Wednesday, June 24, 2009

TERRY RILEY b. JUNE 24th 1935

many of the alledged cognoscenti who pretend to like modern classical music point to their collections of steve reich &, more often, philip glass works to prove their up to the minute connoisseurship. they wouldn't know terry riley if he walked up & bit them on their asses. get your music into a popular film or two & you're the talk of the town; be present at the creation &, well, that's another story altogether. of course, mentioning riley means mentioning lemonte young along w/harry partch, pauline oliveros, morton subotnick. they all had as much or more to do w/the creation of minimalism as reich & glass & none more than riley & young.

riley's big breakthrough piece, in c, was first performed in 1964.
"Its form was an innovation: the piece consists of 53 separate modules of roughly one measure apiece, each containing a different musical pattern but each, as the title implies, in C. One performer beats a steady pulse of Cs on the piano to keep tempo. The others, in any number and on any instrument, perform these musical modules following a few loose guidelines, with the different musical modules interlocking in various ways as time goes on. The Keyboard Studies are similarly structured – a single-performer version of the same concept."
this music also has connections to eastern music & religious traditions.

what's amazing about this piece is how contemporaneous it still is, the innovation is built INTO the piece, to be explored by whoever engages it. riley is still alive & performing & writing. there aren't a whole lot of these living treasures left. find & enjoy his music while you can.

"In C really was these formations of patterns that were kind of flying together. That's how it came to me. It was like this kind of cosmic vision of patterns that were gradually transforming and changing. And I think the principal contribution to minimalism was this concept, it wasn't just one pattern, it was this idea that patterns could be staggered and their composite forms became another kind of music." terry riley

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