Submitting things to the EMC

A bit of housekeeping from our dear little admin, which will appear on our Ordering page:

We’ve been receiving a lot of email and Facebook messages about new releases. Some of those announcements have confused us. “Check out my new single!” and a link, for example. Is this a circular to a mailing list? Is this a personal note to the EMC? Sometimes we just don’t know. So we thought we might give some handy household hints to help you let us know about your music, what we need to know and what we can (and cannot) do.

  1. The first thing we’d like to know is…what do you want from us? Are you sending us news of your release, composition, or other work? Or are you sending it, hoping to get a review, or for us to publish it? Can you tell us about it? About yourself? Would you like to engage in a conversation, or are you just spreading the news?
  2. If you want an answer from us, it’s always best to personalise your message and direct it to the right person. And the best, most permanent and sure way to do that is by email, not Facebook messages. Our address for submissions goes directly to our founder, Chris Hobbs. You can find out how to submit here: Ordering, submissions, spam, and privacy. Or you can contact Virginia Anderson (the EMC web thingie) or me (admin) via the contact information on our home page, for any other announcements or queries.
  3. It would help us to know what you’re doing if you understand what we do. Before you submit, please check out our site—especially the Catalogue and our Bandcamp page. Can you see your album or score on those pages? Your music doesn’t have to sound like the music on the EMC site. But would you be happy to have it there? Would the EMC be the natural place your fans would go to find your music? Can you explain to us what makes your music perfect for the EMC?
  4. Procedural/technical issues: if you are sending a sample of your work, we’d prefer to check it out on a streaming or other website like Soundcloud or YouTube first. Try to avoid paywall services such as iTunes, Spotify, or Amazon Music, unless you only wish us to hear the short sample on those sites. And we’d appreciate downloads later in our conversation—we don’t need them immediately.
  5. Finally, neither the EMC nor our peer-review journal, JEMS, has a tradition of or facility for album reviews. We might chat about a minimalist or experimental concert we’ve attended or performed in, or we might share a link to an archival performance we’ve found on YouTube and elsewhere, but we don’t do formal reviews. Sorry. There are many online journals and sites like WireDustedNewMusicBox, and Perfect Sound Forever that do this better than we can.

Anyway, I hope this will be of help and that this will clear up any confusion when we receive your announcements of new music. And even if you don’t want us to publish your work, we love hearing about it, so keep spreading the news!

John White performs his sonatas

New on the experimusic YouTube channel! John White’s performance of five of his sonatas at the Keyboard Experiments concert at De Montfort University, Leicester, 25 March 2017. This was the Saturday afternoon recital of the CoMA East Midlands EMC² Festival, celebrating nearly 50 years of the Experimental Music Catalogue.

On this set, John White plays the following sonatas:

Sonata 159 (2007) “Waiting for Batman”
Sonata 116 (1987) “Underwater Rhumba”
Sonata 140 (2003) “The Well-Tempered Cyclist”
Sonata 165 (2008) “Pensive Noctambulism”
Sonata 156 “A Boogie for Jonathan Powell”

There is a slight cut-out during Sonata 140 due to a cut in video files, but this should only slightly inconvenience what is a rare video performance by John White, as brilliant a pianist as he is a composer. Filmed by Connor McCormack.

Programme note: “John White has been writing piano sonatas since 1956 as a form of diary documenting his musical thinking at the time. Most of these sonatas reflect the short-form sonata from Scarlatti, and the musical thinking of Satie, with a dizzying range of individual concerns including experimental, systems and minimal, and popular musical language, and a consistent fascination for the musical thinking of piano composers from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century, from Alkan to Medtner. This set of sonatas provides a taste of his post-millennial style, with one classic from the 1980s” [Virginia Anderson].

New review on Jems

Kyle Gann’s new book, Charles Ives’s Concord: Essays after a Sonata (University of Illinois Press), is out and is no doubt of great interest to all Ives fans, scholars, and pianists. On Jems, the peer-review journal hosted by the EMC, Chris Hobbs checks out this book, using fifty years of familiarity with the piece.* You can find his findings here in the review section of Jems.

*(A funny story: Hobbs performed the “Thoreau” movement for his entrance audition to the Royal Academy of Music in 1967. One of the examiners was the composer Alan Bush, who looked at the score and said something like, “Don’t know this piece. How am I going to know if you play a wrong note?” For the exact anecdote, buy Chris a beer and he’ll tell you…).

Alex Ross and the EMC!

We received a message from our good friend at Irritable Hedgehog, David McIntire, that Alex Ross, critic of the New Yorker, had a blog post about Erik Satie’s Le Fils des Étoiles. David McIntire informed Ross about Chris Hobbs’s work on the whole version of this piece, and Ross has added a note about Chris’s work and that the EMC has released not only the first ur text of Fils (Hobbs created an edition from the manuscript, correcting many errors in the Salabert published score), but also the first recording of the corrected edition.

Most recordings of this incidental music to the pageant/play by Joséphin Péladan consist just of Satie’s three Preludes to the play’s acts. These Preludes are pretty well-known and performed frequently by most pianists who specialise in Satie. However, Satie wrote continuous music to accompany the play’s acts, forming Satie’s longest piece of through-composed music. Chris Hobbs played the first modern performance of the entire piece (i.e., after Satie premiered it), and its first recording, on London Hall Records, in 1989. However, that first performance used the published score, with its various errors. After Chris finished the new edition (published some years before the Bärenreiter Urtext Edition), he recorded the corrected edition for the EMC.

You can read Ross’s blog post here. The score is available (with a preface by the Satie scholar Robert Orledge) on the EMC Piano Catalogue and the CD (EMC 103) can be found here. There is a discount if you order both the CD and score together.

Lewis and Smith

Oh, this is a special event. In the history of British systems music piano composer/performer duos, one of the finest was the duo of Dave Smith and John Lewis. They appear prominently in Michael Parsons’ ‘Systems in Art and Music,’ The Musical Times, 117/1604 (1976), 815, and in Virginia Anderson’s ‘Systems and Other Minimalism in Britain’, in The Ashgate Companion to Minimalist and Postminimalist Music, ed. Potter, ap Siôn, and Gann (Ashgate, 2013), 87–109. So to have the two of them performing not only their duo work—the second half is a duo piece they have not performed in forty years—but also solo music by great American experimental composers and their own music. This is definitely one to attend!

Friday 2nd June 2017 6.30 pm
Schotts Recital Room
48 Great Marlborough Street
London W1F 7BB

John Lewis and Dave Smith (2 pianos)

The first half consists of a number of solos and duets including

Ives – The Alcotts
Stockhausen – Klavierstück 1
Cowell – The Snows of Fuji-Yama
Feldman – Intermission 6
Lewis – MercuryManganeseMagnesium
Smith – 3 Kerala song arrangementsEthical Libertarian Scholars

The second half consists of Continuum (1970), an extended piece of early minimalism co-composed by the performers who will be performing it for the first time since 1977.


Hobbs and Infernal Machines

This is turning into a Christopher Hobbs spring: Second Doomsday Machine is on a set, Infernal Machines, with Julius Eastman’s Evil Nigger, and some guy named Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (oh, yeah—him!), on Occupy the Pianos, at St John’s Smith Square. Saturday 6 May. The whole day (with loads of goodies by Ives, Nancarrow, J.L. Adams and more) begins at 11.00 (for the great price of £15!); Infernal Machines starts at 7 pm.

Hay-on-Wye Festival

Hobbs in Hay-on-Wye! Literary music for Britain’s literature capital!

Sara Stowe and Chris Brannick (pictured above) are performing new music for voice and percussion as part of the Hay Music series, at St Mary’s Church, Hay-on-Wye, Saturday 22 April, at 7 pm. Included will be a brand new premiere by Chris Hobbs, Three Views of Anna, with texts from James Joyce, Finnegans Wake.

To be there, rather than being square, tickets and info here:

EMC2 Programmes, pt. 2


The EMC² Weekend at De Montfort University, Leicester, was a great success, with talks, concerts, and a chance for all to perform great music in the tradition of the Experimental Music Catalogue. This weekend was the brainchild of Kieran O’Riordan, with Anna Claydon of CoMA (Contemporary Music for All), and performed with energy and much skill by the members of East Midlands CoMA, the improvisation groups CHA (Bruce Coates, Chris Hobbs, Virginia Anderson) and the South Leicestershire Improvisors Ensemble (Lee Allatson, Rick Nance, Virginia Anderson, Bruce Coates and Chris Hobbs), guest expert composers and performers including John White, Hugh Shrapnel, Sarah Walker, Chris Hobbs, Virginia Anderson, and Bruce Coates. Papers were given on related subjects from Virginia Anderson, Hilary Bracefield and Tim Bausch. Much material has been created from this event; much needs to be sifted, edited, and collated for publication. The highlights of Friday and daytime Saturday appear in the previous post. But we would like to share a little more of the event as it went on:

Saturday, 25 March:

At 7.30 pm, came the second concert, Continuing Experiments:

Not all of these pieces are available yet on video, but here are two from the second half:

First, Carole Finer, Magic Carpet, and Cornelius Cardew, “Little Flower of the North” (from Schooltime Compositions), performed by the South Leicestershire Improvisors Ensemble (Lee Allatson, drums, Virginia Anderson, clarinets, Bruce Coates, saxes, Chris Hobbs, piano, Rick Nance Tibetan bowl and other instruments).


Then Christopher Hobbs, The Friesian Cow, part 2, performed by members of SLIE and the EMC All*Stars (including John Richards, electronics, and John White, helicon):

Sunday, 26 March:

After a welcome and rehearsals in the morning, there was the Experimental Frontiers concert, consisting of performers from all the events through the weekend.

This is the first half:

Posted by Experimental Music Catalogue on Sunday, 26 March 2017

and the second half, which includes a video greeting from former EMC committee chair, Gavin Bryars, which wrapped up the approach and ethos for the festival, as Virginia Anderson’s talk began it.

Posted by Experimental Music Catalogue on Sunday, 26 March 2017

Thanks to Kieran O’Riordan, Anna Claydon for putting the EMC² Festival on; to James Thompson and his team of technicians at DMU for fantastic lighting and sound (check out the final piece, Chris Hobbs’ CoMA Units, for an example of their work); to Rui and Conner at the University of Leicester for their roving and fixed video work; and to Lee Allatson for HD video on Saturday night. And, of course CoMA, and everyone who took part. It was an amazing weekend.