Sonic Bauhaus: Gertrud Grunow and Daphne Oram

Daphne Oram. Image courtesy Daphne Oram Trust.
Daphne Oram. Image courtesy Daphne Oram Trust.
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Compositional practices of Gertrud Grunow and Daphne Oram as early pioneers of electronic music

The Study Sessions are informal discussion groups. Our season Sonic Bauhaus is a series of study-as-listening-sessions exploring critical pedagogies of twentieth-century art schools and how these influenced developments in sound and systems of music creation.

This Study Session will explore the lineage of female composers who were influential in the development of contemporary electronic music and its production. The session starts with an introduction to Gertrud Grunow’s harmonisation theory which drew links between colour, movement and musical tones as indicators of individuality, in line with the work of Johannes Itten. Bringing together the works of Grunow and Daphne Oram, the composer and the co-founder of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the session will focus on new ways of sound synthesis that operate beyond established western methods of composition. Oram developed new a machine that produced sound through optical processes; drawn sound waves on 35mm film strips, which was converted into sound by scanners that could be manipulated via a range of different parameters. Both composers rejected conventional compositional methods in the western canon, and developed forms of surrealist compositions that were cross-disciplinary and innovative. In this session, we will explore their legacy and try to recreate some of their compositional practices.

Join one session or all.

Booking is required as places are limited.

Alex Jovčić-Sas is a Midlands3Cities funded PhD student at Nottingham Trent University, collaborating with the Public Programmes and Research team at Nottingham Contemporary. Taking an intersectional approach, his work looks into the legacy of the Bauhaus as a departure point for contemporary compositional practices and the role of arts institutions in its facilitation, focusing on the role of female composers in the development of electronic music. Since 2016, he has curated arts programmes, notably Underbelly at Edinburgh’s Fringe, Louder Than Words Festival, and the Martin Harris Centre, and is currently one of the lead organizers for Somerset’s first Pride festival, Midsomer Norton Pride.

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