Tim Hodgkinson

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Tim Hodgkinson
TimHodgkinson Oct2009 (crop).jpg
Tim Hodgkinson, October 2009
Background information
Birth nameTimothy George Hodgkinson
Born (1949-05-01) 1 May 1949 (age 70)
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Genres Avant-rock, post-punk, experimental, free improvisation, electronic, industrial, contemporary classical
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
InstrumentsSaxophone, clarinet,
keyboards, lap steel guitar,
Years active1968–present
Labels Recommended, Woof, Mode
Associated acts God, Henry Cow, The Work,
K-Space, Konk Pack,
Fred Frith, Chris Cutler
Website www.timhodgkinson.co.uk

Timothy "Tim" George Hodgkinson (born 1 May 1949, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England) [1] is an English experimental music composer and performer, principally on reeds, lap steel guitar, and keyboards. He first became known as one of the core members of the British avant-rock group Henry Cow, which he formed with Fred Frith in 1968. After the demise of Henry Cow, he participated in numerous bands and projects, eventually concentrating on composing contemporary music and performing as an improviser.

Salisbury Cathedral city in Wiltshire, England

Salisbury is a cathedral city in Wiltshire, England, with a population of 40,302, at the confluence of the rivers Avon, Nadder, Ebble, Wylye and Bourne. The city is approximately 20 miles (32 km) from Southampton and 30 miles (48 km) from Bath.

Experimental music is a general label for any music that pushes existing boundaries and genre definitions. Experimental compositional practice is defined broadly by exploratory sensibilites radically opposed to, and questioning of, institutionalized compositional, performing, and aesthetic conventions in music. Elements of experimental music include indeterminate music, in which the composer introduces the elements of chance or unpredictability with regard to either the composition or its performance. Artists may also approach a hybrid of disparate styles or incorporate unorthodox and unique elements.

Henry Cow English avant-rock group

Henry Cow were an English avant-rock group, founded at Cambridge University in 1968 by multi-instrumentalists Fred Frith and Tim Hodgkinson. Henry Cow's personnel fluctuated over their decade together, but drummer Chris Cutler, bassist John Greaves, and bassoonist/oboist Lindsay Cooper were important long-term members alongside Frith and Hodgkinson.



Tim Hodgkinson was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire in England on 1 May 1949, and was educated at Winchester College and Trinity College, Cambridge. He graduated in social anthropology from Cambridge in 1971, but chose to pursue a musical career instead. His interest in anthropology, however, remained and he drew on it later during a series of study trips to Siberia.

Winchester College school in Winchester, Hampshire, England

Winchester College is an independent boarding school for boys in the British public school tradition, situated in Winchester, Hampshire. It has existed in its present location for over 600 years. It is the oldest of the original seven English public schools defined by the Clarendon Commission and regulated by the Public Schools Act 1868.

Trinity College, Cambridge constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England

Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England. With around 600 undergraduates, 300 graduates, and over 180 fellows, it is the largest college in either of the Oxbridge universities by number of undergraduates. In terms of total student numbers, it is second only to Homerton College, Cambridge.

Social anthropology is the dominant constituent of anthropology throughout the United Kingdom and Commonwealth and much of Europe, where it is distinguished from cultural anthropology. In the United States, social anthropology is commonly subsumed within cultural anthropology.

Henry Cow

While still at university, Hodgkinson and fellow student Fred Frith formed the seminal avant-rock group Henry Cow in 1968. Hodgkinson remained with Henry Cow as one of the band's core members until their demise in 1978 and composed a number of their musical pieces, most notably, "Living in the Heart of the Beast" (recorded on their 1975 album, In Praise of Learning ), and "Erk Gah" (never formally recorded, but live versions appearing in The 40th Anniversary Henry Cow Box Set ). Henry Cow was the foundation of Hodgkinson's musical education, and it was an opportunity for him to work closely with other instrumentalists and develop new musical landscapes. After Henry Cow split, Hodgkinson and fellow band member Chris Cutler compiled The Henry Cow Book, a collection of documents and information about the band, published in 1981.

"Living in the Heart of the Beast" is the title of an extended song written by Tim Hodgkinson in 1975 for the English avant-rock group Henry Cow. It was recorded in 1975 by Henry Cow with Slapp Happy, who had recently merged with Henry Cow after the two groups had recorded a collaborative album, Desperate Straights the previous year.

<i>In Praise of Learning</i> 1975 studio album by Henry Cow with Slapp Happy

In Praise of Learning is a studio album by British avant-rock group Henry Cow, recorded at Virgin Records' Manor studios in February and March 1975, and released in May 1975. On this album, Henry Cow had expanded to include members of Slapp Happy, who had merged with the group after the two had collaborated on Desperate Straights in 1974. The merger ended after recording In Praise of Learning when Peter Blegvad and Anthony Moore from Slapp Happy left the group.

"Erk Gah" is an extended song written by Tim Hodgkinson in 1976 for the English avant-rock group Henry Cow. "Erk Gah" was performed live by the band between 1976 and 1978, but was never recorded in the studio. Three live performances of "Erk Gah" were later released in volumes 6, 8 and 10 of The 40th Anniversary Henry Cow Box Set in January 2009; Volume 6 was released in advance of the box set in September 2008. In 1993, 15 years after Henry Cow split up, Hodgkinson recorded the composition under the title "Hold to the Zero Burn, Imagine" and released it on his second solo album, Each in Our Own Thoughts (1994).

In November 1973, Hodgkinson (and other members of Henry Cow) participated in a live-in-the-studio performance of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells for the BBC. [2] It is available on Oldfield's Elements DVD.

Mike Oldfield English musician, multi-instrumentalist

Michael Gordon Oldfield is an English multi-instrumentalist and composer. His work blends progressive rock with world, folk, classical, electronic, ambient, and new-age music. His biggest commercial success is the 1973 album Tubular Bells – which launched Virgin Records and became a hit in America after its opening was used as the theme for the film The Exorcist. He recorded the 1983 hit single "Moonlight Shadow" and a rendition of the Christmas piece "In Dulci Jubilo".

<i>Tubular Bells</i> 1973 studio album by Mike Oldfield

Tubular Bells is the debut album by English musician and composer Mike Oldfield, released on Virgin Records on 25 May 1973. It comprises two mostly instrumental compositions of over twenty minutes each. Oldfield recorded it when he was 19 and played most of the instruments.

<i>Elements – The Best of Mike Oldfield</i> (video) 1993 video by Mike Oldfield

Elements - The Best of Mike Oldfield is a video collection by Mike Oldfield released in October 1993. It was released by Virgin Records on VHS and Laser disc. A DVD edition of the video release, including additional extras, was produced in 2004.

Other projects

In 1980 Hodgkinson formed The Work, a post-punk band with guitarist-composer Bill Gilonis, bassist Mick Hobbs and drummer Rick Wilson. At the same time Hodgkinson and Gilonis formed the independent record label, Woof Records. Over the next few years, The Work toured Europe. After performing at a Rock in Opposition festival in Bonn with vocalist Catherine Jauniaux in 1982, the band and Jauniaux recorded Slow Crimes (1982) for the Woof label. Later that year, with a slightly altered line-up of Hodgkinson, Gilonis, Amos and Chris Cutler, they performed in Japan. A concert in Osaka in June 1982 was recorded with a cassette recorder halfway down the hall and was later cleaned up and released on an LP Live in Japan (1982). After the Japanese tour, The Work disbanded but reformed again in 1989 with the original line-up to record two industrial/noise albums, Rubber Cage (1989) and See (1992). In February 1987 Hodgkinson toured with South African band Kalahari Surfers, playing at the "Rote Lieder DDR" Festival of Political Songs.

The Work (band) English post-punk rock group

The Work were an English post-punk rock group, founded in 1980 by multi-instrumentalist/composer Tim Hodgkinson and guitarist/composer Bill Gilonis, with bass guitarist Mick Hobbs and drummer Rick Wilson. The band toured Europe in 1981 and 1982, and recorded their first album, Slow Crimes in 1982. After a tour of Japan later that year and releasing Live in Japan, the band split up. In 1989, the Work reformed to record Rubber Cage and performed throughout Europe between 1989 and 1994, releasing another album, See in 1992. A live album, The 4th World, recorded in Germany in 1994, was released in 2010.

Post-punk is a broad type of rock music that emerged from the punk movement of the 1970s, in which artists departed from the simplicity and traditionalism of punk rock to adopt a variety of avant-garde sensibilities and diverse influences. Inspired by punk's energy and DIY ethic but determined to break from rock cliches, artists experimented with sources including electronic music and black styles like dub, funk, and disco; novel recording and production techniques; and ideas from art and politics, including critical theory, modernist art, cinema and literature. Communities that produced independent record labels, visual art, multimedia performances and fanzines.

Bill Gilonis British musician

Bill Gilonis is an English guitarist and composer. He co-founded the gritty experimental rock group The Work in 1980 with Tim Hodgkinson. The group was active intermittently until 1993, recording four albums and touring extensively, including in Russia, Japan Finland, Yugoslavia and Switzerland.

In 1990 Hodgkinson and Ken Hyder, a Scottish percussionist and improviser, who had been performing together since 1978 (and used to be called Shams), toured Siberia, Soviet Far East and the heart of USSR (Moscow, Leningrad) as a duo under the banner "Friendly British Invasion™: In Search for the Soviet Sham(an)s" – probably the longest tour produced at the time independently from major Soviet concert officials (by distant Far-Eastern member of the Soviet Jazz Federation and due to the latter's assistance).

Ken Hyder is a Scottish jazz fusion drummer and percussionist born in Dundee, Scotland, perhaps best known for combining folk, ethnic and Celtic music with jazz. He has worked with and recorded with many musicians, including Elton Dean, Chris Biscoe, Tim Hodgkinson, Paul Rogers, Maggie Nicols, Don Paterson and Frankie Armstrong.

Free improvisation or free music is improvised music without any rules beyond the logic or inclination of the musician(s) involved. The term can refer to both a technique and as a recognizable genre in its own right.

Siberia Geographical region in Russia

Siberia is an extensive geographical region spanning much of Eurasia and North Asia. Siberia has historically been a part of modern Russia since the 17th century.

Later on, they made many other trips to Russia and study trips to Siberia particularly to make contact with local musicians and ritual specialists. It was during these times that they met shamanic musician Gendos Chamzyryn from Tuva and as a trio, they toured Altay villages in the summer of 1998. Chamzyryn played a variety of traditional Tuvan instruments and used the deep-vocal Kargiraa style of overtone-singing.

The success of this "shaman" project resulted in the formation of K-Space, a band comprising Hodgkinson, Hyder and Chamzyryn. K-Space's name came from Kozyrev-Space, a space/time warp supposedly created by Russian astrophysicist Nicolai Kozyrev using a device he built called Kozyrev's Mirrors. [3] Their music was "sham beat", which incorporated elements of shamanic culture and jazz. From 1999 they began touring Asia and Europe and have released four CDs since 2002.

A free improvisation band Hodgkinson is deeply involved with is Konk Pack. Formed at the Szuenetjel Festival in Budapest in 1997 with Thomas Lehn from Cologne on synthesizer, Roger Turner from London on percussion and Hodgkinson on reeds and prepared guitar, the trio performs a blend of psychedelia, free jazz and electroacoustic improvisation. In 1999 they released a CD of live recordings The Big Deep and made further CDs in 2001, 2005, 2010 and 2013. In 2005 Konk Pack toured the United Kingdom with Lol Coxhill replacing Thomas Lehn. In 2007 they toured The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany with the original line-up.

As an improviser, Tim Hodgkinson performed with many musicians over the years, including Lol Coxhill, Fred Frith, Chris Cutler, Tom Cora, Lindsay Cooper, John Zorn, Evan Parker, Catherine Jauniaux and Charles Hayward. In December 2006, Cutler, Frith and Hodgkinson performed together at The Stone in New York City, their first concert performance since Henry Cow's demise in 1978. [4] [5]

From 1983 to 1985 Hodgkinson managed the Cold Storage Recording Studios in Brixton, London, producing records for Fred Frith's Skeleton Crew, Peter Blegvad and others. He has written a book on the anthropology of music and contributed to periodicals such as Contemporary Music Review, Musicworks, Musica/Realta, and Resonance on music and technology, ethnomusicology, improvisation and other topics. In 2016 his book Music and the Myth of Wholeness – Toward a New Aesthetic Paradigm was published by MIT Press.

Hodgkinson appeared in Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel's 1990 documentary film on Fred Frith, Step Across the Border , rehearsing with Frith at Hodgkinson's home in Brixton, London in December 1988.

Tim Hodgkinson's first solo album was Splutter in 1986, consisting of improvisations on alto and baritone saxophones and clarinet, sometimes accompanied by electronics, sometimes multi-tracked. He followed it up with KLARNT in 2008, an album of eleven solo clarinet improvisations.


Beginning in the early 90's Hodgkinson again applied himself to composition, initially returning to the approach developed in his Henry Cow period.

In 1994 he released Each in Our Own Thoughts , a collection of pieces including his first string quartet, and a piece written for Henry Cow in 1976 ("Hold to the Zero Burn, Imagine"), which was performed at the time (as "Erk Gah") but never recorded in the studio. When finally recorded in 1993 he brought in three other members of the original band: Chris Cutler, Lindsay Cooper and Dagmar Krause. A further piece "Numinous Pools For Mental Orchestra" was realised entirely with MIDI-instruments.

However his work as an improviser by now made him far more aware of the limitations of his current way of writing. An encounter with Iancu Dumitrescu and the Romanian Spectralist school provided a turning point, after which he began to find new ways of developing musical structures out of the behaviours of sounds and unstable acoustic systems. This became evident with the release of the CD Pragma in 1998, on which the pieces are realised on a computer using a mix of live instruments and samples.

In 2000 Hodgkinson made Sang, a collection of new compositions. The first and third pieces were performed by Hodgkinson alone, playing viola, piano, alto saxophone, percussion and MIDI instruments; the second piece GUSHe, which he has often performed live, is for clarinet with electronic accompaniment, while the last, was performed by Federica Santoro (singing) with a montage made from recordings of other pieces of Hodgkinson's (a rehearsal with Banda Municipal de Barcelona and fragments of his second String Quartet).

Hodgkinson then released Sketch of Now on the Mode label in 2006. It comprises three compositions for the Romanian Hyperion Ensemble, of which Hodgkinson conducted two and played on one (conducted by Iancu Dumitrescu); two compositions performed by Hodgkinson: one for bass clarinet and tape, one for computer-modified cello and electric guitar; one piece for two clarinets, one doubling on bass, and piano, performed by Isabelle Duthoit, Jacques Di Donato and Pascale Berthelot. The track, "Fragor" appears in the 2010 film Shutter Island , but was not featured on the soundtrack CD.

This was followed up in 2014 with Onsets, a second CD for the Mode label. Five of the six pieces are performed by the Hyperion Ensemble, and one piece by the New York based ensemble Ne(x)tworks. Hodgkinson conducts all the pieces and also plays bass clarinet on “Ulaaraar.”

In 2015, he released CUTS on the Freeform Association label, which groups together three compositions having a mathematical approach in their structure. “Hard without I” is performed by the composer on solo bass clarinet. “On Earth” is Hodgkinson's second piece to be performed by Ne(x)tworks, this time with Joan La Barbara. “Ananké” is performed by the Hyperion Ensemble. The latter two pieces are conducted by the composer.


Tim Hodgkinson (left) and Chris Cutler in Schiphorst, Germany, 6 July 2008. TimHodgkinson and ChrisCutler July2008.jpg
Tim Hodgkinson (left) and Chris Cutler in Schiphorst, Germany, 6 July 2008.

Tim Hodgkinson's music displays many personalities: from the serious and complex musical structures of Henry Cow to the angry post-punk crash of guitars in The Work; from free-wheeling improvisations with Konk Pack to the contemporary classical music of his recordings for the Mode label.

The instruments he plays are principally reeds (clarinet, bass clarinet, and alto saxophone), but with Henry Cow he mostly played keyboards, and with The Work, K-Space and Konk Pack he played and plays lap steel guitar. He also sang in The Work. For his solo recordings he added viola, percussion, sampling, sequencing and MIDI.

Hodgkinson is a self-taught musician. He started formal piano and clarinet lessons as a child, but quickly abandoned them. He then began writing down music, initially using a keyboard but soon switched to writing the sounds in his head directly onto paper. To assist with this process, he studied sight-singing with Andras Ranki at Morley College, London in 1983.

Recent works


Bands and projects

With Henry Cow
With Henry Cow/Slapp Happy
With Art Bears
With The Work
With Catherine Jauniaux
With Lindsay Cooper, Chris Cutler, Bill Gilonis and Robert Wyatt
With The Momes
With God
With Fred Frith
With Valentina Ponomareva & Ken Hyder
With Konk Pack
With Black Paintings (Nikolai Galen / Tim Hodgkinson / Ken Hyder)
With K-Space
With RAZ3 (Lu Edmonds / Ken Hyder / Tim Hodgkinson)



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