Oramics is a drawn sound technique developed by Daphne Oram (who, incidently, set up the BBC Radiophonic Workshop that created electronic soundtracks, most notably Dr Who) in 1957. Oram’s composition machine consisted of a large rectangular metal frame, providing a table-like surface traversed by ten synchronised strips of clear, sprocketed 35mm film. The musician drew shapes on the film to create a mask, which modulated the light received by photocells. Although the output from the machine was monophonic, the sounds could be added to multitrack tapes to provide more texture.
The original machine is in storage at the Science Museum in London and is expected to go on display in 2011.
This iPhone app tries to bring to life the incredible sound of the Oramics Machine. Users can draw aspects of a sound in a drawn composition on top of film reels, including the envelope, pitch, reverb, vibrato, as well control the shape of the sound by drawing a waveshape on top of a glass plate.