Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

The Oramics Machine: From vision to reality

  • Peter Manning (a1)

The pioneering contributions of Daphne Oram to visual music, notably the construction of her unique synthesiser known as the Oramics Machine during the 1960s, have yet to be fully recognised. The development of this synthesiser, in terms of both the creative objectives that inspired its design and also the functional characteristics of the resulting technology, is all the more remarkable for being the product of highly individual endeavour, working entirely without the support and resources normally provided by an institution or a commercial manufacturer. Oram's background in both music and electronics was to prove invaluable in this regard, and her appointment as the founding director of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in 1958, having previously lobbied within the organisation for such a facility for several years, provides testament to her standing in both regards. Her decision within a year of appointment to resign from this post and establish her own private studio specifically to develop Oramics is indicative of her determination and commitment to explore new horizons in the medium of electronic music, and this paper provides a perspective of her achievements, drawing on materials in the Oram archive that have hitherto not been studied.

Corresponding author
Hide All
Aldoshina I., Davidenkova E. 2010. The History of Electro-Musical Instruments in Russia in the First Half of the Twentieth Century. Proceedings of the Second Vienna Talk, September 1921. Vienna: University of Music and Performing Arts: 51–54.
Douglas A. 1973. Electronic Music Production. London: Pitman.
Hutton J. 2003. Daphne Oram: Innovator, Writer and Composer. Organised Sound 8(1): 4956.
Lewis T. 1991. Free Music. In T. Lewis (ed.) A Source Guide to the Music of Percy Grainger. White Plains, NY: Pro/Am Music Resources, 153162.
Manning P. 1985. Electronic and Computer Music. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Manning P. 2003. The Influence of Recording Technologies on the Early Development of Electroacoustic Music. Leonardo Music Journal 13: 510.
Manning P., Candlish N. 2008. Peter Manning Discusses Daphne Oram. Sonic Arts Network: Accessed 1 September 2011.
Mathews M, Rosler L. 1968. Graphical Language for the Scores of Computer Generated Sounds. Perspectives of New Music 6(2): 92118.
Olson H., Belar H. 1955. Electronic Music Synthesizer. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 25(3): 595612.
Oram D. 1972. An Individual Note. London: Galliard and New York: Galaxy Music Corporation.
Oram D. 1991. Written transcript of interview with Daphne Oram, 1 June 1991, Tower Folly, Fairseat, Kent, 01 June 1991. In the documents section of the Hugh Davies Archive (2007) London: British Library.
Oram D. 2007. Archive of Papers, Personal Research, Correspondence, Photographs, and Recordings 1930–2003. London: Goldsmith's College.
Patent Office (US). 1969. D. Oram: Digitally Controlled Waveform Generators. US 3478792 (A), 18 November 1969.
Patent Office (GB). 1970. D. Oram: Improvements in or Relating to the Generation of Electrical Oscillations. GB 1189292 (A), 22 April 1970.
Richardson E. 1940. The Production and Analysis of Tone by Electrical Means. Proceedings of the Musical Association 66: 5368.
Wrench G. 2009. The Oramics Story. Sound on Sound (February): 9097.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Organised Sound
  • ISSN: 1355-7718
  • EISSN: 1469-8153
  • URL: /core/journals/organised-sound
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 14
Total number of PDF views: 80 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 199 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.