Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Tansy Davies (born 1973)



Tansy Davies © Maurice Foxall

Her times: For the generation of composers who have come to creative maturity since the turn of the millennium, there are no longer any rules and the idea of musical ‘genres’ is eroding fast too. A composer can write on paper, on an instrument or on a computer. The act of composition might be one and the same as the act of performance. You might have trained at a music college or in a rock band.

Her music: As it happens, Tansy Davies trained both at a music college and in a rock band. Her music bears out her love for funk; for plucky bass lines and layered textures. Listening to it has been likened to ‘being on a train that can bump suddenly from racing velocity to slowness.’ In the same vein, it often judders to a halt or onto different rhythmic tracks; it’s tough, gritty and sometimes downright ugly. But it always leaves a residue; both strangely moving and unfailingly evocative. ‘There is always a shadow to everything I do’, she has said, ‘there are always two different things going on.’

Herself: Davies was born in Bristol and while studying music in the South East played in various bands, including her own ‘atonal funk’ trio Seahorse and the free improvisation group Moonvelvet Collectve. Discovering the music of Boulez and Ligeti, she shelved her career as a horn player (which included a stint playing in the band for Les Misérables) to study composition. ‘I’m a very fickle, fun-loving, indecisive sort of person’ Davies has said of herself, and the same impish mischief and charm is all over her music.

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