Hugh Davies

(b. 23 April 1943, Exmouth, East Devon – d. 1 January 2005, London).

British composer of mostly chamber, electroacoustic and multimedia works that have been performed throughout the world; he was also active as an instrument inventor, researcher and writer.

Mr. Davies studied counterpoint and harmony with Edmund Rubbra and music history with Frank Harrison at the University of Oxford from 1961–64 and there earned his BA.

Among his honours were the Honorary Logos Award in Belgium (1972), honorary citizenship of the city of Baltimore (1988) and the medal of the city of Bourges (1990). His sound sculptures and sound installations have been exhibited in Europe and North America.

As an inventor, he built more than 150 musical instruments, some in collaboration with the visual artist John Furnival early in his career, and has often performed on them as a soloist and in numerous ensembles for improvisation.

As a researcher, he was active at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales in Paris in 1966–67. He founded the studio for electronic music at Goldsmiths, University of London in 1967 and served as its director from 1967–86. He also served as a consultant researcher there from 1986–91 and as the external consultant for electronic musical instruments at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag from 1986–93.

As a writer, his books include Répertoire international des musiques électroacoustiques/International Electronic Music Catalog (1968, MIT Press; also as issue 2/3 of Electronic Music Review, 1968) and Sounds Heard (2002 [with CD], Soundworld). He has also contributed numerous articles on electronic music, its history and its instruments for various publications.

He was also active in other positions. He served as assistant to Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne and performed with the Stockhausen Ensemble from 1964–66. He served as a committee member of the New Macnaghten Concerts from 1968–71, of New Activities of Arts Council England in 1969–70, of the Electroacoustic Music Association from 1977–84, and of the International Confederation for Electroacoustic Music from 1982–92, for which he also served as secretary from 1982–86. In addition, he served on the board of directors of the Artist Placement Group from 1975–89.

He taught as a visiting lecturer in sonic arts at Middlesex University in London from 1999–2004.





Trigon, flute, 1961–62

Episodes I, flute, clarinet, 1962

Episodes II, clarinet, 1962

Rhapsody, violin, 1963

Moonlight, variable ensemble (alto saxophone, trumpet, trombone, electric guitar, accordion, cymbal [or other instruments with a similar range]), 1964

Mobile with Differences, 5 portable concert instruments with a specific range, live electronics, 1973, revised 1982

Differentials, 3 high wind instruments with a specific range, 1973–75

Meldoci Gestures, flute/violin, cello, piano, 1978

Meldoci Gestures from the British Isles, flute, tuba/other bass instrument, 1979

Three Handelian Angels Intertwined, clarinet, violin, cello, 1980

Fanfare, 5 trumpets, 1991

Natural Images, any number of amplified instruments (+ amplified objects) (1 player), fixed media (2 tracks), 1992 (version of electroacoustic work)

Inventio, any improvisational player, ensemble (flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet/bassoon, viola, 2 cellos, synthesizer/electric piano, accordion/electronic keyboard), 1994


Three Carols on Latin Texts (texts from anonymous sources), female chorus, 1963

Choireography (text by the composer), 16 mixed voices, 1974


Vom ertrunkenen Mädchen (text by Bertolt Brecht), soprano, flute, clarinet, piano, 1964

Haiku (text by the composer), soprano, piano, 1974

Ex una voce (texts by the composer, anonymous sources), tenor, synthesizer, 1979

Four Songs (texts by the composer, anonymous sources), voice, any melody instrument with the same range, 1979–81

Rapport (text by the composer), soprano, flute, piano, 1981


Three Pieces, 1962

Variations, 1962

Contact, 1963

Raisonnements, 1973

Master Domenico's HumpbackInterrupted Tango, 1985

Trois Amorces en forme de poireau (Three Beginnings in the Form of a Leek), 1995


Kangaroo, 1968


Taken for a Ride!, fixed media (1 track), 1967

Quintet, live electronics (5 players), 1967–68

Interfaces, fixed media (4 tracks), live electronics (6 players), 1967–68 (also version for fixed media [4 tracks], live electronics [2 players], 1967–68)

Natural Images, fixed media (2 tracks), 1976 (also version for any number of amplified instruments [+ amplified objects] [1 player], fixed media [2 tracks])

Tapestries, fixed media (2 tracks), 1982–83

Vision, fixed media (4 tracks), 1987 (also version for fixed media [2 tracks], 1987)

Celeritas, fixed media (2 tracks), 1987

From Trees and Rocks, fixed media, 2000 (music for exhibition at Kolumba, Cologne)

Postojnski ZvoncertPostojna Bell-Concert, fixed media, 2003 (concert version of sound installation)


Music for Car-Horns, 15 or more car horns, 1967–69

The Birth of Live Electronic Music, 2 vocal noisemakers, Stroh violin, sound balancer, 1971

Beautiful Seaweeds, 2–6 dancers/mimes, any 2–6 players, slide projections (from book Beautiful Seaweeds by James Cook), 1972–73

The Musical Educator (text by the composer, after anthology The Musical Educator), speaker, 2 dancers/mimes, piano, harmonium, slide projections (from anthology The Musical Educator), 1974

The Pianoforte (text by the composer, after anthology The Musical Educator), speaker, piano, 1974

The Search for the Music of the Spheres (text by the composer; actors also wear specially-made amplified laboratory coats), 4 actors (all with specially-made amplified props), sound balancer, slide projections (by the composer), 1978

At Home, any number of invented instruments (1 player), 1978

I Have a Dream, dancer/mime (with specially-made props, specially-made amplified props), fixed media (4 tracks), slide projections (compiled by the composer), 1984–85 (also version for dancer/mime [with specially-made props, specially-made amplified props], fixed media [2 tracks], slide projections [compiled by the composer], 1987)

Tintinnabularia Coloniensis (sound installation: a great variety of bells from throughout the world, including some homemade, installed in the underground ruins of the prætorium in Cologne, played by visitors with remote controls; also 2 bells in the foyer sounded by a pair of rotating electric fans), 2001

Soft Winds Do Blow (sound installation: a gallery room containing invented instruments and sound objects played by any small number of rotating electric fans, also by visitors with a foot pump; outdoors, a large Aeolian harp with strings struck by weighted flags), 2002

Postojnski Zvoncert (sound installation: bells from throughout the world, including some homemade, installed in a cave in Postojna, Slovenia, played by visitors with remote controls; fixed media), 2003 (also concert version for fixed media)


Shozyg I, player, 1968

Shozyg II, player, 1968

Shozyg I+II, 2 players, 1968

Spring Song, player, 1970

Shozyg Sequence No. 1, player, 1971

H. D. Breadbins, 4/5 players, 1972

Gentle Springs, 4/5 players, 1973

Music for Bowed Diaphragms, player, 1973

My Spring Collection, player, 1975

Salad, player, 1977

Shozyg Sequence No. 2, player, 1977

Jigamaree, any youth ensemble (with self-built instruments), 1977

Music for a Single Spring, player, 1977

Music for Two Springs, player, 1977

Music for Three Springs, player, 1977

Organic Rhythms, player, 1981

Strata, player, fixed media (2/4 tracks), 1987

Shozyg Sequence No. 3, player, 1990–92

Embellishments, player/2 players, 1994, revised 1997

Porcupine, player, 2000

ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECTS/DOCUMENTATION (verbal listening and realisation scores based on environmental sounds and objects):

Environmental Music Projects (4 environmental projects), 1969–78

Sounds Heard, 1969–2004 (unfinished)