Doctor Who: How Norfolk man created Dalek and Tardis sounds

 

With the screening of the 50th Anniversary Dr Who Episode ‘The Day of The Doctor” this weekend, an interesting report of the early sound effects design work, done by sound engineers at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop caught my eye. As is always the case, lateral thinking, a tight deadline and creativity always win the day.

reproduced here from an online article by By Paul Hayes and Martin Barber :
BBC News Website 23/11/13

A broken-down Sunday school piano and the key to a mother’s front door were the unlikely origins to unlocking one of the most recognisable sounds in Doctor Who history.

But for Brian Hodgson, a former BBC Radiophonics Workshop sound engineer, these basic items were the starting point for creating the distinctive, unearthly, sound of a Tardis – the sometimes temperamental vehicle of the Time Lords.

As Doctor Who marks its 50th anniversary, Mr Hodgson, who now lives on the Norfolk Broads, remembers: “It was quite difficult as everybody knew rockets went ‘bang, whoosh’ – but what does a time machine do?”

“It doesn’t go up, it doesn’t go down, it goes everywhere at once. The thing I had in my mind was that it should be coming and going, and very vague.”

Mr Hodgson, 75, joined the workshop in 1962 after working as an actor and stage manager.

On how the Tardis should sound, he said: “I don’t know who thought of it, but we came up with the ‘rending of the fabric of time and space’. I was in a cinema and in the interval I had a programme and I drew it – exactly how I wanted it to go together.

“I’d done a programme called The Survivors where we had to have the sound of a ship scraping on the rocks, and the piano sounds I’d used for that, very slowed down, seemed a good starting point.

Keith Salmon (foreground) and Brian Hodgson at BBC Radiophonic WorkshopMr Hodgson used a device known as a ring modulator to create the sound of the Daleks

“I got my bunch of keys out, I got my mum’s front door key and scraped that up the strings. We did that several times on the bass strings on an old Sunday school piano that had been taken apart.

“So we took those and speeded them up, slowed them down and cut several of them together and started to add feedback to get that echoey sort of thing.”

‘Great big bang’

Mr Hodgson told BBC Radio Norfolk he remembers the Doctor Who team liked his sound of the Tardis. It had taken him three weeks to create, but it still wasn’t quite right.

“They came to listen to it and said they liked it, but there was something missing – why hadn’t I put a rising note in it?

“I said ‘time machines don’t go up, they go everywhere’. They said ‘well we think it needs it’. So I put the rising note in it with loads of feedback and the Tardis was born.

“Unfortunately, I’d spent so much time on the sound of it taking off, when we were asked for it to land I only had three days to sort that out. So I literally played it backwards, again with loads of feedback on it, and put a great big bang on the end of it.”

As the original sound effects creator on the programme, Mr Hodgson was also responsible for designing the dictatorial modulated tones of the Daleks, whose leader Davros was played by Norfolk’s Terry Molloy for three seasons of the classic series.

During his 10 years working at the workshop on Doctor Who, in addition to the Tardis, Mr Hodgson also created the sounds of invading Cybermen, the Dalek control room and the Time Lord courtroom.

‘Dalek staccato’

“I’d done a voice treatment for a rather posh robot in a radio play called Sword From The Stars,” he said.

“I’d experimented with my own voice and a ring modulator and it seemed to work. So when the Dalek thing came up I thought the modulation thing will probably work as it will grate, but we needed an actor to do the voice, so we got Peter Hawkins in.

Doctor Who production designer Michael Pickwoad reveals the secrets to the Tardis’ new look

“Peter came up with the typical Dalek staccato and I asked him to elongate all the vowels because you only hear the modulation on the vowels.

“If you modulated the consonants they disappear and you can’t hear it – so he did it on all the vowels and that became the Dalek voice.”

After the Daleks appeared in the series in 1963, Mr Hodgson asked producer Verity Lambert if they could have one for the workshop.

He remembers she said that they could have one after the show ended.

“We never got it of course,” he said. “The series had been renewed.”

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-25051061

Grant Bridgeman is on location with The Falling

Our visiting lecturer Grant Bridgeman is currently shooting a feature film called The Falling, directed by Carol Morley.

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Set for release in 2014 in cinemas, THE FALLING tells the story of Lydia, the troubled girl at the centre of a mysterious fainting epidemic, who is determined to discover the cause of the malady spreading through her British all-girl school in 1969, a year when the whole world seems poised on the brink of change.  Following her films BAFTA-nominated The Alcohol Years, Edge, and the critically acclaimed Dreams of a Life, writer/director Carol Morley presents her skewed and dream-like coming of age story THE FALLING, with director of photography Agnès Godard (Sister, Beau Travail).

THE FALLING is a BBC Films, BFI production in association with Lipsync, a Cannon and Morley/Independent production in association with Boudica Red, a Carol Morley film.

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The film was developed with the BFI Film Fund. Written and directed by Carol Morley, Produced by Cairo Cannon and Luc Roeg, Line Producer Donall Mccusker, Executive Producers Lizzie Francke, Christine Langan, Philip Herd, Andrew Orr, Norman Merry, Peter Hampden, Rebecca Long and Ian Davies.

Find out more here

You can keep up with the film’s Twitter feed here @TheFalling_Film

Grant Bridgeman’s Blog is here – and he is also on twitter @Grantsound

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Barlow & Sons?

The increasing use of folk instrumentation and driving bass drum beats has obviously come to the notice of the Ivor Novello winning Gary Barlow.

Recently Barlow has released a new song “Let me go”, and almost as quickly people started to make comparisons with Mumford and Sons, largely due to the instrumentation (banjos and bass drum pounding)
Of course they both share a similarity in musical style to Johnny Cash

I also thought the similarity with Mumford’s “I will wait” was uncanny – thought I’d put it to the test.
It’s true that neither of them are the first to use the 1,4,5 chord sequence (80% of all pop songs use this), but the combination of rhythm, percussion and build to the chorus are uncanny.
They’re both 4/4, with the bass drum on the 1 and 3 beat., around 126 bpm.

Gary’s song is exactly the same tempo as “I will wait”, but it’s in a higher key so it needs pitching down by a tone and a half – other than that its fairly convincing.

Click here for my side by side comparisson

According to Digital Spy, Gary has said:

“I’ve always liked folky, acoustic music but I’ve never fully explored it. I turned back time and was listening to Johnny Cash and early Elton John before I wrote ‘Let Me Go’,” Barlow told the Sun. “I’m 42, I don’t want to do urban or dance music.”
On claims his new single sounds similar to Mumford & Sons, he added:
“I love Mumford & Sons – it’s good, English music, but let’s be honest, they got it off Johnny Cash too.”

Since I Saw You Last also features a duet with Sir Elton John titled ‘Face to Face’ and is out on November 25, followed by a tour next year.

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MUMFORD AND SONS Unknown

 

Other bass drum songs out at the moment might include Aveci’s “Wake me up” in the chorus.. Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida”, etc
Can you think of any more?

The Guardian had this to say:

“Disappointingly constructed using the Mumford & Sons’ formula of dusty “woah, woah, woah” backing vocals, plucked banjo and copious amounts of thigh slapping, it’s a far cry from the glorious Back For Good, or Rule The World or even Sing. Perhaps the worst part of it all is imagining the inevitable performance of it on The X Factor, complete with backing dancers dressed as Marcus Mumford.

Here’s my comparison uploaded to YouTube – it will be interesting to see if by pitch changing Gary’s track, and using a live version of Mumfod and Sons’ song, will the automatic copyright checker miss this.
And hopefully Dave McSherry won’t take this post down – ’cause I’m guessing he’s not a big Barlow fan 😉

Degree Show 2013

Here is the Official Lincoln School of Media Degree Show Trailer for 2013


    The show is on between 5th and 7th June at the University of Lincoln , Brayford Campus, Lincoln LN6 7TS.

    All are welcome to attend throughout the day – there will be screenings of films, exhibitions of Design and Photography work, Radio, Script, Audio Production and Television Studio work.

    The official website
    is at http://www.lsmshow.co.uk/
    Find out more on Twitter @lincolnmedia

    or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LincolnSchoolMedia

    there is a programme – at: http://issuu.com/lsmshow/docs/programme

    Created by third year Media Production students:Tom Young,Jerome Smith, Amy Drew. Isaac Beatson. Cameron Steele; Ross Mcgowan, Sean Strange
    with many thanks to all those who helped out, including Media Loans, staff at University of Lincoln, the student interviewees Brian Alcorn, Tom Ward, Jack Darnell, Cameron Steele, Jim Booth, Ruby Finnegan, Florian Rupert, Amy Nolan, Nathan Dean (voiceover), Bex Clayforth, Jack Howard, Adam Bibilo and Head of Dept Dr Sarah Barrow

win an online mixing session at Abbey Road

AVID/PRO Tools COMPETITION

Win an Abbey Road mix/mastering session and Pro Tools® system
The Beatles. Adele. U2. Lady Gaga. Ready to add your name to that list?
Avid have partnered with Abbey Road—one of the world’s most famous recording studios—to help artists and musicians make music history.
they’re looking for one great song, chosen by a panel of industry heavyweights, to win an online mixing and mastering session at Abbey Road and a Pro Tools|HD Native system.

Enter now for your chance to win the industry’s respect, fan exposure, plus free gear from Avid and a mix/mastering session from Abbey Road, adding up to a value of over $7,000.

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Get heard, get discovered, and break through.
Judge’s Choice
Three winners, as chosen by the judges, will receive:
Their song/track mixed and mastered by Abbey Road’s online services (worth $1,300)
A Pro Tools|HD Native system with Pro Tools HD 10 software and an HD OMNI interface (worth $5,999) each
Exposure across Avid’s website and social online channels

People’s Choice
The highest voted artist will receive:
An Mbox Pro audio interface with Pro Tools 10 software (worth $999)
Exposure across Avid’s website and social online channels

Get Involved
Submit by: March 13, 2013, 10 am PDT
Vote: March 14, 2013, – March 21, 2013,
Winners Announced: April 10, 2013

Losing My Minor Key – REM remixed

I came across this today (apologies to Dave McSherry who currently has this song as an ‘earworm’ in his head), but I was amazed at the psychological difference turning this song into a major key makes.

Recently produced by Major Scaled – a version of REM’s ‘Losing my religion’, remixed in Major Scale
https://www.facebook.com/MajorScaledTv

This artists work is being removed by major labels so you may not get to hear this for long….

this is from the vimeo post – http://vimeo.com/57685359

“Someone has gone to the trouble (I don’t know how but would suspect using Melodyne DNA or somesuch) of processing REM’s minor-scale downer hit ‘Losing My Religion’ so that all the minor notes are now major. When I followed the link I thought it’d be a cover, but no, it’s the original, processed. It’s uncanny – the song is just as familiar as always but the impact is utterly different. Kind of like finding a colour print of a film you’d only known in black and white, or seeing Garfield minus Garfield for the first time. I like it.”

Major Scaled #2 : REM – “Recovering My Religion” from major scaled on Vimeo.

you can read more here

David Bowie – “Where are we now”

NEW RELEASE FROM DAVID BOWIE

In a remarkable low key way, on his 66th birthday, David Bowie has released a song taken from a new album (to be released in March 2013) to be called ‘The Next Day’

On iso/Columbia Records, available on iTunes in 119 Countries simultaneously
He also has relaunched his website www.davidbowie.com

The Next Day will be his 30th Studio Album

No interviews or statements were forthcoming from Bowie, though Tony Visconti has said that Bowie is happy and healthy, and has been spending the last two years making this album.

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The Guardian today states:

A spokesman added that Bowie was the sort of artist who “writes and performs what he wants when he wants”.A second representative subsequently told the Guardian there were no plans for interviews or live dates.

 

 

His first release for about a decade, new audio work by Bowie is rare these days following his withdrawal from performing due to a heart condition.
Bowie is a major figure in the development of music in the late 20th Century and is renowned for constantly re-inventing himself, and always surprising people.

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Here’s how BBC Radio Four  announced it on air

Produced by long term collaborator Tony Visconti, ‘Where Are We Now?’ was written by David Bowie, and was recorded in New York.

 

This unusual video was directed by Tony Oursler and harks back to David’s time in Berlin. Apparently he appears with Bjork (a friend) projected onto dummy heads.

He is seen looking in on footage of the auto repair shop beneath the apartment he lived in along with stark images of the city at the time and a lyric constantly raising the question “Where Are We Now?”

you can also see the video on Bowie’s newly changed website here

 

Here is an interview with Tony Visconti on BBC News http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-20953094

INDEPENDENT 8/1/2013

Unsurprisingly, 10 years since he was last heard, Bowie’s voice sounds older and more world-weary. The melancholic song sees him reviewing his time in Berlin – where he created some of his most groundbreaking music in the 1970s – as he lists some of his haunts with the repeated line “just walking the dead”.

And in the video directed by Tony Oursler, with the musician’s pensive face projected on to a puppet, he appears to be almost biting back tears as he looks back on his life.

Where Are We Now? was written by Bowie and recorded in New York. It was produced by long-term collaborator Tony Visconti, who has worked on many of his most famous albums, beginning with 1969’s Space Oddity.

A follow-up album called The Next Day is set to be released in March.

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the Sound of Skyfall

The sound of Skyfall

The SoundWorks Collection dives into the latest installment in the long-running saga based on Ian Fleming’s James Bond character.

Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty and Jarhead) brings the audience an entirely new storyline to the Bond character in “Skyfall”.

Exploring the sound and music of the film we talk with Scott Millan (Sound Re-recording Mixer), Greg Russell (Sound Re-recording Mixer),
Karen Baker Landers (Supervising Sound Editor), and Per Hallberg (Supervising Sound Editor).

see also

http://soundworkscollection.com/skyfall

Producing a music radio package

WATCH THE VIDEO CLIP HERE

USEFUL ARTICLE/VIDEO about producing a music radio package from the BBC College of Production

A radio package is pre-recorded audio content cut together to tell a story and delivered for broadcast. There are no set rules as to how a package has to sound or how long it should last as this depends on the type of story you are telling and the radio network it is for. It could be a five minute news report, a lively film review or an in-depth biography of a composer.

Depending on what type of package you are producing it may include voiceover, interviews, ‘wild track’ (sounds from the environments where you are recording), music and effects.

LONDON 2012 – how ELBOW created the Olympics Theme

This is a great insight into how Elbow went about probably their most challenging brief.

“Go into a studio and come up with a global Olympic theme”. It starts with a brass fanfare where the first five notes relate to the five Olympic Rings. It’s a call to attention. The choir was introduced to make it more ‘everyman’. It will become another familiar BBC sporting theme which will be remembered by a generation. Though as Elbow’s Guy Garvey admits, “It’s never going to be as good as ‘Ski Sunday’ theme is it?

Mercury Prize-winning group Elbow have spoken about how they created their anthem for the BBC’s Olympics coverage.
Entitled First Steps, the new piece was recorded with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the NovaVox gospel choir.

watch the
Behind the scenes film here

First Steps is accompanied by an animation produced at Passion Pictures, showing the landscape of the United Kingdom transformed into a giant sporting arena inside the Olympic Stadium.

Guy Garvey and therest of the band spoke to the BBC about their inspiration for the music and the recording process, and the video’s designer explained how he created the look of the graphics.

 

 

 

The track will be available as a digital download only.

 

 

The trailer has been devised around the concept of “Stadium UK” and cleverly uses animation to transform the United Kingdom into a sporting hub where athletes prepare and compete in the Olympic Games. Exchanging swimming pools for the English Channel, running tacks for the streets of Britain and gymnastic apparatus for famous London landmarks.