The BBC Radiophonic Workshop co-founder’s lost instrument has been built by a PhD student.

A prototype synthesizer designed by electronic music pioneer Daphne Oram more than 40 years ago but never finished has finally been built by a student at Goldsmiths in London.

Oram’s “Mini-Oramics” synthesizer was designed by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop co-founder as a more portable version of her famous Oramics machine, which transformed drawings on 35mm film into sound.

The original device ran film strips past photo-electric cells, generating control voltage signals that affected amplitude, timbre, frequency and duration of the sound. It was also the size of a photocopier and not particularly practical for widespread use.

The modern-day machine has been built by PhD student Tom Richards, who decided to re-imagine and build the instrument from scratch, using Oram’s original plans and only the technologies that would have been available in 1973.

Six contemporary composers have been given access to the Mini-Oramics machine for a few days to play with it and record the results, including Ain Bailey, James Bulley and John Lely Jo Thomas.

Daphne Oram’s original Oramics machine was previously part of an exhibition on the history of electronic music at London’s Science Museum. [via Synthtopia]

Watch next: Look inside Daphne Oram’s 1960s home studio



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