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My crush on Delia made me buy a Windsor 65B Signal Generator

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TreasureHunt…'s loves123 of 338Desk calendar...antique?C. 1910 German Alarm Clock in the Form of a Pocket Watch
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    Posted 8 years ago

    (36 items)

    We, collectors and people who love vintage stuff, are used to buy things by impulse. Curious people are victims of their inclination to become obsessive about their new discoveries. Whatever our interest is, we want to know EVERYTHING about the subject and we want to OWN something related to it. Knowledge isn't enough. We need to have these objects near us.

    Well, this is my excuse to own this 1948 Windsor 65B signal generator. It's not my fault I fell in love with Delia Derbyshire. And my lack of knowledge of vintage electronic equipment did the rest.

    Delia Derbyshire was an "independent thinker" (as she used to say) and a musician/composer who worked at the (now I know) legendary BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

    This BBC unit was responsible for creating the sound effects and musical scores used in radio and tv shows. In the early 1960s, the Workshop was experimenting with natural and electronic sounds recorded in tape. These sounds were manipulated by changing the tape speed or reversing it and were then re-recorded.

    Then the tapes were cut in pieces, each one containing a single or few notes and these pieces were combined in different tape loops that formed a bass line, a rythm base, a melody. These tape loops were then played togheter to form a musical piece. Delia can show you how to do it:

    There were no computers as we know it, no multitrack recorders, no synthesizers. All they had were thousands of tiny pieces of magnetic tape put togheter and many, many, many time and patience to do it. And this was the begining of electronic music.

    Delia was a musical genius and composer of hundreds of musical pieces. She is now getting recognized as the goddess of electronic music. Some of her works sound like techno! Listen:

    She was also the "composer" of the original theme music of one of the most famous sci-fi series of all times: Dr. Who (the composer of Doctor Who's theme was actually Ron Grainer, but Delia realized the first version, and she chose the sounds, she made it what we all know now). Yes...made out of hundreds of hours of recording and thousands of pieces of magnetic tape, in 1963. Listen:

    Know more about the Radiophonic Workshop and the people who worked there (see Delia at work!):

    Now for the end of the story of my signal generator: I wanted to find a piece of equipment that allowed me to create sounds like these. I thought a signal generator could make sounds in different frequencies. No, it can't. It can only generate one sound, in a single frequency (400Hz) and input this signal to different radio frequencies, so you can calibrate a radio receiver for that frequency. What I needed was a frequency MODULATOR.

    Oh, the things we do when we are in least, it is a beautiful piece of equipment. And it reminds me of Delia.

    PS: the ad image was downloaded from

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    1. mcheconi mcheconi, 8 years ago
      Phil, thank you for exploring the whole "Delia Experience" LOL.

      The creepy guy is a mystery to me too. There's also a clock stuck at 7:58 that represents the year the Workshop was created: 1958. I love the Alchemists of Sound ambiance...I believe it represents the cold, technical sense of the workshop inside BBC. The company did not give proper recognition to the amazingly talented people who worked there in those early years.

      The tv shows did not mention the names of the composers but used to give credit to the Radiophonic Workshop as an internal division. Later on, in 2003, when BBC decided to catalog and digitalize the workshop's huge library, the names surfaced.

      Delia left the workshop when they started to use synthesizers, in 1967 if I am not wrong. She got some recognition later in life. There is a radio interview with her, from 1997, that is worth listening (she had a cute laugh too!). She died in 2001, aged 64.

      Part 1 of the interview:

      I now have to use an adapter to plug it in, but it was not needed some years ago. The outlet standard in Brazil changed recently.
    2. mcheconi mcheconi, 8 years ago
      You are right Phil, some of the tapes were in a storage, ready to be dumped. Luckly they were saved. After Delia's death, there were about 260 tape reels that were found in her attic as you can read here:
    3. vetraio50 vetraio50, 8 years ago
      I too had a lok at all of these and went looking for more of the BBC characters:
      Milton Babbitt- Lagniappe (1985)

      John Baker - Caves Of Steel
      John Baker - Diary Of A Madman
      Festival Time (John Baker) - BBC Radiophonic Workshop

      Ideal home exhibition - Maddalena Fagandini

      Thanks for having brought the Workshop to the fore!

      I'm not a great fan of later Dr Who but the theme is of import.
    4. vetraio50 vetraio50, 8 years ago
      On the topic of loops!

      Have you seen this?
      György Ligeti - Poema sinfónico para 100 Metrónomos
      1962 - a year before Delia did the Dr Who theme.
    5. mcheconi mcheconi, 8 years ago
      Thank you Vetraio for expanding the topic. There were experiments on electronic music and synthetic music made before the Radiophonic Workshop but these were not quite as successful. The most incredible attempt was, in my opinion, the telharmonium. This massive piece of equipment (200 ton.) was developed in 1896 and was the core of a "music provider" service, transmitting electronic music over telephone wires. Read more:
    6. mcheconi mcheconi, 8 years ago
      Phil, yes, there are many versions of Dr. Who's theme, always inspired by the original. But Delia didn't like them! She was pretty conservative and there are testimonials from co-workers telling she was a somewhat difficult person. I personally think she knew what she was talking about and what she was trying to accomplish. People usually don't like these types.
    7. tom61375, 7 years ago
      Your opening statement about this piece is true poetry. I could've have it any other way! Great piece! =)
    8. mcheconi mcheconi, 7 years ago
      Hi tom61375, thank you for your kind comment. I was in love, you know... :)
    9. mcheconi mcheconi, 5 years ago
      Hello guys, there's new material on Delia Derbyshire and the Radiophonic Workshop:
    10. mcheconi mcheconi, 5 years ago
      And there's more...

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