A Journal Of The Dark Arts

Watch The Alchemists Of Sound: A BBC Radiophonic Documentary!



As the whole world tunes in to watch the 50th Anniversary episode of Dr. Who, we bring you an excellent documentary about the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, the wizards responsible for the Time Lord’s sound FX, and a lot more.

The Radiophonic Workshop was convened in 1958 to provide effects for BBC Third Programme. From the start, they were affiliated with much of what we hold dear @ Forestpunk: musique concrète, jazz & Samuel Beckett. They were engaged in making sounds they didn’t exist. They were scheming up the future, and providing the soundtrack for a generation of dreams & nightmares.

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Much of what the Workshop accomplished was done with amazingly little equipment, with a lot of iconic themes being made from household objects like rulers, ping-pong balls, springs and string.

“The idea that you’d go around looking for something that sounded cool, that might, if you slowed it down to half speed, or sped it up to double speed, would make a sound that you wanted, or you’d be experimenting. That’s a kind of organic way of making music or recording sound.”
– On Delia Derbyshire, composer of Dr. Who theme

With more and more options available to even the most humble home studio, it is becoming increasingly important to learn to limit yrself, to hone yr ears and master each piece of equipment or recording technique. Although it is an intangible, ephemeral quality that is impossible to measure, CARE and CRAFT speak through a producer’s work. It is a return to QUALITY, a symbiosis of the Human and the machine.

I’m taking this opportunity to launch a new phase of Forestpunk, one of the main reasons this blog exists. I am simply a humble scribe with aspirations towards making timeless art. I’ve been obsessed with sounds and how they’re made since the turn of this century, around the same time i ran out of money. I’ve been working with a $0 budget for over 10 years, working with hand-me-down equipment and an insatiable thirst to broadcast.

As i survived my 20s, i managed to get a humble recording rig together (the liminal Dimension X Studios), i finally got the ability to record and process audio, and everything you see on this site are like field notes for a DIY masterclass. You can do just about anything you like, but you’ve got to learn to FOCUS.

This begins a series of production tutorials, sharing some of the resources i come across in my rambling. We have the opportunity to make the greatest art of any generation before, but we must cleanse and purify ourselves, refine our senses and our aesthetics, and our motivation for making art.

There’s tons of little tips and tricks buried within this documentary, as well as countless anecdotes about the colorful personalities that made up the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

There comes a moment when the technology comes closer and closer to the imagination creativity of the writer, and in the end, if you’re not careful, it overtakes. Suddenly serendipity, which before was from your own sweat and blood but YOU created something, and say “Goodness me, that’s great”. Serendipity comes from pushing one of these 397 buttons on this synthesizer, maybe I’ll get something out of it. Now at that moment, the machinery is driving the creativity, and the creativity is not driving the creativity. Maybe that’s where the golden age stops.

This also marks the beginning of our bringing you full movies that we find around. It is our perpetual, unending task (that deprives us of sleep and REM dreaming) to find the best content that is available, and share it with y’all.

Expect lots more film, film reviews, books and magazines, book and magazine reviews, tips, tricks and tutorials, on top of the usual album and concert reviews.

Forestpunk is growing.

Happy Birthday Dr. Who! Much love to the Alchemists Of Sound! Here’s to the imagination, and to a new Golden Age.

2 comments on “Watch The Alchemists Of Sound: A BBC Radiophonic Documentary!

  1. 1537
    November 24, 2013

    Good post, there was a really interesting play about Delia Derbyshire on Radio 4 Extra the other night too – should still be on iPlayer; I’d definitely recommend.

  2. forestpunk
    November 24, 2013

    Hey thanks! i’ll check it out. you should watch this documentary, also, if you haven’t seen it, as it really is fantastic. It’s nice to hear all that old music again. Apparently the remaining members of the Workshop have gotten back together, and are making original music again. There’s some pretty famous people involved with that, also. Curious to see what comes of that!

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