Robin Hayward

Tuba player, composer, researcher


'Robin Hayward's composition Gruntled started things off quiet, his rumbling tuba intially competing with throat clearing but eventually, in ascending glissando, morphing into a growl - and then into a purr. Using the mute to blur the tone, the piece creates spatial illusions: a distant foghorn; a sound directly in front of your face; obscured voices communicating in the rhythm of syntax, just enough air circulating in the valves for the gutteral vibrations to form a subterranean tone.'
AJ Samuels, The Wire December 2022, review of live performance with microtonal tuba and swoopophone mute.

'Shaking, growling, circling vibrations, harmonies that change at the drop of a hat. That is what awaits you when you hear Sonic Drift by the trio Microtub... The title track consists of slowly changing chords, as if a gigantic creature is constantly moving one of its three legs with extreme deliberation. As a result, the collective keeps taking a different direction. With each new direction, the colours and hues that glow above the sound change. One time, everything is dark and heavy. But then the music can suddenly brighten up.'
Gonzo Circus, from review of Microtub's Sonic Drift album, released on Sofa in May 2021.
Translated with (free version)

"Blossom" is maybe not a word one would associate with tuba. During his solo in last night's premiere of Occam Ocean, tubist Robin Hayward made impossibly rich blossoms of sound rise from his bell. It is hard to describe, but the closest sound to it would be the swing of a light saber, but slowed down and harmonized by silver whistles.'
- Tamzin Elliott, San Francisco Classical Voice, December 2019.

'With Words of Paradise... Robin Hayward succeeds in not only harnessing a quite wonderful concept, but doing so with a rigorous attention to detail that results in a mesmerising, and at times formidable composition... by invoking a strict exploration of harmonic detail, Words of Paradise feels powerfully exploratory for its capacity to push its audience beyond many of the entrenched modes of listening still present in the vast majority of self-proclaiming experimental music.'
- Daniel Alexander Hignell, Tonshift, March 2019. From review of picture disc Words of Paradise, released on Edition Telemark in February 2019.

'Tonaliens... undertake adventurous journeys into the innermost essence of music, its guts, its core, its soul... sounding both archaic and futuristic, with abyss-like depth and heavenly high beauty... Yet again a record of the year!'
- Felix, Freistil, May 2018. From review of double LP Tonaliens, released on Edition Telemark in November 2017. (Translated from German by Robin Hayward).

'Bite of the Orange sounds both strangely familiar and strikingly alien, clearly circumscribed yet filled with infinite possibilities. It is often said that all music has already been written. As microtub's intriguing sonic research proves, whomever made this claim may just not have been digging deep enough.'
- Tobias Fischer, Those Who Make Waves, February 2017. From review of Microtub's Bite of the Orange LP and CD, released on Sofa in February 2017.

'The pace is glacial, the power colossal. All thick, brooding harmonies and uncanny microtones, it's the most appealing conversation between foghorns you'll hear this year.'
- Marcus O'Dair, jazzwise, February 2017. From review of Microtub's Bite of the Orange LP and CD, released on Sofa in February 2017.

'Each of FIMAV's strongest performers made new space and created new levels of resonance, whether literally and physically or culturally and psychologically. Perhaps none did so more than Microtub, with Robin Hayward, Peder Simonsen, and Martin Taxt playing three of the world's four microtonal tubas. Together they explored compositions that created tremendous temporal space using long tones, then found in their rare instruments very specific, previously unheard pitch intervals, distances that took close listening into new territory.'
- Stuart Broomer, musicworks, summer 2016. Review of live performance by microtonal tuba trio Microtub at Festival International Musique Actuelle Victoriaville, May 2016.

'Together the three tubas, positioned in a circle around a geometric construction, created deep consonances that dissolved seamlessly into palpable, oscillating dissonances - hard work on a brass instrument. But the result was a subtle, nuanced performance, full of oceanic movement despite the seeming stillness of the piece.'
- Suzanne Lorge, The New York City Jazz Record, June 2016. From review of live performance by microtonal tuba trio Microtub at Festival International Musique Actuelle Victoriaville, May 2016.

'The double bass, which with its special spectrum of overtones and way of moving acts almost like a wind instrument, intertwines with a tuba, which through Hayward's precise way of playing is strongly reminiscent of the Tibetan 'Dungchen'horn, as well as the sound of people murmuring prayers. Yet this contemplative, organic music never has the effect of being static or stoic. It's an incredibly interesting and precise work which puts listeners into a state of deep, emotionally charged calm. Wholehearted recommendation from me, not to mention the cats!'
- Hirscha, Freistil, June 2016. From review of picture disc Reidemeister Move plays Borromean Rings, released on Corvo Records in April 2016. (Translated from German by Robin and Judith Hayward).

'...the music is exquisite, rippling with dazzling harmonic effects that give its droning tones a seductive richness.'
- Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, May 2016, from review of CD Stop Time

'Microtub... perform works based on Hayward's tuning vine, a mathematically developed microtonal system which he developed after attempting to visually depict the various harmonics found inside his tuba. However it came about, the music on Star System's two tracks is quite beautiful. The deep roars of the three carefully tuned instruments purr out long lines of tone that overlay one another, sitting almost like opaque strata above one another until the physicality of human breathing and the gradual shifts in Hayward's composition introduce a sense of flux. The effect is a delicate yet hefty drone that thickens and thins like massive bellows easing in and out.'
- Richard Pinnell, The Wire, February 2015, from review of LP Star System

'What counts is the sound of the notes and their overtone development as the tones interact with the aural playing space. The piece creates eerie harmonies via a system of multiple trackings that gives the work an acoustic-electric ambiance and fullness. All told this is music that creates its own space. And you do not need to understand fully or even partly the theoretical underpinnings that went into the works to appreciate the sonorities that are produced. In the end there is an aural poetics at play. Hayward has his own kind of rigor which we can appreciate for its existence - and then set aside and appreciate the music in its full utterance. It's haunting and moving music!'
- Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, July 2014, from review of CD Nouveau Saxhorn Nouveau Basse

'...if the three works here originate partly from mathematically derived graphic scores, their realisation invokes a sensuality and human touch that the written compositions don't presuppose. On 'Plateau Square', a work based on prime numbers, Hayward cleverly sends multiple signals from the various vales of this one of a kind microtonal tuba to separate speakers, creating the sensation of multiple instruments layering gorgeously rich bass tones. 'Travel Stain' pitches the same low rumbles against a gently plucked guitar, and the album's title track again utilises multiple speakers to crew a dense field, this time in homage to failed microtonal experiments by instrument builder Adolphe Sax.'
- Richard Pinnell, The Wire, July 2014, from review of CD Nouveau Saxhorn Nouveau Basse

'Hayward proved himself to be the true sensation. He played a cumbersome instrument with such agility that it was a true pleasure to watch and listen to him'
- Rolf Thomas, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 2014, from review of live performance with Arnold Dreyblatt's Orchestra of Excited Strings at Berghain, Berlin (translated from German by Robin Hayward)

'Hayward's sounds stay in our world as beings, their existence is directly related to their possibility to be discovered and made audible so that they can enter the domain of social interchange, in a scheme where they can occupy both space and minds (and hearts, etc etc). You can hear micro-variations, sounds (no notes here) at the border of perception. Alvin Lucier comes to mind as a possible inspiration'
- Marlo Gamba, Il Manifesto, April 2011, from review of live performance with Roberto Fabbriciani in Arezzo (translated from Italian by Valerio Tricoli)

'Above all the Briton Robin Hayward made it clear why he is regarded as one of the best tuba virtuosos in the world - sometimes he used the instrument as a sort of resonance chamber, sometimes he elicited from it the stuttering noises of a ship's diesel engine refusing to start, then again horse's neighing or sometimes sensitively played traditional sounds. It's incomprehensible how all this was possible without electronics!'
- Tim Hofmann, Freie Presse Chemnitz, October 2010, from review of live performance with KNM Berlin (translated from German by Robin Hayward)

'(Hayward's)... expansion of the tuba's musical language is dramatic, with a sure sense of shape and movement that is musically rewarding as well as acoustically intriguing'
- Julian Cowley, The Wire, February 2010, from review of solo CD / LP States of Rushing

'The outcome of academic research by its author into the acoustics of brass instruments, States of Rushing illustrates the research of an exceptional composer into a field of music that has been too little explored...The seven pieces in his amazing album venture on to the avantgardist territory of microtonal music and extreme sounds (micro-sounds, infra-sounds) with a power that makes us think about the physics of sound as a metaphor for the literally physical involvement of the artist in his composition. The result is a "music" evoking both the first experiments in concrete music, and the less academic ones of the industrial music of the 1980s. Certainly one of the most amazing disks of the year.'
- Maxence, Musicareaction, 2010, from review of solo CD / LP States of Rushing (translated from French by Judith Hayward)

'an extraordinary tuba player'
- Steve Smith, The New York Times, November 2007, from review of live performance of Luigi Nono's Post-Prae-Ludium per Donau in the Carnegie Hall

Upcoming events
20.06.2024, Potsdam
25.05.2024, Berlin