David Toop Interviews Phil Durrant

Phil Durran


"In the mid-1970s I was one of a small group of musicians who founded the London Musicians Collective. For a time we shared a space in Camden Town, north London, with the Filmmakers Coop. At that time it was one of the few venues for improvised and experimental music and because of that the LMC premises attracted anybody who wanted to work outside the constraints that existed elsewhere. Phil Durrant used to come along regularly, either to meetings, to perform or as a dedicated fan of the music. In recent years I’ve worked with Phil and got to know a lot more about the way he thinks and his approach to playing. The dramatic transition he has made from acoustic violin to digital sound fascinates me but I’m also interested in the transformation of a fairly busy collective style of improvisation into something less immediately responsive or active, in which the potentiality of what is held back can become as powerful as sound itself. This interview was conducted at London College of Communication, January 27th, 2011." - David Toop


  1. Transition
  2. Politics and reasons
  3. post-Webern
  4. On record

Born near London in 1957, Phil Durrant is an improviser/composer/sound artist who devises his own virtual performance instruments using Reaktor. As a violinist (and member of the Butcher/Russell/Durrant trio), he was one of the key exponents of the "group voice approach" style of improvised music In the late 90s, his trio with Radu Malfatti and Thomas Lehn represented a shift to a more “reductionist” approach to group improvisation.

His exploration in the use of live electronics to expand the timbre of the violin, has evolved into the creation and building of self- made virtual instruments using Reaktor . His live sampling/treatments duo with John Butcher and his work with MIMEO have seen Durrant move away from the use of hardware electronics to the use of software virtual instruments and effects in live situations. He is keen to transfer the flexibility of playing an acoustic instrument, into his laptop performances, and this is the subject of his PhD research.

Durrant currently performs regularly with the acoustic/electronic group Trio Sowari (with Bertrand Denzler and Burkhard Beins). He has also been collaborating and composing site-specific music for a wide variety of choreographers, including Maxine Doyle, Susanne Thomas, and Gill Clarke.

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