Unthinking Things

Unthinking Things (2017-present)

‘Unthinking Things’ is a cross-domain, algorithmic, generative and dynamic composition/performance based around concepts investigated by Bishop George Berkeley in ‘A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge’, written in 1710.

The treatise investigates the nature of things, dividing them into spirits which have agency in the world and everything else, the latter being ‘unthinking things’ which can only therefore ever be the object of our perception. Of particular interest is the way in which such anti-intuitive views have not only survived but flourished during the past century. In particular its implications for the idea of the ‘meta-author’: a creative work having the same relation to the author as the world, its spirits and ideas, have for Berkeley’s conception of God. This seems to me to reflect metaphorically the processes involved in algorithnic composition and some forms of performance using technology.

‘Unthinking Things’ uses algorithmic, automatic processes which structure and articulate aspects of the whole, both en masse and in detail. I also use live and recorded performance data to generate cross-domain expression, for instance producing sonic textures formed by the sounds of basic materials such as stone, wood or metal (‘unthinking things’) from readings and recordings of Berkeley’s texts. In this way and others, the piece interrogates the nexus between the written and the spoken, the notated and the improvised.

The version performed in March 2017 is exploratory, intended to help answer some technical questions which might allow for an expanded and adventurous event in the future.

‘Unthinking Things’ is composed using SuperCollider and INScore software.

Homenaje a Cervantes

  • Homage to Cervantes (Homanaje a Cervantes, 2016-7) , a music-text-image piece
  • Music and programming Richard Hoadley, text by Cervantes and Phil Terry
  • Performance: International Conference on New Technologies for Music Notation and Representation (TENOR), A Coruna, Spain, 25th May 2017

Edge Violations

Edge Violations (2016)

clarinet(s), computers, and projections, 2016
– music and programming richard hoadley
– clarinets ian mitchell
– text phil terry
– Performance/workshop: The Boiler House, London Metropolitan, Thursday October 15th 2015
NB This performance/workshop was cancelled.
– first performance at Hoadley, Hall and Brown, Saturday April 23rd 2016, Anglia Ruskin University.
– Performance at the TENOR conference, Cambridge, May 28th 2016 – Ian Mitchell, clarinet(s)
– Performance at Electronic Visualisation and the Arts, Covent Garden, London, 12th July 2016


(2015-6, in progress) Choreograms, a music-text-dance piece
Music and programming Richard Hoadley amongst others, dance Jane Turner, text Phil Terry

– Performance at Colchester Arts Centre, Wednesday March 8th 2017
– Performance at Conway Hall, Friday March 3rd 2017
– Performance at Chelmsford Festival of Ideas, Saturday November 12th 2016
– Performance at The Globe, Albany Road, Cardiff, Thursday October 6th 2016
– Performance (Semaphore/Choreograms chimera) at AHRC Commons, York University, 21st June 2016
– Performance at New Cut, Saturday 7th May 2016, Halesworth, Suffolk
– Performance at Hoadley, Hall and Brown, Saturday April 23rd 2016, Anglia Ruskin University.
– Performance Early Dance Circle Bienniel Conference, friday 8th april 2016, high wycombe

The piece is primarily composed in the music programming environment, SuperCollider.

This piece uses the software INScore and Guido significantly, both currently being developed by the Grame Computer Music Research Lab.
– More information on INScore.
– More information on Guido.

See also: Calder’s Violin, Fluxus, Fluxus Tree


Semaphore, October 2014, performance 1, v2 from Richard Hoadley on Vimeo.

Comments from audience members:

    “I really enjoyed the performance… it was interesting to watch the dancers ‘create’ the music.”

    “I came because of a fondness for dance but … there is so much to take in here that it was useful to have to have two performances of the piece… Another couple of renditions would have permitted me to take in fully the choreography, the score, the text and the interaction of all the elements.”

    “It was beautiful”

    “Really engaging and interesting… Performance was captivating”

    “it was great, and I wish more events had a discussion and then second performance format, that worked well”


An interesting edit of the day’s rehearsals and performances shot and edited by Krisztian Hofstadter.

Semaphore at the Festival of Ideas website

‘Semaphore’ works between dance, music and text. It is a collaboration between the choreographer Jane Turner, the poet and writer Philip Terry and the musician, composer and technologist Richard Hoadley.

The primary focus is on live processes, data from the dancers’ movements are used to trigger and modulate text, audio and music notation. This is in turn performed and in some cases fed back to the dancers whose movements are then influenced by the music and text, and so on. Ideally, there is a balance between gesture, whether based on movement, music or text and the resulting translation that is not too trivial but is also not so remote that the origin and its result do not feel connected at all.

Semaphore, October 2014, performance 1 from Richard Hoadley on Vimeo.

How To Play the Piano

How To Play the Piano (2014-5)

automatic music for piano, computer and live score projection

music and programming by Richard Hoadley; text by Katharine Norman

performance at the INTIME Conference, Saturday 24th October 2015, Coventry University
performance in the Music as Process Conference, Saturday June 6th, Goldsmiths, London
performance at Campus Explore, 2:15pm, Recital Hall, Anglia Ruskin University, Tuesday 12th May 2015.
performance at 1pm, 8th May 2015, University of Hertfordshire, a part of the Sonic Herts
performance in a concert of music for piano and electronics, 7:30-8:30pm, 26th February 2015 PACE 1, De Montfort University, a part of the Cultural Exchanges Festival
performance by Philip Mead at the London International Piano Symposium, Royal College of Music, Saturday February 14th

How to Play the Piano in 88 Notes (a part of Piano Glyphs) from Richard Hoadley on Vimeo.

More images in the gallery

Poetry by Katharine Norman
Music and programming by Richard Hoadley

Performance on 12th May 2015 by Philip Mead
Anglia Ruskin University Recital Hall

How to Play the Piano in 88 Notes (a part of Piano Glyphs), poetry by Katharine Norman, piano by Philip Mead from Richard Hoadley on Vimeo.

A Continual Snowfall of Petrochemicals

automatic music for computers and Yamaha SY synthesisers

And for all its breathtaking size and novelty, the biosphere of Jupiter was a fragile world, a place of mists and foam, of delicate silken threads and paper-thin tissues spun from the continual snowfall of petrochemicals formed by lightning in the upper atmosphere. Few of its constructs were more substantial than soap bubbles; its most terrifying predators could be torn to shreds by even the feeblest of terrestrial carnivores…
Arthur C Clarke, 2010, 1988, Grafton

Four Archetypes

Four Archetypes

for large orchestra

Composed: Cambridge, December-July 1993

Commissioned by the Cambridge-Heidelberg-Montpelier Orchestra with funds provided by Eastern Arts

Performed: Fanfares only – August 1993, West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge

The composition of Four Archetypes was begun immediately following the completion of Three Pieces for Two Pianos. I had first learned about the commission in June/July 1992, so a number of ideas were already in my mind before work began in earnest.



for clarinet, violin, violoncello and piano

The piece is to some extent a reaction to the previous two pieces I had completed: Through the Sharp Hawthorn and Only Connect, both of which had used quite complex and involved compositional methods. Although basically intuitive, they still used rows, matrices and other methods to complete the detail. After moving to Charterhouse in the Summer of 1988, I felt that I wanted to get started in the new environment as soon as possible, and so I wrote Concertino quickly and almost entirely intuitively.

More about the piece

Sound versions available: midi


Concertino MIDI File
Concertino Scorch File


Five Pieces for Violin and Viola 1979/1982/1988
Music For Good Friday 8:07 1981
Three Early Piano Pieces 1 3:44 1979
Three Early Piano Pieces 2 2:26
Three Early Piano Pieces 3 1:03
Fanfare 1 (Zone) brass quintet 1:00 1983
Fanfare 2 (Philip Jones) four trumpets, four trombones 1:36 1991
Fanfare 3 (Investiture) four trumpets, two horns, two trombones 2:00 2001
Fanfare 4 (Charterhouse)

In Principio



In principio was written at Charterhouse in 1989. It was highly commended in the Lewis Silkin Choral competition of that year and was later performed by the BBC Singers and organist Darius Battiwalla at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. The recording was made by the Society for the Promotion of New Music and various copyrights remain associated with groups and performers.

Only Connect



Only Connect was originally written for the Durham University Chamber Orchestra. The title is the epigram of E.M.Forster’s book Howards End, but if a work of Forster’s could be said to influence the piece at all it would be A Passage to India, in which links are attempted between diverse peoples and the individuals’ relationship to the whole. However, the title was not decided upon until well into the composition of the piece, and so neither book played any part in its conception.

One of the original ideas was for a series of fugues for orchestra and a number of solo instruments, (basically, the principals of each instrument (flute/piccolo, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, violin, hence the solo violin). Although a set of instrumental soli remain, the element of fugue has gone.

Another early idea that remains in the present score. This came from hearing a radio broadcast of Vaclav Havel’s play Largo Desolato in the translation by Tom Stoppard. The play has many features which can be related to music, quite possibly consciously, and these features give the play an unreal air, rather as if the characters were actually performing a slow, tragicomic dance. Blocks of text repeat, slightly altered in differing circumstances, rather in the way that block type music is composed. One feels that when these blocks recur one is sliding into a nightmarish spiral from which escape is impossible.

The aspect of the play’s performance which influenced Only Connect is a structural device. Each of the seven scenes of the play are separated by a short musical interlude, the music being defined in the text only as ‘impressive orchestral music’. In fact, the first three scenes comprise only the following actions:

As the music dies away the curtain rises slowly.
LEOPOLD is alone on the stage. He is sitting on the sofa and staring at the front door. After a long pause he gets up and looks through the peep-hole. Then he puts his ear to the door and listens intently. After another long pause the curtain drops suddenly and at the same time the music returns.
As the music dies away the curtain rises slowly.
LEOPOLD is alone on the stage. He is sitting on the sofa and staring at the front door. After a long pause he gets up and looks through the peep-hole. Then he puts his ear to the door and listens intently. After another long pause the curtain drops suddenly and at the same time the music returns.
As the music dies away the curtain rises slowly.
LEOPOLD is alone on the stage. He is sitting on the sofa and staring at the front door. After a long pause he gets up and looks through the peep-hole. Then he puts his ear to the door and listens intently. He evidently hears something which makes him jump back…
This seemed an extraordinarily effective and uniquely powerful opening, given suitable music. The contrast between the ‘impressive music’ (as I ‘heard’ it – not the music used during the broadcast), and the silence with the nervous reactions of the isolated figure, in addition to the dramatic action of the curtain, formally isolating the figure seemed an excellent way of opening a piece and giving a powerful image and reference point. Finally, it also shared with a number of my pieces the same form of three similar gestures alternating with a contrasting idea.

Through the Sharp Hawthorn (Blows the Cold Wind)

for flute and piano

more: http://rhoadley.net/comp/through.php

Through the Sharp Hawthorn (Blows the Cold Wind)

Composed: Durham, November-December 1987
Revised: Charterhouse, October 1989
i) Durham Music Society Concert:
flute: Caroline Stockman
piano: Clive Broadbent

ii) (Revised version)
SPNM Concert, Lauderdale House, Highgate, London
flute: Marian Erhardt
piano: Michael Dussek

Through the Sharp Hawthorn was written following a suggestion by Dr John Casken for a piece for the excellent flautist Caroline Stockman, then present in Durham.

The full title is a line from King Lear – Lear’s wits have just ‘been turned’ and he is talking on the heath to ‘Poor Tom’ , the ‘mad’ version of Edgar, who has been forced to flee from his father who believes him guilty of treachery. Rather than leaving the country, and therefore his misguided father to the actual treachery of his ‘bastard’ half-brother, Edmund, he chooses to dress in rags and act as a madman.

This title was considered appropriate for a number of reasons: the storm scene of the play during which the line occurs is one of the bleakest in all Shakespeare, and I consider this piece to be one of the most bleak in mood I have written; the scene represents a ‘turning point’ in the drama: this piece represents a turning point in my composing, (or at least it felt so at the time); the imagery was appropriate: the cold wind representing the flute, the sharp hawthorn, the piano; finally, the inverted nature of the line, (a more common, more modern version might be ‘the cold wind blows through the sharp hawthorn’), represents at least one of the compositional features of the work.

Many Worlds (2008)



A port of The Copenhagen Interpretation, a previous automatic piece of mine to SuperCollider. The piece controls a Yamaha SY77 FM Synthesiser with SuperCollider. In this case it also makes use of a data glove running through the Teabox interface. Many thanks to Scott Wilson for his Teabox class for SuperCollider.

This is my first use of SuperCollider as an exclusive performance tool.

The glorious blob at the bottom of the screenshot is Anoushka, born 9th Feb, 2008.

Sensation and perception /E. Bruce Goldstein

oldstein, E. Bruce, 1941-  
 Sensation and perception /E. Bruce Goldstein.  6th ed., [Media ed.]
    Pacific Grove, CA. ;   London :Wadsworth, 2002.  ISBN: 0534639917   ISBN: 0534639925 (disc) 
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Parables for the virtual :movement, affect, sensation /Brian Massumi.

Massumi, Brian.  
 Parables for the virtual :movement, affect, sensation /Brian Massumi.
    Durham, NC :Duke University Press, 2002.  ISBN: 9780822328827 : (alk. paper)   ISBN: 9780822328971 (pbk. : alk. paper) 
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a melodrama for ‘cello and gamelan instruments

First performed at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge in March 2006 by Anton Lukoszevieze and members of the Cambridge Gamelan Society.

Histrionica is a melodrama for ‘cello and gamelan instruments. The melodrama is abstract, but is perhaps best described as being like an extreme counselling session between a histrionic client and a very calm counsellor. The ‘cello is the client. As might be expected, there is a coming together at the end. I actually wanted to avoid this – I wanted to keep the client and counsellor apart, but I’m afraid the romance of the situation overcame me and we finish with a very nice and gentle chorale.

E.M.Forster expressed it elegantly at the end of A Passage to India:

‘Why can’t we be friends now?’ said the other, holding him affectionately. ‘It’s what I want. It’s what you want.’

But the horses didn’t want it – they swerved apart; the earth didn’t want it, sending up rocks through which riders must pass single-file; the temples, the tank, the jail, the palace, the birds, the carrion, the Guest House, that came into view as they issued from the gap and saw the Mau beneath: they didn’t want it, they said in their hundred voices, ‘No, not yet,’ and the sky said, ‘No, not there.’



semi-automatic live performance music for computer

As in all typical studies, material is kept to a minimum (in one sense). The piece is currently constructed from about one hundred recordings of the word hello (hence the title).

Audio purists amongst you will not appreciate the many clicks, bumps and crackles throughout – caused primarily by my current lack of precise knowledge of the workings of one particularly irritating process. I’m trying to appreciate these as the inevitable extra-musical noises created by anyone learning a new instrument: similar extraneous noises are made by anyone playing many acoustic instruments: string noise on a guitar, the action of the keys in a harpsichord…

More importantly, it is highly feasible that the whole performance may end in sudden, unexpected silence when the machine crashes.

Finally and incidentally, if the piece works at all, you’ll doubtless see me frantically poring over my computer trying to sort things out. This isn’t how it’s meant to be. As a composer, ideally, I’d like to be able to relax and fret while others deal with the problems, or even while just the computer deals with it. Unfortunately this is not yet the case with Hello.


automatic music for computers and synthesisers

Produced for the inaugural concert of the APU Contemporary and Electronic Music Society in October 2002. Created by the pSY computer programme (see below) written by myself to control Yamaha SY77/99 synthesisers, the same programme used to create the earlier and more ambitious The Copenhagen Interpretation.