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Harpist and composer Rhodri Davies leads us on a journey into the world of experimental music

Is there a piece/track or artist that first drew you to experimental music?

My mind was blown when I was young when I came across the music of Albert Ayler on a TV programme. I then chanced on his LP Witches & Devils and there was no going back after that.

What’s the best way in for music for audiences who are new to the scene?

Go to live events. If you are in Wales our NAWR concert series is now operating in three locations: Abertawe, Hay on Wye and Aberystwyth.


What elements of the genre particularly excite you and how do these differ from other forms of music making?

The range. John Cage once said 'Music in this century has produced not a mainstream but a delta with a multiplicity of musical rivers. In fact, I would say now that we are certainly an ocean.' It is even more true today.

​Why is improvisation important to your practice?

It just seems the form of music making that makes the most sense to me. It allows me to collaborate and create music in real time with others without too much being said beforehand.

​How should traditionally trained performers take their first steps as improvisors?

Look out for any improvisation workshops or approach improvisers to see if they are open to a musical meeting. Actually Maggie Nicols' The Gathering would be THE place to start!

▶ the gathering

Which figures have exerted a strong influence on your work as a composer?

Carole Finer and the musicians and artists of the Scratch Orchestra, Derek Bailey, Phill Niblock, the visual artist Gustav Metzger, and musicians and artists associated with the Fluxus art movement such as Ben Patterson, Mieko Shiomi, Yasunao Tone, Alison Knowles and Philip Corner. Oh and of course Sun Ra.

Who are your experimental music heroes?

Hm. Not sure about the term hero but Eliane Radigue is an inspiration on so many levels.

Are there any Welsh performers or creators (established or emerging) that should be better known?

Bragod: Mary-Anne Roberts and Robert Evans. They have done an immense amount of work and research into Welsh Music and poetry from the 14th Century onwards bringing it to life in such a vibrant and exciting way. The work Robert has done on the harp in Wales alone should certainly be acknowledged on a wider level.

▶ bragod

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