Hugh Davies (composer)

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Black and white photograph of Hugh Davies with Shozyg I Uher mixer and clarinet Hugh Davies with Shozyg I Uher.jpg
Black and white photograph of Hugh Davies with Shozyg I Uher mixer and clarinet

Hugh Seymour Davies (23 April 1943 – 1 January 2005) was a musicologist, composer, and inventor of experimental musical instruments.

Contents

History

Davies was born in Exmouth, Devon, England. After attending Westminster School, he studied music at Worcester College, Oxford from 1961 to 1964. Shortly after he travelled to Cologne, Germany to work for Karlheinz Stockhausen as his personal assistant. [1] For two years, he assembled and documented material for Stockhausen's compositions and was a member of his live ensemble.

From 1968 to 1971 Davies played in The Music Improvisation Company. The group's guitarist Derek Bailey later wrote that "the live electronics served to extend the music both forwards and backwards (...) Davies helped to loosen what had been, until his arrival, a perhaps too rarified approach". [2] He was also a member of the group Gentle Fire, active from 1968 to 1975, which specialised in the realisation of indeterminate and mobile scores, as well as verbally formulated intuitive-music compositions (such as Stockhausen's Aus den sieben Tagen ) and in the performance of its own Group Compositions. [3] [4]

Davies invented musical instruments that he constructed from household items. Among them was the shozyg, a generic name he used for any instrument housed inside an unusual container. The name is derived from the first of such instruments, which was housed inside the final volume of an encyclopaedia (covering the subjects from SHO– to ZYG–). [5] [6]

From the 1960s onwards Davies made very significant contributions to the documentation of electronic music history, and in 1968 published a catalogue in which he listed - ostensibly - all the works of electronic music ever composed worldwide. [7] It has been argued that, through his research and documentation, Davies characterised electronic music for the first time as a truly international, interdisciplinary field. [8]

Davies was also a member of the Artist Placement Group during the mid-1970s. [9]

Davies was the founder and first Director of the Electronic Music Studios at Goldsmiths, University of London from 1968 to 1986 and was subsequently a researcher there until 1991. [10]

Davies appeared on the 1988 album Spirit Of Eden by UK group Talk Talk.

Davies had been a part-time Researcher and Lecturer in Sonic Art at the Centre for Electronic Arts, Middlesex University, London from 1999 until the end of his life. [11]

Discography

under own name

With Derek Bailey, Evan Parker and Jamie Muir

With Gentle Fire

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<i>Aus den sieben Tagen</i>

Aus den sieben Tagen is a collection of 15 text compositions by Karlheinz Stockhausen, composed in May 1968, in reaction to a personal crisis, and characterized as "Intuitive music"—music produced primarily from the intuition rather than the intellect of the performer(s). It is Work Number 26 in the composer's catalog of works.

<i>Kontakte</i>

Kontakte ("Contacts") is an electronic music work by Karlheinz Stockhausen, realized in 1958–60 at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) electronic-music studio in Cologne with the assistance of Gottfried Michael Koenig. The score is Nr. 12 in the composer's catalogue of works, and is dedicated to Otto Tomek.

Intuitive music is a form of musical improvisation based on instant creation in which fixed principles or rules may or may not have been given. It is a type of process music where instead of a traditional music score, verbal or graphic instructions and ideas are provided to the performers. The concept was introduced in 1968 by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, with specific reference to the collections of text-notated compositions Aus den sieben Tagen (1968) and Für kommende Zeiten (1968–70). The first public performance of intuitive-music text compositions, however, was in the collective work Musik für ein Haus, developed in Stockhausen's 1968 Darmstadt lectures and performed on 1 September 1968, several months before the first realisations of any of the pieces from Aus den sieben Tagen.

<i>Mikrophonie</i> (Stockhausen)

Mikrophonie is the title given by Karlheinz Stockhausen to two of his compositions, written in 1964 and 1965, in which "normally inaudible vibrations ... are made audible by an active process of sound detection ; the microphone is used actively as a musical instrument, in contrast to its former passive function of reproducing sounds as faithfully as possible".

Live electronic music is a form of music that can include traditional electronic sound-generating devices, modified electric musical instruments, hacked sound generating technologies, and computers. Initially the practice developed in reaction to sound-based composition for fixed media such as musique concrète, electronic music and early computer music. Musical improvisation often plays a large role in the performance of this music. The timbres of various sounds may be transformed extensively using devices such as amplifiers, filters, ring modulators and other forms of circuitry. Real-time generation and manipulation of audio using live coding is now commonplace.

<i>Alphabet für Liège</i>

Alphabet für Liège, for soloists and duos, is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, and is Work Number 36 in the composer's catalog of works. A performance of it lasts four hours.

<i>Kurzwellen</i> Composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen

Kurzwellen, for six players with shortwave radio receivers and live electronics, is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1968. It is Number 25 in the catalog of the composer’s works.

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<i>Mixtur</i>

Mixtur, for orchestra, 4 sine-wave generators, and 4 ring modulators, is an orchestral composition by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1964, and is Nr. 16 in his catalogue of works. It exists in three versions: the original version for full orchestra, a reduced scoring made in 1967, and a re-notated version of the reduced scoring, made in 2003 and titled Mixtur 2003, Nr. 1623.

<i>Sternklang</i>

Sternklang, is "park music for five groups" composed in 1971 by Karlheinz Stockhausen, and bears the work number 34 in his catalogue of compositions. The score is dedicated to Mary Bauermeister, and a performance of the work lasts from two-and-a-half to three hours.

Solo for a melody instrument with feedback is a work for a soloist with live electronics composed in 1965–66 by Karlheinz Stockhausen. It is Nr. 19 in his catalogue of works. Performance duration can vary from 10½ to 19 minutes.

<i>Plus-Minus</i> (Stockhausen)

Plus-Minus, 2 × 7 pages for realisation, is a composition for one or several performers by Karlheinz Stockhausen, first written in 1963 and redrafted in 1974. It is Nr. 14 in the composer's catalogue of works, and has a variable performing length that depends on the version worked out from the given materials. The score is dedicated to Mary Bauermeister.

<i>Für kommende Zeiten</i>

Für kommende Zeiten is a collection of seventeen text compositions by Karlheinz Stockhausen, composed between August 1968 and July 1970. It is a successor to the similar collection titled Aus den sieben Tagen, written in 1968. These compositions are characterized as "Intuitive music"—music produced primarily from the intuition rather than the intellect of the performer(s). It is work number 33 in Stockhausen's catalog of works, and the collection is dedicated to the composer's son Markus.

<i>The Music Improvisation Company 1968-1971</i> 1976 studio album by Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Hugh Davies, Jamie Muir & Christine Jeffrey

The Music Improvisation Company 1968-1971 is an album by saxophonist Evan Parker, guitarist Derek Bailey, electronic musician Hugh Davies and percussionist Jamie Muir which was recorded in 1968 and 1970 and released on the Incus label in 1976.

References

  1. Roberts, David (2001). "Davies, Hugh (Seymour)". In Stanley Sadie; John Tyrrell (eds.). New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Macmillan Publishers Ltd. pp. 61–2. ISBN   978-0-333-60800-5.
  2. Bailey, Derek (1980). Improvisation: Its nature and practice in music. Moorland Publishing. p. 112.
  3. Davies, Hugh (2001). "Gentle Fire: An Early Approach to Live Electronic Music". Leonardo Music Journal. 11: 53–60.
  4. Emmerson, Simon (1991). "Live Electronic Music in Britain: Three Case Studies". Contemporary Music Review. 6 (1): 179–195. doi:10.1080/07494469100640191.
  5. Roberts, David (1984). "Shozyg". In Stanley Sadie (ed.). New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. Macmillan Publishers Ltd. pp. 377–8. ISBN   978-0-333-37878-6.
  6. Mooney, James (2017). "The Hugh Davies Collection: live electronic music and self-built electro-acoustic musical instruments, 1967–1975". Science Museum Group Journal. 7. doi: 10.15180/170705 .
  7. Davies, Hugh (1968). Repertoire International des Musiques Electroacoustiques/International Electronic Music Catalog. Paris; Trumansburg, NY: Le Groupe de Recherches Musicales de l'ORTF; The Independent Electronic Music Center, Inc.; MIT Press.
  8. Mooney, James (2015). "Hugh Davies's Electronic Music Documentation 1961–1968". Organised Sound. 20 (1): 111–121. doi:10.1017/S1355771814000521.
  9. "APG: Artist Placement Group". Tate Gallery. Archived from the original on 20 September 2011. Retrieved 19 September 2008.
  10. Potter, Keith (7 January 2005). "Hugh Davies Obituary". The Independent. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  11. "SONIC ARTS – Staff – Hugh Davies". Web.mdx.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 24 August 2013. Retrieved 25 August 2013.

Further reading