1968196919701971197219731974197519761977197819791980198119821983198419851986198719881989199019911992199319941995199619971998199920002001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016

Early works were published by Experimental Music Catalogue. This stopped trading in 1981, but is now run by Christopher Hobbs and Virginia Anderson. For information on these works contact info@experimentalmusic.co.uk

All Gavin Bryars' music is now published by Schott Music, 48 Great Marlborough Street, London W1F 7BB

Works not published by Schott or EMC are marked with an asterisk (*) and are unavailable for performance.

NB. All Gavin Bryars' manuscripts have been acquired by the British Library. These may be accessed through Dr. Nicolas Bell, Curator Music Collections, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

Pre-1968

There are a number of works, early attempts at composition and so on, some of which were performed. List in progress…

Three no. 2 "Visions" (Mss. In Notations Collection of John Cage)

Hoyu spoke no words (Mss. In Notations Collection of John Cage)

Three no. 7

16 Fragments for solo guitar



Instrumentation: Any number of keyboards, including one prepared piano.
Duration: indeterminate
Published in EMC Keyboard Anthology.
First performance: Kingston College of Art, 13 December 1968.

Note : Mr. Sunshine (1968)

Mr. Sunshine (1968)

Mr. Sunshine is one of three pieces written in 1968 for the pianist John Tilbury following my return from America. It consists of one large page of notation incorporating certain elements of indeterminacy. There are "looped" areas where short phrases are played over and over, and some of these are connected by lines to other parts of the page, giving the possibility of moving through the music in a series of leaps. Although written for a solo pianist, it is strictly for any number of pianos, of which one should be "prepared". This prepared piano may be used to maintain a pulse, to colour other material or to give a continuum to the freer, non prepared part.

It is, in fact, the earliest piece that I still acknowledge, all others having been destroyed.



Solo theatre piece(uses special garment).
Duration: indeterminate.
Published in EMC Visual Anthology.
First Performance: University College, Cardiff, 6 November 1969.



Tape piece (1/2 Track Stereo)
Duration: c.30 minutes
First performance: Systems Art exhibition, Helsinki, 1970



Indeterminate(text notation)
Published in EMC Verbal Anthology.
First performance:  Reardon-Smith Hall, Cardiff, 1969



Instrumentation: Indeterminate (possible materials include stereo tapes, string ensemble, percussion, low brass, brass quartet, bass clarinet, cassette tapes of speech, keyboard, 35 mm slides, visible sound effects, music box).
Duration: versions of 25’, 35’, or 1 hour (plus)
Published in Soundings 9 (USA).First performance: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London 1972

Note : The Sinking of the Titanic (1969- )

The Sinking of the Titanic (1969- )

This piece originated in a sketch written for an exhibition in support of beleaguered art students at Portsmouth in 1969. Working as I was in an art college environment I was interested to see what might be the musical equivalent of a work of conceptual art. It was not until 1972 that I made a performing version of the piece for part of an evening of my work at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London and during the next three years I performed the piece several times. In 1975 I made a recorded version for the first of the ten records produced for Brian Eno's Obscure label. In 1990 I re-recorded the piece 'live' at the Printemps de Bourges festival when the availability of an extraordinary space - the town's disused water tower dating from the Napoleonic period - and the rediscovery of the wreck by Dr. Ballard made me think again about the music. In any case the piece has always been an open one, being based on data about the disaster but taking account of any new information that came to hand after the initial writing. This version forms the basis for the 1994 recording on Point.

All the materials used in the piece are derived from research and speculations about the sinking of the "unsinkable" luxury liner. On April 14th 1912 the Titanic struck an iceberg at 11.40 PM in the North Atlantic and sank at 2.20 AM on April 15th. Of the 2201 people on board only 711 were to reach New York. The initial starting point for the piece was the reported fact of the band having played a hymn tune in the final moments of the ship's sinking. A number of other features of the disaster which generate musical or sounding performance material, or which 'take the mind to other regions', are also included. The final hymn played during those last 5 minutes of the ship's life was identified in an account by Harold Bride, the junior wireless operator

"...from aft came the tunes of the band.....The ship was gradually turning on her nose - just like a duck that goes down for a dive...  The band was still playing. I guess all of the band went down. They were playing "Autumn" then. I swam with all my might. I suppose I was 150 feet away when the Titanic, on her nose, with her afterquarter sticking straight up in the air, began to settle slowly.... The way the band kept playing was a noble thing...  the last I saw of the band, when I was floating out in the sea with my lifebelt on, it was still on deck playing "Autumn". How they ever did it I cannot imagine."

This Episcopal hymn, then, becomes the principle element of the music and is subject to a variety of treatments and it forms a base over which other material is superimposed. Although I conceived the piece many years ago I continue to enjoy finding new ways of looking at the material in it and welcome opportunities to look at it afresh.



Unspecified ensemble.
Duration: indeterminate
Published in EMC Rhythmic Anthology.
First performance: BBC 2 'Art and Technology' series, November 1970



Recording piece
Published in EMC Verbal Anthology.
Never performed - imperfectly realised Waterloo Station, summer 1970.



Instrumentation: speaking voices, tape
Duration: indeterminate
Published in EMC Verbal Anthology.
First performance: Portsmouth College of Art, 14 January 1970.



Theatre piece for 2 singers.
Published in EMC Visual Anthology.
First performance: Black Swan, York, 30 November 1984



Instrumentation: 1 or 2 prepared pianos.
Duration: c.25 minutes
Published in EMC Keyboard Anthology.
First performance: Purcell Room, London, 9 October 197O



Instrumentation: Electronics
Published in EMC Visual Anthology.
Imperfect private performance, Portsmouth College of Art, November 1970



Environmental piece.
Published in EMC Visual Anthology
Never performed.



Unspecified ensemble, dedicated to John White.
Duration: c.20 minutes
Published in EMC Verbal Anthology.
First performance: Bluecoat Hall, Liverpool.



Instrumentation: 1 player, 2 guitars (or multiples of this)
Published in EMC Rhythmic Anthology
First performance: Studio recording Incus Records (Derek Bailey guitars).
First live performance: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, December 1972 (Derek Bailey/ John Tilbury, 2 players 4 guitars).



Instrumentation: Pre-recorded Tape and ensemble
Duration: 25’ 40’ 60’ or 74’
First performance:  Queen Elizabeth Hall, December 1972.

Note : Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet

Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet

In 1971, when I lived in London, I was working with a friend, Alan Power, on a film about people living rough in the area around Elephant and Castle and Waterloo Station. In the course of being filmed, some people broke into drunken song - sometimes bits of opera, sometimes sentimental ballads - and one, who in fact did not drink, sang a religious song "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet". This was not ultimately used in the film and I was given all the unused sections of tape, including this one.

When I played it at home, I found that his singing was in tune with my piano, and I improvised a simple accompaniment. I noticed, too, that the first section of the song - 13 bars in length - formed an effective loop which repeated in a slightly unpredictable way. I took the tape loop to Leicester, where I was working in the Fine Art Department, and copied the loop onto a continuous reel of tape, thinking about perhaps adding an orchestrated accompaniment to this. The door of the recording room opened on to one of the large painting studios and I left the tape copying, with the door open, while I went to have a cup of coffee. When I came back I found the normally lively room unnaturally subdued. People were moving about much more slowly than usual and a few were sitting alone, quietly weeping.

I was puzzled until I realised that the tape was still playing and that they had been overcome by the old man's singing. This convinced me of the emotional power of the music and of the possibilities offered by adding a simple, though gradually evolving, orchestral accompaniment that respected the tramp's nobility and simple faith. Although he died before he could hear what I had done with his singing, the piece remains as an eloquent, but understated testimony to his spirit and optimism.

The piece was originally recorded on Brian Eno's Obscure label in 1975 and a substantially revised and extended version for Point Records in 1993. The version that is played by my ensemble was specially created in 1993 to coincide with this last recording.



Instrumentation: indeterminate
Published in EMC Verbal Anthology.
Never performed.



Instrumentation: Indeterminate
Published in EMC Visual Anthology
Never performed.



Environmental piece
Published in EMC Visual Anthology.
Incomplete performance only.



Duration: 10’
Instrumentation: Up to 3 strings and piano.
Published in EMC String Supplement.
First performance: University of Keele, 16 November 1983.