Macbeth (1971)

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Theatre programme cover

With Kaleidophon, Delia created sound for Ewan Hooper's production of Macbeth at the Greenwich Theatre, opening on the 18th February 1971.

For other versions, see Macbeth.

Apart from the sound effects, the most interesting track must surely be the Witches' Dance[1] in which “They sing their cauldron recipe to a waltz song like the doctors in Wozzeck.”[2]

Delia seems to have reused sound from Aztecs, thunder from King Lear and something from her music for Yoko Ono's Wrapping Event.[3] On the VCS3 she created the "Sweet martlets", "crow" and "purry pussy" effects[4] as well as the "twangy crochets"[5] for one of the pieces of music.[6] She also used "Annette's voice on tape, v.treated".[7] This may be Annette Battam, who worked with Delia on the music of the 1970 Medea, also at the Greenwich Theatre (and took all the credit!).


“a production with some interesting effects of sound and vision for the supernatural and a semi-musical setting of the witch chants in contemporary idioms.”[8]

“The [characters] are of no period or place and the sounds around them are electronic and anonymous.”[2]

“A great night for the noises off... a night of whistling and whinnying and the calls of whippoorwills, of electronic music for the witches' chants, of echo chambers and metallic vibrations from the back projected ghosts.”[9]

“[The] production gets nearer the centre of the play than more ambitious rivals. Liberally employing what Henry Reed once dubbed “reinforced concrete music” and setting the action on a tilted promontory suspended above two jagged edge rostra, it evokes the right atmosphere of eerie ambivalence in which nothing is but what is not.”[10]

Track listing

The following list of tracks is composited from various sheets in Delia's papers.

The Cue column comes from Ewan Cooper's cue sheets[11][12] while the Tape columns come from Delia's handwritten notes.[13][14][15][16][17]

No Cue Tape 1 Tape 2
1 Thunder in the distance, followed by the Witches' Noise - sea with a heartbeat behind it. 1/frac12; mins should be enough. Thunder & witch background (2'25")
2 One warning shriek from a cat. Cat
3 One warning noise from a frog. Frog
4 One warning noise from a dog. Dog
5 A short vicious noise of battle. 5 secs. Battle
6 Thunder followed by the Witches' Noise (until "Peace"). 3 mins. Witches (3'30")
7 Macbeth's drum. Short. 3 secs. Drum
8 Witches' Noise again, after "Forres" until "I charge you". 3 mins. Witches (4')
8a Witches disappear
9 Scene link. Witches cat. Not warning, though. 5 secs. Cat
10 Scene link - frog, then martlets? We could use the vicious ones here. 20 secs.

(I couldn't read Ewan's writing here - the word may not be "vicious"!!)

Frog then Martlets
11 Witches' Noise. About 1 min. Witches (1'15")
12 Martlets again. About 3 mins. Sweet. Martlets
13 Banquet noise, 10 secs.[deleted] Rec coming[?] thunder
14 Banquet noise, 10 secs.[deleted]
15 Storm. 7 secs. Storm
16 Thunder going away. 5 secs. Storm Receding thunder
17 Witches' Noise. 30 secs. Witches/Dagger speech (35s)
18 Crickets. 5 secs. Cricket
19 Owl. One cry. Owl
20 Dawn chorus of sinister martins. 1 min. Martlets
21 Storm link. 20 secs. Storm
22 Act end - link - frog. 5 secs. Frog
-- Interval --
23 Opening noise - cat. One howl, not warning. Cat (louder)
24 Trumpet. One call. Trumpet
25 Witches' noise. 30 secs. Witches (50s)
26 Horses arriving. 5 secs. Horses on right arrive and mill about
27 Horses stopping and being led away. 5 secs. Horses led away stage left
28 Scene link - frog. 5 secs. Frog link [deleted]
28a Trumpet
29 Banquo arriving noise, and Witches' Noise until "Maws of kites". 2 mins. Banquo [Alan[?] notices apparition]
30 Banquo arriving noise, until "Unreal mockery hence". Banquo 45'
31 Link. Frog. 5 secs. Frog/M&LM leave/what purpose?/sleep-dawn
32 Witches music sequence. Witches music
33 Witches Noise. 45 secs. Witches noise
34 1st apparition arriving. Thunder etc.? 5 secs. 1st appartition
35 1st apparition's words. 1st apparition words
36 2nd apparition arriving. 5 secs. 2nd apparition
37 2nd apparition's words. 2nd apparition words
38 3rd apparition arriving. 5 secs. 3rd apparition
39 3rd apparition's words. 3rd apparition words
39a apparition app. 4th apparition approach
40 4th apparition noise. (about 1¼ mins, until macbeth collapses. 4th apparition sounds
41 Horses arriving (2 or 3) 5 secs. Horses arrive
42 Link - a witches noise. Cat. 5 secs. Cat + Thunder
43 Birdsong. England. 2 mins. (might also be brought in once or twoce during the scene.) Birdsong England
44 Link into Dunsinane. Owl. 5 secs.
45 Link into Menteith. Soft drum roll. 5 secs. Soft drum roll
46 Link into "Bring me no more reports". 5 secs. Heart beat drum
47 Link into chambers. Heartbeat drum. 5 secs. Heart beat drum
48 Link into "Hang out our banners". Heartbeat drum? 5 secs. Heart beat drum
49 Sound of Birnam Wood approaching. 20 secs. Birnam Wood
50 War trumpets sounding the call to battle, followed by battle noises. 1½ mins. Trumpets into battle
51 Battle noises coming from stage-left ("That way the noise is") 1½ mins. Battle stage left
51a Trumpet Trumpet
51b Appn. 30s. Apparition/proc.type
52 Drum link, 5 secs. Drum link/knives
53 Witches' familiars together (cat, frog, dog) 5 secs. Three familiars/Thunder


  • DD135529: Letter dated 23 March 1971 from Ewan Hooper thanking Delia and Brian for their work on Macbeth sound.
  • DD135629: Theatre programme: cover "First performance Feb. 18, 1971"
  • DD135700: Theatre programme: cast and article by Ewan Hooper
  • DD135745: Delia's handwritten notes: "1st sound - Change? (thicken thunder + echo)"
  • DD135830: Zoom on top half of DD135820
  • DD135854: Zoom on bottom half of DD135820
  • DD135943: Delia's handwritten diagram of stage
  • DD140104: Delia's handwritten notes: "35 .. 53" "Desk witches" (back of DD140051)
  • DD140140: Typewritten cue sheet: "MACBETH / Sound / I.1. Sea breaking against cliffs"
  • DD140152: Typewritten list of theatre personnel
  • DD140554: Newspaper clipping: "Lady Macbeth - or just Miss World?" by Herbert Kretzmer: a short and scathing review
  • DD140622: Newspaper clipping: "London gets a new Lady Macbeth", published one week before the opening night
  • DD140754: Newspaper clipping: the image of Hildegard Neil above the Fiddick review
  • DD140901: Newspaper clipping: "MILTON SHULMAN at the new Macbeth" from the Evening Standard: a mostly negative review.


  • DD211: "Macbeth, Greenwich?"


  1. DD135820: Delia's handwritten list of corrections to her sounds.
  2. 2.0 2.1 DD140920: Review "Macbeth" by B. A. Young
  3. DD140336: Delia's handwritten notes: "Sea alone" P.81 ...
  4. DD140402: Delia's handwritten notes: "P.3 Sea breaking & washing" ...
  5. DD140505: VCS3 dope sheet: "Macbeth - twangy crochets"
  6. DD140425: Delia's handwritten plan for a piece of music: "4 time / [A] Primitive vocal - mysterious, smokey"
  7. DD140448: Delia's handwritten plan for a piece of music: "4 time / [A] Organ - low reed - waw waw"
  8. DD140726: Review "Macbeth" by Peter Fiddick.
  9. DD140834: Review "Enter Corporal Macbeth" by Peter Lewis of the Daily Mail on 18th February.
  10. DD140642: Review "Macbeth" by Michael Billington in The Times newspaper.
  11. DD140239: Ewan Hooper's typewritten sheet of cues 1 to 29.
  12. DD140302: Ewan Hooper's typewritten sheet of cues 30 to 53.
  13. DD135914: Delia's handwritten list of cues 1-15.
  14. DD140051: Delia's handwritten list of cues 1-39.
  15. DD140025: Delia's handwritten list of cues 39-53.
  16. DD140011: Delia's handwritten timings for cues 1-53
  17. DD135928: Delia's handwritten list of corrections to cues 23 to 43.