Exploring Science. Inspiring Music.

Difference MachineComposer: Barry Guy
Object: Charles Babbage Calculating Engine / Making the Modern World Gallery
Work Title: "Mr Babbage is Coming to Dinner!"

Recalling the mid-19th century mathematician Charles Babbage, the score consists of one large graphic page inspired by engineering drawings, prepared by Charles Godfrey Jarvis, and Babbage’s own texts concerning the production of the machines. In this he referred to  ‘Mechanical Notation’ which has been explained as a descriptive system that precisely records the way parts are intended to interact. One form of the notation consists of timing diagrams which show how different motions are phased and harmonised. Another form resembles what we would now liken to logical flow diagrams. From this Barry Guy will create a graphic score, partially coloured, where precise musical movements will be choreographed alongside flexible scenarios that will engage the musicians in creative responses and spontaneous decisions according to visual stimuli. To realise an end result in the spirit of a calculating engine, players move material through the human labyrinth with the percussionist playing a particularly athletic role



© Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library


Barry Guy

About Barry Guy

Barry Guy is an innovative bass player and composer whose creative diversity in the fields of jazz improvisation, chamber and orchestral performance and solo recitals is the outcome both of an unusually varied training and a zest for experimentation, underpinned by a dedication to the double bass and the ideal of musical communication.

He is founder and Artistic Director of the London Jazz Composers Orchestra and the BGNO (Barry Guy New Orchestra)  for which he has written several extended works. His concert works for chamber orchestras, chamber groups and soloists have been widely performed and his skilful and inventive writing has resulted in an exceptional series of compositions.

Between the early Seventies and mid Nineties Barry Guy held principal bass position in various orchestras including The Orchestra of St.John's Smith Square, City of London Sinfonia, Monteverdi Orchestra, The Academy of Ancient Music, Kent Opera and The London Classical Players; during these years he was also active in the European improvised scene.

His concert works have been widely performed and his skilful and inventive writing has resulted in an exceptional series of compositions: Flagwalk (1983), The Eye of Silence (1988), Look Up! (1990) - winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Chamber-Scale Composition - After the Rain (1992), Bird Gong Game (1992), Fallingwater (1996), Redshift (1998), Remembered Earth (1999), Nasca Lines (2001), Inachis (2002), Folio (2002) and  Anaklasis (2003). In 2006 he was featured composer at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

Barry Guy continues to give solo recitals throughout Europe as well as continuing associations with colleagues involved in improvised, baroque and contemporary music. His current regular ensembles are the Homburger/Guy duo, the Parker/Guy duo, piano trios with Marilyn Crispell and Paul Lytton, Jaques Demierre and Lucas Niggli and a recently formed trio with Agusti Fernandez and Ramon Lopez. He continues the longstanding trio with Evan Parker and Paul Lytton as well as projects with Mats Gustafsson.