Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

It's 1979, and with electronic music still on the rise, TV presenter Michael Rodd is fronting an hour long documentary about the history of the relationship between music and automation.
Being made by the BBC, full advantage is taken of showcasing their own Radiophonic Workshop, which might sound self-congratulatory were it not for just how pioneering the department's output was. They would have been quite wrong not to.

So here we get to see pretty well most of the team chatting about how they make their audio magic happen. Paddy Kingsland, Malcolm Clarke, Dick Mills, Roger Limb and Peter Howell, refreshingly none of whom take the easy way out of talking down to the viewer. We also get to see their creative process hard at work, as even the closing credits here feature another one of these (pun) film-maker's compositions.

Some of these techniques I already knew, some of it I learnt from, and some of it was above my head, which is arguably how it should be in an educational programme such as this one.

I certainly got lost at the talk of a computer making a 'choice' though. Um, they don't do that.

I guess the kicker here has got to be all the optimism on display every time someone assumes that electronic music will continue to advance in the future. I remember feeling this way myself at around the same time, and it still makes no sense to me that most futuristic science fiction has regressed back to using old-fashioned orchestral sounds again. A self-fulfilling prophesy I guess.

Electronic music may have been the new sound of music in 1979, but since then, in the real tomorrow's world, we just haven't really had any more new sounds to extend or supersede it.

Perhaps it would have been more accurate to entitle this doco The Final Sound Of Music.

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