Phin Head 



What is a memorable musical memory from your childhood?

I have two, both absolutely key and complementary to everything I love about music, recording & dBs. I guess I must have been about 4 when both of these happened.

My earliest real musical memory is lying on the floor, face up, directly underneath my mother's piano, being battered all over with the sound of her playing Bach, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Mozart. Just marvellous.  

The other was a present from my dad, who at the time was engineer with the navy and he would leave on long voyages. After one journey he came back with a little silver box covered in buttons, about a size of a small shoe box. He said 'Do you know what this is?' and I didn't. He said 'Ok, press that button'. I pressed it and a trap door popped opened. 'Right, put this inside' and handed me a much smaller box. 'Close the lid, now press that orange button and say something'. 'Now press that button…click…then that button…whirr…and then that'. And then I heard myself speaking. 

What was your most embarrassing music-related moment? 

Writing a wedding present for friends of mine. The bride was Irish and I had written a very slow, meditative piece scored for violin and piano based on the traditional Irish melody 'She Moved Through The Fair'. Unfortunately, I had catastrophically underestimated the level of drinking at the average irish wedding. The song played right in the middle of a 3kW disco (after 'Eye of The Tiger'). Note to self: save it for the church.

What three albums would you take to a desert island (and those you'd really take, not those that'll impress the readers!)? 

Glenn Gould playing books 1 & 2 of the 48 Preludes and Fugues, Bach. That's pretty much all you need
Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians, because it shows you it's not the destination that's important, it's the journey
Peter Gabriel - Us, which tells you how to be human.

What would your super power be? 

Time Travel.

What pop legend would you dress up as for a party? 

Peter Gabriel c.1974.

Music software, what's your weapon of choice? 

Logic & Sibelius.

What's your fave piece of music tech hardware?

Steinway Modal D or my heavily mod'ed Korg MS20.

What are you most proud of? 

The piece I'm going to write tomorrow.

What are your three favourite music tech techniques? 

  • Analogue sequencing.
  • AB spaced pair recording.
  • Canon (=delay).

What is your favourite thing about dBs? 

That it's a dimensionless logarithmic scale, allowing the expression of a wide range of variability, within a compact multiplicative scale.

If you could go back in time, where would you go? 

Die Collegium Musicum Liepsig, 1748 for a composition lesson with the master, JSB.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

A Korg PS3300. And world peace.