Wee Have Also Sound Houses

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Wee Have Also Sound Houses is a BBC radio documentary about the history of the Radiophonic Workshop, first broadcast on 1st April 1979.[1]

In it, Delia speaks about the working conditions at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and in the background it includes some of her music I.E.E.100, Rorate Coeli and the only known audio fragment of The Cyprian Queen.

There is another documentary of the same name about Daphne Oram, first broadcast on 3rd August 2008.[2]


(15:06) When I first came here I was expecting to find beautiful chromium-plated equipment and everyone wearing white coats and in fact I found the tattiest studio all full of virtually redundant antique equipment.

(15:51) Well, as far as I know, I don't think there was much of a budget for new equipment.

(16:09) In fact, at one point, even several years afterwards, the BBC was setting up an engineering museum and they sent a list round to all the departments saying "You've probably got this equipment lying around. You can't be using now, it's so old. Please will you donate it to the Engineering Museum" and when I read this list it was virtually a catalogue of the complete equipment of the Radiophonic Workshop.

(20:21) Quite early on in my time here, 1963, we were asked to realise a score by Ron Grainer which was to be the title music of, I think, a very short series which is still running to this day. That's, of course, Doctor Who. At the time I don't think this been done, actually realising another composer's score. There were some rather vague indications of sounds like ‘clouds’ and ‘wind bubble’ but, of course, that was still done on these old valve oscillators. Each of those swoops that you hear is a very carefully timed hand swoop cut together but with luck one doesn't hear the joins.

Female voice (Molly Cox?): I came along and met the beautiful Delia Derbyshire. She always said that a very important part of her music was wine bottles in different stages of emptiness, pitching them up and pitching them down to use them as part of the sound. I don't know whether that was true but they were always there.

30:38-31:53 has I.E.E.100 as the background music.

(30:32) And then of course synthesizers started to be made [...] [I.E.E.100 begins] and I was really looking forward to having synthesizers because I knew it would speed up the work so much [...] and, though I was looking forward to being able to do things much more quickly but [...] I think I'm still disappointed with synthesizers and what one can do with them, with the flexibility of them. I'd still like to get inside them somewhere and make it do a more human sound than what it does.

34:16-34:36 has a background which may be Delia's.

38:45 has a background of Rorate Coeli from Amor Dei and Delia speaks over it

Delia: When I was doing the Inventions with Barry Bermange, he wanted sounds which would sound like a Gothic altarpiece. “Oh,” I said, “yes! What a good idea. But what do you really mean? What sort of sounds?” He said, “Well, give me a pencil and paper.” I did and with great care and elaboration he drew me a beautiful Gothic altarpiece and said “That's the sort of sound I want.”.

it continues (39:21), with music for Cyprian Queen from 39:35

Michael Bakewell: Delia Derbyshire created some very, very beautiful things and some things that had a kind of very strange and unearthly quality that couldn't quite be got, I think, by normal musical means [Clip begins] and yet didn't sound as if they were electronically manufactured. We did a play called The Cyprian Queen. Delia created a marvellous kind of strange, unearthly flute music.
Delia: The sound I made in a fascinating way is a great hook-up in the workshop. Oh, my goodness, you should see the workshop sometimes, like Spaghetti Junction. There's tapes going round on loops, very, very long ones sometimes going out into the corridor. On this occasion it was a tiny loop, though.

43:37 starts a montage of treated voice clips over an unidentified background. In it, Delia says That's the sound I want and Everybody was working in one room.


The closing credits are:

Compiled and introduced by Michael Smee and devised by Desmond Briscoe with John Baker, Malcolm Clarke, Delia Derbyshire, Maddalena Fagandini, Brian Hodgson, Peter Howell, Paddy Kingsland, Roger Limb, Dick Mills, Daphne Oram, Elizabeth Parker and Richard Yeoman-Clark with observations from Michael Bakewell, Frederick Bradman, Douglas Cleverdon, Molly Cox, Anthony Hopkins, David Little, Andre' Molineaux, Donald McWhinnie, Philip Saville and David Wade.
The readers were Alarick Cotter, Brenda Kay, Josie Kidd, Edward McCarthy and Stephen Thorn.
Technical realization by John Downer, Anthony Pew and Brian Tuck. Produced for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop by David Raymond Allan.