Celebrating International Women’s Day, we honor the pioneer woman of synthesizer and electronic music: Daphne Oram, the Oramics’s creator.
Born in 1925 in Wilshire, United Kingdom, Oram showed her passion for the piano and organ since an early age. Then she was captivated by the sounds of magnetic tapes, experimenting with synthetic sounds in the 40’s working in the BBC. One of her objectives was that the famous British radio station provide an electronic music plant. Thanks to her great talent, she had a chance for work in the Royal College of Music, but she preferred to dedicate to sound engineering, in order to explore her skills in the composition and invention of new musical instruments and new sounds.
Among her accomplishments we can mention, to lead the Oramics Studios for Electronic Composition and the development of her masterpiece Oramics, a machine for creation of music, based on the sound drawing technique of 1957. The instrument was developed in 1962, working similarly to Yevgeny Sholpo’s “Variophone”, which consisted of drawing in 35mm film strips to control the sound produced, a working way that we can see commonly in the most popular music production software and touch surfaces.
Oram’s composition machine consisted of a large rectangular metal frame, providing a table-like surface traversed by ten synchronised strips of clear, sprocketed 35mm film. The musician drew shapes on the film to create a mask, which modulated the light received by photocells. Although the output from the machine was monophonic, the sounds could be added to multitrack tapes to provide more texture.
Daphne Oram died on January 5, 2003.
Check video below with the virtual Oramics, that shows us the function of the original device.
Written By Ed Vera
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