old skool: BBC radiophonic workshop
Joram
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#1
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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old skool: BBC radiophonic workshop

#2
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
  #2
Allons-y
 
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Yes! lovely docu.. a must see.
I still wonder about the guy in the background.
#3
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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I want to create a new Radiophonic Workshop with only tape machines and some simple sound generators. It's tedious, but the sound is amazing. Like the dr who theme, you just can't create something like that with digital. The BBC RW is a testament to limitation's effect on creativity. To me, a minimoog is so much more inspiring than a modular because of its simplicity and beautiful sound. I thought about getting a modular, and had a voyager, but the endless possibilities are limiting in themselves. As Bob Moog said "simplicity elevates".
Mr Arkadin
#4
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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Mr Arkadin
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I've actually been to Maida Vale Studios where they were based, for work and as a punter, and there's still some old machines in the corridors (for decoration purposes I suppose) and the studios look like original 1930s/1940s decor.

I really hate the current BBC's policy of considering it "wholly unsuitable for the 21st century", bloody ******s.

I started out using tape loops and splicing before I could afford synths (or rather before my parents could afford my SH-09 )
#5
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unfiltered420
It's tedious, but the sound is amazing. Like the dr who theme, you just can't create something like that with digital.
With respect, it is possible with digital tech and it's way easier too. It's all about vision and skills.

Quote:
Originally Posted by unfiltered420
The BBC RW is a testament to limitation's effect on creativity.
Creativity, yes, amazing creativity. Limitations? I'd hardly call their process simple or limited. I'd rather compare it to a monastery of patience floating in unbounded space .
#6
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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#7
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baryondragon View Post
With respect, it is possible with digital tech and is way easier too. It's all about vision and skills.



Creativity, yes, amazing creativity. Limitations? I'd hardly call their process simple or limited. I'd rather compare it to a monastery of patience floating in unbounded space .
It is possible to make something that sounds like the original Dr who theme, as they have done over and over. But you can't get that same tape sounds and foley like in the original.

Do you really not know what I mean by "limited"?
Joram
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#8
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by unfiltered420 View Post
To me, a minimoog is so much more inspiring than a modular because of its simplicity and beautiful sound. I thought about getting a modular, and had a voyager, but the endless possibilities are limiting in themselves. As Bob Moog said "simplicity elevates".
Listen to 50:10-50:38: "[when] the machinery is driving the creativity...maybe that's where the golden age stops. Maybe."
#9
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unfiltered420
Do you really not know what I mean by "limited"?
I thought you talked about limits in terms of simplicity as you contrasted a simple Minimoog with a modular system with endless possibilities.

In this sense, BBC Radiophonic were given an open ocean of possibilities represented by blank magnetic tape and no synthesizer, not even a modular to begin with. That's not limiting.
#10
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Arkadin
I really hate the current BBC's policy of considering it "wholly unsuitable for the 21st century", bloody ******s.
Have you seen recent productions from BBC? Top notch stuff, amazing music too. They abandoned the old ways once better solutions became available.

Today everyone who's passionate about the old school process can grab a tape machine and recreate BBC RW ways, no problem. But it wasn't a bad decision to move on on their part. Change is good.
Mr Arkadin
#11
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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Mr Arkadin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baryondragon View Post
Have you seen recent productions from BBC? Top notch stuff, amazing music too. They abandoned the old ways once better solutions became available.

Today everyone who's passionate about the old school process can grab a tape machine and recreate BBC RW ways, no problem. But it wasn't a bad decision to move on on their part. Change is good.
Sorry but you don't really understand the BBC's motives at all. It's all about money making. The accountants want to get rid off a perfectly good studio (as I said I've worked there) and they're trying to justify it by saying it's not ready for the digital age. That's bullshit. A studio is a studio - you still need decent acoustics in a digital age, the recording format and wiring are all that need to change.

It just so happens that the area of Maida Vale is a top price property area in London. Coincidence that they want to sell with property prices in London so high? They want to smash and grab like they did by moving from London to Manchester, only they didn't bank on English Heritage declaring the building Grade II listed so they can't knock it down! This stuff is our modern history and the accountants just want to destroy it because they can make more money selling it to housing developers.

Don't confuse accountancy with moving into the future.

And for my money the music in the new Doctor Who is awful.
#12
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Arkadin
Sorry but you don't really understand the BBC's motives at all. It's all about money making.
Well, that's not a surprise. It was about money making in 1958 too. Even serious charities are about money making let alone a radio broadcasting corporation.

I understand that once they stopped using that room, they moved to another studio with acoustic treatment and all the necessary stuff?

While I do prefer the old Dr Who music theme, the world doesn't end on this TV series. I like the modern digital music from such programmes as Frozen Planet just as much.
Mr Arkadin
#13
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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Mr Arkadin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baryondragon View Post
It was about money making in 1958 too.
Well not really. It's original intent was as a publicly funded public service. It used to be about quality programming. In many instances it very much is still that (although I think Eastenders is opiate for the masses). And certainly making money is a serious and necessary consideration (selling formats like Weakest Link etc.).

But when you hear phrases like "wholly unsuitable for the 21st century" you just know some accountant has dreamt up the phrase to justify selling something. I've seen it before in other studios that I have worked at so I do have some personal knowledge of the sort of politics that goes on.

I lost a bunch of work due to a studio closing (not BBC) to be 're-purposed' for digital media and digital radio stations. It's the future init? They got rid of a perfectly good studio by claiming it was losing money (it wasn't). The whole digital media thing then fell through and that huge space has been used for years now as storage. That's the sort of forward thinking crap we have to deal with.
#14
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
  #14
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A few things I would like to say about this documentary...

First, its main purpose as I see it is to omit/gloss over certain milestones in the history of electronic music. The picture it paints is one of British, specifically BBC, innovation. Whereas all of the techniques those guys were using were developed in Europe and America first, particularly the quickly glossed-over points on concrete music. Second, the BBC made one or two cracking soundtracks back in the day. The most important of these was the Doctor Who theme tune. It was big business for them selling that and other TV soundtracks (remember there was no cable, just 2 and then 3 British TV channels), and also sound effects i.e. sample collections on vinyl and tape. I don't know what use vinyl sample collections were, but people were buying them in the bucketloads. So this program is firstly historical revisionism and secondly the practice of commerce.
Mr Arkadin
#15
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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Mr Arkadin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElShah View Post
First, its main purpose as I see it is to omit/gloss over certain milestones in the history of electronic music. [...] So this program is [...] historical revisionism
No, it's main purpose is to be a documentary about the Radiophonic Workshop, not a complete history of electronic music. Where do you start? With the Theremin? Earlier? Those are whole documentaries in their own right. And if those documentaries don't mention the Radiophonic Workshop are they being revisionist? Unless documentaries are going to be sprawling you have to narrow your subject range.

BBC4 have done programmes on British Synth music. Of course Kraftwerk were mentioned but in no real depth because German electronic music wasn't the subject. That's how documentaries work by being singular and focused.
#16
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Arkadin View Post
No, it's main purpose is to be a documentary about the Radiophonic Workshop, not a complete history of electronic music. Where do you start? With the Theremin? Earlier? Those are whole documentaries in their own right. And if those documentaries don't mention the Radiophonic Workshop are they being revisionist? Unless documentaries are going to be sprawling you have to narrow your subject range.

BBC4 have done programmes on British Synth music. Of course Kraftwerk were mentioned but in no real depth because German electronic music wasn't the subject. That's how documentaries work by being singular and focused.
They don't work. It's the curator's art: choosing what to include and what to leave out, what to stress and what to omit. It's ridiculous to have a documentary on British synth pop because the only difference between those groups it deals with and other synth bands is the fact they were geographically based in the UK. Leaving out Kraftwerk is a pretty big omission but there are many, many electronic musicians who had nothing to do with Britain but whose significance overshadows some forgotten TOTP heros from Leeds or wherever. Such as Walter Carlos etc. And the development of the tape machine, omitted by the British documentary, took place in Germany. Bob Moog was an American etc. So really the whole point of making pots and bits and pieces bang in a BBC 'workshop', pitching them on a reel-to-reel then making a documentary about this non-issue is jingoism. It floats most people's boat but not mine because it doesn't give us an accurate representation of historical events and the things and people that were most important, leading up to them.
Mr Arkadin
#17
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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Mr Arkadin
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So now to do a documentary on the Radiohpnic Workshop you have to do a complete history of the invention of tape machines in Germany, a complete history of Bob Moog and Walter Carlos and god knows who else before even getting to the subject at hand? And still fit it into a 60-90 minute format?

It's natural that a British programme, made in Britain, about a British subject with archive footage owned by a British company might feature a fair bit of British artists. Give people more credit - I'm sure anyone interested in electronic music history will know that there was more than just the Radiophonic Workshop happening. This is just one facet in detail.

You don't see war documentaries try and fit all of WWII into one documentary - it'll either be spread over a number of episodes (and even then lots has to be omitted) or focus on one aspect. Should a documentary on the Dambusters include all the events leading up to the outbreak of war - including a complete history of the Wright Brothers invention of planes because we wouldn't want to imply we'd invented them? Really?
#18
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
  #18
Gear Head
 

Your argument seems to be that the justification for this documentary, and the one on British synthpop, seems to be a lack of time to cover the issues in depth. This documentary is very long indeed. So that argument doesn't work.
Rather, it is the subject matter of the documentary that I take issue with. It makes more sense to look at, for example, the tape machine and make a documentary on its history and creative use, rather than make a documentary called, let's say, "The Tape Recorder in Britain". THAT would be peculiar. Why? Because they (tape recorders) are used all over the world in a very similar manner. There is no quintessentially British way of using a tape recorder. Just as there is no quintessentially British way of banging out an arpeggio on a Moog. Taking it further, there is no reason for why there should be a documentary on the documentary maker's garage, i.e. the "Radiophonic Workshop". It is not informative and does not educate. Such a documentary would be, as it is, purely self-justificatory.
#19
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
  #19
Gear addict
 

There's no reason that a documentary about the Radiophonic Workshop needs to be about anything other than the Radiophonic Workshop. BBC4 has also done documentaries on Krautrock, Synthesizer history, Musique Concrete, as well as numerous individual artists both inside and outside the UK.

I see no reason they all need to be about the overall history of electronic music; that would make them all the same documentary.
Mr Arkadin
#20
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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Mr Arkadin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElShah View Post
Rather, it is the subject matter of the documentary that I take issue with.
The subject matter was the Radiophonic Workshop. Which happened to be in Britain. If it was a documentary about IIRCAM, I imagine a lot of it would have been set in France. The BBC also did a documentary on Krautrock. Guess what, not many British bands in that one. Maybe that one should have included a full history of Bob Moog and Walter Carlos in it one too perhaps.

What's the real issue here, that anything positive about Britain is jingoistic?
#21
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
  #21
Gear Head
 

Do you see that simply having a documentary about their workshop instantly elevates the importance and notability of their workshop to equality with subjects of real interest and notability, such as synthesizer history (tech history), musique concrete (art music history) etc.? How on earth can it be justified? It is simply not important enough. Having that documentary writes the silly noise effects workshop of the BBC into history. The real reason they made it is more about the egos of the people involved and the money this has raked in and will continue to rake in. But everyone thinks whenever someone suggests the BBC is exaggerating the importance of something connected to it, the critic is trying to steal the country's fish and chips and tear down the Union Jack. It's ridiculous. The BBC is not the Union Jack.
#22
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
  #22
Gear nut
 

It's a documentary, not a four year degree study. I don't think you can ever have a 100% inclusive documentary.
#23
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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I have nothing against the limey, but they do eat a lot of limes, I mean geez.
#24
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Arkadin View Post
What's the real issue here, that anything positive about Britain is jingoistic?
Thanks for proving my point about the irrationality of your unreasoned defense of everything the BBC does. Obviously, the real issue is that everything the BBC does is for Britain, is about Britain and is for the glory of Britain. In your universe anyway.
Coming from a slightly less idealistic perspective I have given my reasons for why this documentary is a joke. The 'Britain' brand has nothing to do with it. It's the fact that it's nothing, of no importance at all, yet the BBC makes out as if it's the centre of the universe and innovation. Which is pretty funny and palpably untrue. Anyway I've said what I wanted to say on the subject. The BBC takes your licence money, and you think it's a patriotic institution, something to do with the Queen perhaps.. Do you realise Cameron is going to make your beer very pricey very soon? He's a millionaire from Oxford, a Bullingdon club member. Like the BBC boys he doesn't give a damn about your little synth experiments and he doesn't care what you think.. Honestly if flags were popular they would tax you for flying them and you would blame it on the immigrants. I'm done with this useless convo.
#25
12th April 2012
Old 12th April 2012
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Amen to the end of British taxation. You tried that shit with us and we kicked your asses back across the pond.
#26
13th April 2012
Old 13th April 2012
  #26
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I thought the documentary was interesting when I watched it, and I enjoyed the others I watched.

There's seriously no need for all the hostility.
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Mr Arkadin
#27
13th April 2012
Old 13th April 2012
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElShah View Post
I have given my reasons for why this documentary is a joke. The 'Britain' brand has nothing to do with it. It's the fact that it's nothing, of no importance at all, yet the BBC makes out as if it's the centre of the universe and innovation. Which is pretty funny and palpably untrue.
Not quite sure planet you're coming from on this. It was a small documentary tucked away on BBC4 (hardly the place for huge viewing figures). It was never touted as "The BBC invented electronic music". And actually it is important for lots of cultural reasons, to those that grew up with it and in some way affected them. It's not often that you get experimental electronic music as the soundtrack to everyday programmes - certainly not these days.

There's obviously some anger at your end about this for some strange reason - maybe the BBC didn't commission your 76 hour documentary on the entire history of electronic music or something.
#28
13th April 2012
Old 13th April 2012
  #28
Gear nut
 

I just watched it and found it enjoyable,inspiring and educational. It's not about the beginnings of electronic music as a whole, but about what happened behind two or three doors nothing more nothing less. I don't see the need for the hate. It was an hour long BBC documentary WTF do you people want?
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#29
13th April 2012
Old 13th April 2012
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElShah View Post
Obviously, the real issue is that everything the BBC does is for Britain, is about Britain and is for the glory of Britain.
Correct. If it was Germany it would be about Germans, if it was in France it would be about the French.

What exactly is your point here?

Quote:
Do you realise Cameron is going to make your beer very pricey very soon?
Our beer is already very pricey due to tax, it always has been. What the government are planning to do is impose a minimum price for alcohol. A good idea actually. It will have no effect whatsoever on the price of most beer.

Quote:
Honestly if flags were popular they would tax you for flying them and you would blame it on the immigrants.
No, you're confusing him with the Daily Mail. It's a barley highly nationalistic newspaper, he's just an idiot, who unfortunately happens to in control of the country.


Please, if you're going to write a rant about the UK at least *try* and get your facts straight.
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#30
13th April 2012
Old 13th April 2012
  #30
Gear Head
 

who was the weird fat lad in the back ground?
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