Delia Derbyshire Archive: Waves Around Edges. Manchester After Hours performance

btsWaves Around Edges is a live response to the Delia Derbyshire archive housed at John Rylands Library. The piece was commissioned by Manchester After Hours as part of the live event ‘Breaking the Sound Barrier’. To develop the piece, I began research within the archive, I was interested in Delia’s ‘juvenile papers’ looking over the physics and geometry books featuring her first explorations into sound. It’s fantastic being able to see drawings of Delia’s sine waves and mathematical equations which had such a profound influence on her process for sound creation. Also in the archive are BBC Radiophonic letters and correspondence and to me most fascinating are the working notes of iconic pieces such as the ‘Inventions for Radio’ . The archive houses an extensive list of tapes which have been digitised. For the piece I wanted to reflect on Delia’s working methods, her technical processes and think about some of the sounds and objects she would have encountered in the Radiophonic workshop that informed her work. For this I want to explore the medium of tape itself, thinking about this as a material and dynamic sound source.

eveI visited Eve Studios in Stockport which has a wealth of ex-BBC Radiophonic workshop equipment and tape machines. Martin and Tom kindly let me contact mic record these working objects. I loved hearing the inner workings of the machines, the clicks and clunks of the buttons, the whirrs and spinning of the tape as it finishes the spool, all had a unique character.

tape deckThese samples formed a both a sequenced section of the performance and inspired the Tape Machine Sculpture I created for the show. The sculpture was a sonified object made of found materials, with heavy steel sections salvaged from a Salford building site. I selected the top piece due its look of a sine wave, the bow i used to play the sculpture had magnetic tape running along the length and I embedded a cassette head within the object for some rewind/fast forward action.

Vicky Clarke at John Rylands Library for Manchester After Hours by Ben Williams

ps1Other composed sounds within the set looked at sound as material including electromagnetic recordings , I wanted to get a sense of electricity, disorientating FM synthesis and also authoritarian educational BBC voices discussing the nature of sound, electricity and magnetic tape to reflect the male dominated world in which Delia worked at that time.

Here is a very short edit (live piece is 20 mins).

Thankyou Delia x

mah

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