'it's like the radiophonic workshop's beaming straight into my head'
A quick note further to the British electronics discussions over here and here. For the last couple of weeks I've been transcribing interviews with various ex-Workshop workers for an MA thesis by esteemed svengali and post-scritti pop mitherer Monster Bobby, and one of the most interesting points that comes up is the conflict between utilitarianism and 'art'- what fascinates about the Workshop is their fulfilment of the 20s avant-gardes' attempt to worm their way into the fabric of everyday life. The killing of the Workshop under the BBC's economic 'rationalisation' under John Birt indicates that such a phenomenon was totally based on the command economy of the old socialist state apparatus.
The art/utility conflict led to secessions by the more 'creatively' inclined workers- this could be read in the differing trajectories of its earliest members, Desmond Briscoe and Daphne Oram. While the latter is changed totally by her encounter with Varese, Xenakis and Corbusier at the 1958 World's Fair, leaving the BBC almost immediately, her compatriot becomes an uber-BBC figure creating ferocious textures for Quatermass but never regarding them as 'music'. One question put to the now very aged Mr Briscoe was what he thought on first hearing the likes of Stockhausen and Pierre Schaeffer. (in sheer BBC English tones) 'What rubbish!'