Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tim Brady 13 questions

Tim Brady

Tim Brady is a composer and guitarist who has created music in a wide range of genres ranging from chamber and orchestral music to electroacoustic works, chamber opera, contemporary dance scores, jazz and free improvisation. He has been commissioned and performed by numerous ensembles and orchestras in North America and Europe including the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec, New Music Concerts, INA-GRM (Radio-France), the English Guitar Quartet, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Esprit Orchestra (CBC), the Philadelphia-based Relâche ensemble, the Australian group Topology, and the British string ensemble The Smith Quartet.

Photo Matt Thomas

In addition to his work as a composer and guitarist, from 1994 to 2004 he served as the Artistic Director of Innovations en concert, a company which he founded. It is one of Montreal's main new music producers, and during his tenure as director he produced over 100 concerts of contemporary music from across Canada and around the world. He also writes frequently for Musicworks Magazine, and has served on the boards of Codes d'accès, The Canadian League of Composers and the Music Gallery. He is currently the president of the Canadian New Music Network.

Since 1988 he has released 20 CDs as both a composer and a performer on Justin Time Records and, more recently, on the Ambiances magnétiques and ATMA Classique labels. His three most recent CDs are: Atacama: Symphonie #3 (ATMA Classique - Feb. 2013), the 4-CD/DVD boxed set 24 Frames (Ambiances magnétiques - Oct. 2011), for solo guitar and video, and My 20th Century (Ambiances magnétiques - 2009), a multi-media work for his Bradyworks ensemble. His two most recent major orchestral works are the Viola Concerto (Orchestre symphonique de Laval - Mar. 2013) and The Absence of Shelling is Almost Like Music, for cello, video and orchestra, commissioned by the Orchestre symphonique de Québec (Feb. 2013). Other recent orchestral pieces include Requiem 21.5: Violin Concerto, commissioned by Symphony Nova Scotia (2012) and  Amplify, Multiply, Remix and Redfine: in memory of Les Paul (for 21 electric guitars & orchestra), commissioned for the 2010 Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra New Music Festival. His most recent international success was the June 2010 production of excerpts from "24 Frames - Trance" at the Bang on a Can Marathon in New York City, as well as a 6-city East Coast US tour in September 2012.

Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Foyer, Amsterdam,September 30th, 2007;Photo Co Broerse

Brady regularly tours North America, Europe, Asia and Australia as an electric guitar soloist, performing his own music as well as new works which he commissions from other composers in his effort to create a new voice for the electric guitar. He has performed at many leading venues including The South Bank Centre and the ICA (London), The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (UK), The Darwin International Guitar Festival (Australia), the Bang on a Can Festival (NY), and De Ijsbreker (Amsterdam), Radio-France (Paris), the Barcelona Contemporary Music Festival and BKA (Berlin). He has recorded extensively for Radio-Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Netherlands Public Radio, Radio-France, Spanish National Radio and National Public Radio in the USA. In 1999 his Strange Attractors World Tour took him to 10 countries for a total of 23 concerts.

His new music ensemble Bradyworks has toured Canada six times (1991, 1994, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2009), performed in the United States, and records regularly for both the CBC and Radio-Canada. The ensemble released its first CD in 1991, entitled Inventions, and released its second recording, Revolutionary Songs, in 1996 to coincide with its performance at the Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville. In the autumn of 2003 the group released its third CD, entitled Unison Rituals, and presented its first European tour, including a radio performance for the BBC Radio 3 programme "Hear and Now", along with concerts in Aberdeen, Dublin and Cork. The ensemble recently presented Brady's two chamber operas in highly successful productions: Three Cities in the Life of Dr. Norman Bethune (Montreal, 2003 / Toronto, 2005), and The Salome Dancer (Kitchener, 2005). In May 2008 it presented 5 performances of the multi-media work My 20th Century in a tour across Québec, including a performance at the Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville.  My 20th Century's success continued in 2009, with a 10-city Canadian tour, to rave reviews.

In January 2013 his work "Atacama: Symphonie #3" was named "Best new composition of the year" at the Prix OPUS. In 2004 he was awarded the Prix OPUS for "Composer of the Year" by the Conseil québécois de la musique, for the outstanding quality of his work as a creative artist. In Nov. 2006 he was awarded the Jan V. Matejcek Award by SOCAN, for the most concert music performance royalties in Canada for 2005 (francophone category). From 2008 to 2013 he will be serving as the "composer-in-residence" with the Orchestre symphonique de Laval, working with music director Alain Trudel to build a creative music presence in the orchestra and in the city of Laval.

What do you remember about your first guitar?

Like most "baby boomers" (I was born in 1956), it was really The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Television Show (Feb. 9, 1964) that set us down the path of playing guitar. Electric guitar sales increased dramatically from that point on.  I got my first guitar a few years later, and an electric guitar for my 16th birthday,

Why do you need music? Can we live without music?

Since I got my first guitar at 11, music has been a very central part of my life.  There are many psychological and anthropological theories as to why music is important to humans, and they are probably all true in one way or another. Music must be important to our species, look at the enormous amount to time, energy and passion that we put into it.  We would not make music if it was not truly essential.  But it does remain, at least a little bit, a mystery.

So, why do you love the guitar?

I started on guitar, so it's what I do.  In fact, if I had started on oboe, I'd love oboe.  Guitar is no better an instrument than any other instrument, it's just what I do at this point.

Which work of your own  are you most proud of, and why?

I'd have to say I think my most recent CD - Atacama: Symphony #3 (2013)  - is some of my best work, as a composer and producer.  There is very little guitar on the CD, but that is ok.  My previous 3-CD project - 24 Frames -has almost nothing but guitar, and has some good writing and playing.  My next CD is 3 major orchestral pieces (no guitar at all! - coming out in 2015), and I'm very pleased with that music. In general, I am always happier with the writing than with the playing on a project.  I think temperamentally, I am more 55% composer, 45% guitarist (percentage may vary from day to day…)

Depict the sound you're still looking for.

The sound I want is always related to the composition.  I do not want a single "sound" (like say Pat Martino or Bill Frisell or John Scofield or Eric Clapton, etc) - I am amazed at these kind of players, who find their "sound" and just make all sorts of great music with it.  It's incredible. I am more interested in pushing the sonic variety, using the electric guitar for really varied orchestrations.  I think this basic idea is influenced by The Beatles producer George Martin - starting from "The Beatles 65" record, every guitar track sounds different from one song to the next.  He always found a really specific sound for each song.  Think of the difference between "Helter Skelter" and "Michelle", as an extreme example.  But they are the right sounds for the composition.  That is what I am looking for.
In terms of image: depends on the music, but always a sound that makes you want to listen, that makes you want to find out what is going to happen next.

Where are your roots? What are your secret influences?

No secret influences.  Here is the list, in chronological order:

The Beatles / The Allman Brother Band / Todd Rundgren / John McGlaughlin / the ECM guitarists of the 80s/90s - Metheny,Abercrombie, Frisell.../ Pat Martino / Derek Bailey
After that, I get a little too old to be really heavily "influenced" by other players, you start to know yourself as a player and person (and you get old and stuck in your ways!)

As a composer, a different list:

The Beatles / then…Charles Mingus / Debussy / Stravinsky / Elliot Carter / Lutoslawski (especially Symphony #3) / the minimalist trio - Glass/Reich/ Adams/ Bartok / Schostakovitch / and a Canadian composer named Linda Smith.  Again, as you get older, influences tend to be less important.  You just hear what you hear.

What are your motivations for composing?

I just hear this music in my head.  I want to get it out there, so I can hear it, and so others can play it and others can hear it.  I also really love the process of making music - composing it, then working with players to get it together, presenting it to the public. It is really fun! It is not more complicated than that.

How would you define the present time in musical terms?

Poly-stylistic.  Mainstream commercial music seems a bit of a dead end currently, but there is lots of amazing music happening in more out of the way corners - improv, electroacoustic, new orchestral and chamber music, music for amateur players.  We are living in a time of incredibly musical liberty - which is a huge challenge, but very exciting.

What quality do you admire most in music?

Honesty and personality. A point of view.

A valuable advice that someone has gifted to you in the past?

My guitar teacher Mick Goodrick (I studied with him from 1978 - 1980 in Boston) has the most influence on me as a musician.  He had a very strange way of teaching, but it was quite brilliant.  He never answered my questions, just kept pushing me to find the answers myself. Very Zen-style. Never said if I was playing well or not, never told me how to play guitar.  Just kept asking me to look more deeply at the question. It took me a decade after that to figure out what he was getting at but I think it was this:

Every artist must decide what they want to know and do, it is a long, soul-searching process, and it is ultimately their responsibility (and joy) to discover the way to do it.  Nobody else can teach you how to make your music.  In this sense, all creators must be autodidacts to a considerable extent.

Frame 4: Still by Tim Brady Performed live by Duo Verdejo Adrian Verdejo, guitar; Markus Takizawa, viola at the Orpheum Annex on November 17, 2013

What's your fetish device in the sound chain?

Yikes - a big question.  The whole chain is important.  It depends on the music.  For some pieces, the choice of guitar and amp is critical.  For other pieces, it is the larger orchestration, the choice of tone colours.  For other compositions, the electronic processing.  Even the choice of pick is important to the final sound.  It is very context-dependant.

What dead artist would you like to have collaborated with?

I've never thought about this!

What’s your latest project about?

I am working on several projects (several new orchestral pieces and chamber operas) but the newest guitar project is my new electric guitar quartet called Instruments of Happiness.  We are recording my new guitar quartet called "The Same River Twice: Symphony #5.0 and #5.1" - which will be out in 2015.


February 2013

Atacama: Symphony #3 - ATMA Classique

June 2013 - Centrediscs
RANT! - for piano and percussion on CD by Bev Johnston

October 2011
Tim Brady / Martin Messier / Bradyworks
"24 Frames - Trance" + "Scatter"

24 frames



To order CDs via the Internet and
to hear audio clips:

  • February 2013 - Atacama: Symphonie #3 - ATMA CLassique ACD2 - 2676
    featuring 32 musicians, combining Bradyworks with the VivaVoce chamber choir
  • October 2011- 24 Frames - Scatter - Ambiances magnétiques AM 206
    Double CD of solo guitar music and duos with musicians from Bradyworks
  • October 2010 - 24 Frames - Trance - Ambiances magnétiques AM 203
A CD+DVD of this multi-media projet for solo guitar, electronics (Brady) and video (Messier).
  • September 2009 - My 20th Century - Ambiances magnétiques AM 189
A CD+DVD of this multi-media work for 5 musicians, with music and text by Tim Brady and videos by Martin Messier and Oana Suteu
Nominated for a PRIX OPUS 2009-2010: Best contemporary/modern recording of the year

 April 2001 with Tim Brady (the guy with the headless Steinberger guitar) photo by F. Chris Giles

  • October 2007 - SCAT (because we all have voices and stories to tell) - Ambiances magnétiques AM 164
Australia's extraordinary chamber group Topology give stunning performances of four of Brady's most evocative and virtuoso  chamber works. Recorded in Brisbane, Australia.
  • October 2006 - GO [guitar obsession] - Ambiances magnétiques AM 156
    Brady's first solo guitar recording in 4 years combines several exceptional live performances with new studio recordings, including tape, looping, live computer and some flat-out improv. Music by Brady, Tristan Murail, Alexander Burton, Jean-François Laporte and Laurence Crane.
  • November 2005 - Three Cities in the Life of Dr. Norman Bethune - Ambiances magnétiques AM 139
    A one-act chamber opera for solo voice, 8 instruments and tape, featuring a passionate performance by baritone Michael Donovan. The work is an evocation of the last five years (1935 - 1939) in the life of this remarkable doctor, humanitarian and political activist.
    Nominated for a PRIX OPUS 2005-2006: Best contemporary/modern recording of the year

Tim Brady performs his "Strumming (Hommage à John Lennon)," with a video by Martin Messier. Photo Tom Steenland

  • September 2004 - Playing Guitar: Symphony #1 - Ambiances magnétiques AM 125
    The premiere recording of Brady's first symphony, a 46-minute work for solo electric guitar, sampler, 15 musicians and live electronics. The work was recorded by its commissioner, the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, under the direction of Lorraine Vaillancourt. Also included is the work "Frame 1 - Resonance" for electric guitar, electronics and piano. A beautiful and ambitious recording project.
    Nominated for a 2004-2005 PRIX OPUS: Best contemporary/modern CD of the year
  • April 2003 - Unison Rituals - Ambiances magnétiques AM 110
    A CD of Brady's chamber and ensemble music for saxophone, include the saxophone quartet "Unison Rituals", three performances by Bradyworks ("Double Helix", "Two Chords Less Than a Blues" and "Escapement", featuring a scordatura guitar part), and a studio realisation of the work "Sound Off", which uses overdubbing to create an ensemble of 48 winds and 3 bass drums. Beautifully recorded at Concordia University's Oscar Peterson Concert Hall, and with great performances from the Quasar saxophone quartet, the KAPPA big band and Bradyworks. Brady'second release for Ambiances magnétiques.

  • November 2002 - Twenty Quarter Inch Jacks - Ambiances magnétiques AM 107
    A new CD of guitar music by Tim Brady, released to coincide with the premiere of the instrumental music theatre work "20 Jacks 1/4", for 20 young guitarists, commissioned by the international theatre festival "Les Coups de theatre". The title track is a 30-minute work for 20 overdubbed guitars, performed by Brady. Also included are two works from 2001, for guitar and sampler/tape: "Music Box Bell Curves ("Hello Paris!)" and "Sauchiehall Street". Almost 60 minutes of guitar madness - Brady's first release on the Ambiances magnétiques label.
  • 2000 - 10 Collaborations - Justin Time Records JTR - 8484/5-2.
    A double CD with almost 2 hours of music including 5 new works by Brady, plus music by Jeremy Peyton-Jones (UK), Wende Bartley (Canada), Tristan Murail (France), Yasuhiro Otani (Japan), Wes Wraggett (Canada) and Atle Pakusch Gundersen (Norway) for solo electric guitar and electronics, multiple guitars, and guitar and chamber ensemble, with guest performances from Bradyworks' soprano Annie Tremblay, harpsichordist vivé vinçent, computer musician Yasuhiro Otani and the Penderecki String Quartet.
    Listed as one of the "Best CDs of 2001"- Downbeat Magazine

  • 1997 - Strange Attractors - Justin Time Records JTR - 8464-2
    Tim Brady - solo electric guitar, electronics, multitrack and computer studio
    Six new works by Tim Brady created using a wide variety of contemporary electronic technology ranging from solo re-tuned guitar to works for computer controlled sound and guitar. Sonic exploration, wild guitar sounds, strong performances and the odd nice "tune" thrown in for good measure.
  • 1996 - Revolutionary Songs - Justin Time Records JTR - 8459-2
    Bradyworks - Tim Brady (gtr.); Nathalie Paulin (soprano); Marie-Josée Simard (perc.); Louise-Andrée Baril (pno.); André Leroux (sax.); Gordon Cleland (cello). The title track is a 39-minute song-cycle based on poetry from the Russian, Angolan, French and Nicaraguan revolutions, sung in English, French and Spanish. Also on the CD are the works Circling (saxophone and vibraphone), Three or Four Days After the Death of Kurt Cobain (cello and piano) and Walker Songs (solo soprano).
  • 1994 - Scenarios - Justin Time Records JTR - 8445-2
    Tim Brady - solo electric guitar and live electronics. Originally recorded live in the CBC studios for the radio show Two New Hours, this CD continues Brady's exploration into developing a new musical language for the electric guitar. Works by Brady, Michael Rosas Cobian, José-Manuel Montañés and Marc Tremblay.

  • 1992 - Imaginary Guitars - Justin Time Records JTR - 8440-2
    Tim Brady - solo electric guitar and live electronics. Voted one of the best guitar CDs of the year by Guitar Player's Editor Joe Gore, this recording presents four solo guitar works with electronics and tape by Brady along with pieces from Paul Dolden, René Lussier and Alain Thibault. The ultimate electroacoutsic guitar experience.
  • 1991 - Inventions - Justin Time Records JTR - 8433-2
    Bradyworks Tim Brady (gtr.); Marie-Josée Simard (perc.); Jacques Drouin (pno./sampler); Chris Best (cello); Simon Stone (sax.) with guest improvisers John Surman (sax.), Barre Phillips (bass) and Pierre Tanguay (perc.). The music from Brady's 1989 music / dance collaboration with choreographer Julie West, combining elements of jazz, minimalism and electroacoustics.
  • 1990 - Double Variations - Justin Time Records JTR - 8415-2
    Tim Brady - electric and acoustic guitars, electronics and synthesizer; John Abercrombie - electric guitar and guitar synthesizer. A large, 14-movement work which intercuts a series of duos between Brady and Abercrombie with 24-track overdubbed guitar textures created by Brady.
  • 1988 - Visions - Justin Time Records JTR - 8413-2
    L'Orchestre de chambre de Montréal, Wanda Kaluzny, conductor; Kenny Wheeler - trumpet & flugelhorn; Tim Brady - solo electric guitar and electronics. The title piece is a 34-minute piece for string orchestra and improvisational soloist and features some of Kenny Wheeler's best recorded solo work. Brady and Wheeler also play duets and Brady's first major work for guitar and electronics, Electric Waves, appears on this CD.

    Other compact discs featuring the music of Tim Brady
  • RANT! - for percussion and piano - Bev Johnston and Pam Reimer - Centredisques 18913 (2013)
    Triple Riffing - for clarinet, violin and piano - Ensemble Resonance - University of Calgary Records (2010)
  • Slow Dances - for clarinet and string quartet - Jean-Guy Boisver (cl.) + Quatuor Bozzini  - ATMA Classique ACD2 2552 (2008)
  • public space / private music - for solo tape (installation) - on "4 X 4 Commissions" CD, limited edition put out by the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, Scotland (2001)
  • Quartet 1998 - for saxophone quartet - on self-titled CD by the group Quasar - les Disques ATMA (2000)

Photo Matt Thomas

  • Waiter, Waiter, Call the Manager - for big band - on the self-titled CD by the KAPPA ensemble (1998)
  • Trois histoires - Brady's performance of Roche noire (chronique irlandaise) appears on this recording of music by composer / guitarist René Lussier - Ambiance Magnetique 041CD (1996)
  • Circling - original version for flute and vibraphone - on Marie-Josée Simard and Lise Daoust's CD "L'Aube Enchantée - Enchanted Dawn" - Les Disques Atma ACD22115 (1997)
  • Reaching Past - for harpsichord and tape - on Vivienne Spiteri's "New Music for Harpsichord from Canada and the Netherlands" - Société nouvelle d'enregistrement SNE - 542 - CD (1988)
  • Changes - for piano, vibraphone and marimba - on Marie-Josée Simard's self-titled solo CD. SNE 572 - CD (1991)
  • Doubling - solo harpsichord version - on Vivienne Spiteri's "comme si l'hydrogène...the desert speaks" - J&W CD931 (1993)

Vinyl (no longer available - copies available on special order only)
  • 1987 - Persistence of Vision - Apparition A-0287-7
    Tim Brady - solo electric and acoustic guitars, delay devices, synthesizer
    Brady's second solo record increasingly uses electronics to enhance the compositional aspects of his guitar playing.A digital recording including a very early use of digital overdubbing using separate audio feeds to the inputs and outputs of the Sony PCM digital encoder.
  • 1985 - dR.E.aM.s - Apparition Records A-0485-5
    Tim Brady - solo electric and acoustic guitars A combination of improvised and composed pieces for solo guitars with little or no electronics or overdubbing. A digital recording.
  • 1984 - Music for Solo Piano - Apparition Records A-0984-4
    Three contemporary classical works for solo piano composed by Brady and performed by pianist Marc Widner.
  • 1983 - Chalk Paper - C Note Records 831043
    Tim Brady - electric & acoustic guitars; Neil Swainson - bass; Terry Clarke - drums and percussion. A jazz trio recording of six Brady originals combining contemporary jazz with elements of free improvisation and more structured compositions.