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Articles

The Oramics Machine: From vision to reality

Peter Manninga1 c1

a1 Department of Music, Durham University, Palace Green, Durham, DH1 3RL, UK

Abstract

The pioneering contributions of Daphne Oram to visual music, notably the construction of her unique synthesiser known as the Oramics Machine during the 1960s, have yet to be fully recognised. The development of this synthesiser, in terms of both the creative objectives that inspired its design and also the functional characteristics of the resulting technology, is all the more remarkable for being the product of highly individual endeavour, working entirely without the support and resources normally provided by an institution or a commercial manufacturer. Oram's background in both music and electronics was to prove invaluable in this regard, and her appointment as the founding director of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in 1958, having previously lobbied within the organisation for such a facility for several years, provides testament to her standing in both regards. Her decision within a year of appointment to resign from this post and establish her own private studio specifically to develop Oramics is indicative of her determination and commitment to explore new horizons in the medium of electronic music, and this paper provides a perspective of her achievements, drawing on materials in the Oram archive that have hitherto not been studied.

Correspondence:

c1 E-mail: p.d.manning@durham.ac.uk