Meet Daphne Oram, One Of The Unsung Figures In The History Of Electronic Music

by Emilio Pérez Miguel on October 13, 2011

Daphne Oram Was One Of The True Pioneers Of Electronic Music, And Her Work Has Finally Begun Receiving The Recognition It Always Deserved

We all know the role that individuals like Moog and Stockhausen have played in the history of electronic music, but (like always) there’s more to the picture than meets the eye.

Meet Daphne Oram, the first woman in history to direct an electronic music studio, the first woman to devise a personal studio, and the first woman to construct an electronic musical instrument. Using sine wave oscillators, reel-to-reel tape decks and other electronics, Oram managed to design and build a revolutionary device named Oramics. This could convert hand patterns to music, and that music could be stored magnetically. That’s cool-enough today, and it was even cooler way back when it happened (1965).

This pioneering work is finally receiving its due, as it was recently displayed at London’s Science Museum. The exhibition included a simulator that visitors could manipulate in order to have an idea of what Oram’s original concept would translate into when applied to a modern touch screen. And iPhone users can now download that simulator for as little as $0.99 (iTunes link).

I advice you to give it a look – Oram’s approach predated not only sampling but also real-time streaming, and even image scanning. Quite a feat for something devised in the ’60s, wouldn’t you say?

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