The Lure Of The Space Goddess


Today is Delia Derbyshire Day – a day to the celebrate “the late great Delia Derbyshire (1937-2001) – a pioneer of electronic music in England in the 1960’s”.

Delia was born in England in the 1930s and after successfully completing a degree in mathematics and music at Cambridge she sought work with Decca records, where she was told that they did not employ women in their recording studios. Undeterred, and after working in Geneva for the UN, she eventually returned to the UK to join the BBC as a trainee studio manager where she became attached to the fledgling Radiophonic Workshop.

Once ensconced at the Workshop she quickly and quietly came into her own, developing and researching into the theory and perception of sound whilst using only electronic sources, and within a few months had created her interpretation of Ron Grainer’s Doctor Who theme – perhaps the most iconic and recognisable piece of music to come out of the Workshop.

Unfortunately by the middle of the 1970s it seems that Delia became disillusioned with where electronic music was going – unhappy it seems (and this may seem a little perverse) with the lack of craft she associated with those involved in the emerging world of the synthesizer. As a result of this she disappeared off the radar for many years before reappearing shortly before her death in 2001 thanks to a resurgence of interest in her and her work by a number of musicians including, (and perhaps most principally) Peter Kember aka Sonic Boom – who she worked with on a couple of albums released under the E.A.R. (Experimental Audio Research) moniker.

Thankfully (due in part to the people behind Delia Derbyshire Day) Delia’s name is perhaps better known, or at the very least more respected that it has been for many years.

If you’re lucky enough to live in or around Manchester then there’s a number of events you can attend today including electronic music-making workshops, live performances and a number of film showings featuring her music. And if you don’t then Matthew Sweet’s radio documentary on The Lost Works of Delia Derbyshire, originally broadcast in 2010, is well worth a listen instead.

One Response to “The Lure Of The Space Goddess”

  1. lovely to see her celebrated! regards Thom

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