BOOKS (back)

My books Music of Possibility (2019) and Transforming Moments (2023) are available from Vision Edition.

Music of Possibility
In this book, Barrett not only contextualises his compositional and improvisational practices, he presents lucid commentaries on his recent work and concludes with five critical dialogues that consider early and recent creative practice, artistic interactions and collaborations, particularly how we might get away from the received norms of how these might function. The author's passion and enthusiasm for 'thinking about creative thinking' will appeal to the "innovator-in-their-bedroom", the improviser, the composer but also anyone interested in artistic innovation: as such, it is a "book of possibility”. (Michael Spencer)

Richard Barrett brings the same incisive attention to detail and relevance to his writings on music as he does when making music. This is a brilliant account of the transition from the twentieth into the twenty-first century from a practitioner at the leading edge of music’s development. (Evan Parker)

A strikingly individual artist who questions the notion and the value of individuality – by working closely with performers, sometimes in contexts where improvisation has an important role – Richard Barrett lives that paradox to produce music of consistent exploration and urgency. Hence, too, no doubt, the lack of self-regard in this quietly explosive invitation to think differently – about music and about ourselves. (Paul Griffiths)

This is not just an invitingly readable guide to Richard Barrett’s fascinating music, it also outlines a genuinely inspiring artistic philosophy involving some of the most compelling ideas about contemporary music and how to make it. For me, Barrett’s contribution is essential to any understanding of the larger picture of creative music today. (Rachel Campbell)

Transforming Moments 
Barrett's music is charged by a passion for extremes, embracing silence, song, and chaos. The same comprehensiveness of spirit shines through these meticulous, marvelous essays, which convey in equal measure the technical groundings of improvisatory practice and the intellectual freedom of the resulting work. His evocations of the joy of moment-to-moment collaborative exploration, of the instantaneous unveiling of new sonic realities, may give you the urge to close all books and screens and make music in the now. (Alex Ross)

Richard Barrett is undeniably one of the most important composers and musical thinkers of our time, constantly challenging the boundaries of what defines Creation. Be it on paper or in live performance, his music – at once both fiendishly difficult and uncannily spontaneous – is transformational, which is, after all, the cathectic goal of art. Transforming Moments is no exception; it offers deep insight into the creative processes of one of the most unique voices in today’s avant-garde, where all the arts find a nest to mingle in a work that unilaterally and articulately succeeds at making every participant, be they active or passive, question the very foundations of anthropology. (Sharon Kanach)

In this, his second book, composer and performer Richard Barrett explores extensively the role of improvisation in his compositional process, drawing on examples from film, theatre, dance and the visual arts, alongside extended discussion of his own recent music and his work with the Sonology Electroacoustic Ensemble at the Institute of Sonology, The Hague. Written before, during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, and discussing works created under the conditions of lockdown and isolation, it is part performance diary, part notes on a creative practice and part manifesto on the urgent necessity of imaginative freedom. Few composers entwine their work so thoroughly with the social and political conditions of its creation as Barrett has done for more than thirty years; fewer still do so to such great expressive effect. Emergent, multi-faceted and exploratory, Transforming Moments offers profound insights into the creativity of a unique composer both during and since an unprecedented historical moment. (Tim Rutherford-Johnson)