The Collection
 

Following Oram’s death in 2003, her life’s work was passed to the care of Hugh Davies, a British composer and musician who knew Daphne and her work. Following Hugh’s death in January 2005, it was with the benefit of experimental electronic music practice in mind that Goldsmiths, with Dr. Mick Grierson as director of the Collection, brought this collection into the academic community where it could be properly studied and developed. To this end, a grant was awarded to Goldsmiths, University of London in 2007 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, to catalogue the collection, digitise the audio tapes and initiate related research. Details of the collection’s contents may be found below:

BBC

BBC

Papers and correspondence relating to Daphne’s work at the BBC.

Education

Education

Lecture notes, programme notes and correspondence

Oramics

Oramics

Papers relating to the Oramics system, the drawn sound machine invented and patented by Daphne Oram.

Personal

Personal

Miscelleaneous personal documents and correspondence including diaries, school reports and correspondence from friends and colleagues.

Photographs

Photographs

Photographs and transparencies.

Press Cuttings

Published Writing and Drafts, Performance Programmes, Press Cuttings

Original manuscripts of published writings and research notes, performance programmes and press cuttings throughout Daphne’s career.

Musical Scores

Musical Scores and Scripts

Scores, scripts and workings from plays, TV ads, films and musical compositions that Daphne created.

Computer Code

Computer Code

Notebooks and papers containing handwritten logs of the daily process for transferring the Oramics system to computer code.

Computer Associations

Computer & Electronic Music Associations

Publications, membership materials and promotional materials from contemporary computer and music associations.

Recordings

Sound Recordings

Short audio clips of pieces created by Daphne, featuring compositions for film soundtracks, commercials, Oramics sounds, electronic and instrumental sounds.


The series contains the following:

  • BBC employment papers
  • BBC Radiophonic Workshop and electronic music
  • 1958 Brussels Expo
  • Music in Minature and Third Programme
  • Proms Timings
  • The Radiophonic Workshop – The first 25 years
  • Sound in Vision
  • Lectures, recorded music performances, work with schools

Because of WWII, the role of women in society changed dramatically in the years following. Women had proven themselves more than capable technicians, producers and broadcasters during men’s absence with the war effort.
Daphne recalled, “In 1942 it was arranged for me to go to the Royal College of Music – but because of War time regulations, I would have to agree to be a music teacher after leaving RCM – I didn’t want to be a ‘school ma’am’! My Father entered me for Electro-Therapist at King’s College Hospital. I passed the exams, the uniform was ordered but I went against my Father because there was practically, no music. Eventually I won my Father round and I went to the BBC instead.”
Daphne Oram was employed at the BBC as a Junior Studio engineer and music balancer.

At the BBC, Radiophonic art was pioneered by Daphne Oram in the early 1950s, but it wasn’t until 1958 after a considerable increase in demand for the services of Briscoe and Oram that a budget and accommodation was found to formally open The BBC Radiophonic Workshop.


The series contains the following:

  • Schools projects
  • School studio diagrams
  • Recorded music society
  • Lecture notes
  • Research
  • Lecture invitations
  • Electronic music score

The series contains the following:

  • Early conceptions
  • Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
  • Patents and trademark
  • Log books
  • Technical drawings and correspondence
  • Technical correspondence: Norman Gaythorpe

In 1962, Daphne Oram presented Oramics, the project that consumed so much of her time and resources. She received two consecutive Gulbenkian Foundation grants in the region of £3,500, a sizeable sum in the 1960s, to develop her research. Daphne said of Oramics, “I visualize the composer learning an alphabet of symbols with which he will be able to indicate all the parameters needed to build up the sound he requires. These symbols, drawn freehand on an ordinary piece of paper, will be fed to the equipment and the resultant sound will be recorded onto magnetic tape.”

Acknowledgements: This article is comprised of text taken from Jo Hutton’s article ‘DAPHNE ORAM Innovator, Writer and Composer.’


The series contains the following:

  • Scores and manuscripts by Ivor Walsworth
  • Childhood documents
  • Diaries, notebooks and personal effects
  • Personal correspondence
  • Realia
  • Biographical notes

The series contains the following:

  • Personal photographs
  • PRS
  • Study II Stockhausen
  • Personal transparencies
  • BBC Radiophonics
  • Tower Folly studio
  • Presentations
  • Presentation/lecture transparencies
  • Nucleas sculpture
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Oramics

The series contains the following:

  • The Sound of the Past
  • Looking Back…to See Ahead
  • Publishers / Management correspondence
  • Performance documentation
  • An Individual Note
  • Press cuttings
  • Visual Sound
  • Music and Healing

The series contains the following:

  • Scripts for film soundtracks
  • Schools broadcasts
  • Tape colour index
  • Notes from performance music
  • Assorted notes, letters and notation fragments
  • Notes on BBC television news audio signature
  • The series contains the following:
  • Notes regarding purchases
  • Mapping of Oramics
  • Handwritten workings/entries of code programming
  • Papers regarding Daphne’s Acorn computer system

Notebooks and papers containing handwritten logs of the daily process for transferring the Oramics system to computer code. Earliest papers pre-date Oramics as a computer system and refer to analogue versions. Later papers include correspondence from 1983 between Daphne and Stephen Brett who she employed to programme on her behalf. By 1984 she had purchased her own computer (Acorn) and was learning Basic herself. From 1984 onward note pads document her progress on an almost daily basis.

The series contains the following:

  • EMAS and BEMA
  • International studios and Associations
  • Electronic Music: List of compositions and bibliography
  • The Institute of Patentees and Inventors
  • Audio Engineering Society
  • Computer Arts Society
  • Electronic Computer Synthesizer Sound Projects
  • BSSRS
  • Computer Graphics
  • Oramics Studio
  • ESSCO Ltd

Daphne Oram was a member of several music, sound and computer associations throughout her life. This Series documents some of the correspondence with these organisations, including EMAS.

The series contains the following:

  • Audio clips of pieces created by Daphne
  • Compositions for film soundtracks
  • Compositions for commercials
  • Oramics sounds
  • Electrical and Instrumental Sounds

Piece for a power tools commercial

Electronic piece, ‘Dutch Bulb’

Instrumental piece, ‘Nostalgic Dream’

Soundtrack for the film ‘Snow’

Soundtrack for the film ‘The Innocents’

‘Oramics’ sounds