Radiophonic art and electroacoustic music
An aesthetic controversy during the establishment of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the radiophonic poem Private Dreams and Public Nightmares
in Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde
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After the Second World War the broadcasting corporations in Europe started to establish special facilities to produce music, sound and effects by electroacoustic means. The first electronic music studios established between 1951 and 1955 in Paris, Cologne and Milan were major actors in the development of avant-garde electroacoustic music. Although the BBC Radiophonic Workshop built on the technical and aesthetic experience of the continental studios, it adopted a decisive counterposition, categorically rejecting the composition of electroacoustic music and producing electroacoustic sound exclusively for radio and television. Following the question of the relationship between radiophonic art and electroacoustic music, this chapter focuses, on the one hand, on the establishment of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and traces the internal aesthetic controversy between its Entertainment and Music divisions, which in the 1950s marked a clash between the traditional and the avant-garde in the arts. On the other hand, the analysis of the radiophonic poem Private Dreams and Public Nightmares and the comparison of the script with the final recording reveals the production of a new form of radiophonic art in which speech, music, noise and silence form equal elements of an inseparable whole.

Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde

Experimental radio plays in the postwar period

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