A new version of the Radiophonic Workshop has emerged, led by adventurous English producer Matthew Herbert. Imagine a time before synthesised sound.
A time when the idea of an electronic instrument was something to be dreamed about, something to be imagined. In 1958, the BBC asked a group of young pioneers to do exactly that, forming the Radiophonic Workshop in the process.
Over the next forty years, the Workshop would mould, solder and explode their way into the future. Aside from the 'Doctor Who' theme the collective were responsible for countless songs, jingles and noises which expanded the notion of what it is a musician actually does.
Matthew Herbert is set to lead a new version of the Radiophonic Workshop, which will be a virtual phenomenon rather than being restricted to Maida Vale. A quote from the producer: “It is the perfect time for the rebirth of the workshop – the rapid pace of change in technologies has meant our imaginations are struggling to keep up. By bringing together the people making the technology with people making the music, we are hoping to find engaging answers to some of the modern problems associated with the role of sound and music on the internet, in certain creative forms and within broadcasting.”
Working with The Space, the New Radiophonic Workshop have already unveiled new material - including a piece based on the final 25 compositions from their forebears. Alongside this, the collective are working on material which uses sounds from the closure of the BBC's base at Bush House.
“The closure of Bush House draws a line under what one aspect of the BBC used to be about: warrens of small rooms and big lumps of equipment hidden from the public. New Broadcasting House is the opposite - open and visible with technology taking up a much smaller footprint" Herbert continued. “In its original incarnation the Radiophonic Workshop was certainly highly representative of this first description. In its new location, as part of the virtual resource of thespace.org, the current iteration of the Radiophonic Workshop is seeking to acknowledge and document this shift in broadcasting from an impervious, imperious presence to a more democratic, fluid and open system".
The Radiophonic Workshop in Public takes place at the Southbank Centre on October 7th. According to the blurb: "A day of talks, open sessions and events based around the work of the New Radiophonic Workshop. Previous members of the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop will discuss the heritage and legacy of the original sound lab. It will be an unmissable day for those interested in the future of sound as well as electronic music and its technologies."
Sounds fascinating. Look out for a full feature on the Radiophonic Workshop on ClashMusic in the near future.