Before there was electronic music, there was Delia Derbyshire.
Produced in 2009, The Delian Mode is a fascinating snapshot of Derbyshire’s life and work. A pioneering composer of electronic music; she is perhaps best known by her work on the theme tune for Doctor Who (alongside Ron Grainer), which was recorded in 1963 at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, long before the creation of even the most basic analog synthesisers.
But her contribution to music goes well beyond that – with a series of sonic experiments that were quite literally decades ahead of their time. As Paul McCartney revealed in a 2013 interview, The Beatles had even considered using Derbyshire to contribute a proto-electronic background for Yesterday, which, let’s face it, would have been incredible.
Featuring input from Peter Kember, aka Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3, Ann Shenton of Add N to (X) and Adrian Utley of Portishead – not to mention plenty of clips of Delia herself – the documentary is a celebration of an electronic explorer who perhaps has become better appreciated since her death in 2001.
Check out the part at around the 4:27 mark, where she creates a prototype drum machine from a single note sample and a series of tape loops… incredible. 🙂