Catalogue No.


Over the last few years intrepid music lovers have been investigating and enjoying the work of pioneering electronic musicians, electro-acoustic artists and all the groovy folks who spent hours manipulating and cutting tape to make new and exciting sounds. It’s meant that lots of interesting figures have been brought back into our musical view. But one of the most important, innovative, influential and almost forgotten artists of them all is Tristram Cary. He hasn’t had that much exposure over the last few years. Not much at all considering he is known as “the father of electronic music”. Well now his story is here. Some of his experimental music is here. And you are here too. So buy this CD now and spend some time with the great man and his extraordinary compositions for film, TV, sculptures and exhibitions. And if you like this hopefully more Cary recordings will follow.

The title for this album caused me lots of problems. In the end I decided that “it was time” we all learnt a bit more about this great man. He is a towering musical figure who lots of people have never really come across, but whose influence is all around us. For further joy I’d suggest looking up the following two obscure documentaries where the importance of his work becomes even more apparent: The Same Trade As Mozart (1969), What The Future Sounded Like (2007). Featured on this album are a number of recordings from different sources, but all of course from the Tristram Cary archive. I’d agreed which archive pieces I was going to use with Tristram about 6 months before he died. And thanks to the enthusiasm and help of his son Mark, this project has continued.

Jonny Trunk


Tristram Cary. 14th May 1925 – 24th April 2008.

Born in Oxford, he was the third son of famed novelist Joyce Cary (Mr Johnson, The Horses Mouth etc). As a youth Tristram enjoyed a keen interest in science, sound and electronics, and even though his father wanted him to become a doctor, he supported his son’s desire to be a composer. Cary went on to study at Trinity College where he was introduced to the delights of modern classical music by friends Michael Flanders and Donald Swann.

As war broke out Cary joined and served in the Royal Navy as a radar operator. Here he encountered modern German tape equipment, and on his return to Oxford started experimenting with recorded sound. After further studies in composition, piano, viola and horn, Cary started gradually building up his own modern electronic studio, the first of its kind in the UK. Thanks to his experiences in the navy and his mind for odd electronics, Cary started constructing his own sound generators using discarded, defunct and decidedly cheap military equipment. Simultaneously across Europe similar minded musicians were working along similar lines, but Cary was unaware of their sound or progress.

By 1954 Cary was earning a living as a composer, and in 1955 got the job of writing all the music for new Ealing movie The Ladykillers. The film’s director, Alexander MacKendrick, had been Cary’s drinking partner in their local boozer, the Fringes in Fulham Road.

By the late 1950s the commissions were coming in at quite a rate, there was work for more films, radio, theatre and TV. Much of this work was straight classical, but there were opportunities for Cary to bring in his new ideas and electronic sounds. Unusually Cary was happy working across all musical mediums; he’d be content composing in a conventional classical style, and equally thrilled building electronic scores for modern commissions. In 1962 his radio musical “The Ballad Of Peckham Rye” won him the Prix Italia, and no doubt more international commissions followed.

He worked for the BBC on many occasions, most infamously creating the music and otherworldy effects for the Dr Who Daleks seven part series in 1963 (this is the series in which the Daleks first appear).

In 1967 he founded the Royal College Of Music Electronic Studio, wrote the groundbreaking music for Hammer’s Quatermass And The Pit, and in 1969 along with Peter Zinovieff and David Cockerell founded EMS (Electronic Music Studios), the UK’s first ever synthesiser company. Their first major products included the VCS 3 synthesiser, the suitcase Synthi and the Delaware, equipment that became the modern musical tools of their times. Pink Floyd, Brian Eno and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop would have all sounded very different without their EMS equipment. At the same time Cary was still experimenting with his very own studio and sound ideas, and through a local label in Norfolk released two extraordinary short records (both on this release).

On demonstration tour in Australia he was offered further work, and moved to Adelaide 1974 where he worked at the University under a number of different musical titles. He left in 1986 and returned to composing, and in 1991 received the Medal Of The Order Of Australia for services to Australian music. He carried on developing sound, consulting and composing for the rest of his life.


1)Music For Light (Red / White)
2)Music For Light (Short Orange)
3)Music For Light (Red / Green / White dubbing track)
4)Visible Manifestations (E1 A - D)
5)Visible Manifestations ( F 31)
6)Visible Manifestations (E11, E12, E13, E14 A - E))
7)A Hill, Some Sheep And A Living (1M 1 take 2)
8)A Hill, Some Sheep And A Living (1M 2A)
9)A Hill, Some Sheep And A Living (M6 take 3)
10)Opus (M1 – Electronic Titles, montage of metal sounds)
11) Opus (House Sequence / Cocktail Party Montage)
12) Opus (House Sequence continued)
13) Opus (M6 A take 3)
14) Opus (Green, drum track with reverb)
15) Tests, for Casino Royale (Opening section)
16) Tests, for Casino Royale (Torture SFX Part 1 – persuasion by pain)
17) Tests, for Casino Royale (Torture SFX Part 2)
18) Tests, for Casino Royale (Further SFX)
19) Centre Music
20) Escalator Music
21) Shaped For Living (1M1, 7 sounds)
22) Shaped For Living (1M5, 8 sounds)
23) Shaped For Living (1M6 sounds 5 – 9)
24) Shaped For Living (1M7, 18 sounds)
25) Shaped For Living (2M8, 5 sounds)
26) Shaped For Living (mixed track)
27) The Curious History Of Money (effects Part 11)
28) The Curious History Of Money (M12)
29) Divertimento (Start)
30) Divertimento (Performance Tape section 2)
31) 3 4 5 - A Study On Limited Resources
32) Narcissus

Music For Light: Alcan, a vast aluminium industrial company commissioned Cary to write music for a large mobile aluminium sculpture. This exhibited at Olympia, London in 1968. Electronic music here was realized at the Fressingfield studio. The music was designed to play on a loop, and was composed with the sculptures random flashing lights in mind. We have here are two dubbing tracks and a short cue of raw recorded material and fragments.

Visible Manifestations: Animated industrial film soundtrack for Shell. Circa 1968.

A Hill, Some Sheep, A Living: TV documentary, 1967. Instrumental ensemble.

Opus: Working title “Art and Culture in Britain”. This is a 1966 score to a propaganda film to publicise British achievement in art, architecture, music, fashion etc. The film has no dialogue, so Cary’s job was to tie the film together with appropriate sound, both instrumental and electronic.

Demos for Casino Royale: We include here some pre – shoot torture sequence SFX demos.

Centre Music: Exhibition music for EXPO 67. Electronic.

Escalator Music: Exhibition music for EXPO 67. Electronic.

Shaped For living: Premiered at EXPO 70, this is the soundtrack to a short feature on aspects of product design, from spoons to buildings. Much of the non-instrumental sound here is enhanced and exaggerated recordings of bad packaging, poor design and users struggling with it. Included are a biscuit jar, glass falling and a telephone answering machine.

The Curious History Of Money: This is the electronic score for a corporate film, commissioned by Barclays Bank in 1969. We believe the film was directed by Bob Godfrey, as he was one of the main directors at Larkins Studios, the production company at the time.

Divertimento: For the 1973 grand opening of their UK training centre in Haslemere, Surrey, Olivetti splashed out on an ostentatious display of wealth and success, providing dinner for 200 VIP guests, and en evening that included a short film, catering from Harrods and a short concert before dinner. They commissioned Tristram to compose the music for the film, and wanted it to have the unmistakable feel of Olivetti, so sounds of their business machines were incorporated into the composition. Cary’s idea here was to contrast the severe sounds of machines with “the warmest instrument of all – the human voice”. He employed the Ambrosian Singers, and added a jazz drummer, Chris Karan. Various Olivetti machine noises (including on / off switching and carriage returns) were recorded on a Nagra by Tristram at the Olivetti showroom, central London, on a Saturday afternoon when it was closed to the public. These sounds were later treated at EMS, Putney, before integration into the piece. Cary never saw the film.

3 4 5 A Study On Limited Resources: Released in 1970 on Galliard Records (Gal 4006) this 33rpm 7” single came with a full colour score and recorded explanation of how 3 4 5 was created. Nine sonic tones are used, with three sub-tones and three super-sonic tones, with variants of 3, 4 and 5 Hz (cycles per second).

Narcissus: Originally released on Galliard Records in 1970 (Gal 4007) as a 7” 33rpm recording with booklet, score and stage diagrams etc. Full title is Narcissus For One Flute And Two Tape Recorders. Developed in 1968, it relies on the different interpretations and improvisations of a single score. The piece is newly recorded each time it is played, the performer can control the development of the music and the tape player the playbacks. The two tape machines used are set to record on the upper tracks, and playback on the lower. As the piece develops the music played begins to feed on its own reflection, hence the title. The flute player here was Douglas Whittaker.

Graeme Hobbs sent in these amazing images: "Just seen the news update re Tristram Cary. Picked up from goodness knows where, I have the programme for his 1973 'Divertimento for Olivetti machines, Chorus and Percussion' which includes a photograph of him conducting singers among various items of office equipment"

The "Orchestra"
A 730 electronic invoicing/ accounting machine.
P603 micro-computer for commercial, scientific and technical applications.
Logos desk-top electronic printing calculator.
DES23 key to cassette data entry system and remote batch terminal.
Editor S14 automatic typing system.
Editor 5 proportional spacing electric typewriter.
Linea 98 standard manual typewriter.
Summa Prima 20 manual add /listing machine.
Copia 305 roll and sheet fed electrostatic copier.
TC380 programmable realtime computer terminal.

Tristram Cary conducting a rehearsal, with the Olivetti orchestra and the Ambrosian Singers.