'Progress Music': Daphne Oram, Geoffrey Jones and 'Trinidad and Tobago'.

Bulley, James. 2017. ''Progress Music': Daphne Oram, Geoffrey Jones and 'Trinidad and Tobago'.'. In: Sound and Music in Documentary Film. University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom 23—24 February 2017. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

This paper explores the soundtrack work of the British composer Daphne Oram for Geoffrey Jones’ 1964 documentary film, Trinidad and Tobago, commissioned by British Petroleum. The paper details the context surrounding Jones and Oram’s work together; the influence of Dziga Vertov, Norman McLaren and Len Lye on their practices, the relationship between sound, film and narrative present in the film, and the use of music within short film documentaries in the aftermath of the Second World War. The notion of ‘authenticity’ within commercially funded documentaries of the era is discussed, with reference to the British Transport Film Unit and the Shell Film Unit, and the creation of Trinidad and Tobago is explored in depth as a case study.

Throughout the writing, extensive reference is made to unpublished materials from the Daphne Oram archive, situated at Goldsmiths, University of London. Starting with the initial discovery of a set of dusty slide photographs in 2013, the text emanates from the archival material outwards, exploring early unpublished writings on the relationship between sound and film made by Oram whilst working at the B.B.C, and relating these to interviews with Jones, and the later documentary works they made together (particularly Snow, 1963, and Rail 1967).

This text is accompanied by a soundscape of tape recordings made by Daphne Oram during her trip to Trinidad and Tobago in 1964.This material provides a unique insight into Oram’s creative process and provides a parallel documentation to the film itself. The soundscape is referred to throughout the text, and can be listened to alongside reading, or as a separate contextual piece.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Music > Unit for Sound Practice Research


25 November 2016Accepted
23 February 2017Published

Event Location:

University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom

Date range:

23—24 February 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

27 Feb 2017 09:13

Last Modified:

21 Jul 2017 14:32



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