Sonic Bauhaus: Compositional practices of Gertrud Grunow and Daphne Oram as early pioneers of electronic music
Led by Alex Jovcic-Sas
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.