Daphne Oram contest invites innovation

The Science Museum is inviting musicians and producers to create the Daphne Oram Satellite Song that never was, using sound samples they have excavated from the late BBC Radiophonic Workshop director’s archive.

In the 60s Oram developed a groundbreaking music technique with her homemade Oramics machine. She used the proto-synthesiser to make music for TV and radio, but dreamt of broadcasting live Oramics concerts through a network of fibreoptic cables, an idea that sounded like science fiction at the time, curators at the Science Museum have said.

Then in 1967 Our World became the very first TV production performed and broadcast live around the world, and featured musicians and artists from around world including The Beatles, who closed the broadcast with a performance of All You Need Is Love.

The Science Museum is now asking music-makers to imagine that the producer of Our World had commissioned Oram to make its soundtrack. Using samples from the Daphne Oram Archive, musicians are encouraged to submit their own soundtrack and the winner will be chosen by a judging panel of Brian Eno, DJ Spooky and The Wire magazine.

Click here to download the sample stems and find out more about the competition, which closes on 16 January 2012.

Last summer, the Oramics machine went display at the Science Museum for the first time. Visitors can see how compositions were created on the machine by drawing or painting on strips of 35mm film, which were then passed over light sensitive elements. The elements would interpret the marked film into sound, with varying pitch and volume.

To find out more, and to hear from some of the young songwriters and producers involved in the exhibition, watch M’s video here.