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Cover

Special Sound

The Creation and Legacy of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

Louis Niebur

Publication Date - October 2010

ISBN: 9780195368406

272 pages
Hardcover
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $105.00

The first book about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

Description

Special Sound traces the fascinating creation and legacy of the BBC's electronic music studio, the Radiophonic Workshop, in the context of other studios in Europe and America. The BBC built a studio to provide its own avant-garde dramatic productions with experimental sounds "neither music nor sound effect." Quickly, however, a popular kind of electronic music emerged in the form of quirky jingles, signature tunes such as Doctor Who, and incidental music for hundreds of programs. These influential sounds and styles, heard by millions of listeners over decades of operation on television and radio, have served as a primary inspiration for the use of electronic instruments in popular music.

Using in-depth research in the studio's archives and papers, this book tells the history of the many engineers, composers, directors, and producers behind the studio to trace the shifting perception towards electronic music in Britain. Combining historical discussion of the people and instruments in the workshop with analysis of specific works, Louis Niebur creates a new model for understanding how the Radiophonic Workshop fits into the larger history of electronic music.

Features

  • First book about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
  • Discusses programs of enduring popularity, including Doctor Who
  • Includes extensive discussion of music of Delia Derbyshire

About the Author(s)

Louis Niebur is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Reviews

"Louis Niebur has accomplished a feat of virtuoso research that places in a wholly original context the extraordinary accomplishments of such pioneers as Maddalena Fagandini, Daphne Oram, and the fabulous Delia Derbyshire. Special Sound: The Creation and Legacy of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop is elegantly organized and incisively written, a musicological 'page-turner' that elucidates a crucial period in the evolution of British technology and aesthetics. This volume should be required reading for anyone interested in British culture, music, and technical innovation during the mid-twentieth century."-Byron Adams, Professor of Music, University of California, Riverside

"This stunning and thorough book exploring the BBC Radiophonic Workshop investigates not only broadcasting and programme-making, but also the rise of electronic music in the UK. Dr. Niebur's passion for sounds of radio and television invigorates engaging and often entertaining writing. Moreover, it is transporting to hear such unique sounds, while reading about them."-Jenny Doctor, Senior Lecturer, University of York

"Niebur's research into this early history of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop is wickedly illuminating." --Times Higher Education

"With Special Sound, Louis Niebur achieves a remarkable feat in subtly allying the private concept and design of a bygone BBC Radiophonic Workshop---from its inception, the Workshop implemented a largely closed-door policy to outside composers--with active political, social and academic debates. Niebur presents a gentle, nostalgic veneer to Special Sound's theorising, making the work both accessible for the general reader and analytical enough for the specialist...Special Sound is a trip down memory lane for the BBC enthusiast; a unified lucid investigation for the scholar; and a museum of materials, data and analyses for all who applaud a living legacy. The Workshop is dead. Long live the workshop." --MAKE Magazine

Table of Contents

    About the Companion Website
    Chapter One:
    Radio Drama and the Birth of Electronic Music
    Chapter Two: Ideological Struggles and Pragmatic Realities
    Chapter Three: The Golden Age of "Special Sound"
    Chapter Four: The Coming of the Synthesizers
    Chapter Five: The Second Golden Age
    Chapter Six: The Price of Success
    Endnotes
    Appendix: Transcriptions
    Bibliography
    Index