Brunswick Park Film Festival
9–11 September 2022
Written and Directed by Lisa Rovner
Documentary | 84 min, UK
This film contains a sequence of flashing lights which might affect customers who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy.
Sisters with Transistors is 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.
The remarkable world of electronic music has been constantly evolving since its inception in the early 20th century. From the unlimited possibilities of digital synthesisers, to the recent analog recording revival; from the impossibly perfect pitch of Auto-Tune, to the democratisation of music-making for a generation of ‘bedroom’ producers — each of these extraordinary developments is directly connected to the work and artistry of the women featured in Sisters with Transistors. 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 yet most people have never heard of them.
With Laurie Anderson as narrator, the film embarks on a fascinating journey through the evolution of electronic music. New devices opened music to the entire field of sound; electronic music not only changed the modes of production but in its wide-ranging effects also transformed the very terms of musical thought.
The story begins in 1929 New York with Clara Rockmore wowing classical music audiences by producing sounds from thin air with her theremin and finishes with a new generation of contemporary musicians, recalling how finding out about these women impacted and nurtured them. The film ends with a call to arms, to listen deeply, inclusively, and to continue to challenge the silence with beautiful noise. Birds in the sky, flying high.