Daphne Oram's Mini-Oramics synth is built and played for the first time in 40 years

Watch BBC Radiophonic Workshop co-founder's prototype in action

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PhD student Tom Richards has researched and built Daphne Oram's Mini-Oramics Synth based on the original prototype plans.

The prototype Mini-Oramics Synth was developed in 1973 as a smaller version of the much larger Oramics synthesizer. Both the Oramics and Mini-Oramics employ graphic or 'drawn synthesis' as it's more widely known, whereby information is drawn on film or paper and then read by the sound source.

The Oramics bore similarities to the Variophone. which was developed by Evgeny Sholpo. with both instruments using 35mm film. The drawn shapes on the film modulate the light received by the photocells to generate information that affects timbre, frequency, amplitude and duration. Oram's version featured multiple film strips, as a form of polyphony, and housed in a large metal frame

Daphne saw that the Oramics was too large to be used anywhere other than the studio, so she developed the Mini-Oramics. Unfortunately, Oram's smaller version never made it off the page as the financial backing wasn't available.

Fast forward to 2008 and a large archive of Daphne Oram's work was donated to Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research was then picked up by Tom Richards who was invited to reimagine the Mini-Oramics by the director of the Daphne Oram Archive at Goldsmiths.

"The rules were simple. I had to imagine I was building the machine in 1973, interpreting Daphne Oram's plans and using only the technologies that existed at that time."

And so, the Mini-Oramics was finally born... 40 years after its inception.

(Via Goldsmiths, University of London)

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