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Sisters With Transistors Documentary

The untold story of electronic music’s female pioneers

Sisters With Transistors filmSisters With Transistors film.Photo: Peggy Wells

The documentary film Sisters With Transistors tells the untold story of electronic music’s female pioneers; remarkable composers who embraced machines and their liberating technologies to utterly transform how we produce and listen to music today.

Clara Rockmore, Daphne Oram, Bebe Barron, Delia Derbyshire, Maryanne Amacher, Pauline Oliveros, Wendy Carlos, Eliane Radigue, Suzanne Ciani, and Laurie Spiegel are among the greatest pioneers of modern sound and we continue to feel their influence today, yet most people have never heard of them.

Written and directed by Lisa Rovner with voiceover by Laurie Anderson, the film has its Virtual Cinema release in the UK and Ireland, alongside a programme of special events and panel discussions, from 23 April 2021. The film will also be released in the USA by Metrograph Pictures on the same date.

The film embarks on a fascinating journey through the evolution of electronic music, beginning its story in 1929 New York with Clara Rockmore wowing classical music audiences with her theremin — the film presents previously unseen footage of Clara’s 1930s performances — progressing to the first entirely electronic film score, composed by Bebe Barron in 1956 for the MGM movie Forbidden Planet, to the first generation of women working in radio post-WWII, including Daphne Oram (UK), Eliane Radigue (FR), and Delia Derbyshire (UK) of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, best known for her composition of the 'Doctor Who’ theme tune.

The film reveals how their unique experimentations with the newly invented magnetic tape recorder would later be felt in the early sound experiments of Les Paul, the studio manipulations of Beatles producer George Martin, the concrete pranks of Frank Zappa, along with the sampling and turntablism of hip-hop DJs from Grandmaster Flash to Q-Bert.

Virtual Cinema release: 23 April 2021.

UK/Ireland - Modern Films

USA - Metrograph Pictures

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