Biography & Philosophy

List of selected works
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Andrew Williams b 1964 at Palo Alto, USA of English parents, but growing up and educated in Rotherham, S. Yorkshire, England

Andrew is a composer, performer, artistic director, facilitator and multi media artist creating new work in a variety of settings. He specialises in the applied use of technology (new & old) to both composition and performance having studied at the Royal college of music with Sarah Thomas and as a postgraduate with electro-acoustic composer Denis Smalley. His music has been broadcast on radio & television and has attracted several prizes, including the City Limits Young Composer Award [for the staged orchestral work - Stage V]. Over the last 25 years he has created new work for concert halls, installations, performance, broadcast, film and digital media. Andrew is living in Derbyshire and is the founder and artistic director of the cutting edge learning disabled arts organisation, Random Line Performance Company. He was artistic director and founder of the contemporary music group, Ensemble 8 and works regularly with Intermedia, ViVA, BBC, Random Line and APM to create new work. Andrew is currently the Artist in Residence at the Space Research Centre, Leicester University and was the first Artist in Residence for Rolls Royce in Derby.

For a list of work (not all work is included) - see TIMELINE


Sound and music composition has been the focus of Andrew’s work over the past 25 years with specific interests in music concrete (recordings of sound) and electro acoustic composition (composition where the behaviour of sound is the primary interest). He is interested in the nature and propagation of sound and often creates compositional structures that relate to the origin of the sound itself. Over the past ten years visual media has gradually filtered in, combining live performance, projection environments and multi channel sound to create unified works where the distinction between media diminishes.


Andrew views much of his work as a series of projects or themes. Material is not always created and arranged to form a definitive structure, object or single work of art but instead exists as a series of potential building blocks from which new work is constructed. These blocks can be reused, reshaped and restructured to create new performances (or installations etc.) reacting to the space they occupy and the nature of the event (festival, concert hall, short performance etc.)

Completing a work as a final object, score (film etc) or definitive performance is sometimes required and relevant to the output. However, it is exciting to work with material unified, by theme, behaviour, etc. yet without a pre determined structure. It is a little like playing with Lego. When creating a new performance of Displacement (for example), material is selected from the pool reworked and developed for the event. In this way, performances seldom repeat and the process remains creative at all stages. The collections of material (audio, video etc), are defined within this web site as projects.

A project is not required to have a natural end. It is not a linear structure or process – more of a statement of interest defining areas of research, development and potential output.


Andrew has always created through a process of pure experimentation leading to the development of new compositional systems, new types of performance and new instruments/audio visual performance tools. He has made glass instruments, synthesisers, software instruments and sound producing objects as well as using and adapting traditional instruments and electronic instruments by circuit bending or sound processing. Often sounds are organised in groups relating to their timbre, duration, texture, pitch, emotion etc to be structured into a musical language during a compositional or improvisation process - not unlike a painter organising colour on a palate.

His music/audio compositions are for varied media ranging from orchestral concert music to recorded sounds that colour and react to the space in which they are installed. He developed a pitched material progression system using P.I.G.’s (Prime, Inverted, Groups) to create registral schemes where the intervals between notes (and pitched gesture - in the case of electro-acoustic material) are relational and can be progressed over time. This system is not unlike serialism, but differs in the fact that it does not deliberately remove the concept of hierarchy within a registral scheme or note cluster. Indeed a sense of gravity within pitched material can (if required) be retained.

This compositional process often requires the discovery of a technique specific to the instrument or sound producing object and not based upon traditional musical skills.  An approach that is liberating - breaking free of traditional artistic structure to create new worlds inhabited by new language.  Why create something new when it already exists?

A sound matt project

Examples are the sound/video triggers made from MDF boards. These can be hit, walked upon, jumped on etc. to trigger a midi note controlling the sound or audiovisual source. In 2005, he was commissioned by Sinfonia ViVA to produce an instrument that could be used within schools projects and he adapted this idea to create a floor comprising 16 triggers each 2ft square. The instrument would make no sound upon arrival as it was up to the group to design, compose and devise their own performance using it. By recording sound/video they could create their own artistic world and would be drawn (by the nature of the instrument) to find new ways of performing within the space. For example, rolling, crawling or stamping to a visual score. This instrument has been adapted to create audio/video screens by hanging vertically within a space.

WORK WITH PEOPLE - a collaborative process

A wish to make work that is unique and can communicate at a pure emotional level is at the heart of this work. Much of his output has involved working in collaboration with people and groups to create new artistic material, new artistic languages and creative process relevant to those involved. He has worked with people across all sectors of society, from schools, prisons, learning disabled culture, board rooms, universities, artists, musicians etc. etc. He founded Ensemble 8 (an artist collective and art form development programme) to develop knowledge and practice of working through inclusive devising processes involving all within the creation of new work. Ensemble 8 used and developed systems of collective and group improvisation to devise material. New work was always an experiment, playing with (and balancing) artistic process, art form development and of course group politics. This work developed over four years on a national scale involving and inviting British and European experimental artists to participate and develop within the framework of an annual course ‘32 hours’. A belief that a collective process can produce exciting and challenging art is important. The process should always encourage experimentation and improvisation. Unknown territory is good, finding our own language essential.

Andrew is drawn to working and collaborating with people who are different - seeing, hearing, sequencing and interpreting in an alternative fashion. As a result has spent much time working with people classified as having a ‘learning disability’ and/or ‘mental health’ problems. Over the years’ Andrew has developed a unique way of working in this field built upon a philosophy and strong belief that difference should be celebrated. He founded, and is currently Artistic Director of Random Line Performance Company and has, over 6 years, built a national and international reputation for its work as a unique cutting edge, high quality learning disabled company. [see ] Andrew regularly collaborates and works with learning disabled people valuing their role as artists, authors and a source of inspiration.

Andrew has led projects with most of the major arts organisations in England, including London Sinfonieta, ViVA, LSO, Opera North, The Philharmonia, Rambert Dance Co., LSO, BBC, Northern Ballet, The Halle Orchestra, The Birmingham Symphony Orchestra , Tate Modern, The National Theatre etc. This work has also included project design, consultancy and training.

  • BA (Hons) Music & History - Brunell University, London
  • M(Mus) - Masters Degree in composition at the University of East Anglia, Norwich.
  • STIEM, Amsterdam - Live midi implementation research
  • Winner of the City Limits Young Composer Award for Stage V
  • ISCM World Music Awards 1994 - Sigh
  • A&B regional award for Best Project - Ocean Project with Rolls Royce
  • A&B National award for Best Project - Ocean Project with Rolls Royce.

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