already been outsourced by 1995. It was based in the BBC's Maida Vale Studios in Delaware Road, London , growing outwards from the then-legendary Room 13. The innovative music and techniques used by the Workshop made it one of the most significant influences on electronic music today.

The Workshop was set-up to satisfy the growing demand in the late 1950s for "radiophonic" sounds from a group of producers and studio managers at the BBC, including Desmond Briscoe and Daphne Oram . For some time there had been much interest in producing innovative music and sounds to go with the pioneering programming of the era, in particular the dramatic output of the BBC Third Programme . Often the sounds required for the atmosphere that programme makers wished to create were unavailable or non-existent through traditional sources and so some, such as the musically trained Oram, would look to new techniques to produce effects and music for their pieces. Much of this interest drew them to musique concrète and tape manipulation techniques, since using these methods could allow them to create soundscapes suitable for the growing range of unconventional programming. When the BBC noticed the rising popularity of this method they established a Radiophonic Effects Committee, setting up the Workshop in rooms 13 & 14 of the BBC's Maida Vale studios with a budget of £2,000. The Workshop regularly released technical journals of their findings - leading to some of their techniques being borrowed by sixties producers and engineers such as Eddie Kramer

Early days
In 1958, Desmond Briscoe was appointed the Senior Studio Manager with Dick Mills employed as a technical assistant. Much of The Radiophonic Workshop's early work was in effects for radio, in particular experimental drama and "radiophonic poems". Their significant early output included creating effects for the popular science-fiction serial Quatermass and the Pit and memorable comedy sounds for The Goon Show In 1959, Daphne Oram left the workshop to set up her own studio, the Oramics Studios for Electronic Composition, where she eventually developed her "Oramics" technique of electronic sound creation. That year Maddalena Fagandini joined the workshop from the BBC's Italian Service.
From the early sixties the Workshop began creating television theme tunes and jingles, particularly for low budget schools programmes. The shift from the experimental nature of the late 50s dramas to theme tunes was noticeable enough for one radio presenter to have to remind listeners that the purpose of the Workshop was not pop music. In fact, in 1962 one of Fagandini's interval signals "Time Beat" was reworked with assistance from George Martin (in his pre-Beatles days) and commercially released as a single using the pseudonym Ray Cathode. During this early period the innovative electronic approaches to music in the Workshop began to attract some significant young talent including Delia Derbyshire , Brian Hodgson and John Baker , who was in fact a jazz pianist with an interest in reverse tape effects. Later, in 1967. they were joined by David Cain , a jazz bass player and mathematician.
In these early days, one criticism the Workshop attracted was its policy of not allowing musicians from outside the BBC to use its equipment, which was some of the most advanced in the country at that time not only because of its nature, but also because of the unique combinations and workflows which the Workshop afforded its composers. In later years this would become less important as more electronic equipment became readily available to a wider audience.

As the sixties drew to a close many of the techniques used by the Workshop changed as more electronic music began to be produced by synthesisers . Many of the old members of the Workshop were reluctant to use the new instruments, often because of the limitations and unreliable nature of many of the early synthesisers but also, for some, because of a dislike of the sounds they created. This led to many leaving the workshop making way for a new generation of musicians in the early 1970s including Malcolm Clarke, Paddy Kingsland , Roger Limb and Peter Howell . From the early days of a studio full of tape reels and electronic oscillators , the Workshop now found itself in possession of various synthesisers including the EMS VCS 3 and the EMS Synthi 100 nicknamed the "Delaware" by the members of the Workshop.
In 1977, Workshop founder Desmond Briscoe retired from organisational duties with Brian Hodgson, returning after a five year gap away from the Workshop, taking over.
By this point the output of the Workshop was vast with high demand for complete scores for programmes as well as the themes and sound effects for which it had made its name. By the end of the decade the workshop was contributing to over 300 programmes a year from all departments of the BBC and had long since expanded from its early two room setup. Its contributions included material for programmes such as The Body in Question, Blue Peter and Tomorrow's World as well as sound effects for popular science fiction programmes Blake's 7 and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (in both its radio and television forms) by Richard Yeoman-Clark and Paddy Kingsland respectively.

Latter days
By the early 1990s, under the direction of John Birt , the BBC had made the decision to cut departments which couldn't make enough revenue to cover their costs. In 1991 the Workshop was given five years in which to break even but the cost of keeping the department, which required a number of engineers as well as composers, proved too much and so they failed. Dick Mills, who had worked on Doctor Who since the very beginning, left in 1993, along with Ray White, Senior Engineer, and his assistant, Ray Riley. In 1995, despite being asked to continue, organiser Brian Hodgson left the Workshop, closely followed by Malcolm Clarke and Roger Limb. By the end, only one composer, Elizabeth Parker , remained and the Workshop closed in March 1998. Mark Ayres recalls the Workshop's tape archive being collected on April 1, exactly 40 years after the department had opened.

Whilst the decision to close the Radiophonic Workshop was both regrettable and difficult the BBC recognised its contribution and heritage and as such Mark Ayres and Brian Hodgson were commissioned to catalogue the extensive library of recordings by the workshop prior to placing it into the archive, thus preserving a considerable part of the workshop's work for posterity.
Since the closure many of the Radiophonic Workshops albums have been re-released on CD and some of the incidental scores for episodes of Doctor Who have been made available for the first time.
In October 2003, Alchemists of Sound, an hour-long television documentary about the Radiophonic Workshop, was broadcast on BBC Four
The Magnetic Fields titled the first track of their album Holiday after the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

The techniques initially used by the Radiophonic Workshop were closely related to those used in musique concrète; new sounds for programs were created by using recordings of everyday sounds such as voices, bells or gravel as raw material for "radiophonic" manipulations. In these manipulations, audio tape could be played back at different speeds (altering a sound's pitch), reversed, cut and joined, or processed using reverb or equalisation. The most famous of the Workshop's creations using 'radiophonic' techniques include the Doctor Who theme music, which Delia Derbyshire created using a plucked string, 12 oscillators and a lot of tape manipulation; and the sound of the TARDIS (the Doctor's time machine ) materialising and dematerialising, which was created by Brian Hodgson running his keys along the rusty bass strings of a broken piano , with the recording slowed down to make an even lower sound.
Much of the equipment used by the Workshop in the earlier years of its operation in the late 1950s was semi-professional and was passed down from other departments, though two giant professional tape-recorders (which appeared to lose all sound above 10 kHz) made an early centrepiece. Reverberation was obtained using an echo chamber , a basement room with bare painted walls empty except for loudspeakers and microphones. Due to the considerable technical challenges faced by the Workshop and BBC traditions, staff initially worked in pairs with one person assigned to the technical aspects of the work and the other to the artistic direction.

Influence on popular music
The Radiophonic Workshop regularly released free journals of its experiments to the public, complete with instructions and wiring diagrams. Amongst those who studied the journals and learned from their techniques was sound engineer Roger Mayer , who supplied guitar pedals to Jeff Beck , Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix . In 1997 the electronic dance music magazine Mixmag described the Workshop as, "the unsung heroes of British electronica"

Members of the Radiophonic Workshop
Desmond Briscoe (1958–1983)
Daphne Oram (1958–1959)
Dick Mills (1958–1993)
Maddalena Fagandini (1959–1966)
Brian Hodgson (1962–1972), Organiser (1977–1995)
Delia Derbyshire (1962–1973)
John Baker (1963–1974)
David Cain (1967–1973)
Malcolm Clarke (1969–1995)
Paddy Kingsland (1970–1981)
Richard Yeoman-Clark (1970–1978)
Roger Limb (1972–1995)
Glynis Jones (1973–?)
Peter Howell (1974–1997)
Elizabeth Parker (1978–1998)
Jonathan Gibbs (1983–1986)
Richard Attree (1987–1998)
Mark Ayres , now archivist of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop archive, and restoring some recordings.

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