The Oram sound

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The Oram sound

Post by RichardT »

I am working on a piece called Future Past which is inspired by the ideas of people living in the 50s and 60s about what the future would be like, particularly makers of TV programmes such as the Andersons, which had quite an influence on me.

I found a Movietone featuring Daphne Oram called Sound Of The Future which was a fascinating watch.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qQCh1jkoHPc

Does anybody know of any software which is designed to replicate that kind of sound? I have come across Berna 3 which is a standalone program. Has anybody used it and is it easy to export audio from it?

Alternatively is there any material in the public domain?
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Re: The Oram sound

Post by MarkOne »

Her earlier work at the Radiophonic Workshop entailed the use of bench oscillators, tape machines, and all manner of home brewed electronics the radiophonic workshop folks cobbled together themselves, so thinking about replicating that modular synths come to mind, but equally, sampling test tones, and white noise and processing it in a DAW seems like an approach that is at least in the spirit of the radiophonic workshop.

Apparently her later innovation in the 60s with the Oramics Machine which used 35mm film and opto detectors was replicated back about 2010 in an iPad/ip app... Have a look at this YouTube video. Unfortunately that was never updated or developed and is no longer on the App Store :(

I have kicked and wrestled with google half the morning and it really looks like nobody is doing anything currently to replicated the system in software.

I did remember that there was a SOS article about her hardware machine. And I don't know if anyone else can suggest how you might replicate her device (or at least get the spirit of it going in software.)
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Re: The Oram sound

Post by RichardT »

Thanks Mark - yes, I came to that conclusion after Googling for a bit. It would be a great project to simulate Oramics in software and turn it into a plugin. Shame that iPad app no longer exists...
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Re: The Oram sound

Post by Eddy Deegan »

RichardT wrote: Tue Dec 07, 2021 7:30 pm I found a Movietone featuring Daphne Oram called Sound Of The Future which was a fascinating watch.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qQCh1jkoHPc

That was a fascinating watch indeed. The audio was interesting but the real star of the show for me was that house :)

Listening to the audio I think it's more to do with the processing than the source timbres. The rhythm of her theme sounded quite a lot to me as if it was 'played' using precalculated lengths of tape of different pitches spliced together and I suspect that could be difficult to do on purpose in a DAW as whereas the slightly odd timing could certainly be approximated I get the impression that it was more a side-effect of her method than it was a deliberate objective.

The timbres used as a source sound both electronic and natural to my ears ... I was wondering if there might not have been some birdsong and/or a fragment of orchestral brass that had been given the distortion/dense echo/feedback delay/spring reverb-like treatment.

The electronic tones underneath it all sounded fairly pure to me, one in particular sounded much like a simple square wave.

Wonderful footage!
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Re: The Oram sound

Post by RichardT »

Yes, the house is very unusual! Looking at the parts of the video where she is doing splicing, I think you’re quite right about how she put the theme together.

The advantage (and disadvantage) to doing things by hand is that it’s a lot of work to change things after they are done - so it’s a case of first thought, best thought.
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Re: The Oram sound

Post by Paul Gilby »

Sarah Angliss from the Daphne Oram Trust gave a great talk about her life and work at the National Media Museum in Bradford a few weeks ago. I'm sure Sarah might be able to help. See their website for contact details.
https://www.daphneoram.org/trust/
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Re: The Oram sound

Post by RichardT »

Thanks Paul!
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Re: The Oram sound

Post by Eddy Deegan »

RichardT wrote: Wed Dec 08, 2021 12:55 pm Yes, the house is very unusual!

Tower Folly, Sevenoaks: then and now :thumbup:
TowerFolly_1962.PNG
TowerFolly_2021.PNG
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Re: The Oram sound

Post by Arpangel »

Looks a bit like our place! :o
It’s wider, ours is taller!
Radiophonic sound? The "character" of the overall sound, that’s very important, I was working on some stuff recently, using all softening crap, to record it, I was really surprised at how much it sounded like those old 50’s/60’s recordings, the musical sounds, the instruments, important yes, but the "character" can put it all in context.
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That’s another thing
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