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Terry Riley

June 24, 1935 -
born in Colfax, CA, composed during the Contemporary period
Terry Riley is an avant-garde composer who was present at the birth of the idea that became known as minimalism. Abandoning his original plans to become a concert pianist, Riley studied composition at San Francisco State College with Robert Erikson. In 1958, while supporting himself as a ragtime pianist at a local saloon, Riley attended graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley. It was at Berkeley that Riley met and felt a strong connection with fellow composition student (and, some would argue, the real father of Minimalism) La Monte Young. After graduating with an M.A. in composition in 1961, Riley moved to Europe, where he performed in officers' clubs.

In 1963 Riley composed the music for the play The Gift, written by Key Dewey, for the ORTF (French National Radio). Riley used the opportunity to utilize a new invention known as the time-lag accumulator. It consisted of two reel-to-reel tape recorders connected together to form a loop of layered echoes. According to Riley, Music for the Gift was "the forerunner of In C," utilizing repetition as an essential part of musical form. Riley's direct inspiration for In C occurred back in San Francisco while riding a bus to work at the Gold Street Saloon. Released in 1968 by Columbia Records, In C became a platform upon which the Minimalist movement was built.

At that point Riley was living in New York, collaborating occasionally with La Monte Young, and performing in Young's Theatre of Eternal Music. It was during this period that Riley stopped notating his compositions and focused more on improvisation. He also abandoned the use of his time-lag accumulator. Riley was able to experiment with his "self-interpretive improvisation" techniques on his 1969 album containing the works Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band and Rainbow in Curved Air. During the 1970s, Terry Riley began to focus on Indian music, studying with singer Pandit Pran Nath. Traveling often to India and teaching Indian music at Mills College in Oakland, California, Riley found a new compositional angle for his music. Influenced by the raga, Riley began to create long, flowing melodic lines using raga-related scales in his improvisations. He also began to take interest in just intonation, an ancient form of tuning in which the intervals are mathematically pure, allowing for intervallic intricacies. Works from this period include Persian Surgery Dervishes (1971) and Shri Camel (1976).

In 1979 Riley received both a grant from the NEA and a Guggenheim Fellowship for his creative efforts. In the 1980s Riley returned to musical notation, composing several works for the Kronos String Quartet. Works such as G-Song and Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector (1981) call for string quartet, voice and synthesizer. The pieces draw very little upon the layering of structural motives as found in Riley's works of the 1960s, or the keyboard improvisations characteristic of the 1970s. Instead, Riley's string quartets are more lyrical and include influences of American jazz, Indian raga, and traditional Classical music -- continuing, as well, in the Minimalist style. Yet no work of Riley's has had an impact equal to that of the groundbreaking In C. ~ Kristen Grimshaw, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Sunrise Of The Planetary Dream Collector

Title: Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector, for string quartet & synthesizer (originally for electric keyboard)

1. Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector, for string quartet & synthesizer (originally for electric keyboard): Sunrise Of The Planetary Dream Collector

Title: Sun Rings, for string quartet, chorus & pre-recorded spacescapes

2. Sun Rings, for string quartet, chorus & pre-recorded spacescapes: One Earth, One People, One Love

Title: Cry of a Lady, for soprano, female chorus & string quartet

3. Cry of a Lady, for soprano, female chorus & string quartet: Cry Of A Lady

Title: G-Song, For String Quartet & Synthesizer, Or Synthesizer & Soprano Sax

4. G-Song, For String Quartet & Synthesizer, Or Synthesizer & Soprano Sax: G Song

Title: Lacrymosa (Remembering Kevin), for string quartet

5. Lacrymosa (Remembering Kevin), for string quartet: Lacrymosa - Remembering Kevin

Title: Cadenza On The Night Plain, For String Quartet

6. Cadenza On The Night Plain, For String Quartet: Introduction

7. Cadenza On The Night Plain, For String Quartet: Cadenza: Violin I

8. Cadenza On The Night Plain, For String Quartet: Where Was Wisdom When We Went West?

9. Cadenza On The Night Plain, For String Quartet: Cadenza: Viola

10. Cadenza On The Night Plain, For String Quartet: March Of The Old Timers Reefer Division

11. Cadenza On The Night Plain, For String Quartet: Cadenza: Violin II

12. Cadenza On The Night Plain, For String Quartet: Tuning To Rolling Thunder

13. Cadenza On The Night Plain, For String Quartet: The Night Cry Of Black Buffalo Woman

14. Cadenza On The Night Plain, For String Quartet: Cadenza: Cello

15. Cadenza On The Night Plain, For String Quartet: Gathering Of The Spiral Clan

16. Cadenza On The Night Plain, For String Quartet: Captain Jack Has The Last Word

x

Track List: Terry Riley: Salome Dances for Peace

Disc 1
Title: Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet

1. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: The Summons

2. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Peace Dance

3. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Fanfare in the Minimal Kingdom

4. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Ceremonial Night Race

5. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: At the Ancient Aztec Corn Races Salome Meets Wild Talker

6. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: More Ceremonial Races

7. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Oldtimers at the Races

8. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Half Wolf Dances Mad in Moonlight

9. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Way of the Warrior

10. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Salome and Half Wolf Descend Through the Gates to the Underworld

11. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Breakthrough to the Realm of the War Demons

12. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Combat Dance

13. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Victory: Salome Re-enacts for Half Wolf Her Deeds of Valor

14. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Discovery of Peace

15. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: The Underworld Arising

Disc 2

1. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Echoes of Primordial Time

2. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Mongolian Winds

3. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Processional

4. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Seduction of the Bear Father

5. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: The Gathering

6. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: At the Summit

7. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Recessional

8. Salome Dances for Peace, pieces (5) for string quartet: Good Medicine Dance

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Track List: Requiem For Adam

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Track List: Riley: In C

Comments

Report as inappropriate
In C is pretty good stuff!
Report as inappropriate
hcoleman8
A Rainbow in Curved Air is also one of his better albums
Report as inappropriate
burlis99
Groooveee
Report as inappropriate
vokuro88
beautiful stuff that makes me wanna just jiggy.
Report as inappropriate
I attended an open rehearsal in which the Kronos Qt was working out their performing approachs to the Salome Dances for Peace. This was in Kansas City at UMKC and was a fascinating experience for me. Thanks after all of this time for Kronos for working out the performance kinks in public and to Terry Riley for composing the piece itself.
Report as inappropriate
listen to assasin reverie it is amazing

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