Hello, and welcome to 5:4 – a blog devoted to the most interesting, innovative and impressive music of our time

My name is Simon Cummings, and i’m a composer based in the Cotswolds. i began 5:4 in 2008, in part due to the paucity of informed, intelligent and meaningful discussion of new music both in the press and online, but also as a way to explore and share my passion for contemporary music. You won’t need to read many articles to get a pretty clear idea of the kinds of music to which i’m most drawn; my taste is extremely eclectic, but my chief interests lie at the vanguard of classical, experimental and electronic musics. A succinct summary of the composers, musicians & bands with whom i’m currently most besotted can be found on the Fanaticism page. An assortment of favourite labels, artists, blogs and the like can be found on the Favouritism page. Articles written before 2012 can be found on the previous incarnation of 5:4, here.

For the most part, 5:4 goes wherever i feel like taking it, depending on which particular whim i’m presently entertaining, but you will find a number of regular items on the blog:

  • Reviews of newly-premièred pieces occur prominently, usually together with an off-air recording in FLAC format. Throughout the summer, all of the premières at the BBC Proms concert series are featured, and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival receives special attention in late November. A summary of all the contemporary pieces reviewed on 5:4 can be found on The List.
    (If you experience problems downloading the FLAC files, i recommend JDownloader, which is free and should ensure a successful download even when connection speeds are a bit hit-and-miss. While the default installer comes with adware, the adware-free installer can be downloaded directly from here.)
  • Reviews of new CDs and digital releases – to submit your music for review, see ‘Get in touch’ below
  • Retrospectives of particular composers, bands, works or albums
  • Mix tapes, each exploring a particular theme
  • Best of the Year lists, summarising the albums and EPs that have impressed me most in the previous 12 months


Above all, 5:4 is a celebration of great music so, for the most part, music i dislike is not discussed (the best way of responding to bad music is often to ignore it). However, if music of more questionable quality occurs as part of a larger review or series of articles, words will not be minced. i think these lines of Berlioz (from his Memoirs) sum things up nicely:

…I can at least say that never for any consideration whatever have I been put off expressing in the most ungrudging terms what I feel about works or artists that I admire. […] Indeed, the sole compensation that journalism offers me for all its torments is the scope it gives to my passion for the true, the great, the beautiful, wherever they exist.

In addition to 5:4, i write articles elsewhere; most recently, i’ve written an introduction to composer Marko Ciciliani’s book/audio DVD Pop Wall Alphabet and a major retrospective essay for the ebook Imperfect Forms: the Music of Kenneth Kirschner, published by Tokafi in late 2014. i’ve also been an occasional contributor to Fluid Radio and Pan, the journal of the British Flute Society, in addition to Mexican arts magazine La Tempestad.

Get in touch

Comments from readers are warmly encouraged; i read them all, and will always reply if and when i can (and assuming i have something to say). To follow 5:4 properly, subscribe to the RSS feed and /or the Twitter feed.

i’m always interested to hear music by composers and musicians unfamiliar to me, so if you’d like me to take a listen to your music—and do please read 5:4 thoroughly beforehand to get a clear idea of my tastes—send me an email. Please don’t email me audio files or add me to your mailing list; unsolicited approaches like that are bad form and will definitely not be appreciated. Bear in mind that i receive a lot of music, and it will therefore take time before i listen (furthermore, 5:4 is written in what can laughingly be called my spare time), and as i tend only to write about the best of what i’ve heard, your music may well not be reviewed. But then, what have you got to lose?

My music

Being a composer myself, my own work is featured on 5:4 from time to time; to find out more, hear examples and order CDs of my music, you can visit my website, my Bandcamp site and my Soundcloud page.

Thanks for visiting 5:4, i very much hope you enjoy what you find here—it’s the most beautiful ugly sound in the world.