Delia Derbyshire

Prompted by a question posed to UK producer Lapalux during an exclusive interview the other day, we’ve had our minds on a certain female pioneer in electronic sounds and music – Delia Derbyshire.

Delia Derbyshire is best known for her electronic realization of the original theme music for a 1960’s British sci-fi television series “Doctor Who” and her avant-garde work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

After she was rejected a position at a record label, because they didn’t employ women in their recording studios, Delia went on to work at the UN, teaching and then eventually, for a music publisher.  In 1960, she joined the BBC, working on their Record Review magazine before finally finding her place with the Radiophonic Workshop.  For 11 years, she created electronic music and sounds for nearly 200 radio and television programs.

Delia was also in an experimental electronic band, White Noise, whose first album An Electric Storm utilized the first British synthesizer, EMS Synthi VCS3.

After her death in 2001, 267 reel-to-reel tapes and a box of a thousand papers were found in her attic. These were given to Mark Ayres of the BBC for safe-keeping, and in 2007 were given on permanent loan to the University of Manchester – none of this music has ever been published.

In the documentary below, Sculptress of Sound – The Lost Works of Delia Derbyshire, the broadcaster Matthew Sweet travels to the University of Manchester to relive Delia’s career along with her former colleagues at the Radiophonic Workshop and former White Noise bandmate.


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