The work of Hugh Davies in the context of experimental electronic music in Britain

Palermo, Settimio Fiorenzo (2015) The work of Hugh Davies in the context of experimental electronic music in Britain. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

The importance of the work by the British composer, performer, inventor of new musical instruments, and musicologist Hugh Davies (1943-2005) has yet to be fully acknowledged. Despite being a central figure in British music outside the conventions of the concert hall, no comprehensive study of his oeuvre has been carried out before. The idiosyncratic nature and radicalism of his work undoubtedly cast him as an ‘outsider’, but can a broader conceptual framework with which to assess his output be identified? What was the aesthetic philosophy on which Davies’s musical project rested? How did his work mediate its context? This research represents an attempt at answering these questions. First of all it gathers, categorises, and evaluates information on Davies’s larger body of work and activities. Indeed Davies engaged in many different forms of music making: he composed serial works and wrote music theatre pieces; he invented new musical instruments and improvised on them; he devised gallery installations and environmental projects. At the same time Davies pursued a number of significant activities such as the publishing of a world catalogue of experimental and electronic music and the setting up of the first permanent electronic music studio at a British university. He was also an assistant to the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007), an experience that had a profound effect on his development. Davies’s musical output as well as his related research and pioneering work will be given due attention here in order to build a comprehensive and critical account of Davies’s achievements and the context in which they took place. This thesis suggests that all the diverse pursuits in which Davies was engaged have been part of the same artistic discourse, and therefore can be logically connected in their genesis and development. The chosen framework to make sense of Davies’s heterogeneous practice is that of ‘experimental electronic music’, and its defining principles are applied even when the pieces examined feature no electronic technology at all. The experimental ethos and the impact of electronic technology are thus construed as the foundation of Davies’s production. This research casts light on Davies’s work and on his fundamental role in the context of experimental and electronic music in Britain, and calls not only for a more informed appraisal of Davies’s oeuvre but also for a more accurate account of twentieth century British music history.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts
B. > Theses
Item ID: 17408
Depositing User: Users 3197 not found.
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2015 16:00
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2018 07:37
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/17408

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