Friday, 4 July 2008

So how do robots praise their God?

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

14 comments:

Davy H said...

Extraordinary. Do you think we could pick up a wobbulator at a car boot sale?

ib said...

Thanks for this, Mick. That was quick! I'm going to listen to this carefully later on tonight. Cheers!

Mick said...

Davy,
I don't know but every time I read the word 'wobbulator' I imagine Rowan Atkinson saying it.

Ib,
Hope you enjoy it.

Emmett said...

Yes! This is excellent. We really need a Derbyshire box set.

Peewit said...

Wouldn't it be great if Jonathon Ross had to introduce a song featuring "Wobbie Williams on Wobbulator"

Davy H said...

Witten by the Wadiophonic Workshop

Mick said...

It was on last week but you might catch the wepeat if you're lucky.

Peewit,
A comment you left over at Davys a while back, about your wife referring to your krautrock as bubble music, sparked an idea for a post based on Mrs Micks name for some of my prog rock records. I must see if I can get that written.

the Duke said...

so much for this wonderful bit of sci-fi ephemera!

the Duke said...

Woops! That's THANK YOU so much for this onderful bit of sci-fi ephemera! Amazing!

Mick said...

You're OK, Duke, I knew what you meant :)

Planet Mondo said...

She's like a female Eno -"sheno"?

bs said...

"And then the producer had the nerve to turn down my music, saying it was too lascivious."

Hilarious!

It is a little freaky though...such a great song!

Peewit said...

Have you seen this piece from the BBC website?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7512072.stm

I love that dance track.

I got the link from Paul's Ramblings blog
http://paulfucito.blogspot.com/
which for some reason I can't remember I have bookmarked

sarah said...

do you know where I can find the 45 minute recording of the dream set? I have only heard a nine minute clip, and I feel like my life wont be complete until I hear all 45.