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NOVARS Research Centre for Electroacoustic Composition, Performance and Sound-Art

The Delia Derbyshire Archive

Pictured above: Delia Derbyshire


In 2007, the Centre for Screen Studies, in research in partnership with NOVARS Research Centre, was delighted to announce the acquisition of the archive of Delia Derbyshire as a permanent loan to the University of Manchester gifted from the Derbyshire estate and the composer Mark Ayres, former custodian of the archive.

Delia Derbyshire (1937-2001) was one of the pioneering figures in British electronic music, and was based at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop throughout the 1960s and early 1970s.

Most famous for her realisation of the original version of the Doctor Who (1963) theme, Derbyshire produced a remarkable and distinctive body of work combining the popular with the experimental, that contributed considerably to the awareness of electronic music in Britain.

Delia Derbyshire worked alongside other composers at the time such as Daphne Oram (31 December 1925 – 5 January 2003), was a pioneering British composer and electronic musician. Oram's archive resides at the Music Department of Goldsmiths College in London She was the creator of the "Oramics" technique, a technique used to create electronic sounds.

Read related article in The Times

18 July 08. Delia Derbyshire, producer of Doctor Who theme music, has legacy restored. Follow this link
Delia Derbyshire: The music of mathematic. Follow this link
Tristram Cary: Godfather of British electronic music who set the mood for the Daleks in Dr Who and pioneered the VCS3 synthesizer. Follow this link

In all, there are 267 tapes of music, principally on 10.5” reels. Many of the tapes are fragile and have not been played for over forty years. Our core task was to make digital transfers of the tapes in order to conduct the repeated listening necessary for close analysis and, ultimately, open the archive to the wider research community and composition students. This initial work was undertaken and completed by Louis Niebur of the University of Nevada and David Butler of the University of Manchester in the summer of 2007.


A number of cataloging and creative initiatives have cristilised since 2007: