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 74)
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England [1]
Genres Avant-rock, post-punk, experimental, free improvisation, electronic, industrial, contemporary classical
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
Instrument(s)Saxophone, clarinet,
keyboards, lap steel guitar,
Years active1968–present
Labels Recommended, Woof, Mode, Setola di Maiale
Website www.timhodgkinson.co.uk

Timothy "Tim" George Hodgkinson (born 1 May 1949) [1] [2] 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.



Tim Hodgkinson was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire in England on 1 May 1949, [1] 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.

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.

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. [3] It is available on Oldfield's Elements DVD.

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.

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).

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 named after Russian astrophysicist Nicolai Kozyrev using a device called Kozyrev's Mirrors. [4] 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. [5] [6]

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 1990s 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.



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 The Orckestra
With RAZ3 (Lu Edmonds / Ken Hyder / Tim Hodgkinson)
With Yumi Hara



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