Roger Marsh Composer

Glyn Perrin

Five years my junior, Glyn brought a new perspective to new music at York. An excellent classical pianist and cellist, he was a keen experimentalist, and a champion of Mauricio Kagel, who was little known in the UK at the time. Glyn had German family and had spent time there, and his experience of new European music theatre brought a different perspective to music theatre at York.  Shortly before I left for California, Glyn had performed Kagel’s General Bass on cello in some of our ‘Clap’ music theatre shows.  When I went to San Diego Glyn and I corresponded via long letters which covered a whole range of topics, and then he managed to engineer a year in California himself, as part of his York PhD.  He found digs in a house of young radical intellectuals where he fitted in perfectly, discussing politics and philosophy with them to balance the heavy drinking and tennis playing he got with me.  He became a fellow at the Centre for Music Experiment, like me, and was my co-administrator for the first ‘What’s Cooking’ festival.

While in San Diego he wrote Voicetest, a piece for two vocalists who took cues from a director seated at a sound desk in front of them.  The director fed them words which they then repeated slowly a certain number of times, transforming them slightly on each repetition;  ‘head’ was repeated and gradually transformed into ‘shed’, for example.  It was austere, mechanical and hypnotic, and the interventions of the director placed the piece somewhere between an audition and an interrogation.  It was as though the vocalists were not performing a piece, but undergoing some kind of test.  It made a big impression on me, and I shamelessly borrowed the idea in my Beckett piece Bits and Scraps.