A conversation with concert pianist Edwards Chilvers featuring many piano excerpts that illustrate how his musician skills developed, aided by his psychedelic experience


Edward began playing piano at the age of four taught by his mother also a concert pianist. He is also a Young Steinway artist – a composer: 2017 saw the release of Eddie’s ’12 Etudes’, his series of original piano compositions which explore the idea of polyrhythmy, each etude using different rhythmic ratios.

He spent three years training his hands to play all the different permutations of rhythmic ratios, and the studies are the consequence of this experimentation. In this podcast Edward describes with live examples how psychedelics opened up such new possibilities in his music.

Eddie performing in Oxford, October 2018. The large white panel on the piano is his chart that contains 96 squares, each depicting one of his new modes

He has also developed a new system of modes, exploring 96 new tonalities that he combines with his exceptional polyrhythmic ability. Examples of these can be heard for the first time online during this podcast in which he recounts many stages in his psychedelic journey, and how it informed his personal, as well as musical development.

GLOSSARY and LINKS to things mentioned:

Inversions: a rearranging of essentially the same the notes of a chord up and down the octaves. For example:
C-E-G (played simultaneously) becomes E-G-C (the E and G remain unchanged. The C on the right is the octave above the previous C on the left. There are many such ways the notes that make a specific chord can be rearranged, giving it a different feel in spite of having the same essential ingredients.

Phasing: A repeating number of notes such as the three notes C-E-G, if played separately in sequence of 3 beats, it would have only one permutation: 1C-2E-3G repeated. When the number of beats is at odds with the number of notes, we end up with a number of permutations, where the first note of the first beat is different and cycles through a number of variations in note order. For example 3 notes in 5 beats: 1C-2E-3G-4C-5E, 1G-2C-3E-4G-5C, 1E-2G-3C-4E-5G, repeat all. With ‘3 in 5’, there are three permutations or ‘phases’ where the first note of each bar is different, thus creating a particular effect.

Plant Medicine: An umbrella term for many traditional and often ancient practices of using a hallucinogenic plant for a healing ceremony. They are established traditions of psycho/spiritual therapies, often used for overcoming psychological angst.

Fugue: A type of musical composition with two or more voices. Each ‘voice’ is like a melody or ‘figure’ that moves independently of the other voices. Specifically in a fugue the independent ‘voices’ are usually variations or inversions of the initial ‘theme’ or first voice. For example:

Magic Mushrooms: containing Psilocybin A naturally occurring hallucinogenic found in various mushrooms and truffles that commonly grow in many parts of the world.

LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide): Invented in 1938 by Albert Hoffman. It has similar effects to Psilocybin a difference being that they last longer (8-12 hours). Psilocybin lasts 4-6 hours.

Bwiti Music:

Iboga: The psychedelic plant medicine used by the Bwiti spiritual discipline in the Gabon.

Ayahuasca: A plant medicine tradition from the Amazon rain forest of Peru and Brazil.

Intervals: The musical term for the distance in pitch between two notes. Each ‘distance’ has a specific name. For contrast, think of the sound of two notes only an inch apart on the piano keyboard, versus two notes a meter apart.

“Tristan und Isolde”, Prelude – Richard Wagner:

Links for Edward Chilvers:

Edward’s TEDx talk on Polyrhythms:

Concert tickets for Edward’s next performance 12 Jan 2019: www.ticketsource.co.uk/editionuk

For audio excerpts from Edwards polyrhythm’s album: www.editionuk.co.uk/product/12-etudes/

For other music by Edward Chilvers, including sung music for plan medicine ceremonies, this link contains many audio excerpts and his recent album ‘Live in the Heart: www.eddiechilvers.bandcamp.com/