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December 8, 2014



Fabulous that you're bringing some much-needed attention to the wonderful Delia Derbyshire! But one niggly point... Ron Grainer composed the Doctor Who theme music...Delia "realized" it, making it the wonderfully cool thing it ended up being. She truly doesn't get enough credit for it, but nonetheless...

Kendra Leonard

Karissa, you are absolutely right--thanks for the correction! I should have been more specific in my language above. :)

Han-earl Park

Not sure I understand the purpose of stating that “most people… have never heard of” Derbyshire, since I’m guessing most people have never heard of any electronic music composer/musician except those active in the very recent past. I first encountered the retrospective celebration of Derbyshire around 2003, a couple of years after her death, which would be about what you’d expect from how (popular) histories are written.

Seems like a relatively well known name to me in the sense that many popular EM folk will name drop her, and has some degree of traction with ‘serious composers’ (which is kind of a miracle considering that the Radiophonic Workshop isn’t normally taken seriously by the Computer Music ivory tower). And that’s the thing, Derbyshire is incredibly well known in the sense that ‘most people’ (especially musicians) would be hard pressed to name anyone associated with the Radiophonic Workshop.

I think a much more seriously neglected woman composer from the Radiophonic Workshop is Daphne Oram. If those in 2003 who were name-checking Derbyshire as an under-decorated pioneer of EM had spent the same effort in Oram’s visibility, we might not have had to wait so long for Oram’s work to be properly archived/reconstructed/made-public.

Han-earl Park

re: the idea that Derbyshire didn’t (co-)compose the Doctor Who theme music, I don’t see why we need to follow the contemporary BBC enforced boundaries of labor. If we decide to interpret what Derbyshire did as part of the composition process, then she did, in collaboration with Grainer, compose the theme.

Kendra Leonard

Hello again everyone! Thanks for the comments.

Han-earl, it's true that Derbyshire is well-known in the EM community, but I'm hoping here to reach out to students--particularly undergraduates--who are not as familiar with the genre. I think Derbyshire's music is welcoming to student and new listeners. who may know the Doctor Who theme. Certainly there are plenty of other EM composers, both make and female, who deserve more attention. Perhaps members of both the scholarly community and students will contribute to more knowledge about them as research materials become available.

As for Derbyshire's part in the Doctor Who theme, there is always room for more explication of her work; for this blog post, I've gone with "realization."

For those wanting to know more about Derbyshire and the Radiophonic Workshop, let me recommend Louis Niebur's excellent book _Special Sound: The Creation and Legacy of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop_.


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