Gavin Bryars Quotes

Richard Gavin Bryars (/??æv?n bra??rz/; born 16 January 1943) is an English composer and double bassist. He has been active in, or has produced works in, a variety of styles of music, including jazz, free improvisation, minimalism, historicism, experimental music, avant-garde and neoclassicism.

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Gavin Bryars


Writing tonal music now, you are not writing into the 19th Century.

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I remember once, when I started writing for the alto saxophone, a saxophonist told me to think of it as being like a cross between an oboe and a viola, but louder.

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Like an apparently strict musical form it breaks the five minute whole into its structural parts - a descriptive preamble, the action of taking the cards, the development of the cards' manipulation and the revelation of what has been achieved.

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I have friends who have a CD mastering plant in Hollywood and they are very sceptical about European record labels' understanding of digital technology.

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It's rather like attending a university seminar where you are talking to a few gifted specialists who deliver a paper to an audience of their peers. That's one way of making music.

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I know that John Adams has had a very hard time directing French ensembles.

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I work very fast, keeping the ideas flowing but making sure they come out the way I intended.

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As I had collaborated with visual artists before whether on installations, on performance pieces, in the context of theatre works and as I had taught for a time in art colleges the idea of writing music in response to painting was not alien.

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When Philip Glass asked me if I would be interested in doing a new recording of Jesus' Blood he assumed that I would do something similar to the first version and wanted to know what other pieces would be on the same CD.

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I've heard though that there is a younger generation of tonal French composers who are reacting with vigour.

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The virtuoso element in jazz playing, all those very fast runs in the upper extremes, simply doesn't appeal to me. That's why I don't want to make my concerto "virtuosic" in the sense of a technical show-off. I want a beautiful sound and a melodic and lyrical line. I am more interested in the way someone can play musically.

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It makes sense to invest in new work. It's almost like having a research department in a scientific laboratory. You have to try things out. You'll make some bad mistakes. Some things will fail but at least you'll energise the organisation.

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Similarly you can make a transition from one set of instruments to another imperceptibly.

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Somehow in the 20th Century an idea has developed that music is an activity or skill which is not comprehensible to the man in the street. This is an arrogant assertion and not necessarily a true one.

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The academic area of new music or modern music festivals is not something which attracts me at all.

Gavin Bryars


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