Delia Derbyshire

November 1st, 2009 by


Delia Ann Derbyshire (1937 2001) was an English musician and composer of electronic music. She is best known for her electronic realisation of Ron Grainer’s theme music to the British science fiction television series Doctor Who and for her work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. (via Wikipedia)

In 1966, while still working at the BBC, Delia with fellow Radiophonic Workshop member Brian Hodgson and EMS founder Peter Zinovieff set up Unit Delta Plus, an organisation which they intended to use to create and promote electronic music. Based in a studio in Zinovieff’s townhouse in Putney, they exhibited their music at a few experimental and electronic music festivals, including The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave at which The Beatles’ “Carnival of Light” had its only public playing. After a troubled performance at the Royal College of Art, in 1967, the unit disbanded.

I can remember having a really wild time with Pink Floyd. They wanted to learn all our secrets!

In 1966, she recorded a demo with Anthony Newley entitled “Moogies Bloogies”, although as Anthony Newley moved to the United States, the song was never released.


In the late sixties she again worked with Hodgson in setting up the Kaleidophon studio in Camden Town with fellow electronic musician David Vorhaus. The studio produced electronic music for various London theatres and, in 1968, the three used it to produce their first album as the band White Noise. Although later albums were essentially solo Vorhaus albums, the debut, An Electric Storm featured collaborations with Derbyshire and Hodgson and is now considered an important and influential album in the development of electronic music, prefiguring the sound of Stereolab or Broadcast by 20 years.

The trio, using pseudonyms, also contributed to the Standard Music Library. Many of these recordings, including compositions by Delia using the name “Li De la Russe” (note the anagram of Delia), were later used on the seventies ITV science fiction rivals to Doctor Who; The Tomorrow People and Timeslip.

In 1967, she assisted Guy Woolfenden with his electronic score for Peter Hall’s production of Macbeth with the Royal Shakespeare Company. The pair also contributed the music to Hall’s 1968 film Work Is a Four-Letter Word.

Her other work during this period included taking part in a performance of electronic music at The Roundhouse, which also featured work by Paul McCartney, the soundtrack for a Yoko Ono film, the score for an ICI-sponsored student fashion show and the sounds for Anthony Roland’s award-winning film of Pamela Bone’s photography, entitled Circle of Light.

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