Research

Rich is interested in combining through-written material with elements of improvisation, to varying degrees, working with different ensembles. He is particularly enthusiastic about producing works which accommodate the improvisatory identities of musicians from non-congruent musical backgrounds and cultures.

Current, on-going and future research projects/events include:

+ Fretless Architecture: An Exploration of the Fretless Electric Guitar. The fretless electric guitar remains relatively unexplored due to its infancy and ‘prepared’ nature, and whilst it features occasionally in popular music, Rich is pioneering its use in more contemporary and eclectic settings. This on-going project encompasses both the examination of the fretless electric guitar as a solo instrument, and an exploration of its role within different ensembles. More specifically, this research engages newly commissioned performance repertoire (via international calls for scores for solo fretless electric guitar); the development of new techniques and original notation specific to the fretless electric guitar; the use of an array of effects pedals, loops, Ebow etc.; building relationships with composers; improvisation; and cross-cultural collaborations through performing modern hybrid-embodiments of music(s) which utilise microtonal tuning systems.

+ vLookup Trio: Comprised of Rich Perks (fretless electric guitar), Andrew Hall (trumpet) and Tom Atherton (percussion), the vLookup Trio explore pieces which combine pre-composed material with improvisation in styles that range from avant-garde noise to funk-rock, whilst also pushing the sonic possibilities of a trio instrumentation by incorporating effects and live electronics.

+ The incorporation of improvisation within through-written material across a variety of genres, idioms, cultural-approaches and ensembles.

Past research projects/events include:

+ Strung Together: A Night of World Music Improvisation.

In September 2017, Rich led a collaborative performance project entitled Strung Together in San Francisco (US), in conjunction with Diaspora Arts Connection. The ensemble comprised five professional musicians from Iran, Syria and the UK (oud, santour, saz, percussion and fretless electric guitar), each with a background in a different tradition of improvisatory music. Rich acted as musical director/performer (fretless electric guitar), composed the preliminary musical material, and was ultimately responsible for the project’s curation and delivery. The musicians gathered together daily for a week and during this time they collectively developed, arranged, curated, and rehearsed a complete performance programme of original, culturally-eclectic music; a live performance of the show took place on the evening of the final day. The basis of the musical content was improvisation – in its broadest context – combined with the pre-composed, identifiable 'Fragments' which incorporated influence from each of the performers’ respective musical cultures. The performance was broadcast live via social media (and videos were subsequently uploaded), reaching a worldwide audience.

+ Fretless Architecture: An Exploration of the Fretless Electric Guitar.

- In March 2016, Rich gave a lecture-recital at the International Guitar Research Centre's annual conference, University of Surrey. Here he discussed his latest research findings and performed several pieces including the premier of Divisions 2, a piece for solo fretless electric guitar, composed by Andrew Hall specifically for this conference.

- International call for scores (for solo fretless electric guitar), in conjunction with Colchester New Music. Performance carried out on 5th November 2015 at Colchester Arts Center, where five selected new works were premiered by Rich. The scores, videos from the concert and alternate live studio recordings can be found here.

+ The Series: A collection of works composed for solo wind and brass instruments. Box of Serial for Flute was selected from Primavera's call for new scores in 2011 and was premiered by the internationally acclaimed flautist Nancy Ruffer. Score and audio of this performance can be found here.

+ In 2009 Rich released his debut album entitled Imposition, which received critical acclaim.

+ Rich was previously awarded a PhD from Brunel University, studying under supervisors Colin Riley and Peter Wiegold, which addressed the construction of compositional methodologies for improvising musicians. His portfolio of compositions and accompanying thesis was entitled Combining Musical Identities Through Composition and Improvisation. A collection of scores and audio can be found here.