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Terry Riley

Terry Riley (born June 24, 1935) is an American composer associated with the minimalist school.

Born in Colfax, California, Riley studied at Shasta College, San Francisco State University, and theSan Francisco Conservatory before earning an MA in composition at the University of California,Berkeley, studying with Seymour Shifrin and Robert Erickson. He was involved in the experimentalSan Francisco Tape Music Center working with Morton Subotnick, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros,and Ramon Sender. His most influential teacher, however, was Pandit Pran Nath (1918–1996), amaster o ...read more

Terry Riley (born June 24, 1935) is an American composer associated with the minimalist school.

Born in Colfax, California, Riley studied at Shasta College, San Francisco State University, and theSan Francisco Conservatory before earning an MA in composition at the University of California,Berkeley, studying with Seymour Shifrin and Robert Erickson. He was involved in the experimentalSan Francisco Tape Music Center working with Morton Subotnick, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros,and Ramon Sender. His most influential teacher, however, was Pandit Pran Nath (1918–1996), amaster of Indian classical voice, who also taught La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela. Riley madenumerous trips to India over the course of their association to study and to accompany him ontabla, tambura, and voice. Throughout the 1960s he traveled frequently around Europe as well,taking in musical influences and supporting himself by playing in piano bars, until he joined the MillsCollege faculty in 1971 to teach Indian classical music. Riley was awarded an Honorary DoctorateDegree in Music at Chapman University in 2007.

While his early endeavours were influenced by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Riley changed direction afterfirst encountering La Monte Young, in whose Theater of Eternal Music he later performed from1965-66. The String Quartet (1960) was Riley’s first work in this new style; it was followed shortlyafter by a string trio, in which he first employed the repetitive short phrases that he (andminimalism) are now known for.

His music is usually based on improvising through a series of modal figures of different lengths,such as in In C and the Keyboard Studies. In C (1964) is probably Riley’s best-known work and onethat brought the minimalist music movement to prominence. Its first performance was given bySteve Reich, Jon Gibson, Pauline Oliveros, and Morton Subotnick, among others, and it hasinfluenced their work and that of many others, including John Adams, Roberto Carnevale, and PhilipGlass. Its form was an innovation: the piece consists of 53 separate modules of roughly onemeasure apiece, each containing a different musical pattern but each, as the title implies, in C. Oneperformer beats a steady pulse of Cs on the piano to keep tempo. The others, in any number and onany instrument, perform these musical modules following a few loose guidelines, with the differentmusical modules interlocking in various ways as time goes on. The Keyboard Studies are similarlystructured – a single-performer version of the same concept.

In the 1950s he was already working with tape loops, a technology then in its infancy, and he hascontinued manipulating tapes to musical effect, both in the studio and in live performance,throughout his career. He has composed in just intonation as well as microtonal pieces.

Riley’s collaborators include the ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Pauline Oliveros, and, as mentioned,the Kronos Quartet.

He has also had a notable collaboration with Beat poet Michael McClure, with whom he has releasedseveral CDs and most recently contributed music to a London revival of his play The Beard.

A Rainbow In Curved Air inspired Pete Townshend’s synthesizer parts on The Who’s “Won’t GetFooled Again” and “Baba O’Riley”, the latter named in tribute to Riley as well as to Meher Baba.Also during the 1960s were the famous “All-Night Concerts”, during which Riley performed mostlyimprovised music from evening until sunrise, using an old organ harmonium (“with a vacuum cleanermotor blower blowing into the ballasts”) and tape-delayed saxophone. When he finally wanted abreak, after hours of playing, he played back looped saxophone fragments recorded throughout theevening. For several years he continued to put on these concerts, to which people came withsleeping bags, hammocks, and their whole families.

Riley began his long-lasting association with the Kronos Quartet by meeting its founder, DavidHarrington, while at Mills. Over the course of his career Riley has composed 13 string quartets forthe ensemble, in addition to other works. He wrote his first orchestral piece, Jade Palace, in 1991,and has continued to pursue that avenue, with several commissioned orchestral compositionsfollowing. Riley is also currently performing and teaching both as an Indian raga vocalist and as asolo pianist. « hide

Similar Bands: La Monte Young, Steve Reich, Philip Glass

LPs
In C Remixed
2009

3.8
2 Votes
The Last Camel in Paris
2008

2.5
1 Votes
Music for the Gift
2000

3
1 Votes
The Book Of Abbeyozzud
1999

3.5
5 Votes
Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band
1996

3.5
1 Votes
Songs For The 10 Voices Of The 2 Prophets
1983

3.5
1 Votes
Shri Camel
1980

4
21 Votes
Happy Ending
1972

4.5
2 Votes
A Rainbow In Curved Air
1969

4
83 Votes
Reed Streams
1966

3.5
2 Votes
In C
1964

4
42 Votes
Live Albums
Persian Surgery Dervishes
1972

3.8
2 Votes

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