Framed award, Tristram Cary, Gramophone Awards 98, Best Film Music Recording, The Ladykillers, paper / metal, maker unknown, probably in England, 1998
Tristram Cary was an important and innovative composer of electronic music during the second half of the twentieth century. He was also at the cutting edge of development of highly significant electronic musical instruments such as the Electronic Music Studios (London) VCS3 synthesizer. He was a colleague and friend of Australian composer Don Banks, whose objects are represented in the museum's collection.
Cary was born and grew up in the UK where he worked producing electronic music for performance and film and television until, in the early 1970s, he moved to Australia to take up the post of Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne and then from 1974 at the University of Adelaide and the Elder Conservatorium. He was made Dean of Music in 1982. In 1991 he was awarded an Order of Australia for services to music. He continued performing around the world as well as composing and making instruments. Tristram Cary died on 24 April 2008.
This award is part of a collection of items from Tristram Cary's electronic music studio in Adelaide and documents some of his early achievements as a working composer and more recent recognition of these achievements.
The collection of items from Tristram Cary's studio join other important electronic musical instruments in the Powerhouse Museum's collection, including equipment and electronic instruments used by Australian composer and friend of Cary, Don Banks. Both these collections help to explain the important role Australia has played in the research and development of cutting edge music technology and the creation of electronic music. To this end the museum's collection also contains early Fairlight Computer Musical Instruments (CMIs), the Fairlight prototype (M8) and an archive of papers relating to its development by one of its designers, Tony Furse.
Awarded to Tristram Cary in 1998 for music he composed for the film 'The Ladykillers" that was originally released in 1955.
Tristram Cary (b. Oxford, UK, 1925 - d. Adelaide, 2008) was a pioneering English composer who worked in electronic music. His first studio was set up in the UK about 1965. He was instrumental in the development of the audio synthesizer being in part the impetus behind the development of the Electronic Music Studios' (EMS) Synthi A, and VCS3. In 1974 he moved to Australia, first to Melbourne University to teach electronic music using the EMS Synthi 100 at Melbourne University and subsequently to Adelaide to teach composition and electronic musk at the Elder Conservatorium, University of Adelaide.
He gained his knowledge of electronics as a Naval radar operator during WWII. During this period he heard of the development of tape recording and he realised that he could edit and make musical works by cutting up the tape with a razor blade and re-splicing it. As he later said:
"It occurred to me that Â? here was a chance to have a new sort of music altogether. The editing capacity meant that you could cut sounds together that were not normally together." [David Ellis, "Music pioneer celebrates milestone", Lumen, The University of Adelaide Magazine, winter, 2005, http://www.adelaide.edu.au/lumen/issues/5381/news5593.html ]
After the war he returned to university at Oxford and then went on to Trinity College of Music in London. He began to experiment with electronic sound in 1949, bought his first tape recorder in 1952 and began composing electronic and orchestral music. His first great success was the score for the film The Ladykillers (1955) starring Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers. He continued to write film and television music and is famous for producing the music for several episodes featuring the Daleks in the BBC's Dr. Who.
Around 1965 Bob Moog began selling his early synthesizers in America. In 1967, Cary established an electronic music studio for the Royal College of Music and assembled his own studio in his London house. Up until this time most electronic music had been produced within large workshop style studios using an assemblage of electronic workshop test equipment (function generators and filters and the like) and hand built special purpose devices.
Cary met and consulted for Peter Zinovieff who had established a private electronic music studio in Putney (on the south bank of the Thames in London). Zinovieff had purchased a DEC PDP-8 minicomputer to explore computer music and established it in the studio. David Cockerell was an experienced electronic designer who built a ring modulator that gave the distinctive sound to the Dalek's voices in Dr. Who. He became Zinovieff's engineer in 1968. Cary, Zinovieff and Cockerell, through their common interest in electronic sound, worked together to come up with an audio synthesizer that would be more portable and a lot cheaper than existing devices such as the Moog synthesizers.
Legend has it that the Australian composer Don Banks, who was resident in London in the 1960s, also wrote film music and was interested in incorporating jazz into his compositional repertoire, had asked Zinovieff and Cary to make him a small voltage controlled synthesizer. With Cockerell as the main electronic designer, they mapped out how to build what became the VCS1, of which three were built. One of those three is in the collection of the Powerhouse Museum [H9953-13]. By 1969 they had established the company Electronic Music Studios and began marketing the VCS3 (a larger version of the VCS1) with 3 VCOs, a VCFilter, an envelope generator and other interesting modules. Again the electronics were designed by David Cockerell, the case was designed by Cary and the whole project was supported by Zinovieff. Apart from its small size the most interesting aspect of the VCS3 as against the American synthesizers of the period was that it used a small plug settable patching matrix to connect outputs of sources to inputs for control or audio signals.