Pot Au Feu

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Pot Au Feu is 3 minutes and 13 seconds of "angular robot jazz crammed with incident"[1], "a pounding, fantastically rhythmical track, unsettling enough to have a speedfreak running to get the breadknives in the kitchen"[2]

This is three minutes and nineteen seconds of paranoia, virtually a rave track circa 1991 in its structure; a stattering, pounding teleprinter-paced bassline worthy of Timbaland as the tension builds, then a moment of chaos and crisis, an alarm-bell of a hook recalling the "panic / excitement" lines so prevalent in early 90s hardcore.[3]

Delia shows how she assembles part of Pot Au Feu on four tape recorders as part of the Tomorrow's World video in 1965.



Pot Au Feu seems to be the most fully developed of a family of Delia's pieces made from a selection of the same makeup elements: Finnish Science and Technology, Way Out, Pot Pourri and Pot Au Feu.[4]

Pot Pourri was Delia's first piece made by assembling fragments created for various BBC programmes, Way Out develops the 13/8-time rhythm tracks and hand-twiddled oscillator swoops, and Finnish Science and Technology provides the final bars of Pot Au Feu.

Of the ten makeup sounds, all are used in Pot Au Feu, while different combinations contribute to the other three pieces.[4]

  • Type A: a high rhythm pattern on three 'notes' derived from a wooden hand percussion instrument
  • Type B: a bass part alternating between two similarly vaguely pitched notes a third apart
  • Type C: a brilliant autoharp/zither sound used to make punctuating dyads
  • Type D: a clearly defined, upward-trending melody using the same brilliant sound
  • Type E: a 'jangly' and insistent rhythmic zither of electric guitar sound on a single high pitch
  • Type F: a sinewave oscillator sound which follows the same melodic shape as Type D but without distinct note attacks
  • Type G: single, stable oscillator notes
  • Type H: three stable notes with an inharmonic timbre outlining the triad of a minor chord
  • Type I: an amplified electric guitar note pitched to make as alternating two-note pattern

For further details, see the dissertation.[4]


  • DD124722: Manuscript for the 11/8 percussion loop featured in the above video.
  • DD124753: Manuscript for the last moments of the piece ("Finnish")


The Performing Right Society's list of works by Delia Ann Derbyshire has:

Title: Pot Au Feu
Writer(s): Derbyshire Delia Ann
Publisher: BBC Worldwide Music
Creation date: 1 January 1984


Pot Au Feu - Spectrogram.jpg



  1. Peter Marsh in his review of BBC Radiophonic Music
  2. delia-derbyshire.org
  3. Robin Carmody in Wee also have sound-houses
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Delia Derbyshire's Creative Process, pp.21-24.
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