Born in England, Christopher Payne took up the violin at the age of 13. He undertook the normal studies of a classical violinist but his journey would lead him to discover a larger musical world including jazz, progressive rock and a whole gamut of world music. The attraction to world music and experimental music led him to the musically diverse environment of Dartington College of Arts where he took his BA degree in music, majoring in violin and composition. Here he also took up Shakuhachi (Japanese Flute) under the instruction of Yoshikazu Iwamoto. Time at Dartington would start a trend of genre hopping, resulting in a style that is both original and versatile. Somewhat unsatisfied with the limitations of the traditional violin world, composition was initially a way to create a musical environment in which a renegade violinist could find expression.
Improvisation was also a cornerstone of Chris’s playing and he was drawn more and more to jazz to further develop his skills and expand his harmonic vocabulary. This led him to post-graduate studies in jazz and studio music at London’s prestigious Guildhall School of Music. Access to the London scene led to appointments in bands of all styles, tours abroad and all kinds of session work.
Technology had always been an interest for Chris and, somewhat unusually for a violinist, he has found himself naturally taking to the tools now available to the modern musician. Multi-track recording enables him to multiply his violin, viola and cello playing to sound like an entire string section – a boon for clients wanting a full string section, big production sound at the fraction of the price of a full string section.
Chris takes advantage of this for his own recordings as well as incorporating his other multi-instrumental talents on mandolin, theremin, keyboards, world flutes, voice, tenor guitar, pieces of sonically fascinating junk and whatever he can get his hands on! His five string electric violin also now enables him to interface an instrument steeped in hundreds of years of tradition with cutting edge technology.
Chris continues to seek new contexts for his violin style but also enjoys the challenge of commissions that find him writing in styles of all kinds. Through his experience as a player and avid listener he is able to meet virtually any stylistic brief. Chris loves writing for film and television and taking the violin into uncharted territory.