Drift Theory

Drift Theory, conceived in 2003, is a series collaborative compositions, or structured improvisations created for and performed by the Terminal Quartet. Each performance is entirely unique, each performance influencing the next, exerting notions of drift as it may occur in creative, social and psychological development, both of the performers and the piece itself.

Drift Theory is context specific in that each work is defined by a common theme either informed by the composer, or in collaboration with each new iteration of the Quartet.

Drift Theory is based on four unique movements, each created by members of the Quartet in isolation and heard for the first time, during the performance of the work.

Each movement has at its core, principles of drift that influence the overall direction and outcomes of the subject matter explored.

The word drift is used to define a system having a distribution of events, objects, associations and intentions of individual velocities. The series is largely inspired by the writings of Guy Debord and the Situationist International.


  1. Create an individual movement based on an interpretation of concept or theme of the piece.
  2. Unique themes may be defined by the composer for each movement and allocated to members of the Quartet in an arbitrary manner, through careful selection based on known criteria of each performer, or through open discussion.
  3. Ensure the piece can be performed for at least 5 to 7 minutes and enough resources available to contribute to a 20 minute improvised movement with all members of the Quintet. Note durations of each movement can be defined in open discussion if relevant to the context of the theme, performance requirements and other conditions that may affect the development of a new Drift Theory work.
  4. Movements are composed, constructed and developed in isolation from other members of the Quartet. Unless required for technical reasons, or as defined by the context or theme of the new Drift Theory work, neither performer may be aware of the strategies each may employ to perform their movement.
  5. Technical requirements of each individual Drift Theory work may require members of the Quartet to meet regularly, but they are not to expose each other to the key elements of their designated theme.


The Quartet performs each movement one by one at three to five minute intervals with an additional three minutes (drift sequences) within which to interact with the next performer.

In short, performers have each three to five minutes to perform their movement and three minutes to drift into the next.

The order in which each movement is performed may be defined by the composer prior to, or allocated at the time of a scheduled performance of the work. However, this is not mandatory. Depending on technical requirements of each Drift Theory work, it may be necessary to define an ordered arrangement in advance.

Series works

  • Graz-Stadt Drift | Performed by Andrew Garton, Joseph ‘Seppo’ Grundler, Peter Venus and a turntable
  • Licht Drift | Performed by Andrew Garton, Lawrence English, Andrew Kettle, Julian Knowles
  • On Sacred Rights | Performed by Andrew Garton, Steve Law, Ash Wednesday, John Grant
  • In Drift We Trust | Performed by Andrew Garton, Ollie Olsen, Robert Henke, Ross Bencina, Steve Law, Paul Abad
  • Synesthesia Urbania | Performed by Andrew Garton, Jin Sangtae, Ryu Hankil, Hong Solme, Choi Soohwan
  • Drift Theory 3 | Performed by Andrew Garton, Ollie Olsen, Steve Law, John Arthur Grant
  • Drift Theory 2 | Performed by Andrew Garton, Andy Bagley, Paul Abad, Andrew Kettle | Audio (On demand audio courtesy ABC Classic FM)
  • Drift Theory 1 | Performed by Andrew Garton, Steve Law, Paul Abad, Jeremy Yuille