Harold Budd

Harold Montgomory Budd (born May 24, 1936) is an American avant-garde composer and poet.[1] He was born in Los Angeles and raised in the Mojave Desert. He has developed a style of playing piano he terms "soft pedal".

Harold Budd
Harold Budd
Harold Budd in Japan
(photo: Masao Nakagami)
Background information
Birth nameHarold Montgomory Budd
BornMay 24, 1936 (age 82)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresAmbient, drone, avant-garde, neoclassical
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, poet, professor
InstrumentsPiano, keyboards, guitar
Years active1962–present
LabelsOpal, Land, Darla, Samadhi, New World, All Saints, EG, 4AD

Early life

Budd was born in Los Angeles, California and spent his childhood in Victorville, California by the Mojave Desert.[2] Following his draft into the army, he joined the regimental band where he played drums. Jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler was drafted at the same time and was also a member of the band. Budd joined him in gigs around the Monterey area.[2]

Education and academic career

Budd's career as a composer began in 1962. In the following years, he gained a notable reputation in the local avant-garde community.[3] In 1966, he graduated from the University of Southern California (having studied under Ingolf Dahl) with a degree in musical composition. As he progressed, his compositions became increasingly minimalist. Among his more experimental works were two drone music pieces, "Coeur d'Orr" and "The Oak of the Golden Dreams". After composing a long-form gong solo titled "Lirio", he felt he had reached the limits of his experiments in minimalism and the avant-garde. He retired temporarily from composition in 1970 and began a teaching career at the California Institute of the Arts.[1]

"The road from my first colored graph piece in 1962 to my renunciation of composing in 1970 to my resurfacing as a composer in 1972 was a process of trying out an idea and when it was obviously successful abandoning it. The early graph piece was followed by the Rothko orchestra work, the pieces for Source Magazine, the Feldman-derived chamber works, the pieces typed out or written in longhand, the out-and-out conceptual works among other things, and the model drone works (which include the sax and organ "Coeur d'Orr" and "The Oak of the Golden Dreams", the latter based on the Balinese "Slendro" scale which scale I used again 18 years later on "The Real Dream of Sails").[3]

"In 1970 with the "Candy-Apple Revision" (unspecified D-flat major) and "Lirio" (solo gong "for a long duration") I realized I had minimalized myself out of a career. It had taken ten years to reduce my language to zero but I loved the process of seeing it occur and not knowing when the end would come. By then I had opted out of avant-garde music generally; it seemed self-congratulatory and risk-free and my solution as to what to do next was to do nothing, to stop completely."

"I resurfaced as an artist in 1972 with "Madrigals of the Rose Angel", the first of what would be a cycle of works under the collective title The Pavilion of Dreams. Madrigals refused to accommodate or even acknowledge any issues in new music. The entire aesthetic was an existential prettiness; not the Platonic "to Kalon", but simply pretty: mindless, shallow and utterly devastating. Female chorus, harp and percussion seemed like a beautiful start. Its first performance was at a Franciscan church in California conducted by Daniel Lentz."[4]

Composer and recording artist

In 1972, while still retaining his teaching career, he resurfaced as a composer. Spanning from 1972–1975 he created four individual works under the collective title "The Pavilion of Dreams". The style of these works was an unusual blend of popular jazz and the avant-garde. In 1976 he resigned from the institute and began recording his new compositions, produced by British ambient pioneer Brian Eno. Two years later, Harold Budd's debut album The Pavilion of Dreams was released.

Budd has developed a style of playing piano he terms "soft pedal," which can be described as slow and sustained. While he is often placed in the Ambient category, he emphatically declares that he is not an Ambient artist, and feels that he got "kidnapped" into the category.[5] His two collaborations with Brian Eno, The Plateaux of Mirror and The Pearl, established his trademark atmospheric piano style. On Lovely Thunder he introduced subtle electronic textures. His thematic 2000 release The Room saw a return to a more minimalist approach. In 2003, Daniel Lanois, the renowned producer of U2 and Bob Dylan, and occasional collaborator with Brian Eno, recorded an impromptu performance of Harold playing the piano in his Los Angeles living room, unaware, and thus realized the album La Bella Vista.

His album Avalon Sutra from 2004 was billed as "Harold Budd's Last Recorded Work" by David Sylvian's independent record label Samadhisound. Their press release continued: "Avalon Sutra brings to a conclusion thirty years of sustained musical activity. Asked for his reasons, Budd says only that he feels that he has said what he has to say. With characteristic humility, he concludes, "I don’t mind disappearing!" [6] A farewell concert retrospective was performed at The Disney Theater/REDCAT in Los Angeles in September 2004 with Budd playing solo and with guests Jon Gibson, Clive Wright and more. It featured music from Budd's "Avalon Sutra", and as far back as "Lirio". A second farewell concert featuring Budd and guest-starring many of the musicians he had worked with throughout his career was presented at Brighton Dome in May 2005, also billed as being Budd's last public performance. In spite of this, Budd's soundtrack to the film Mysterious Skin (a collaboration with Robin Guthrie) and Music for 'Fragments from the Inside' (with Eraldo Bernocchi) were both released in 2005.

In February 2007, Samadhisound released Perhaps, a live recording of Budd's improvised performance at CalArts on December 6, 2006 in tribute to his late friend (and associate teacher at the then newly formed California Institute of Arts) James Tenney.

In April 2007, Samadhisound released a podcast of Harold Budd in conversation with Akira Rabelais. In this (Samadhisound Podcast #2), Harold said although he had believed at the time of recording Avalon Sutra that it would be his last album, he no longer felt that way. "It was a time in my life when things weren't just falling together for me, and I thought that I was just going to let it all slide ... and I was sincere about it but if I had been more conscious of my real feelings and had explored my inner sanctum more I would've seen that it was a preposterous thing to do ... I was dreadfully lonely; I was living alone in the desert and had been for too long, really, and I felt that isolation very severely after a while, and it's probably a version of self-pity, I'm sorry to say, to have publicly said something like that, but there it is, I said it, turns out I wasn't telling the truth – I didn't know it at the time."

In June 2007, Darla Records released two CDs by Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd: After the Night Falls and Before the Day Breaks. Recorded in Spring 2006, each features nine tracks with linked titles, e.g. "How Distant Your Heart"/"How Close Your Soul" and "I Returned Her Glance"/"And Then I Turned Away".[7]

In October 2008, Darla Records released a collaboration with Clive Wright entitled Song for Lost Blossoms. It includes recordings that were done live and in-studio at different locations, including both artists' homes. The album features some of their work done together between 2004 and 2006.[8] A second collaborative effort with Wright, Candylion followed in 2009, again on Darla Records.

In February 2011, Darla Records released a CD album by Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd entitled Bordeaux, recorded in the summer of 2010 in Bordeaux, France and mixed in Guthrie's studio, in Rennes, France.[9]

In November 2011, Eraldo Bernocchi's RareNoiseRecords released a CD album by Eraldo Bernocchi, Harold Budd, Robin Guthrie entitled Winter Garden, recorded in the summer of 2010 in Tuscany, Italy and mixed in Guthrie's studio, in Rennes, France.[10]

In March 2012, Budd appeared as one of the featured composer/performers at San Francisco's Other Minds festival.[11]


Studio albums
  • The Oak of the Golden Dreams / Coeur D'Orr (1970) Advance Recordings
  • The Pavilion of Dreams (1978) E.G. Records produced by Brian Eno[12]
  • Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror (1980) E.G. Records with Brian Eno[12]
  • The Serpent (In Quicksilver) (1981) Cantil[12]
  • The Pearl (1984) E.G. Records with Brian Eno[12]
  • Abandoned Cities (1984) Cantil[12]
  • Lovely Thunder (1986) E.G. Records produced by Michael Hoenig[12]
  • The White Arcades (1988) Opal Records produced by Brian Eno[12]
  • Agua (1989) Opal Records recorded live at the Lanzarote Music Festival[12]
  • By the Dawn's Early Light (1991) Opal Records with Bill Nelson, B.J. Cole, Susan Allen[12]
  • Music for 3 Pianos (1992) All Saints Records with Ruben Garcia and Daniel Lentz
  • She Is a Phantom (1994) New Albion with Zeitgeist[12]
  • Through the Hill (1994) All Saints Records with Andy Partridge[12]
  • Luxa (1996) All Saints Records[12]
  • Walk into My Voice: American Beat Poetry (1996) Materiali Sonori with Daniel Lentz & Jessica Karraker
  • Fenceless Night: Selections for Cinema 1980–1998 compilation, promotional only (1998) Polygram
  • The Room (2000) Atlantic Records[12]
  • Three White Roses & A Budd (2002) Twentythree Records with Bill Nelson & Fila Brazillia
  • Jah Wobble's Solaris – Live in Concert (2002) 30 Hertz Records with Jah Wobble, Graham Haynes, Jaki Liebezeit & Bill Laswell
  • La Bella Vista (2003) Shout Factory[12]
  • Translucence/Drift Music (2003) Edsel Records with John Foxx[12]
  • Avalon Sutra / As Long as I Can Hold My Breath 2-CD digipak (2004) Samadhisound produced by Harold Budd[12]
  • Mysterious Skin – Music from the Film (2005) Commotion Records/Rykodisc with Robin Guthrie[12]
  • Music for 'Fragments from the Inside' (2005) Sub Rosa with Eraldo Bernocchi
  • Perhaps (2007) Samadhisound (Live album)[12]
  • After the Night Falls (2007) Darla Records with Robin Guthrie[12]
  • Before the Day Breaks (2007) Darla Records with Robin Guthrie[12]
  • A Song for Lost Blossoms (2008) Darla Records with Clive Wright[12]
  • Candylion (2009) Darla Records with Clive Wright[12]
  • Little Windows (2010) Darla Records with Clive Wright[12]
  • Nighthawks, Translucence and Drift Music 37-track, 3-CD digipak (2011) Edsel Records with John Foxx
  • Bordeaux (2011) Darla Records with Robin Guthrie[12]
  • Winter Garden (2011) RareNoiseRecords with Robin Guthrie & Eraldo Bernocchi[10]
  • In the Mist (2011) Darla Records[12]
  • Bandits of Stature (2012) Darla Records, P Toyon Music (BMI), distributed in the US by Caroline Records, Inc.
  • Jane 1–11 (2013) Darla Records
  • Wind in Lonely Fences 1970 – 2011 18-track, 2-CD digipak (2013) All Saints Records with Cocteau Twins and Robin Guthrie, John Foxx, & Brian Eno
  • Buddbox anthology box set containing 7 hard-to-find and critically acclaimed albums (2013) All Saints Records
  • "Buddbox Sampler" Limited edition 15-track promo sampler for the 7 CD Buddbox anthology box set (2013) All Saints Records
  • Jane 12–21 (2014) Darla Records
  • White Bird in a Blizzard (2014) Lakeshore Records with Robin Guthrie[10]

See also


  1. ^ Nicolas Slonimsky; Laura Kuhn; Dennis McIntire (January 1, 2001). Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (9th ed.). Schirmer Books. ISBN 9780028655253. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter |subscription= (help)
  2. ^ a b "A Box of Budd: Talking to Harold Budd". theaudiophileman.com. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Harold Budd: utterly no interest in labels". FDLeone.com. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  4. ^ Budd, Harold, excerpt from liner notes for The Pavilion of Dreams, dated Los Angeles, October 1991
  5. ^ Hoffer, Jason; Harold Budd. "Drinking Scotch, smoking cigarettes, and hanging out with Feldman, Rothko and Budd" (audio (mp3)). 9:00: Going Thru Vinyl Ltd. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  6. ^ "Harold Budd "Avalon Sutra"". Samadhisound.com. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  7. ^ "Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd After the Night Falls". popmatters.com. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  8. ^ "Harold Budd & Clive Wright – A Song for Lost Blossoms (Darla)". Darla.com. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  9. ^ "Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd – Bordeaux (Darla)". Darla.com. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c "News". Robinguthrie.com. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  11. ^ "Other Minds". otherminds.org. Archived from the original on November 27, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "Harold Budd discography". Progarchives.com. Retrieved May 1, 2017.

External links

After the Night Falls

After The Night Falls is a 2007 collaborative album from Robin Guthrie, formerly of the Cocteau Twins and ambient artist Harold Budd. It was released, as a matched CD, on the same day as Before the Day Breaks, also by Guthrie and Budd.

Avalon Sutra / As Long as I Can Hold My Breath

Avalon Sutra / As Long As I Can Hold My Breath is a double album by Harold Budd which, at the time of its release in 2005, was reported to be his final musical work. However, both Music for 'Fragments from the Inside' and Mysterious Skin - Music from the Film, a collaboration with Robin Guthrie, were released a few months after this album. The first disc is titled Avalon Sutra, and the second, a remix from Akira Rabelais, is titled As Long as I Can Hold My Breath.

Before the Day Breaks

Before the Day Breaks is a 2007 collaborative album from Robin Guthrie, formerly of the Cocteau Twins, and ambient artist Harold Budd. It was released, as a matched CD, on the same day as After the Night Falls, also by Guthrie and Budd.

Boyce Budd

Harold Boyce Budd Jr. (born January 4, 1939) is a retired American competition rower who won a gold medal in the eights at the 1964 Olympics.

Budd graduated from the Yale University in 1961, and then joined the Philadelphia's Vesper Boat Club, winning with them national titles in the pairs, fours, and eights in 1964 and 1965. He also won a bronze medal in the eights at the 1965 European championships. In 1962, he spent a year at Cambridge University in England, and won with them the Henley Royal Regatta in the eights.In 1980, Budd's home in Devon, Pennsylvania, was robbed; his Olympic gold medal was stolen and never recovered.

Gene Bowen

Gene Bowen, also known as Eugene Bowen (born 1950), is a composer, guitarist, pedal steel guitarist, sound designer and vocalist. He has collaborated with and appears on recordings by a number of new music composers, including Harold Budd and Daniel Lentz.

Bowen was working with Harold Budd, James Tenney, Daniel Lentz, Wolfgang Stoerchle and John Baldessari while studying at California Institute of the Arts in the 1970s, where he plays guitar, keyboards, synthesizers and sings. He has contributed to Harold Budd's recordings in one of the landmark albums of the ambient style, Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror (EG, 1980 with Brian Eno), The Serpent (In Quicksilver) (Cantil, 1981), Abandoned Cities (Cantil, 1984), etc. Recently he collaborated with John Densmore – the drummer of The Doors – at Hen House Studios.

Harold Budd discography

Harold Budd (born May 24, 1936) is an American ambient/avant-garde composer and poet. Born in Los Angeles, he was raised in the Mojave Desert.

His discography consists of 13 studio albums, 1 E.P., 1 live album, 3 Soundtrack albums and several collaborations with other artists. His first recording The Oak of the Golden Dreams / Coeur D'Orr was released in 1971, but subsequently didn't release anything until Brian Eno released The Pavilion of Dreams on his Obscure Records label in 1978. Since then he has been a prolific recording artist.

Eno produced his second album The Pavilion of Dreams and they worked together in collaboration on Ambient 2:The Plateaux of Mirror in 1980 and followed it in 1984 with The Pearl. In 1986 he worked with The Cocteau Twins on The Moon and the Melodies, and subsequently he has worked frequently with Robin Guthrie on several albums including soundtracks to the films Mysterious Skin and White Bird in a Blizzard. Other frequent collaborators include Hector Zazou, John Foxx and Clive Wright amongst others.

This page contains information related to his recordings.

Lovely Thunder

Lovely Thunder is a studio album by the American ambient artist Harold Budd. It was released in 1986 on E.G. Records. The vinyl release did not include "Valse Pour le Fin du Temps".

Luxa (album)

Luxa is a studio album by the electronic artist Harold Budd. It was released in 1996 on All Saints Records.

Music for 'Fragments from the Inside'

Music for 'Fragments from the Inside' is an album consisting of music composed and performed by Harold Budd and Eraldo Bernocchi for an installation at the Palazzo Delle Papesse Centro Arte Contemporanea in Italy. The exhibit was created by poet Mara Bressi and videographer Patulia Mattioli, combining visual elements with Budd and Bernocchi's music. The music was published on a CD enclosed in a digipak.

Music for 3 Pianos

Music for 3 Pianos is an EP by Harold Budd, Ruben Garcia and Daniel Lentz.

Mysterious Skin – Music from the Film

Mysterious Skin: Music from the Film is an album of music composed and performed by Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd for the film Mysterious Skin. The music was published on a CD inside a digipak containing images from the film.

The Moon and the Melodies

The Moon and the Melodies is a studio album resulting from the collaboration between the members of Scottish dream pop band Cocteau Twins and the American minimalist composer Harold Budd. It was released 10 November 1986 by 4AD. The name "Cocteau Twins" did not appear on the release, which instead credited the band's three members (Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde) and Budd individually.

A version of the track "Memory Gongs" was released on Budd's Lovely Thunder as "Flowered Knife Shadows", dedicated to Raymonde.

The phrases "bloody and blunt" and "ooze out and away, onehow" came from Fraser's lyrics on the songs "The Tinderbox (Of a Heart)" and "My Love Paramour", both from the 1983 Cocteau Twins album Head Over Heels.

Fraser sings on tracks 1, 4, 5 and 8. Saxophonist Richard Thomas of Dif Juz appeared on tracks 5, 6 and 7.

The Pavilion of Dreams

The Pavilion of Dreams is the second album from composer Harold Budd.

The Pearl (album)

The Pearl is an album by ambient musicians Harold Budd and Brian Eno, which was released in 1984. This album is similar to Budd and Eno's previous collaboration Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror, consisting mostly of subtly treated piano textures, but this time with more pronounced electronic treatments and nature recordings. This album was produced with Daniel Lanois, who is also credited on the front cover.

The track "Against the Sky" was sampled in "Cedars of Lebanon" from U2's album No Line on the Horizon.

The Room (album)

The Room is an album composed and performed by Harold Budd.

The White Arcades

The White Arcades (1988) is an album performed by Harold Budd. The album was recorded at various locations, including Palladium in Edinburgh, and the Cocteau Twins studio in London. Individual tracks were engineered by Robin Guthrie and Brian Eno.

Music from track 1, "The White Arcades," was used in the 1991 documentary film Coney Island, directed by Ric Burns.

Through the Hill

Through the Hill is an album composed and performed by Andy Partridge and Harold Budd.

Translucence/Drift Music

Translucence/Drift Music is a double studio album by American ambient musician Harold Budd and English musician and graphic artist John Foxx, which was released in August 2003. Budd and Foxx had long been engaged by the other's work, eventually working together in 1996. These two discs are a record of those sessions.

Harold Budd
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