No synthesizers, no musicians, on recording the Doctor Who theme

Thursday, 2 March, 2017

Late Australian composer Ron Grainer wrote the music for many TV shows and films, between 1960 and 1980. Perhaps one of his best known scores was the theme music to the BBC’s long running sci-fi show, Doctor Who, which he wrote in 1963.

In this short documentary, Verity Lambert, Dick Mills, and Brian Hodgson, producers attached to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, discuss how they went about recording the theme, along with the late Delia Derbyshire, and the challenges posed by the available technologies of the time.

What we learn from them is fascinating, considering that compositions like this are now created in powerful computer systems with dozens of separate tracks and digital effects. The Doctor Who theme, on the other hand, recorded in 1963, was made even before basic analog synthesizers came into use. “There are no musicians,” says Mills, “there are no synthesizers, and in those days, we didn’t even have a 2-track or a stereo machine, it was always mono.”

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Did Indians bring dingoes to Australia four thousand years ago?

Wednesday, 1 March, 2017

From an Economist article from four years ago. Not sure how I missed it back then, but anyway. It seems quite possible some Dravid speaking Indian seafarers reached Australia a little over four thousand years ago, where they became a part of the Aboriginal communities they encountered.

This is said to explain the presence of Y chromosomes in the genes of some Aboriginal men, which appeared to be of Indian origin. That wasn’t all the Indians bought with them though, it is also thought, although the point remains disputed, they introduced dingoes to Australia.

This would account for the disappearance of the native thylacine, or the Tasmanian tiger, which didn’t stand much of a chance against the wild canines, that may have arrived from India.

About 4,000 years before Captain Phillip and his merry men arrived to turn the aboriginals’ world upside down, it seems that a group of Indian adventurers chose to call the place home. Unlike their European successors, these earlier settlers were assimilated by the locals. And they brought with them both technological improvements and one of Australia’s most iconic animals.

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Still-motion animation of Otto Lilienthal, the flying man, in flight

Friday, 24 February, 2017

The exploits of Otto Lilienthal, a German aviation pioneer living in the nineteenth century, who made the first successful flights in a glider aircraft, have been brought to life. In a sense.

Amsterdam based filmmaker Johannes Hogebrink assembled photos taken during one of Lilienthal’s flights, and created a still-motion animation of the endeavour.

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Samuel Guigues’ recreation of Maison Vachon’s offices of 1951

Tuesday, 14 February, 2017

Photography by Samuel Guigues

Because we can’t get enough of offices dating from the 1950s, even after all this time, and seeing ourselves within them. Such was the brief given to Paris based photographer Samuel Guigues, who was asked by French company Maison Vachon to photograph its current employees in a recreation of their 1951 offices.

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The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch, animated

Tuesday, 14 February, 2017

The Garden of Earthly Delights is a triptych, being a painting spread across three panels that are hinged together, by Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch, that he completed in the early sixteenth century. And here you can see an animated version of the work, by Breda based designer and film producers, Studio Smack.

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Lost photos of China, found by Shanghai photographer Sheila Zhao

Monday, 6 February, 2017

Photo via Sheila Zhao

Shanghai based photographer Sheila Zhao trawls through flea markets searching for old photos that may have – for whatever reason – been discarded by those who appear in them.

Some of these images go on to be featured in her China Lost and Found project, which raises some intriguing questions. Where are these people now, and why did they not keep a hold of their photos?

Via Timeline.

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UFO, psychics, and spies. The truth is amongst the CIA’s data

Wednesday, 1 February, 2017

The truth is out there. Somewhere, surely. Dig through the twelve million, that’s right, twelve million pages of data, or some 930,000 declassified documents, that the CIA recently made searchable online, and see what you can learn about past investigations into unidentified flying objects, psychics, and spies, and the like.

A great way to spend a rainy day, maybe?

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Trailers, as the name suggests, used to screen at the end of a film

Monday, 30 January, 2017

Who knows how many film trailers I’ve posted here over the years, but never in that time have I given any thought as to why they’re called trailers. It’s all quite logical however, as once upon a time they used to follow, or be shown, at the conclusion of a feature, when they first appeared, a little over a century ago.

At first that seems like an absurd idea. Why try to a promote an upcoming release at the end of the show, when audience members are surely scrambling for the exits? As it happened though, the movie going experience of the early twentieth century was unlike that with which we’re accustomed to today:

You would pay your admission – usually just a couple of cents – and you could basically sit inside a movie house all day and watch whatever was playing, often a combination of feature-length movies, short films, and cartoons.

Doesn’t sound too bad at all. Especially on a rainy day, or the like. Pay a couple of cents, and stay all day. But I’m wondering how cinemas made money, if people stayed in their seats all day? Return custom was the answer. With trailers advertising upcoming new features, patrons were sure to come back.

I wonder if we could go back to the days of trailers being screened after a film, in return for being able to stay at the cinema all day?

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The sound of classical music composers collaborating

Monday, 16 January, 2017

The work of a veritable whose who of classical music composers including Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Vivaldi, Bach, Bizet, Tchaikovsky, Liszt, and Chopin, feature on a mashup of classical compositions. Put together by California based YouTube video producer, and classical pianist, Grant Woolard.

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Strangers from the past, most probably dead, who walk our cities

Friday, 11 November, 2016

Photography by Frank Machalowski

An image from Leipzig based photographer Frank Machalowski’s series of works, titled “Ghosts of”. The subjects featured in his photos are “strangers from the past, most probably dead”, he says, yet here they are, today, and on the streets of contemporary European cities. It’s all a little spooky, but it’s also quite captivating. See more of his photography here.

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