Delia Derbyshire – Electronic Sound Pioneer

Delia Derbyshire, a Pythagorean mathematician, composer and electronic sound pioneer, was the visionary behind the iconic Dr Who Theme (1963). The tune was produced, along with Brian Hodgson, at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop – with the help of experimental techniques, like scrapping a set of keys along the bass strings of a broken piano.

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop was created in 1958 by the BBC’s drama department. They needed sound effects for their shows – so pulled together a collection of maverick engineers who utilised methods such as cutting and manipulating magnetic tape to produce unique electronic sounds.

Derbyshire joined in 1962, and is credited for inventing new forms of music through her atmospheric soundscapes. BBC Four recently broadcast a docu-drama of her life and it is an illuminating look at the much underrated, and troubled genius – whose work helped pave the way for electronic music today.

Delia Derbyshire: The Myths and the Legendary Tapes
Written and directed by Caroline Catz ( who plays Delia ).

You can watch it on iPlayer here


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