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Famous Like Me > Composer > H > Tim Hodgkinson

Profile of Tim Hodgkinson on Famous Like Me

Name: Tim Hodgkinson  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 1st May 1949
Place of Birth: Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, UK
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Tim Hodgkinson

Tim Hodgkinson (born 1 May 1949) is a British experimental composer and performer, principally on keyboards and reed instruments. He is best known as one of the core members of the British avant-garde rock group Henry Cow, which he formed with Fred Frith in 1968. After the demise of Henry Cow, he participated in a number of bands and projects, including a solo recording career.


Tim Hodgkinson was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire in England on 1 May 1949. He graduated in social anthropology at Cambridge University in 1971 but chose to pursue a musical career instead. His interest in anthropology, however, remained and he drew on it later during a series of study trips to Siberia.

Bands and other projects

These are only some of the many bands and projects Tim Hodgkinson has been involved in.

While still at university, Hodgkinson and fellow student Fred Frith formed the seminal avant-garde rock group Henry Cow in 1968. Hodgkinson remained with Henry Cow as one of the band's core members until their demise in 1978, composing a number of their musical pieces, most notably "Living in the Heart of the Beast" (recorded on their In Praise of Learning album). Henry Cow was the foundation of Hodgkinson's musical education. It was an opportunity for him to work closely with other instrumentalists and develop new musical landscapes. After Henry Cow split, Hodgkinson and fellow band member Chris Cutler compiled "The Henry Cow Book", a collection of documents and information about the band, published in 1981.

In 1980 Hodgkinson formed The Work, a post-punk band with guitarist-composer Bill Gilonis, bassist Mick Hobbs and drummer Rick Wilson. At the same time Hodgkinson and Gilonis formed the independent Woof record label. Over the next few years, The Work toured Europe. After performing at a Rock in Opposition festival in Bonn with vocalist Catherine Jauniaux in 1982, the band and Jauniaux recorded Slow Crimes for the Woof label. Later that year, with a slightly altered line-up of Hodgkinson, Gilonis, Amos and Chris Cutler, they performed in Japan. A concert in Osaka in June 1982 was recorded with a cassette recorder half-way down the hall and was later cleaned up and released on an LP Live in Japan. After the Japanese tour, The Work disbanded but reformed again in the early 1990s with the original line-up to record two industrial/noise albums, Rubber Cage and See.

K-Space: Ken Hyder, Gendos Chamzyryn and Tim Hodgkinson

In 1990 Hodgkinson and Ken Hyder, a Scottish percussionist and improviser, who had been performing together since 1978, toured Siberia as a duo under the banner "Friendly British Invasion in Search of the Soviet Shamans". This was the first of many study trips they made to Siberia to make contact with local musicians and ritual specialists. It was during this time that they met shamanic musician Gendos Chamzyryn from Tuva and as a trio, they toured Altai villages in the summer of 1998. Chamzyryn played a variety of traditional Tuvan instruments and used the deep-vocal Kargiraa style of overtone-singing.

The success of this "shaman" project resulted in the formation of K-Space, a band comprising Hodgkinson, Hyder and Chamzyryn. They took their name from a time machine proposed by the late Russian astrophysicist Nicolai Kozyrev and their music was sham beat, which incorporated elements of shamanic culture and jazz. From 1999 they began touring Asia and Europe and made two CDs in 2002 and 2004.

Another free improvisation band Hodgkinson was involved with was Konk Pack. Formed at the Szuenetjel Festival in Budapest in 1997 with Thomas Lehn from Cologne on synthesizer and Roger Turner from London on percussion, they performed a blend of psychedelia and free jazz. In 1999 they released a CD of live recordings The Big Deep and made two more CDs in 2001 and 2005.

As an improviser, Tim Hodgkinson performed with many musicians over the years, including Lol Coxhill, Fred Frith, Chris Cutler, Tom Cora, Lindsay Cooper, John Zorn, Evan Parker, Catherine Jauniaux and Charles Hayward.

From 1983 to 1985 he managed the Cold Storage Recording Studios in Brixton, London, producing records for Fred Frith's Skeleton Crew, Peter Blegvad and others. He has written a book on the anthropology of music and contributed to periodicals such as Contemporary Music Review, Musicworks, Musica/Realta, and Resonance on music and technology, ethnomusicology, improvisation and other topics.

Solo work

Tim Hodgkinson's first solo album was Splutter in 1986, consisting of solo clarinet improvisations.

In 1994 he released Each in Our Own Thoughts, a collection of unreleased compositions of his. It included some classical music ("String Quartet 1", performed by a string quartet) and a piece he composed for Henry Cow in 1976 ("Hold to the Zero Burn"), which was performed by the band at the time (as "Erk Gah") but never recorded. When "Hold to the Zero Burn" was finally recorded in 1993 it was a Henry Cow reunion of sorts because it included four members of the original band: Tim Hodgkinson, Chris Cutler, Lindsay Cooper and Dagmar Krause. Each in Our Own Thoughts was Hodgkinson's foray into contemporary classical music and included compositions with a sampler and computer: "Numinous Pools For Mental Orchestra" was performed entirely with MIDI-instruments on a computer.

The exploration of new techniques continued with Pragma in 1998, a mix of improvisation and composition, conceived for a combination of computers, samples and live instruments.

In 2000 Hodgkinson made Sang, a collection of new chamber music compositions. Three of the four pieces were performed by Hodgkinson alone, playing viola, piano, alto saxophone, percussion and MIDI, while the last was performed by Federica Santoro (singing) with a montage made from recordings of other pieces of Hodgkinson’s (a rehearsal with Banda Municipal de Barcelona and fragments of his second String Quartet).


Tim Hodgkinson’s music displays many personalities: from the serious and complex musical structures of Henry Cow to the angry post-punk crash of guitars in The Work; from the free-wheeling improvisation with Konk Pack to the contemporary classical music of his virtual orchestra on his solo recordings.

The instruments he plays are principally reeds (saxophone and clarinet) and keyboards, but with The Work, K-Space and Konk Pack he also played lap steel guitar/Hawaiian guitar and he sang. For his solo recordings he added viola, percussion, sampling, sequencing and MIDI.

Hodgkinson is a self-taught musician. He started formal piano and clarinet lessons, but quickly abandoned them. He then began writing down music, initially using a keyboard but soon switched to writing the sounds in his head directly onto paper. To assist with this process, he studied sight-singing with Andras Ranki at Morley College, London in 1983. He also studied composition and writing orchestral music in 1985.

At heart, Tim Hodgkinson is an improviser, but he is also a composer, experimenting with the use of rock production techniques to create contemporary classical music.


Here is a selection of albums Tim Hodgkinson has performed on, showing the year they were first released:

  • With Henry Cow
    • 1973 Leg End aka Legend (LP Virgin Records, UK)
    • 1974 Unrest (LP Virgin Records, UK)
    • 1976 Henry Cow Concerts (LP Caroline Records, UK))
    • 1979 Western Culture (LP Broadcast, UK)
  • With Henry Cow/Slapp Happy
    • 1975 Desperate Straights (LP Virgin Records, UK)
    • 1975 In Praise of Learning (LP Virgin Records, UK)
  • With Art Bears
    • 1978 Hopes and Fears (LP Recommended Records, UK)
  • With The Work
    • 1982 Slow Crimes (LP Woof, UK)
    • 1982 Live in Japan (LP Recommended Records, Japan)
    • 1989 Rubber Cage (LP Woof, UK)
    • 1992 See (CD Discmedi , UK)
  • With Fred Frith
    • 1990 Live Improvisations, (CD Woof, UK)
  • With K-Space
    • 2002 Bear Bones (CD Slam Records, UK)
    • 2004 Going Up (CD Slam Records, UK)
  • With Konk Pack
    • 1999 Big Deep (CD Grob, Germany))
    • 2001 Warp Out (CD Grob, Germany))
    • 2005 Off Leash (CD Grob, Germany))
  • Solo
    • 1985 Splutter (LP Woof, UK)
    • 1994 Each in Our Own Thoughts (CD Woof, UK)
    • 1998 Pragma (CD Recommended Records, UK)
    • 2000 Sang (CD Recommended Records, UK)


  • Cutler, Chris and Hodgkinson, Tim (1981) The Henry Cow Book, Third Step Printworks. ISBN 0950887005

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Tim Hodgkinson