Ada Lovelace Day: Delia Who?

Today is Ada Lovelace Day. In honor of the first person to write what would later be known as a “computer program,” I want to think about women and music technology. Many readers of this blog probably already know who Delia Derbyshire is, but I want to spend this year’s Ada Lovelace Day commemorating one of the earliest and most important female electroacoustic musicians.

Derbyshire worked in the BBC Radio Workshop in the mid 20th century. She is most famous for arranging the original Dr. Who theme. Though she did not compose the melody, she’s the reason it sounds futuristic and, if you will, “timey-wimey.” Here it is the first of a seven-part documentary about Derbyshire, all available on YouTube:

Derbyshire was also a prolific composer and innovative sound-maker/audio technologist. Here is her piece “Blue Veils and Golden Sand.”

I highly encourage you to go to the website dedicated to her and her work (linked above in her name), and to watch the YouTube documentary. Derbyshire isn’t just important to the history of female musicians, but to the development of electronic/electroacoustic music in general.

I’m consciously choosing to link to her work, and not necessarily to her image, because we have a tendency to reduce accomplished women to their biography–focus on their lives rather than their work. So let’s think about Derbyshire’s work, and its importance.