Aside from his jazz work, Tim has a varied portfolio of pieces for a wide variety of ensembles.
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Twelve Seconds 4:37
Electronics and found sounds.
Written for the dancer MARIA SVENSSON, and first performed at The Laban Centre, London, March 2008.
This was inspired by a trip to the island of Hoy in Orkney, and the huge oil tank in the 2nd World War naval base at Scapa Flow. The acoustics inside the tank are extraordinary, with a 12-second reverberation time. Sounds made near the edge of the tank travel round the perimeter, but cannot be heard by someone standing in the centre, much like the whispering gallery in St Paul's Cathedral.
Triskelion 3 mins
Commissioned and published by SCHOTT MUSIC in 2012 as part of the Petrushka Project, involving 70 composers round the world, with concerts in London, New York, Beijing and Mainz.
Performed by Kate Ryder at the Schott Recital Room, 8 June 2012
I have long been fascinated by the simultaneous combination of 3/4 and 6/8 rhythms present in African music and jazz, sometimes referred to by musicologists as ‘hemiola’. In researching for the book ‘Exploring Latin Piano’ with John Crawford, I noticed another type of polyrhythm found in 3/4 music from South America, such as the Venezuelan waltz, the Columbian ‘joropo’ and the Argentine ‘zamba’.
Although notated in 3/4, these styles often feature melodies that imply an underlying 3/2 time signature, eg: three consecutive half notes over two bars of 3/4. Triskelion’s 3/2 time signature reflects this, with passages in 3/4, 4/4 and 2/4 occurring alongside it.
Similar to fractal patterns in nature, the polyrhythms in this piece are found at different rhythmic levels. This is apparent in the opening bars where the left hand plays three consecutive whole notes over two bars of 3/2, implying an underlying 3/1 time signature.
There's another layer of rhythmic ambiguity at work in these bars too. The right-hand ostinato repeats a three-note motif played in eighth notes, preventing it from sounding like triplets and causing the accents to shift within the group. These nested polyrhythms gave rise to the piece’s title – a ‘triskelion’ or ‘triskele’ is an ancient Celtic motif consisting of three interlocking spirals, symbolizing the upper, middle and lower worlds.
First performed by Kate Ryder at the Royal Festival Hall, London, 21 May 2011, using her collection of vintage toy pianos. Thanks to Roger Redgate for the photos (right and at bottom of page).
The strange tuning and percussive sound of the toy piano is reminiscent of the chiming sound of Javanese Gamelan music, which was one of the inspirations behind this piece. Also important was the English churchbell change-ringing tradition, in which a multitude of bell sounds are overlaid on top of each other in a variety of rhythmic patterns. The looper pedal provided the ideal means for realising these textural possibilities in live performance.
Southern Discomfort 4 mins
Commissioned and published by SCHOTT MUSIC for the opening of the Bauer & Hieber music shop, London, 21 September 2007.
First performed by Tim Richards, 21 September 2007.
The starting point for this piece was a melodic fragment from Erik Satie's Gymnopédies. The opening and closing bell-like sonorities frame a central section that mimics an improvised solo in the right-hand, with jazzy left-hand chords following a typical 'New Orleans' rhythm.
Performed and recorded live by Androniki Liokoura, January 2007.
A minimalist-influenced piece that features toccata-like passages, melodic left-hand octaves and jazzy power chords.
Seraglio 5 mins
Performed and recorded live by Firat Altay, March 2008.
Two-handed clusters are featured in this composition, which combines fully-notated sections with passages of improvisation, resulting in frequent contrasts of style, tempo and dynamics.
For 10 pianos (overdubbed)
Commissioned by SYNC MUSIC, 2011.
Performed by Tim Richards, July 2011.
A multi-layered composition for acoustic piano overdubbed ten times. Sounds heard include plucking the strings, glissando on strings, and using the sounding board of the piano as a percussion instrument.
This is one of a series of multi-layered piano pieces composed for the production music website SYNC MUSIC. To hear the parts individually, go to the construction kit on the Sync Music website.
The other layered piano pieces have only 2 or 3 overdubs. To listen to them go to: www.sync-music.com
Some of these (Promenade, Journey) have been adapted for live performance as PIANO DUETS for Tim's collaboration with classical pianist Kate Ryder.
Raised on the Gospel 1:30
Lazy Dog Blues 4 mins
Beauville Boogie2 mins
Performed here by David Rees-Williams (from ROCKSCHOOL CDs).
These bluesy pieces were commissioned by ROCKSCHOOL and published in 2001 as part of their Popular Piano Syllabus.
Excerpt performed by the Brodowsky Quartet, January 2008.
After a pizzicato opening, an ostinato cello figure underpins a classical-sounding melody in sonata form, with a transition from 4/4 to 3/4 for the second theme.
The Emerald Tablet 5 mins For symphony orchestra.
Performed by Trinity College Symphony Orchestra, May 2008.
Opening with sinister brass chords in an extremely low register, this composition mirrors the transition from dark to light sought by medieval alchemists in their attempts to turn lead into gold.
For violin, cello and piano. Commissioned by Tryptich Piano Trio, 1998.
Performed and recorded live at Trinity Arts Centre, Tunbridge Wells, 10 March 1998, by Ruth Herbert (piano), Jonathan Few (cello) and Alun Thomas (violin). The first two sections of this work for piano trio feature impressionist modal harmonies inspired by French composers such as Ravel and Debussy. The third section moves into more 'Messiaen-like' territory, and is based on an African 6/8 'bembe' rhythm.
Part 1 (Allegro) - 5 mins
Part 2 (Adagio) - 3 mins
(Scherzo) - 3 mins
Carbon Footprints 2:30 For brass quintet.
Fully-notated jazz-based pieces
Tangletalk 4 mins
For recorder quintet.
First performed by Consortium5 Recorder Consort,
Grosvenor Chapel, Mayfair, London, 25 May 2008.
This was written for Consortium5 Recorder Consort, who specially requested something jazzy to contrast with their often Renaissance and Baroque repertoire. The extraordinary 6-foot high sub-bass recorder plays an ostinato pattern, overlapping a similar pattern on bass recorder. Together they mimic a jazz rhythm section, with ‘spiccato’ or ‘slap’ tonguing producing a very percussive sound. The tenor and treble recorders each have solo features over a minor 12-bar blues structure - towards the end of the piece the two solos become intertwined.
Tangletalk is the name given to a particular kind of children's nonsense rhyme in which words are transposed or mixed up, for instance: “I met a bark and it dogged at me”.
Escape Velocity 5 mins
For soprano sax, vibraphone and piano.
Commissioned by The Interference Trio, 2010.
First performed by Matt London, Manchester, 2010 (this recording is a Sibelius audio file).
A fast-moving piece featuring parallel suspended 4th chords on vibes and piano, and solos from all three instruments.
The above pieces contain no improvisation. To hear a selection of jazz compositions that include some improvised solos, see
Tim Richards CDs
Tim has a Masters degree in composition from Trinity College of Music, where he studied with Stephen Montague, Deirdre Gribbin, Dominic Murcott and Issie Barrett.