Delia Derbyshire

Template:Infobox Biography Delia Derbyshire (May 5, 1937 - July 3, 2001) was a pioneer of electronic music. She is perhaps best known for her electronic realisation of Ron Grainer's theme to the British science fiction television series Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

Ron Grainer was so amazed by her rendition of his original theme that he attempted to get her a co-composer credit, but this was prevented by BBC bureaucracy. Derbyshire's interpretation of Grainer's theme used electronic oscillators and magnetic audio tape editing (including tape loops and reverse tape effects) to create an eerie and unearthly sound that was quite unlike anything that had been heard before or since. Derbyshire's original Doctor Who theme is believed to have been the first television theme to be created and produced by entirely electronic means. As synthesizers and multi-track recorders did not exist in those days, much of the Doctor Who theme was constructed by recording the individual notes from electronic sources one by one onto magnetic tape, cutting the tape with a razor blade to get individual notes on little pieces of tape a few centimetres long and sticking all the pieces of tape back together one by one to make up the tune (see e.g. this page ( This was a laborious process which took weeks. More recent arrangements of the theme, realized using conventional synthesizers, have been criticized by some Doctor Who fans as being poor imitations.

Some of her most acclaimed work was done in the 1960s in collaboration with the British artist and playwright Barry Bermange, for the Third Programme (the radio station which later evolved into BBC Radio 3). Besides the Dr Who theme, Derbyshire also composed and produced scores, incidental pieces and themes for many BBC radio and TV programmes. A selection of some of her best 1960s electronic music creations for the BBC can be found on the album Radiophonic Music (BBC Records), which was re-released on CD in 2003. A short OGG file sample of this can be found here.

Frustrated by the limitations of working at the BBC in 1969, she worked with David Vorhaus under the name White Noise. The resulting album, An Electric Storm, from the same year proved to be a groundbreaking work of psychedelic electronic music and has proved to be very influential amongst contemporary electronic musicians.

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