Graphic Scores

New Leafcutter John music and Gig at London XOYO

Well I’m currently working in a forest in an undisclosed country working on the new version of my light controlled instrument – this time the wax splattered cardboard gives way to clear acrylic for a slightly more professional appearance.

out with the old

in with the new.

I’m looking forward to playing some new music with this at BEAM@NIME 1st JULY AT XOYO LONDON- info and your tickets here!

I’m also making a record, yes it’s been a long while but I’ve been hard at work trying to make sounds that I’ve never made before and put them together is totally new ways for me. I’m making a lot of software at the moment to explore a new compositional technique which essentially weaves sounds together in different ways. Here is a little portal into the technique…

More exciting developments for you coming up soon….


Hanoi Score workshop and Scooter ride including Vietnam’s most controversial Fruit! (Day 2)

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013 | Graphic Scores, images, Music!, video | No Comments

This morning I worked with a group of players and composers from Hanoi’s ‘Rhapsody Philharmonic’ we performed my animated graphic score piece.  at the British Council building which was a lot of fun.


As you can see there is no fear of experimentation here. The players made fine use of a steel bin, instrument cases for percussion and tubes to sing down. Their timing was impeccably good and they also laughed a lot too which is no bad thing.


Later on after a little afternoon nap I was picked up by the excellent Cuong on his moped for a tour of Hanoi by night. Cuong is rightly obsessed by fruit and we went on culinary tour which left my tastebuds in a state of complete ecstasy! In the video he points out Vietnam’s most CONTROVERSIAL fruit while skilfully whizzing along the streets of the old town.

A new track that looks like Chicago in the Fog…

I’ve been beavering away on new music this week. I also bought some software to help me clean up a live recording of my recent piece  with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. These two things came together when I put the track I was working on into the editor and realised it looked quite like a night time image of a city in the fog. I’ve never been to Chicago but from what I’ve seen in photos and film it’s not a million miles away. The visualisation above is a spectrogram which plots the energy in different frequency bands from low at the bottom to high at the top. Time is along the horizontal axis but that is not always be the case….

real-time yum

This image is from an amazing web-app thing I found. It will plot a circular spectrogram of any file on soundcloud. It’s programmed by a guy called Lee Martin.  You can make it work for any track by changing the address:

Click here to see and hear a real-time circular spectrogram of ‘Chicago in the fog’. It works only on newer browsers.

If that’s not working for you here is the track, it’s not quite finished but I’d quite like to know what you think of it.

Hope you enjoyed that,

J x.

Leafcutter John Summer Festivals

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011 | Graphic Scores, Live Shows, Music! | No Comments

11th June Node Festival, Modena, Italy

25th June BEAM festival, Live Performance, Brunel University.

26th June BEAM festival, Graphic Score Workshop, Brunel University.

30th June Blank Canvas, Premiere of New Graphic Score Piece with London Sinfonietta. At Village Underground London.

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14th July City of London Festival Shabaka Hutchins, Mark Saunders, John Edwards, Kit Downes.

15th July Soundwaves Festival, Brighton. World Premiere of my new Music/Dance piece with Dancer Lucia Tong.

17th July Lattitude Festival, Stage in the Woods, BBC Radio 3 Late Junction. Special Duo set with Serafina Steer.

21st July Cafe Oto, London w/Simon Bookish + Mandelbrot Set

Leafcutter Graphic Score film to be shown at Barbican Gallery

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 | Graphic Scores, Live Shows, nails, Site News | No Comments

Just a quick one to let you know that one of my short films will be shown at the Barbican in London on Saturday the 20th Feb. It’s my first graphic score as played by the Kammer Klang Quartet at Charlie Wright’s a little while back. 

It’s a free event and is listed in the new and updated live shows Section of my site. Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend myself as i’m on Polar Bear duty in Canterbury that day (also listed on Live Shows page).

Take care & don’t forget the Nails gig at the Vortex this Wed! 

Leafcutter John.

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Gigs this weekend and project Updates.

Sunday, June 14th, 2009 | Forester, Graphic Scores, Live Shows, Software News | 1 Comment


I’ve been super busy the last few weeks hence the complete lack of posts here. I have a couple of gigs coming up this week (sat/sun) which I’d like to let you know about. I’m also involved in some great projects at the moment which i’d like to share.

1. The first gig – Sat 20th June – is at the Cross Kings Pub, York Way, London N1 0AX. I’ll be doing some new tunes, old ones and some improv bits. Also playing: Liberez, Benjamin Wetherill & the Trumpets of Death, B¿Layachi Cousins Duo. Cost:£6, adv £5 

2. The second gig – Sun 21st June – is an early one 6:00 > 7:00pm, Royal Festival Hall ballroom, London. This event is on the closing day of Meltdown 2009 and is before this years curator Ornette Coleman takes to the stage. I’m really looking forward to this, I have managed to get a group of amazing musicians together to play some of my animated graphic score pieces. We’ll be premiering a new one where the audience suggest words and phrases which will make up the score. It’s a free gig too! 

3. I just finished a BBC commission for Radio 3, I was asked to work with Shetland poet Jen Hadfield on a new work. I’m not sure exactly when it airs but i’ll let you know when I do. It should be available to stream from the BBC website so you can have a listen even if you miss the original airing. 

4. I have spent some very pleasurable days with my friend Tom Haines playing about with hydrophones in a little pink paddling pool. We are working on a new piece which will actually be performed (and listened to)  in a public swimming pool using an underwater sound system combined with a regular air speakers.

Paddling pool, hydrophones, and sound objects

Paddling pool, hydrophones, and sound objects

If you want to come and experience the first and probably only performance of this piece it will take place on July 22nd at Clissold swimming pool 63 Clissold Road,London, N16 9EX. Bring your swimsuit! More Info.

5. Last but not least I have been tinkering with Forester II and have come up with the beginning of a lovely new interface. Here you can see audio files rendered as circles.




I’m still some way off having finished software for you so please be patient. 

See some of you this weekend!

take care,

Leafcutter John x.

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Leafcutter @ Event Gallery Friday 20th March

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009 | Graphic Scores, Live Shows | No Comments
what a smart looking flyer

what a smart looking flyer

What: A show with myself, Dereck Holzer, Joel Cahen, Lina Lapelyte, Peter Cusack, & DJ Alex Czinczel.

When: Friday 20th March 2009 from 8:30 till 1am!

Where: E:vent Gallery, 96 Teesdale Street, London , E2 6PU.

Why: Because these people are fucking brillinat!

How much: Just £4 in advance – get a ticket or two. Or £5 on the door.

I’m looking forward! I think we are all going to play one of my graphic scores at the end of the night which will be a nice bonus.

Leafcutter John x.

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Animated Graphic Score Played by York University Music Students

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 | Graphic Scores, Processing | 10 Comments


This is a recording of the first run-through of my score with students from York Uni’s Music Department. I love how they played the piece and it’s even more amazing considering this was the first time they had laid eyes on it. The result is surprisingly coherent given that there are 11 people playing.

Recorded with a little stereo mic in the middle of the room so the instrument balance is way off I’m afraid. The piece will be performed by an augmented version of this ensemble as part of the York Spring Music Festival in May 2009.

Many thanks to the musicians for their enthusiasm and for allowing me to put up a rehersal, and thanks to Simon for all his organising!

Performed by: 

  • Violin – Hannah Wells
  • Viola – Vic Bernath
  • Cello – Chris Mullender
  • Double Bass – Vanessa McWilliam
  • Double Bass – Gareth Taitt
  • Oboe – Des Clarke 
  • Flute – Megan Fennell
  • Flute – Ellie Haines
  • French Horn – Benjamin Gait
  • Piano – Dave Morecroft
  • Voice – Anna Goldbeck-Wood
Leafcutter John.

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Jazzwise review.

Thursday, February 12th, 2009 | Graphic Scores, Live Shows | No Comments

Sorry about the lack of updates over the last week and a half, I went away on the Take 5 program which is a career development residency run by Serious on a beautiful organic farm just outside the M25. It’s primarily for jazz musicians but they are open minded enough to have invited me so I guess that means it’s fairly wide open. Anyhow it was a great week, very hard work but lovely people, food, and wine. 

Also on a Jazzy tip, I just read this nice review in Jazzwise magazine of the recent Kammer Klang concert at Charlie Wright’s:


“An animated score designed by the enigmatic Leafcutter John, projected onto a blank canvas, provided the structural platform for in-performance composition by the Kammer Klang quartet. Four lines colour coded to each musician respectively, warped over time in size, shape and position, which the musicians interpreted by variations in volume, pitch, attack and decay. The absence of rhythmic, harmonic and melodic structure entailed that the music emanated directly from each musician’s emotional centre. Despite the freedom afforded by this method of musical expression there was an evident coherence to the group’s performance. 

An arresting improvised solo set by Leafcutter John of his pioneering ‘folktronica’ concluded the evening. A multi-layered, multi-textured electronic soundscape instantaneously engaged the audience. The acoustic fabrics of guitar, accordion and voice interacted with electronic sound swarms and distortions as each effect seemingly consumed its predecessor. 

The musical and intellectual density of the evening matched its engaging and accessible nature: a fine combination for such progressive music.”     

Review: Joseph Kassman-Tod 

Take care,

Leafcutter John.

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Animated Graphic Score as played by Kammer Klang Quartet!

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 | Graphic Scores, Live Shows, Processing | 11 Comments

I’m really happy about how the premiere of the score piece turned out! I think the Kammer Klang Quartet did an excellent job with it. It was inspiring to see how each individual dealt with the notation in a different way while still maintaing some kind of group integrity. It seemed like the whole thing went down well with the audience too, perhaps because they could see the score projected as it was played. I’m going to work on a second score as soon as I finish off the things I have on my plate at the moment, perhaps now the rules have been established it might be fun to bend them a little.

I must thank Lucy for putting on a great night and Dave for his dedication to the sound! Also my thanks to Mr Leo – Simon Bookish who’s criticism and suggestions were invaluable in the making of this piece. 

The Kammer Klang Quartet were:

Kammer Klang is a monthly event and I highly recommend it!

Finally a note about the video – The audio sync is not perfect, this is a video issue and nothing to do with the fine playing of the Quartet! The sound was recorded on my little Sony D-50 and my Soundman Binaural mic’s laid on a table so it’s not fantstic. Good enough though to illustrate the evening’s events.

All the best,

Leafcutter John.

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