Inspired by the Delia Derbyshire post over at Art Decade.
Delia Derbyshire was a pioneer in electronic music who worked for many years for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, her most famous work probably being her performance of Ron Grainer’s Doctor Who theme.
I first heard this about five years ago on a BBC documentary called Alchemists of Sound. The whole show was fascinating but this was the most memorable piece of music in it. It’s from a 1966 episode of Out of the Unknown, based on an Isaac Asimov story, called The Prophet. A piece of music of robots singing praise to their ‘God’ was required. I’ll borrow some words from Delia Derbyshire interviews to describe it:
"I did the music for the whole programme. It was probably in the mid '60s. [...] I never watched the stuff. I had a script, that's all. The actors, I got them to chant. The words they were singing were, "Praise to the master, his wisdom and his [reason]" [...] I turned it backwards first, then chose the best bits that sounded good backwards and would fit into a rhythm, and then speed-changed the voices. Then I used just this one bar repeated which had [previously] been rejected from a science and health program for being too lascivious for the schoolchildren. It was like a science program... it was supposed to be about sex, but under another name. And then the producer had the nerve to turn down my music, saying it was too lascivious. It was just twangy things with electronic pick-ups, and I just used a single note and then did little glissandos on it and pitched it and treated it. But the 'Ooh-ooh-ooh' isn't me... that's wobbulator, pure wobbulator. That's a piece of test equipment that does wave sweeps."
But that’s just words. Listen for yourself. Just under two minutes of brilliance.
mp3: Delia Derbyshire - Ziwzih Ziwzih OO-OO-OO