top of page

Although primarily known as an improviser, Chris Burn has since 1995 re-kindled an interest in notated composition - as distinct from the composed structures he devised for Ensemble.The latter are numerous and are well documented. For example on 'Navigations' (ACTA12),1997, there are two structured improvisations composed by Burn; Scarecrow Analysis and Cropped Rotation. See Ensemble entry on the Performance page for more detailed information about this major branch of his work. Other composed structures for Improvisers include 'the barn', written for the London Improvisers Orchestra and 'what is the time' composed for 'cranc': Rhodri Davies - Harp, Angharad Davies - Violin and Nikos Veliotis - Cello.


He did in fact study composing - whilst pursuing a passion for improvising - at University and after, but soon abandoned this with his commitment to improvising and related activities.Aside from a few pieces that did contain substantial elements of notated composition; 'Maintaining Hover' written for Quorum and John Butcher, and the large scale 'Ensemble Plus', he didn't write a fully notated, tightly structured piece again until 1995 with 'as if as' for Piano.


The impetus to re-introduce composition into his work, did in fact come from his improvised piano playing. Certain techniques and materials he had developed with his keyboard playing - as an improviser - suggested a viable and desirable use with compositional processes. (In addition to the improvisational use.) In fact all the pieces he has written up to 2011 have been for instruments that he has a certain facility for; Piano, Trumpet, Brass and Percussion.

'as if as' and a related piano solo 'only the snow can begin to explain……' were first played in 2001by Phil Thomas at the John Cage and 21st Century Britain festival, Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield and subsequently repeated on a number of occasions. A third piece, ' the sky a silver dissonance' for four hands at one piano, was recorded by Phil Thomas and Kate Ledger in 2009.

In 1998 he wrote 'etcetera' for solo snare drum which was played in a number of UK concerts by Lee Ferguson.In 2002 he was asked to write a piece for 'Tubulate' a quartet of two Tubas and two Euphoniums. 'Hall of Mirrors' was first performed in Harlow, Essex and was subsequently played at 2003 Bangor festival of New Music, RNCM and on tour in Russia and the USA. A recorded version gives their CD 'Hall of Mirrors' its title. 'Alles Vergangliches' written in 2004 was played by Duo Contour; trumpeter Steve Altoft and percussionist Lee Ferguson during a concerts at the Museum fur Neue Kunst Freiburg, in Feb 2004 and April 2009. A further performance took place in April 2009 at the Rotebuhplat, Stuttgart.


For the 2005 Comprovisation festival Sheffield, Phil Thomas commissioned Chris Burn to write a piano solo: 'Pressings and Screenings' was played alongside other new and existing pieces by Simon H.Fell, Mick Beck, Paul Obermayer, Michael Finnissy and John Cage. These pieces were released on CD as 'Comprovisation' , Bruce's Fingers CD BF66. Phil Thomas has now recorded 'as if as' and 'only the snow can begin to explain…'.In Falmouth, Cornwall, October 2010, Trumpeter Matt Davis presented a solo trumpet concert and included pieces by Wolff and Cage, plus a new piece by Chris Burn; 'loe music'.

'loe music' has been revised and become a tightly notated piece. This version is now recorded by Chris Burn and you will soon be able to hear exerpts via the SoundCloud link on this site.


The most recent piece I have written is Above/Beyond for flute and piano. (April 2012.) Anyone interested in performing this piece should contact me and I will send them a score. The duration is about 10mins 30secs. 



On a Fountain Replete, (ACTA 2) recorded in 1988,Chris Burn performed a number of arrangements he had made of pieces from differing sources for inside piano. Privately he continued to make numerous arrangements of extant pieces to be played inside the piano. These include Varese's Densite 21.5, the Cor Anglais solo from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, various types of plainchant and a number of other pieces.












Chris Burn has written the following pieces for specific musicians or groups;


- Etcetera for solo snare drum, for Lee Ferguson.

- Hall of Mirrors for Tuba quartet, commissioned by Tubulate.

- Alles Vergangliches for Trumpet and Percussion for Duo Contour; Steve Altoft and Lee Ferguson.

- Pressings and screenings for solo piano, commissioned by Phil Thomas.

- Loe music for Trumpet, for Matt Davis.


Above; exerpt from Loe Music.

Below; exerpt from Alles Vergengliches.

Steve Altoft - Trumpet, Lee Ferguson - Percussion

Chris Burn - Trumpet

Philip Thomas - Piano.

A page of score used in Ensemble concert, Vienna, 2007.

bottom of page