Morris Pert

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Morris David Brough Pert (8 September 1947 – 27 April 2010)[1] was a Scottish composer, drummer/percussionist, and pianist who composed in the fields of both contemporary classical and jazz-rock music. His compositions include three symphonies, piano music, chamber and solo instrumental music, choral music and "sonic landscapes" for electronic media; a late major work is "Ankh" for Carnyx and electronics written for eminent trombonist John Kenny.


Morris Pert was born into a musical family and raised in Arbroath, Scotland where he played variously in percussion, folk (Triad) and rock bands (Vegas) and began to compose. He gained a Trinity College London diploma in piano performance in 1967 and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1969. He then studied in London on a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music with Alan Bush (who considered Pert one of his best pupils) and James Blades. He was a prize-winning student, notably the 1970 Royal Philharmonic Society Award for his orchestral work Xumbu-Ata, which was broadcast by the BBC. Pert's other orchestral compositions include Missa Festiva for choir and orchestra, Omega Centauri for chamber orchestra and tape, Sun Dragon for large orchestra and tape, Sonores for solo piano, Andromeda Link for solo violin and tape, Eoastrion Op.30 for E-flat clarinet, piano and tape, The Rising of the Moon for large orchestra (Premiered by Hiroyuki Iwaki and the Waseda University S.O.), The Beltane Rites for orchestra(a BBC commission), The Ancient Kindred for orchestra, Ancient Rites for choir and orchestra, Chromosphere for five players and tape, The Ultimate Decay for tape, The Book of Love for percussion and tape, and incidental music for productions of Macbeth (Young Vic) , The Tempest, and Peter Pan (Eden Court).[2][3]

As a rock musician Pert spent two years (1970–1972) with Japanese percussionist Stomu Yamashta as a member of his ensembles "East Wind" and "Red Buddha Theatre". The group created a sensation with performances at The Roundhouse in London. In 1971 he founded the group "Come to the Edge" with Robin Thompson and Andrew Powell. After personnel changes in 1973 this band became "Sun Treader" (or "Suntreader") and recorded two albums. In 1977 Pert joined the jazz-rock band Brand X for their second album, composing three numbers for their Masques album. He stayed with the band, touring extensively, until 1979.

As a session musician he played with many musicians, including Paul McCartney, Andrew Lloyd Webber, John Williams, Kate Bush, Mike Oldfield, Sally Oldfield, Peter Gabriel, Peter Hammill, Jon Anderson, Elvis Costello, Bryan Ferry and Talk Talk. Among his awards are five gold albums, an American ASCAP award and a NARAS Grammy Award nomination.

He also taught piano as an associate professor at Trinity College London, an activity that probably inspired "Moon Dances" and "Voyage in Space".

A pioneering composer, he saw himself as a musical "explorer", adopting modern techniques of sonority and percussion writing, but nevertheless avoided excesses of cerebralism believing sound and emotional communication to be of fundamental importance. His musical language is marked by a degree of rhythmic and metric complexity and a non-ideological use of serial technique that remains open to aspects of tonality. Another important feature of his music is the degree of improvisation required of soloists, generally in response to a pre-recorded tape. The extramusical stimuli were often cosmological, ranging from generally solar or lunar themes to the more specifically astronomical: "Alpha Centauri", "Omega Centauri", "Chromosphere" etc. or inspired by the wisdom, culture and artefacts of the ancient and medieval world, especially his Pictish forebears, but also drawing on Lucretius, Taoism, Carmichael's Carmina Gadelica and the Bible. Composers mentioned on his website were Arne Nordheim, Stockhausen and Iannis Xenakis. Other discernable influences included Tadeusz Baird and Reginald Smith Brindle, as well as the Polish avant-garde.

Pert built a studio in northwest Scotland, where, among other activities, he worked on a projected fourth symphony (of which no remnants are known but which was to be titled "De Situ Albanie") and on solo piano suites; he also explored electronic music and worked with Japanese soprano Natsuko Mineghishi and her ensemble Klang Collective, based in Melbourne and the American musician Bob Warseck.

Pert died on 27 April 2010 at his home in Balchrick, near Kinlochbervie, in Sutherland, Scotland at the age of 62.[4]


Pert played drums, congas, tam-tam, timbales, flexatone, vibraslap, marimba, vibraphone, timpani, tabla, gong, bell tree, tambourine, bells, kalimba, shaker, jawbone, assorted percussion and keyboards.[5]

List of compositions (incomplete)[edit]


  • "Xumbu-Ata," 3 pieces for orchestra
  • "Eilean Donnan Op.17 Elegy and Dance" for Strings and optional timps
  • "Sun Dragon," symphonic study for large orchestra and tape
  • Symphony No 1 "The Rising of the Moon" (Dedicated to Robert Hall)
  • Symphony No 2 "The Beltane Rites" (BBC commission)
  • Symphony No 3 "The Ancient Kindred"


  • "2 Medieval Lyrics Op.1" (BBC commission)
  • "4 Japanese Verses Op.2" for soprano and piano
  • "4 Japanese Lyrics" for soprano and flute
  • "Epitaphs Op.6" for soprano, piano and percussion
  • "Missa Festiva" for 2 part female choir and orchestra
  • "The Ultimate Decay" for voices and electronics
  • "The Ancient Rites Op.40" for choir and strings

Solo piano/keyboard[edit]

  • "For Janet"
  • "Suilven Moon"
  • "Luminos Op.16"
  • "Moon Dances"
  • "Sonores," five studies in miniature Op.21
  • "Fragmenti II" for harpsichord
  • "Voyage in Space," 20 miniatures
  • "Stones" or "Standing Stones Suite" (2007), 6 miniatures
  • "Mountains Suite" (2007), 6 miniatures

Ensemble/chamber/other instrumental[edit]

  • Sonata for clarinet and piano "The Ancient Stone"
  • "Delphic Fragments" for flute, horn in F, violin, cello, vibraphone and percussion
  • "Alpha Centauri Op.10" for flute/piccolo, percussion and tape
  • "Omega Centauri Op.11" for flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, piano, percussion and tape
  • "Chromosphere Op.24" for 5 players and tape
  • "Luminos Op.16a" for basset horn/clarinet in Bb and piano
  • "Andromeda Link" for solo violin and tape
  • "Eoastrion Op.29" for Eb clarinet and tape
  • "The Book of Love" for percussion and tape
  • "Fragmenti I" for clarinet and piano
  • "Cernunno" for wind quintet
  • "The Ancient Pattern Op.34"
  • "Ankh" for Carnyx, trombone and electronics

Rock band[edit]

  • "Zin-Zin" for Sun Treader
  • "Stardance" for Sun Treader
  • "Orinocco" for Sun Treader
  • "From The Region of Capricorn" for Sun Treader
  • "Eclipse and after" for Sun Treader
  • "Kuikúru" for Sun Treader
  • "Sirian Blue" for Sun Treader
  • "-Ish" for Brand X
  • "Isis Mourning" for Brand X
  • "Black Moon" for Brand X
  • "Deadly Nightshade" for Brand X
  • "Earth Dance" for Brand X


  • "Aurora"
  • "Magnificat"
  • "The Music of Stars"
  • "Heaven's Song"



  • 1975 – Contemporary Clarinet: The Music of Elisabeth Lutyens (Georgina Dobrée (clarinet) & Morris Pert (piano), Chantry Records, LP)
  • 1975 – The Music of Morris Pert: Luminos/Chromosphere/4 Japanese Verses (Chantry Records ABM 21, LP)
  • c.1976 – The Big Wave (cassette only)[6]
  • 1982 – The Book of Love/Fragmenti I/The Ultimate Decay (Chantry Records CHT007, LP)[7]
  • 1998 – Anthem for the Cruthin (single) – digital download
  • 2001 – The Voyage (recorded with Suntreader—Pert, Peter Robinson and Neville Whitehead —sometime "in the mid-1970s," North by North West Productions NNW002)
  • 2001 – The Music of Stars ("recorded gradually over a period of years as a personal project," North by North West Productions NNW003)
  • 2001 – Elektron Musik (recorded "in the mid-1980s," North by North West Productions NNW004)
  • 2008 – Desert Dances (Buckyball Records br021)
  • 2011 – Chromosphere/Dorian Terilament/Heaven's Song/The Ultimate Decay – digital download[8]

Session work/band member (partial list)[edit]

Year Artist Album Notes
1972 Stomu Yamashta & Come to the Edge Floating Music
1973 Jonesy Growing
Stomu Yamashta's Red Buddha Theatre The Soundtrack From "The Man From The East"
Suntreader Zin Zin
1974 Steve Swindells Messages
Caravan and the New Symphonia Caravan and the New Symphonia
1975 Isotope Deep End
Bloodstone Train Ride To Hollywood
Jack Lancaster And Robin Lumley Marscape
1976 Quantum Jump Quantum Jump
Bryan Ferry Let's Stick Together
Patty Pravo Tanto
Bryan Ferry Extended Play
John Williams John Williams And Friends
John G. Perry Sunset Wading
1977 Smak Crna dama
Adrian Wagner Instincts
Brand X Moroccan Roll
Brand X Livestock
Elkie Brooks Two Days Away
Arthur Brown Chisholm in My Bosom
Family of Love Avec Jeane Manson Et Demis Roussos La Bible 2xLP
Chris de Burgh At The End of a Perfect Day
1978 Rod Argent Moving Home
Kate Bush The Kick Inside
The Walker Brothers Nite Flights
Brand X Masques
John Williams The John Williams Collection
Nik Turner's Sphynx Xitintoday
John Williams The Best of John Williams
Adrian Wagner The Last Inca
1979 Brand X Product
Mike Oldfield Platinum
Wings Back to the Egg
Cheryl Lynn In Love
Anthony Phillips Sides
Cherry Vanilla Venus D'Vinyl
The Dukes The Dukes
Marianne Faithfull Broken English
Colin Blunstone Late Nights in Soho
Gordon Giltrap The Peacock Party
1980 Murray Head Voices
Mike Oldfield QE2
Marti Webb Take That Look Off Your Face
Peter Gabriel Peter Gabriel
Graham De Wilde Clouds
Peter Green Little Dreamer
Donovan Neutronica
Night Long Distance
Mike Rutherford Working in Line
Kate Bush Never For Ever
Mike Rutherford Smallcreep's Day
Brand X Do They Hurt?
Eberhard Schoener Events
Lucio Battisti Una giornata uggiosa
Sally Oldfield Celebration
Stonebridge McGuinness Corporate Madness
Mike Rutherford Time And Time Again 7" single
AJ Webber Clevedon Pier EP
1981 Anthony Phillips 1984
Peter Hammill Sitting Targets
Peter Green Blue Guitar
Eberhard Schoener Time Square
1982 Trevor Jones The Dark Crystal Original Soundtrack
Peter Gabriel Peter Gabriel "Kiss of Life", "Wallflower"
Mike Oldfield Five Miles Out
Gerry Rafferty Sleepwalking
Louis Clark Conducting The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Hooked on Classics 2 – Can't Stop The Classics
Esther Ofarim, Eberhard Schoener, Wolf Wondratschek, Ulf Miehe Complicated Ladies
Jon Anderson Animation
1983 Anthony Phillips Band Invisible Men
Andrew Powell And The Philharmonia Orchestra Play The Best of The Alan Parsons Project
Alain Chamfort Secrets Glacés
Elvis Costello & The Attractions Punch The Clock
Nick Heyward North of a Miracle
Graham Parker The Real Macaw
1984 Talk Talk It's My Life
Mike Oldfield The Killing Fields
1985 Freeez Idle Vice as Maurice Pert
The Explorers Explorers
Peter Gabriel Birdy
Kate Bush Hounds of Love
1986 Talk Talk The Colour of Spring
Brand X Xtrax
1988 John Martyn One World
The Adventures The Sea of Love as Maurice Pert
Alexis Korner Alexis Korner And... 1972 – 1983
Gerry Rafferty North and South as Maurice Pert
1990 Nova Blink
1992 Smak Retrospektiva
1993 Wilding / Bonus Pleasure Signals
1994 Big Jim Sullivan Band/Tiger Test of Time
1998 Brand X The X-Files: A 20 Year Retrospective
Marianne Faithfull A Perfect Stranger: The Island Anthology
Mike Oldfield Five Miles Out / Crises / Heaven's Open 3xCD, Comp
1999 Bryan Ferry In Your Mind
Brand X Timeline 2xCD
2000 Talk Talk It's My Life / The Colour of Spring / Spirit of Eden Box + 3xCD
2002 Kate Bush The Kick Inside / Lionheart 2xCD
2004 Night Night / Long Distance CD, Comp
2006 Mike Oldfield Live at Montreux 1981 DVD
2008 Stomu Yamashta Floating Music & The Man From The East 2xCD
2009 Mike Oldfield The Mike Oldfield Collection 1974-1983


  1. ^ "Obituary: Morris Pert – The Scotsman". Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  2. ^ Luminos liner notes
  3. ^ Michael G. Nastos. "Morris Pert | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  4. ^ Morris Pert: Composer, percussionist and member of Brand X The Independent. access date 15 July 2018
  5. ^ "Morris Pert - Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  6. ^ The Voyage liner notes
  7. ^ "Morris Pert – The Book of Love / Fragmenti I / The Ultimate Decay (Vinyl, LP) at Discogs". 28 January 1981. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  8. ^ "Composer Morris Pert". Archived from the original on 14 January 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2014.

External links[edit]