Episode 18 – The Ever-Changing Musical Worlds of Peter Howell – Peter Howell Interview Part I

Adventures in Time Space and Music

In this episode we’ll be featuring the first part of an interview with BBC Radiophonic Composer Peter Howell with guest co-host Steven Schapansky of Radio Free Skaro joining me at the central console. Recorded the 11th of January, 2011.


ABOUT YOUR HOST: My name is Dr. Phillip Serna – you can call me Dr. Phill as many of my colleagues, friends and students do. I’m a performer and teacher here in the Chicago area where I received my Master & Doctoral degrees in Music at Northwestern University. On double bass I perform solo, chamber, orchestral and contemporary literature. I am also a performer of Early Music on viols – or violas da gamba – a family of bowed guitars that were popular in Europe from the 15th through the late 18th centuries.

ABOUT OUR GUEST CO-HOST: Steven Schapansky is one of the hosts of Radio Free Skaro, one of the most popular and longest running Doctor Who podcasts around. As co-host, he has interviewed many luminaries from Doctor Who’s past an present, including Murray Gold, Graeme Harper, Phil Ford, Tracie Simpson, Gary Russell, and many others. He has also memorized every Doctor Who production code from the classic series and can point out on a map and name all 195 countries of the world. And he does it all without eating meat. For more information on Steven’s work on the widely popular Radio Free Skaro, released every Sunday, visit http://www.radiofreeskaro.com/.

ABOUT OUR SERIES GUEST: Peter Howell is a musician and composer who worked at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop from 1974-1997 – shortly before the workshop disbanded. His musical career began in the 1960s where he played what is referred to as ‘psychedelic folk’ with groups ranging from Agincourt to others.  Beyond his contributions to Doctor Who, Howell’s prolific output includes scores for science fiction series, dramas, documentaries and children’s television including Horizon, The Body in Question and Michael Palin’s Full Circle.

Peter Howell began his work on Doctor Who began in 1975 with an uncredited contribution to Revenge of the Cybermen. Carey Blyton composed the incidental music for this serial, but producer Philip Hinchcliffe asked the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to enhance the score, which was done by Peter Howell, adding synthesizer cues to Blyton’s score. Additionally he performed special sound design on Serial 4H – Story 81 – the Planet of Evil. Later, when John Nathan-Turner became producer of Doctor Who in 1980, he approached Peter Howell and the Radiophonic workshop to create a new arrangement of Ron Grainer’s Doctor Who theme as well as to provide incidental music, thus replacing Dudley Simpson who had been the longest-running composer on Doctor Who. In addition to his score to the Leisure Hive, Howell’s incidental music contribution spans the Tom Baker stories Warrior’s Gate, the Peter Davison stories Kinda, Snakedance, the Five Doctors, the Awakening and Planet of Fire as well as the Colin Baker story the Two Doctors – his final contribution to the series. Along with composer Paddy Kingsland, Howell also composed part of the for Meglos, as well as scoring the Doctor Who spinoff special K9 and Company and Jon Pertwee’s Radio Dramas The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space. His music would also appear in the 1999 Steven Moffat Doctor Who spoof – the Curse of the Fatal Death – starring Rowan Atkinson as the Doctor.

Since his days at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Peter Howell is the founding Director of Sound Music Design Ltd, a company specializing in providing of music and sound design for the film, television and radio. In May of 2009, Howell participated  in a live concert revival of the Radiophonic Workshop at The Roundhouse in London. Additionally Howell teaches music and sound design at the National Film and Television School, as well as lectures at Bournemouth University’s Media Department, Leeds College of Music, and the Screen Academy Scotland where he has trained over 40 composers who now compose music for feature films, theatre, television and computer games.

ABOUT OUR THEME: The theme to ADVENTURES IN TIME, SPACE AND MUSIC is a remix by Isaac Arsenault. Isaac started mashingup music in the winter of ’09, After reading Jordan Roseman’s “Audio Mashup Construction Kit.” Working with sound Equipment and being technical leader for two bands he opened his taste for music by studying it mathematically and learning the science behind it. To find out more about Isaac’s work, visit http://www.twitter.com/drautobob.

NOTE: Portions of this interview aired as a Miniscope segment on RADIO FREE SKARO on Sunday, 13 March, 2011 – http://www.radiofreeskaro.com/http://www.radiofreeskaro.com/2011/03/13/radio-free-skaro-245-the-howell-around-effect/

DEDICATION: This episode is dedicated to composer Peter Howell, who was one of my musical childhood heroes and to whom I am deeply grateful that we were able to chat with. Your music is always a reminder to me that this show we love can take us anywhere, and that is certainly the case with the music!


Peter Howell – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Howell

Peter Howell’s website – http://www.peterhowell.plus.com/
Peter Howell’s early work – http://www.howell-ferdinando.co.uk/
Information on the Radiophonic Workshop Concert 2009 – http://www.rwsprojects.co.uk/
Bill White’s Engineer’s History of the Radiophonic Workshop http://whitefiles.org/rws/

Information on the Generic Quarry Sci-Fi Event – http://www.swansong.tv/archive/rhjrdsl.htm
Information on the Radiophonic Workshop Concert 2009 – http://www.rwsprojects.co.uk/

Stories Mentioned – Restoration Team – The Leisure Hive – http://www.purpleville.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/rtwebsite/leisure_hive.htm (Includes interviews on the 1980s Doctor Who theme & title sequence)
Stories Mentioned – Kinda – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinda_(Doctor_Who)
Stories Mentioned – Snakedance – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snakedance
Stories Mentioned – Restoration Team – The 5 Doctors – http://www.purpleville.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/rtwebsite/TheFiveDoctorsRedux.htm
Stories Mentioned – The Awakening – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Awakening_(Doctor_Who)
Stories Mentioned – Planet of Fire – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet_of_Fire
Stories Mentioned – Restoration Team – The 2 Doctors – http://www.purpleville.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/rtwebsite/twodoctors.htm

People Discussed – Mark Ayres – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Ayres
People Discussed – Delia Derbyshire – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delia_Derbyshire
People Discussed – Ron Grainer – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Grainer
People Discussed – Brian Hodgson – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Hodgson
People Discussed – Roger Limb – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Limb
People Discussed – Dick Mills – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Mills
People Discussed – John Nathan Turner – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Nathan-Turner

Composers Mentioned – Claude Debussy – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Debussy
Composers Mentioned – Gustav Holst – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustav_Holst

Pieces Mentioned – Ravel’s Bolero
Pieces Mentioned – Gustav Holst’s The Planets – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Planets

Concepts Mentioned – Accellerando – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempo
Concepts Mentioned – 2 Against 3 Polyrhythm – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyrythm (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Polyrhythm.mid)
Concepts Mentioned – Consonance & Dissonance – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consonance_and_dissonance
Concepts Mentioned – Doctor Who Theme – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Who_theme_music
Concepts Mentioned – Musical Intervals – Whole Step – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_step
Concepts Mentioned – Musical Intervals – Half Step – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half_step
Concepts Mentioned – Musique concrète – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musique_concr%C3%A8te
Concepts Mentioned – Vocoder – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocoder
Concepts Mentioned – Orchestration – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orchestration
Concepts Mentioned – Octatonic Scales – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octatonic_scale (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Octatonic_scales_on_C.mid)
Concepts Mentioned – Rhythm – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhythm
Concepts Mentioned – Timbre (pronounced ‘tæmbər’) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timbre
Concepts Mentioned – Whole-Tone Scales – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_tone_scale (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a0/Whole_tone_scales_on_C.mid)

Instruments Discussed – ARP Odyssey Synthesizer – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARP_Odyssey
Instruments Discussed – ‘The Delaware’ EMS Synthi 100 Synthesizer – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMS_Synthi_100
Instruments Discussed – Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairlight_CMI
Instruments Discussed – Phaser – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaser_(effect) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Phasing_effect.ogg)
Instruments Discussed – Roland 760 Synthesizer – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_Corporation
Instruments Discussed – Roland Jupiter 8 Synthesizer – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_Jupiter-8
Instruments Discussed – VCS 3 Synthesizer – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMS_VCS_3
Instruments Discussed – Yamaha DX-7 Synthesizer – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamaha_DX7

Instruments Discussed – Electronic Oscillator – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_oscillator
Instruments Discussed – Guitar – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guitar
Instruments Discussed – Drums – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drums
Instruments Discussed – Percussion – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percussion
Instruments Discussed – Cymbals – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cymbals
Instruments Discussed – Sampler – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sampler_(musical_instrument)
Instruments Discussed – Vocoder – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocoder


Recordings – Peter Howell – Doctor Who – The Music (1983, Reissued by Silva Screen Records in 1992) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Who_-_The_Music
Purchase Doctor Who – The Music (Silva Screen Records 1992 Reissue) – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dr-Who-Best-Doctor-Doctors/dp/B000004BP6/ref=sr_1_3?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1299556281&sr=1-3 (UK) & http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Who-Best-Doctor-Doctors/dp/B000004BP6/ref=sr_1_3?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1299556281&sr=1-3 (US)

Recordings – Peter Howell – Doctor Who – The Music II (1983, Reissued by Silva Screen Records in 1992) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Who_-_The_Music_II
Purchase Doctor Who – The Music II (Silva Screen Records 1992 Reissue) – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Doctor-Who-Classics-Vol-2-Doctors/dp/B00004TVV6/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1299556544&sr=1-3 (UK)

Recordings – Peter Howell – Doctor Who at the Radiophonic Workshop Volume 2: New Beginnings (2000) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Who_at_the_BBC_Radiophonic_Workshop_Volume_2:_New_Beginnings1970%E2%80%931980
Purchase Doctor Who at the Radiophonic Workshop Volume 2: New Beginnings – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d.htmlref=mp_s_a_1/182-7397757-6664458?qid=1299094093&a=B00004TFML&sr+8-1 (UK) & http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d.htmlref=mp_s_a_1/182-7397757-6664458?qid=1299094093&a=B00004TFML&sr+8-1 (US)

Recordings – Peter Howell – Doctor Who at the Radiophonic Workshop Volume 3: The Leisure Hive (2002) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Who_at_the_BBC_Radiophonic_Workshop_Volume_3:_The_Lesiure_Hive
Purchase Doctor Who at the Radiophonic Workshop Volume 3: The Leisure Hive – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d.htmlref=mp_s_a_1/182-7397757-6664458?qid=1299094261&a=B000063KJ7&sr=8-1 (UK) & http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d.htmlref=mp_s_a_1/182-7397757-6664458?qid=1299094261&a=B000063KJ7&sr=8-1 (US)

Recordings – Peter Howell – Doctor Who at the Radiophonic Workshop Volume 4: Meglos & Full Circle (2002) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Who_at_the_BBC_Radiophonic_Workshop_Volume_4:_Meglos_%26_Full_Circle
Purchase Doctor Who at the Radiophonic Workshop Volume 4: Meglos & Full Circle – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d.htmlref=mp_s_a_1/182-7397757-6664458?qid=1299094470&a=B000063KJF&sr=8-1 (UK) & http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d.htmlref=mp_s_a_1/182-7397757-6664458?qid=1299094470&a=B000063KJF&sr=8-1 (US)


If you would like to find out more about my other projects, specifically on viols, please visit thegambacast.org orviolsinourschools.org.

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‘Adventures in Time Space and Music’ is not endorsed by the BBC in any way and is intended for entertainment and educational purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended.

The Official Doctor Who site can be found at http://bbc.co.uk/doctorwho.

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All original content of this podcast, both musical and textual, is the intellectual property of the podcast – unless otherwise indicated. © Copyright 2011

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