Daphne Oram, “Pompie Ballet”
So you’re probably curious as to what music produced by the Oramics system sounded like; here’s an example, “Pompie Ballet”, from 1971. According to the Oramics liner notes, “no further details are known”.
If you didn’t know what you were listening to, you might at first thing you were listening to a string chamber music ensemble recorded at the end of a very long hallway. But the closer you listen to it, the more the sound takes on a quality not unlike that of a pipe-organ. About 1:15 in, you start getting the really odd sounds and atonalities, not immediately recognizable as a known conventional instrument and distinctly unlike most of the synths familiar to modern electronics aficionados. I find the Oramics sound to be much warmer and softer than many analog synths; there’s hint of reverb and a delicacy of tone that’s really unique.
Daphne Oram is undergoing a bit of a rediscovery at the moment, beginning with the Paradigm release of Oramics; currently, the exhibit “Oramics to Electronica” is running at the London Science Museum. There you may see one of the original Oramics machines, just one part of the last fifty years of electronics music history. And coming soon is The Oram Tapes, vol. 1—the first release from an enormous archive of previously unreleased material.