updated 29 November 2023

James Dillon

British composer born 29 October 1950 in Glasgow, Scotland.

James Dillon was born in 1950 in Scotland and began his musical career playing traditional Scottish bagpipe and in a rock band. His diverse studies included art and design at the University of Glasgow in 1968, and the music of Northern India at Keele University – his piece Ti.re-Ti.ke-Dha for percussion (1977) shows this rhythmic influence – then traveled to London in 1970 to study music, acoustics, and linguistics. He is primarily self-trained as a composer.

After winning First Prize in the competition of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in 1978, Dillon’s reputation grew in 1982 with Who do you love and Parjanya-Vata, which won the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis in Darmstadt. In 1986, he was invited to be a guest lecturer at the State University of New York, taught composition at Goldsmiths, University of London, and participated in the IRCAM’s summer seminar.

His teaching career continued with ten years teaching at the Darmstadt Summer Courses (1982-1992). He also served as co-composer-in-residence with Brian Ferneyhough at Royaumont in 1996 and is a regularly invited guest professor around the world. Starting in 2007, he taught composition at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis, where he is now professor emeritus.

Many of Dillon’s compositions are grouped into cycles: for example, Nine Rivers, which spans eighteen years (1982-2000), is a set of nine pieces that explores relationships between flow and turbulence. Two compositions from this “collection” include electronics: Introitus (commissioned by the IRCAM in 1989-1990) and Oceanos (1985-1996), which Dillon calls the “delta” of the cycle, is a kind of synthesis of its other eight pieces, and calls on all of their instruments and performers. Notable among his other cycles are The book of Elements for piano (1997-2002) and three books of duets titled Traumwerk Book (1995-2002). Anthropology, created for the Orchestre de Paris, also includes multiple pieces.

Dillon’s catalogue also includes a major stage work Philomela (2004), for which he wrote his own libretto, inspired by Ovid and Sophocles. The composer describes it as “music/theatre,” as distinct from opera or musical theater. Dillon was also selected by BBC Television and the Arts Council of England to compose Temp’est (1995) for the series Sound of Film.

Among his many awards and honors, James Dillon was named “musician of the year” by the London Sunday Times in 1989, was an International Distinguished Fellow of New York University in 2001-2002, and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Huddersfield in 2003. He has received five prizes in the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards, including for Chamber-Scale Composition with Traumwerk Book 1 in 1997 and with The Book of Elements Vol. 5 in 2002. The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival performed a major retrospective of Dillon’s work in November 1995; another important retrospective concert was performed in New York in 2001. In 2005 and 2011, he was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Prize in London. In 2009, he received the Deutschen Schallplattenkritik for the DVD of Traumwerk. The CD recording of Philomela won the Grand Prix de l’Académie du Disque Lyrique 2010. In 2015, he was awarded the BASCA British Composer Award for Stabat Mater dolorosa.

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2012


  • Richard TOOP, « James Dillon », Grove Music Online. © Oxford University Press, 2007 ;
  • Éditions Peters ;
  • James Dillon.

By Pierre Rigaudière

James Dillon describes himself as a self-taught composer. He bypassed normal academic training and has not emulated any particular compositional style. His atypical training makes him an outsider, as do his Scottish roots. Growing up, he was lullabied by his grandmother’s Puirt a beul (“tunes from a mouth”) and by bagpipe ensembles — specifically Ceòl Mór (literally, “great music,” referring to the classical bagpipe repertoire from the Highlands, an art music distinguished from dance music, Ceòl beag). His upbringing invites listeners to search his compositions for influences from the Scottish music tradition, even if they might see clues where none are.

His aesthetic choices also reinforce his outsider status. The proverb “no one is a prophet in their own country” fits him perfectly. In Europe, since the 1980s, he has been widely hailed as one of the most important composers of his generation; yet, in the United Kingdom, it has only been over the past fifteen years or so that he has gained recognition, thanks to the attention of a few British-based musicologists and convinced critics. In him, listeners will not find a continuation of the English tradition that had culminated with Benjamin Britten. Although Dillon was quickly categorized as a New Complexity composer, he distances himself from that movement, staunchly defending his independence. Nevertheless, there is common ground between him and the New Complexity composer Brian Ferneyhough. Each discovered music via popular practices — folk and rock for the former, fanfares and brass bands for the latter. But each differs in his approach. Musicologist Célestin Deliège has distinguished Ferneyhough’s complexity “by vocation” from Dillon’s more esoteric approach; he points out that while Dillon’s theoretical discourse is less consistent, it is richer in “poetic-scientist metaphors.”1 This scientism could reflect the influences of Edgard Varèse and Iannis Xenakis, which Dillon has alluded to himself. Like Varèse, he is drawn to alchemy, and, like Xenakis, he is sensitive to scientific models, although to a much lesser extent. At Imperial College in the 1970s, he analyzed experimental results from the CERN particle accelerator at the time of the quark discoveries, an experience that no doubt nourished his reflections on a relationship between nature and culture, as well as on a coexistence of structuralism and metaphysics. In his mindset, scientific investigation extends beyond materiality.


Dillon’s first compositions demonstrate his proclivity for writing instrumental solos. The title of his short piano piece Dillug-Kefitsah (Jumping-Skipping, 1976) makes reference to the thirteenth-century Sefer Ha-Tzeruf: The Book of Permutation, wherein Rabbi Abraham Abulafia describes flexible “skipping and jumping” methods that allow the mind to shift its focus and perceive new realities. In Dillon’s piece, an idea is presented and then transformed into new material a dozen times. In what might be seen as a young composer’s secessionist statement, the piece shows his interest in the Jewish hermetic and numerological traditions of the Kabbalah, to which he was introduced by the painter Robert Lenkiewicz. For clarinet, Crossing Over (1978) is an allusion to the genetic phenomenon of crossing to recombine genes within a chromosome. For solo drum set, Ti.re-Ti.ke-Dha (1979) evokes with its title a rhythmic onomatopoeia of the bols of Hindustani music, which Dillon studied in 1972 with sitarist Punita Gupta. In spite of that reference, the piece is built on rock rhythms idiomatic to the drum kit but used out of character: the rhythms are irregular, fragmented, and unpredictable. Drawing upon the natural elements and esoterism, Parjanya-Vata (1981), for cello, also reflects an interest in the Indian civilization and scientism. His writing for solo flute and piccolo is highlighted in Sgothan and Diffraction, respectively, both composed in 1984. The virtuosity demanded in these pieces reveals possible influences from Ferneyhough’s Unity Capsule, Cassandra’s Dream Song, and Carceri d’Invenzione IIb, all composed around the same time.

…Once Upon a Time (1980) is an example of Dillon’s signature style and eclectic influences. It opens with a double bass playing over long tones held by the brass, a flute cadenza, and a jazz-inflected passage by a solo French horn, as if each instrument were playing its riff in turns. The influences of Varèse and Xenakis are apparent, though Dillon is wary of an overly gestural quality in Xenakis’s music from the 1970s. Certain passages in …Once Upon a Time illustrate what later become constants in Dillon’s compositional idiom: complex time divisions are superimposed to create rhythmic stratification and microtonal polyphony, which generates an often dense yet moving structure. From the same period, Come Live with Me (1981) features ten verses from the Song of Songs sung in Hebrew. Micro-interval glissandi evoke both Hebrew cantillation and Gaelic music.

No matter the scale, from solo pieces to large orchestral works, Dillon’s music is contrapuntal, highlighting the development of individual lines, sometimes with jagged contours. The result is a distinct sound. Since his first String Quartet (1983), Dillon has favored non-linear form with overlapping elements that weave a complex tapestry of interactions. This tapestry results from a meticulous pre-compositional process in which Dillon takes care that the each element of the work is justifiable; this legitimizes the virtuosic demands he makes on the performers. It may very well be the primary condition for the density he allows in his music: “The density of a musical event is directly proportional to the density of its organization.”2


Though Dillon prefers creating large-scale works, his output has often been bridled by commissions for shorter pieces; he has thus turned to cycles as a satisfactory compromise. His “German” triptych is underpinned and unified by the analogy of transmutation from alchemy. The first piece in the triptych, Überschreiten for ensemble (1985-1986), refers to a line from Rainer Maria Rilke, Und er gehorcht, indem er überschreitet (He obeys by transgressing). Transgression here is an invitation to transcend the immediate, but it also expresses the duality of order and chaos. The beginning of the piece has obvious anchoring in spectral music, even if Dillon claims to have little interest in this French school. The anchoring is apparent in the initial chord on an E enriched with its harmonic overtones, then in the tension obtained through added inharmonic overtones. Spectralism is more generally noticeable in the transposition of ideas from electronic music into the orchestration. Dillon borrows the principle of an ensemble architecture from Xenakis but does not obscure the individual lines for the sake of the overall texture. The (micro)polyphonic blocks in the strings recall György Ligeti in the 1960s. The second piece in the triptych, Helle Nacht (Bright Night, 1986-1987), was inspired by Friedrich Hölderlin’s translation of Sophocles’ Antigone. Helle Nacht shares material with Überschreiten but with greater finesse in the orchestration. Dillon wanted to give the piece the aura of a “dark, black ember” or a material “so incredibly dense that it’s glowing.”3 The score superimposes layers of distinct, yet interwoven, voices that together produce complex textures. The foreground material continuously transforms, at odds with a background of grid-like regularity. This fluid, respiratory “ebb and flow”4 generates a kind of meta-rhythm that Dillon distinguishes from Elliott Carter’s metric modulation since the process is not limited to meter; rather it bears an effect on other parameters, separately or simultaneously. The third piece, Blitzschlag (Lightning Bolt, 1988-1996), combines dense textures with a virtuosic solo flute.

The stand-alone piece Ignis Noster for large orchestra (1991-1992) also fits within the universe of these three works. It is dense with activity, leaving no emptiness. From its wealth of information, listeners are invited to construct their own paths determined by their degree of attention and availability. The piece’s complexity communicates conceptual depth and demands attentive listening, both the critique of and an avowed form of resistance to a consumerist approach to music. Commissioned for the BBC Proms, it signaled Dillon’s recognition by the British musical establishment.

Nine Rivers goes beyond being a cycle, as it has a complex relationship with various other works. This constellation of pieces presents “internal symmetries,” the river metaphor that unifies the cycle conveying the idea of a flow, linked again to natural elements, and a reflection on the notion of time. Dillon sought to tighten “the correspondence between matter and energy.”5 The pieces are orchestrated for ensembles of varying size, from six percussionists (East 11th St NY 10003) to a full orchestra plus sixteen solo vocalists and electronics (Oceanos, 1985-1996). Electronics had made their debut in Dillon’s oeuvre in the fifth piece from the cycle, La Coupure (1989-2000), despite his reservations about the possibility of a theory of timbre and its manipulation through computation, expressed in his essay “Les instruments spéculatifs.”6 The eighth piece, Introitus for strings and electronics (1989-1990), produced at IRCAM, is based on chaos theory, as Dillon aimed for an ideal music suspended between order and disorder. In it, his complex writing requires both instrumental and vocal virtuosity and conveys extreme mobility, a state of unrest like the local turbulence that characterizes fluxes in physics.

Dillon considers Vernal Showers (1992) for solo violin and chamber ensemble to be a virtuosic “palimpsest” of his earlier work for solo violin Del cuarto elemento (1988). He has segmented, amplified, and complexified the source material until it is hardly recognizable; nonetheless, the idea of its reuse compelled him to link the pieces. His approach is thus more a rewriting than a creation of a cycle. Vernal Showers owes its title to the The Nightingale by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a poet who inspired him while he was composing this diptych and in his work on “reticular structures,” or networks.

Dillon also conceived of three volumes of Traumwerk (Dreamwork), in 1995, 2001, and 2002, as a cycle. Together, their thirty movements interweave heterogeneous elements to depict a reality distorted by dreams.

Next, the five volumes of the Book of Elements for piano (1999-2002) echo the pianistic tradition of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries through stylistic and gestural references. These brief, almost aphoristic, pieces would also be heterogeneous if they did not share common “genetic fragments”: interrelated ideas and a symmetrical arrangement maintain unity across the cycle. An overall trajectory or ultimate purpose (telos) structures the work, and “a labyrinthine net of references and cross references is employed to allow for the emergence of multiple reflections.”7

Since 1995, Dillon’s compositions have evolved to often incorporate interlocked ostinatos, repetition, tonal polarity, homorhythms, and a clearer pulse. In addition to in the works mentioned above, these tendencies can be observed in Hyades (1998), The Soadie Waste (2003), and Philomela (2004, “music/theatre” in five acts). With Andromeda (2005), Dillon uses these elements and disorienting stylistic allusions to transform the archetypical Romantic piano concerto into more of a non-linear cinematographic montage. Its referential aspect is not collage, nor is it always premeditated. Dillon has stated,

Often in the process of working material, surprises emerge, perhaps coincidences which resemble something familiar, which I can either reject or embrace. I try not to exclude things if they have a sense of “traceability” and “flow,” if something feels organic.8

Like A Roaring Flame (1982) and Siorram (1992), the Violin Concerto (2000) combines some of these characteristics with allusions to Scottish folk music through a clear beat, a drone, fiddle-like double stops, and an open structure. La navette (2001) is among his rare works to include clear musical quotations. Via Sacra (1999) rounds off a series of particularly complex orchestral works. Dillon returns to a more traditional orchestral compositional style influenced by Igor Stravinsky and his Petrushka, or, more precisely, the technique of orchestral stratification. While Dillon’s compositional style is by no means simplistic, the discourse is nonetheless simplified, with a simple idea governing each movement (for example, fixing a pulse or evolving polarized notes through different registers).

Dillon’s interest in large-scale, multi-part forms continues in his recent works. “My working primarily in ‘cycles’ and ‘series’ and ‘triptychs’ has been an attempt to confront the tired concert format and, crucially for me, without resorting to gimmicks,” he explained.9 His attention to the architectural structure, more than the illustrations, of the great Renaissance altarpieces has inspired his own sonic structure.10 And yet, the pictorial aspect of the polyptych cannot be overlooked. The hinged altarpiece panels, as well as the montage and symmetry of their imagery, reflect Dillon’s own compositional concerns, including his thoughts on a continuity that can be established within discontinuity. Physis I & II (2007) could be called a diptych, though there is no mention of this in the title and though Dillon considered retracting the first part. The second part (Physis II) is very much a standalone piece. Scored for large orchestra, it makes use of a broad instrumental palette to produce different combinations, hues, and textures. Although Physis II includes contrasting sections of fragmented instrumental phrases, it is made up of harmonic blocks, recalling the music of Hugues Dufourt. The title, a reference to pre-Socratic philosophy, is to be understood as a sort of accession to a physical state of existence. This idea is expressed in a “set of variations upon an inaudible subject” that transforms and emerges through repetition.11

Throughout the triptychs, which are scored mainly for chamber ensembles, the music is structured in brief sections, delineated with pauses. Rogier van der Weyden’s artistic vision is the ground for The Leuven Triptych (2009), in which text fragments are whispered and spoken in Latin and French. The music undergoes frequent changes in character: an electronic keyboard and an electric guitar provide a brief rock-influenced groove, and, in homage to the subject of the piece, a brief allusion is made to Franco-Flemish polyphony. These changes go hand in hand with playful transformations of recurring elements.

The Oslo/Triptych (2011) and The New York Triptych (2011-2012) are scored for fewer instruments: the latter, for three strings, three winds, piano, and percussion. Somewhat pointillist, the end of the piece includes a cyclical repetition of a motif.

The series of cycles culminates with Tanz/haus: triptych 2017, in which Dillon meditates upon the axis between stasis and movement. This defining idea of how one quality can be transformed into another allows him to introduce musical paradoxes as well as ambiguity between an innerving stasis achieved through tremors and “moving textures [that] can feel static (like the spokes of a turning wheel).”12 Heightening this ambiguity are polyrhythms, which provide a general texture but also support the counterpoint, especially in the vocal lines. The composition’s rhythmic fluidity may resemble the metric modulation used by Elliott Carter, but it is different in that it is linked to Dillon’s concern with texture and energy. His goal was to produce a multivalent musical statement. He builds the piece from a network of interconnected elements rather than in a straight, linear fashion. Quarter tones serve to destabilize any hierarchy among the intervals; they also appear in other configurations, such as to create non-tempered modes. A related component in the music is the use of drones, found here in a more exaggerated way than his previous works. Dillon’s fascination with drones may stem from Indian music influences, as can be heard in some of his works in the 1970s and 1980s; a separate, unconscious source of inspiration could be Scottish bagpipe music. However, Dillon did not use drones simply because they come from an oral tradition; he employed them to explore “on the one hand, how to maintain certain harmonic reference points or centres” and, on the other, for “the subtle instability” they provide.13 The electronics in Tanz/haus mainly consist of recorded material, including Martin Heidegger’s voice from a 1952 conference on the dangers of technology. For Dillon, pre-recorded sounds “fall into two basic categories, ‘symbolic’ and/or ‘sonic’: sounds are chosen either for their referential trace or their mnemonic potential.”14

The Freiburg Diptych (2019), with its lighter instrumentation, brings a display of stylistic virtuosity. Contrasting elements, including violinistic double-stops and an exuberant, swirling melody, contribute to the energy of the piece. The intonation becomes increasingly muddled in the second part, which creates a deliberately hesitant effect. The first harmonic of the violin’s lowest string is reinforced by an electronic drone and pre-recorded sounds, notably spoken voices. A progression towards simplification and balance dominates the piece, which is repetitive in its form. The Diptych is dedicated to Irvine Arditti, who debuted the piece.

Dillon’s close partnership with the Arditti Quartet sparked an impressive series of string quartets, of which only one, the String Quartet No. 4 (2005), was premiered by a different ensemble, the Quatuor Diotima. Composing long pieces lasting between ten and twenty minutes has become the norm for Dillon. The String Quartet No. 6 (2010) is no exception. With a more arid compositional style than the orchestral pieces he wrote around the same time, each of the three movements is a mosaic of brief sections separated by silence. The musical ideas are subject to modulating textures that cause the density of the voicing to vary a great deal. From the String Quartet No. 7 (2013) onward, Dillon returns to his more habitual voice but maintains the use of fragments, among other salient features. Although it may seem unstable, the piece is organized between polarized elements, again with a drone and short, melodic movements. In comparison to the String Quartet No. 8 (2017), the String Quartet No. 9 (2018) displays, at least at first glance, less textural depth, but in both quartets, light microtonality brushes up against diatonic or modal passages. Similar in spirit and material, the seventh to ninth quartets form a homogenous series.

With a few notable exceptions from composers such as Helmut Lachenmann, Wolfgang Rihm, and Pascal Dusapin, compositions for string quartet with orchestra remain few and far between. In Dillon’s The Gates (2016), the two compositional styles meet again. Scored for a more opulent orchestra, sections of the piece echo the harmonic consistency of Pierre Boulez and Olivier Messiaen, the way in which Giacinto Scelsi focused on a pole, the clouds of pizzicato in works by Iannis Xenakis, or brilliant textures in works by Jean Sibelius. Drones, microtonal fluctuations, phantom quotations, and folk music contribute to the many atmospheric changes, without jeopardizing stylistic unity. The form is something like a decorative frieze: precise details are blurred little by little, revealing the organic thread that binds the piece together.

Whether extended length and more intensified tonal polarization are the root or the result, more serenity emanates from Dillon’s recent works. With its long, harmonic tones and chord progressions, the beginning of Stabat Mater Dolorosa (2014) is strikingly similar to the late ecstatic works of Luigi Nono. An electric guitar, used much like a vibraphone, provides resonance and continuity. More incisive passages create contrast and energy. Certain figures recur, but quotation of Pergolesi’s work, referred to in the title, appears only once.

Pharmakeia (2020) emblemizes the evolution of Dillon’s recent work. He began it in 2017 by writing Circe, which he positioned as the third movement after composing three others. Much more than in his previous compositions, the first and longest movement, Temenos, concentrates a great variety of musical gestures that could evoke works by his contemporaries or predecessors, as well as oral, written, acoustic, and electronic traditions. The musical ideas multiply progressively into a coherent whole, despite their diversity. Dillon wished to create a flux characterized by “the density and rate of change.”15 He states that Temenos is “arranged into twenty-two interlocking moments: time segments defined by texture, movement, and pulse and characterized by angularity, flow, or atmosphere.”16 This movement, like the entire piece, is made up of

constellations of material, vectors marked by embedded interludes, eliminations, fragments, and allusions which ghost through these constellations. How they are structurally arranged (and rearranged), their disposition may involve working against audability and transparency, or something polished. [This is a terrain] full of hidden connections, impasses, surprises, and obscurities.17

Circeis the movement with the greatest harmonic variety and the most polarized harmonies. Dillon again uses microtonality to blur the intonation. Although the movements inPharmakeia circle around one main pole (B-flat), Dillon allowed unplanned secondary poles to emerge within certain parts. The orchestration reflects his desire for clarity, vivacious hues, and a form of sonic Fauvism. He uses extended techniques with parsimony, reflecting his “impatience and tiredness with the orthodoxy of the unorthodox,” as well as his preference to remain “within the orbit of maximum resonance.”18

The strong referential aspect that is audible in Pharmakeia is a feature in all of his music. Rather than making a random collage, Dillon consciously partitions his diverse musical statements. “It is difficult to escape the tyranny of cultural memory,” he says, “in that, today, most things remind us of something else. The cross-contamination of musical works is an inevitable consequence of an information overload.” The question is then to know “how much to let go.”19 In this way, his music results in an intersection, but not a synthesis, “between the different experiences of musical influences.”20

Dillon should no longer be associated only with a complex aesthetic. His works are multi-layered and multivalent. Their complexity is a manifestation of his demanding compositional style, and not its ultimate goal. Working from instinct, Dillon is careful to leave room for the unintentional and unexpected. He sees “harmonic eroticism” and “rhythmic comedy” as fundamental conditions for deep, involved listening: the material must have a sensual appeal for the listener. For Dillon, music must become enchanting once again.21

Translated from the French by Jessica Hackett

1. Célestin DELIÈGE, Cinquante ans de modernité musicale: de Darmstadt à l’Ircam, Mardaga, 2003, p. 830. 
2. [Translator’s note: Dillon’s essay was translated into French and published as] “Les instruments spéculatifs,” in J.-B. BARRIÈRE (ed.), Le timbre, métaphore pour la composition, Bourgois/Ircam, 1991, p. 292. 
3. Quoted in Michael J. ALEXANDER, “The Changing States of James Dillon,” Contemporary Music Review 13, no. 1, (1995): 76, DOI:10.1080/07494469500640291. 
4. Quoted in ALEXANDER, “The Changing States of James Dillon,” 77. 
5. Keith POTTER, “A conversation with James Dillon,” in Peter O’Hagan (ed.), Aspects of British Music of the 1990s, Aldershot, 2003. 
6. “Les instruments spéculatifs,” in J.-B. BARRIÈRE (ed.), Le timbre, métaphore pour la composition, Bourgois/Ircam, 1991, p. 292. 
7. James DILLON, interview with the author, unpublished, February 2019. 
8. Ibid. 
9. Ibid. 
10. Ibid. 
11. [Translator’s note: James Dillon was interviewed by Abi Bliss for the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in 2014. This interview, “Discussions with Dillon,” can be read online at https://issuu.com/hcmf/docs/james-dillon-interview (link verified 2 January 2024).] 
12. James DILLON, interview with the author, unpublished, February 2019. 
13. Ibid. 
14. Ibid. 
15. James DILLON, interview with author, unpublished, May 2021. 
16. Ibid. 
17. James DILLON, interview with the author, published partially in the Ensemble Intercontemporain magazine (https://www.ensembleintercontemporain.com/fr/2021/09/charmes-et-envoutements-entretien-avec-james-dillon-compositeur/). 
18. James DILLON, interview with author, unpublished, May 2021. 
19. Ibid. 
20. Ibid. 
21. Ibid. 

Texte révisé par l'auteur en 2022.

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2012


  • Michael J. ALEXANDER, « The Changing States of James Dillon », Contemporary Music Review, vol. 13, part 1, 1995, p. 65-84.
  • James DILLON, « Ce que je crois » [Propos recueillis par Eric Denut], Musica Falsa, n° 20, Paris, septembre 2004, p. 26-28.
  • James DILLON, « Les instruments spéculatifs », Le timbre, métaphore pour la composition, Ircam-Centre Pompidou, Christian Bourgois, Paris 1985, p. 282-292.
  • Elisabeth HOFFMAN, « Textural Klangfarben in James Dillon’s La femme invisible (1989): An Explanatory Model », Perspectives of New Music, vol. 43, n° 1, 2005.
  • Peter O’HAGAN, Aspects of British music of the 1990s, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2003.
  • Michael SPENCER, « Dillon’s L’Evolution du Vol: An Evolution of Stylistics or a Flight from National Identity? », Musica Scotica: 800 Years of Scottish Music, Musica Scotica Trust, Glasgow 2008.
  • Michael SPENCER, « Re-Placing the Dialectic: Notions of Compositional Procedure in James Dillon’s German Tryptych», BPM volume 5, 2002.
  • Michael SPENCER, « James Dillon: String Quartets as a Complex Causal Network », Contemporary Music Review, June 2014, Vol. 33, Issue 3, pp. 244-265.
  • Arnold WHITTALL, « The elements of James Dillon », The Musical Times, vol. 148, n° 1899, été 2007, p. 3-17.
  • R. WRIGHT, « James Dillon », Contact, n° 24, 1982, p. 20 - 23.


  • James DILLON, Philomela, Anu Komsi, Susan Narucki, Lionel Peintre, Remix Ensemble, direction : Jurjen Hempel, 2 cd æon, 2009, AECD0986.
  • James DILLON, Traumwerk Book 1, Duo Gelland : violons, un film de Johan Ramström, 1 dvd NOSAG, 2008, DVD 142*.*
  • James DILLON, the soadie waste ; Dillug-Kefitsah ; Del Cuarto Elemento Traumwerk Book III ; black / nebulae, Irvine Arditti, violon, Noriko Kawai et Hiroaki Takenouchi : piano, Quatuor Arditti, 1 cd NMC, 2008, D131*.*
  • James DILLON, La navette, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern, direction : Christoph Poppen, dans « musica viva festival 2008 » avec des œuvres de Karlheinz Stockhausen, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Aribert Reimann, Jörg Widmann, Matthias Pintscher, Iannis Xenakis, Beat Furrer, Giacinto Scelsi, Chaya Czernowin, Kaija Saariaho, Liza Lim, Rebecca Saunders, Adriana Hölszky, 6 SACD Neos, 2008, 10926.
  • James DILLON, The Soadie Waste ; Dillug-Keftisah ; Del Cuarto Elemento ; Traumwerk Book III ; black/nebulae ; Noriko Kawai, Hiroaki Takenouchi, Irvine Arditti, Arditti Quartet, 1 cd NMC, 2008, D131.
  • James DILLON, The Book of Elements, volumes I à V, Noriko Kawai, piano, 1 cd NMC, 2004, D091.
  • James DILLON, Überschreiten, Remix Ensemble, avec des œuvres de Brice Pauset, Jorge Peixinho, Emmanuel Nunes, Nuno Côrte-Real, Miguel Azguime, 2 cd Numérica, 2004, NUM 1126.
  • James DILLON, Traumwerk ; Quatuor à Cordes n° 2 ; Parjanya-vata ; Vernal Shower, Quatuor Arditti, Nieuw Ensemble Amsterdam, 1 cd Montaigne Naïve, 2001, MO782046.
  • James DILLON, « Shrouded Mirrors, for guitar » dans L’album pour guitare : Sheer Plucks: Contemporary Solo Guitar Works, Todd Seelye : guitare, avec des œuvres de Milton Babbitt, Luciano Berio, Elliott Carter, Ursula Mamlok, 1 cd Music & Arts, 1998.
  • James DILLON, String Quartet No.3, Quatuor Arditti, dans « Donaueschinger Musiktage 1998 », 4 cd col Legno, 1998, WWE 4CD 20050.
  • James DILLON, Come live with me, Adolf Fredrik Lindblad, Gavleborg Symphony Orchestra, direction : Mats Liljefors, 1 cd Sterling, 1996.
  • James DILLON, Ignis Noster ; Helle Nacht ; BBC Symphony Orchestra, direction : Arturo Tamayo, 1 cd Montaigne Auvidis, 1995, MO 782038.
  • James DILLON, Evening Rain ; Sgothan ; A Roaring Flame ; Crossing Over ; Come Live with Me ; ti.re-ti.ke-dha ; Spleen, Ensemble Accroche-Note, 1 cd Montaigne Auvidis, 1995, MO782037.
  • James DILLON, East 11th St. ; La femme invisible ; Windows and Canopies, Music Projects London, direction : Richard Bernas, 1 cd NMC, 1992, D004.

Liens Internet

  • Steven WEIGT, [Notes sur les œuvres de James Dillon] « La femme invisible [For] Chamber Ensemble, [1989] by James Dillon ; L’oeuvre au noir [For] Chamber Ensemble and Live Electronics, [1990] by James Dillon ; Eileadh sguaibe [For] Brass Ensemble, Percussion, and Live Electronics, [1990] by James Dillon ; Introitus [For] Twelve Strings, Tape, and Live Electronics, [1990] by James Dillon ; Second String Quartet, [1991] by James Dillon ; Vernal Showers [For] Solo Violin and Chamber Ensemble, [1992] by James Dillon » in Notes, 2nd Ser., vol. 55, n° 1, septembre 1998, pp. 195-199, Music Library Association, accès sur le site JSTOR
  • Éditions Peters, https://www.edition-peters.de/composer/james-dillon/w01097 
  • Voir l’enregistrement de la conférence donnée à l’Ircam le 18 juin 2013 lors de ManiFeste : https://medias.ircam.fr/x8c9faf_lecture-by-james-dillon
  • Voir l’enregistrement du cours de composition donné à l’Ircam le 26 juin 2013 lors de l’Académie Acanthes : https://medias.ircam.fr/xb7a1cf_james-dillon-james-dillon-composition-c

(liens vérifiés en octobre 2019).