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In terms of pure sound, I am attracted to intricate texture; the microscopic, the unexpected, the naturally rhythmic and the adventurous; to sound atmospheres and layered perspectives, to sounds that conjure mood and imagination, that convey ideas and express the human heart and soul.


Phil Dadson is a sound and intermedia artist with an interdisciplinary practice including solo performances and exhibitions, building experimental instruments and sonic objects, video/sound installation; music composition, graphic scores and improvisations on invented instruments. He is the founder of the sound-performance group, From Scratch, (1974 – 2002), known widely for its rhythmic and distinctive performances on original instruments. In 2005 he was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Born in Napier, New Zealand 1946, he later studied at Elam School of Fine Arts, and played piano in University Jazz Workshop. Before completing the course he travelled to London and from 1968 -9 was a member of the foundation group for a scratch orchestra, London, with Cornelius Cardew, Michael Parsons and others.

Returning to New Zealand mid 1969 he continued study at Elam, graduating Dip FA Hons in sculpture and performance, 1971. In 1970 he founded scratch orchestra (NZ) and later in 1974, From Scratch. Until 1976 he worked as a moving image maker (SeeHear films), co-founded Alternative Cinema (Auckland) and was a lecturer in intermedia at Elam from 1977 – 2001. A co-author of the ‘From Scratch Rhythm Workbook’, he has also collaborated on two international award-winning performance films of From Scratch with director Gregor Nicholas, has released numerous LPs and CDs of FS over its nearly three decade history, and is a co-author with Bart Hopkin of ‘Plosive Aerophones’ a book on the design and construction of slaptube instruments (see

FROM SCRATCH (1974 – 2002) developed an international reputation for an innovative sound/performance style that included sculptural, ritual and theatrical elements. Large custom-built instruments of extruded plastics, industrial and natural materials were used to create a variety of strictly non-electronic sounds and energetic rhythms. In 1998, ‘Global Hockets’, a collaborative project with Frankfurt based group Supreme Particles was toured in Europe. Following the final group work Pacific Plate, Dadson has continued with a more solo-based practice, under the name sonicsfromscratch.

In 2013 Dadson exhibited and performed with the Kermadec exhibition in Santiago Chile; devised and curated ‘Sounding Tiritiri Matangi’ a collaborative event with twenty plus musicians creating sonic interventions on the island’s walking tracks (repeated in 2014), devised Sonic Cycles, a bicycle-choir for the Teza site-occupation in New Brighton, Christchurch, and exhibited Bodytok Quintet as part of Scape 7 Biennale. In 2014 he toured with Taonga Puoro player Rob Thorne and Chilean musician Enrique Siques in X-Current, culminating in a performance at Audio Foundation (Auckland) as part of the S3D Invented Instrument minifest.

[As a recipient of an Arts Foundation Laureate Award more information about Philip Dadson can be found on the Arts Foundation website.]

Source: Philip Dadson, June 2007. Updated by SOUNZ,

Selected Works

273 Moons scored work for saxophone quartet and 6 vocalists  
273 Moons scored work for saxophone quartet and 6 vocalists  
An Archaeology of Stones a sound/performance with 'song stones' and sound stories  
Drum/Sing group composition tuned percussion, voices and drones , 'From Scratch'  
Gung Ho 1,2,3,d for pitched percussion, PVC pipes, dulcett chimes, drums and drones  
Pacific 3,2,1, Zero for voices percussion and invented instruments  
Peace Rites for mixed chamber sextet comprised of winds and strings  
Sister's Dance for solo piano  


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