Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dr Who theme composer dead at 82

TRISTRAM Cary, the composer of the Dr Who theme tune and a pioneer of electronic music, has died in Adelaide aged 82.

Cary was also known for co-designing a synthesiser used by rock artists including Pink Floyd, The Who and Roxy Music.

He founded the electronic music studio at London's Royal College of Music in 1967 and, seven years later migrated to Australia to establish a similar studio at the University of Adelaide's Elder Conservatorium of Music.

The conservatorium's head of music technology studies, Stephen Whittington, said Cary's contribution to music was impossible to quantify.

"He laid the foundations," Mr Whittington said today.

"Without him, we wouldn't have techno, hip-hop or any kind of music which is sustained by technology."

Cary, whose father was prominent Irish-born novelist Joyce Cary, came up with the idea of electronic and tape music while a naval radar officer during World War II. 
"He had a really unusual childhood, his father was an author and TS Eliot and James Joyce were always coming around for tea," Mr Whittington said.

"After the war, the Americans, British and Germans had a huge amount of electronic gear which came onto the market and was incredibly cheap," Mr Whittington said.

"That is when he began fiddling with things."

Cary composed for Hollywood feature films, television, theatre and concert music.

In 1991, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to Australian music.

He died last week at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.


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