Richard Scott

Wednesday 19 January, 12-2pm [online via Minerva]

Richard Scott is a composer and improvisor residing in Berlin, who has been navigating the nether regions of free improvisation, jazz and avant-garde composition for some four decades. For the last few years he has been mostly focused on developing a personal and quite visceral approach to the compositional and improvisational possibilities of “left-field”modular synthesis, working with many collaborators including Audrey Chen, Kazuhisa Uchihashi, Phil Minton, Axel Dörner, Jon Rose, Shelley Hirsch, Thomas Lehn, Michael Vorfeld, Ute Wassermann, Jan Croonenbroeck and the Seicento Vocale choir, Trio Abstrakt, Richard Barrett, Evan Parker and Frank Gratkowski.

He creates solo electronic compositions and performs solo, in duet and in several ensembles, including many performances at international festivals and conferences such as Moers Music, Wels Music Unlimited, Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, Bratislava Next Festival of Advanced Music, London Jazz Festival, Nickelsdorf Konfrontationen, ICMC (International Computer Music Conference), Impakt Berlin, SMC (Sound Music Computing), Berliner Festspiele Immersion, Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon, Ars Electronica Forum Wallis and the Tokyo Electroacoustic Music Festival.

He musical path started playing in post-punk bands in Lincolnshire in the early 1980s with a Korg MS20 synthesiser and making his own primitive tape music at home. He met the drummers and free improvisation-founder John Stevens in London in 1984 which started a fascination with the music of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble and a lifelong absorption in the practice of free improvisation. His tools of musical engagement at this time were saxophone, which he studied with with soprano saxophone masters Elton Dean and Steve Lacy, and visted West africa several times. In London he was able to meet and to play with many remarkable musicians, including Derek Bailey, Maggie Nicols and Phil Minton before moving to Manchester to work with notorious groups such as Bark!, Spellbound and Stock, Hausen and Walkman.

Working with the drum and bass club ensemble Spellbound and finding his saxophone to be not loud enough when playing with nightclub sound systems he re-engaged with analogue and then digital electronics, culminating in his designing his own gestural MIDI instrument as an artistic resident at STIEM in Amsterdam: this was known as the WiGI, and based on the hacking/extension of the capabilities of the legendary infra-red Buchla Lightning controller. This eventually led him to a fuller absorption into the potential of modular synthesis, which continues to this day. In 2016 he initiated the Sines & Squares festival in Manchester, co-curated Basic Electricity in Berlin, amongst the first modular synthesis focussed concert series in Europe, along with the AUXXX and Sound Anatomy series and also and released  a solo LP of composition for modular synthesis, Several Circles on Cusp Editions.

Since his first underground cassette releases in 1989 he has released around 30 albums, for example with Grutronic and Evan Parker for PSI records, a solo double LP, duet albums with Axel Dörner, Audrey Chen, Kazuhisa Uchihashi and Clive Bell, several projects with David Ross as Twinkle3 and including an album with singer Sidsel Endresen.

His celebrated solo electroacoustic suite Several Circles released in 2016 was realised almost entirely with modular syntheisisers was described as, “brilliant and confounding,” “fantastically colourful and abstract” and as, “a universe all of its own”. His music is quite unique but has also been variously compared to the work of Francois Bayle, Mouse on Mars, Todd Dockstader, Autechre and Morton Subotnik.

Richard holds two Ph.D.s; the first for a thesis on Improvised Music from the University of London in 1992 and a second for a portfolio of Electroacoustic compositions, completed at the University of Manchester in 2020. He is the author of several articles on the subjects of free improvisation, modular synthesis and post-acousmatic music, and he recently edited an issue of eContact! journal dedicated to analogue and modular synthesis. He currently leads the Masters degree in Creative Production at Catalyst Institute for Creative Arts and Technology in Berlin. He has his own Sound Anatomy web label imprint, most releasing improvised and electroacoustic music.

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