Terry Riley

(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Reed Streams (1966), 5/10
A Rainbow In Curved Air (1969), 8.5/10
Church Of Anthrax (1970), 6/10
In C (1970), 7/10
Happy Ending (1972), 5/10
Persian Surgery Dervishes (1972), 8/10
Le Secret De La Vie (1974), 4/10
Shri Camel (1978), 5/10
Descending Moonshine Dervishes (1982), 6.5/10
Songs For The Ten Voices Of The Two Prophets (1983), 5/10
Cadenza On The Night Plain (1985), 7/10
The Harp Of New Albion (Celestial Harmonies, 1986), 6/10
No Man's Land (1985), 5/10
Salome Dances For Peace (1989), 7.5/10
June Buddhas (1991), 6/10
Cactus Rosary (1993), 5/10
Chanting the Light of Foresight (1994), 5/10
A Lazy Afternoon Among the Crocodiles (1997), 6/10
The Book of Abbeyozzud (1999), 5/10
Requiem for Adam (2001), 7.5/10
Atlantis Nath (2002), 5/10
Aleph (2012), 5.5/10

One of La Monte Young's disciples, Terry Riley became the guru of minimalist repetition with the pulse-based ensemble work In C (1964), that centered on the iteration of simple patterns (almost a human-based imitation of tape loops), and explored the raga-psychedelic connection with the solo electronic improvisation Rainbow in Curved Air (1968), that employed tape loop delays. These works clearly introduced repetition as a main compositional technique in western music, with (Rainbow In Curved Air) or without (In C) melody. This conceptual revolution mirrored the sociopolitical revolution of the time(the era of the "hippies"), when communal and improvised concerts prevailed over the formal presentation of classical music. The spiritual fervor of his Persian Surgery Dervishes (1972) marked the end of the hippy-inspired era. Riley would turn to more conventional formats, but still retain the titanic urge of his minimalist years, particularly in the monumental quartets Cadenza On The Night Plain (1985) and Salome Dances For Peace (1989), and in the Requiem For Adam (1998).
Full biography.
(Translated from my old Italian text by Troy Sherman)

Terry Riley was born in California in 1935. He studied music at Berkeley, and graduated in composition in 1961. He was formed in America (playing music in Berkeley nightclubs throughout the 50s) and in Europe (he performed with a traveling theater in Scandinavia, and engaged in several projects in Paris).

The vagabond life of the street artist would begin its transformation into mystical-musical projects when, in 1962, Riley met with La Monte Young (formerly a school friend). But, Riley did not have a vision of the strict application of priestly and scientific animation like Young, the guru of minimalism. Instead, he was a simple man who loved serene communication through music, directly and immediately.


In Paris in 1962, and especially in the newborn San Francisco Tape Music Center in 1964, Riley began to develop a technique of composition based on the processes of “delay,” made possible by the use of tape recorders. He then began composing works in which progressively overlapped layers and layers of sounds, such as Keyboard Studies (1962), one of which (for two pianos, appeared on Keyboard Study 2/ Initiative (Byg, 1968), and Music For The Gift (1963), possibly the first piece of music based on a tape delay and feedback system (realizing a loop that repeated a piece of jazz music). In Dorian Reeds (1965), collected on Reed Streams (Mass Art, 1966 - Organ of Corti, 1999), several sentences of a saxophone are delayed and superimposed to constitute a form of mono-instrumental polyphony.

The masterpiece of the period was the suite In C (1964), for an ensemble to perform ad libitum, first recorded on In C (Columbia, 1970). It is one of the key works of the postwar period. The piano part, the "pulse," consists solely of "do," and is to be repeated for the entire duration of the performance; the other instruments are inserted one after the other, stratifying and indefinitely repeating 53 fixed figures, each for an arbitrary duration of time. The song ends when all of the instruments arrive at the 53rd figure. The frantic chatter of each instrument expands or contracts, it shatters or coagulates, it becomes inflames or is snuffed, all according to the organized improvisation of each musician. The music regains the essence of collective and cohesive playing, an air of the expression of a liberating party playing for a collective ritual. In C is a clear and decisive point in the evolution of avant-garde music. It came suddenly and unexpectedly, the daughter of the research of tape delay. While conservatives were planning dissonant symphonies or electronic sonatas, Riley was creating this. It was not radical enough to belong to Dadaism, and not quite serious enough to fall under the realm of darmadtstiano expressionism.


Riley's debut album, Reed Streams (Mass Art, 1966 - Organ of Corti, 1999 - Elision Fields, 2007), compiled the glacial, geometric, robotic Untitled Organ, that offers very little variation, and the more intricate Dorian Reeds, that employed the tape echo to create disorienting polyphony. Both are rather tentative.


The repetition of simple rhythmic and melodic cells not tied to a known key is the foundation of A Rainbow In Curved Air (Columbia, 1969) for electronic keyboards, composed in 1968. With this minimalist raga, Riley became famous in rock music as well as creating a fantastic spectacle for electronic music. He plays alone, alternating various electronic instruments. The fantasy unfolds with liveliness in a dizzying whirl of improvisations. The accompaniment evolves every 2, 4 or 8 beats, but it never changes the initial scheme. The composition is an overwhelming attack, with a madly trilling harpsichord, an organ holding long church notes, and other electronic sounds serving as the rhythm or counterpoint. It grows more and more colorful and exuberant, while the sarabande shamelessly vents the most uncontrolled hedonistic instincts. It seems to subside into a more ceremonial and contemplative register, creating liturgical and mantric cadences. A new timbre unfolds into seeming hours of heavenly lugubriousness, in which the music chases and spiral in cascades overlapping with more and more electronic stunts. Everything is set over the galloping, insistent beat of a tabla. The result is a radiant hymn of joy, an exaltation to the spirit of Franciscan life, an overwhelming feeling of intoxicating sensation. Rainbow is an electronic suite, in the full psychedelic “Indian” fashion. It would come to affect many rock musicians, as well as mark the highest point of perfection reached by formal minimalism.


More polite and thoughtful, and more oriented in stationary tones, is the contemporaneous Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band, for electronic keyboards and saxophone (as with Dorian Reeds). The layering of sounds creates a slow and massive atmosphere, reaching a climax when the storms of echoes of the saxophone regress to the trills of the epileptic Rainbow.


One of the masterpieces of his maturity was born when the musician relied more firmly on religious inspiration. Ritual peace and ecstasy emerge from and preside over the terse performances of Persian Surgery Dervishes (Shandar, 1972). The double album (recorded live on two different occasions) finds Riley on organ, with only the help of a tape-delay. It is his most deep and evocative work, and the most closely related to Eastern spiritualism. In one of the performances, he endlessly recycles and recombines a few figures in a rhythmic-melodic progression on a keyboard, while inventing a continual flow of tonal colors. In the other performance, he plays as if in a trance, and requires a hypnotic pulse (a tape-delay that makes the sound overlap). Humility is the regulation governing this sonic exercise, and it shows an opposition inner poverty, lending the material of music to enhance one’s spiritual wealth. The body trembles along the majestic soaring, circling ecstasy, only to sink immediately in hushed prayers. It is the “adult” version of Rainbow, and no longer contains the former adolescent playfulness. It instead expresses more metaphysical emotion.


Riley’s fascinating personality and the extraordinary symbiosis that began occurring between he and his organ soon made him a living legend. Thanks to him, minimalism and rock music would meet, bringing us somewhat closer to an end of the natural modesty that marginalizes the cold intellectual music in a test tube.


He tended to reject the contracts of fabulous musical institutions, which instead made fortunes off of his disciples, and ended up recording very little. He insisted to live on his farm in California, where he could continue to study in peace. He always remained an underground figure, even when the music that he invented began to obtain the favor of the public.

Over the years Riley's keyboard music became more colorful and expressive, more tolerant towards variations and movement. This new style was inspired by the intricate tapestry of some Indian singing on Shri Camel (Columbia, 1978), reissued as The Last Camel in Paris, a live solo organ concert recording from november 1978.  Anthem Of The Trinity sounds like a jazzy version of A Rainbow In Curved Air . The appeal of Desert Of Ice, another variation on Rainbow, lies mainly in its crystalline xylophone-like timbres.

Terry Riley nacque in California nel 1935. Anch'egli studio' musica a Berkeley (laureandosi in composizione nel 1961) ma si formo' girando l'America (durante gli anni Cinquanta suonava piano-rag nei night-club di Berkeley) e l'Europa (in Scandinavia con un teatro itinerante, Parigi soprattutto in diversi progetti-happening).

La vita vagabonda di artista di strada termino' quando (1962) Riley incontro' La Monte Young (gia' suo compagno di scuola) e si associo' ai suoi progetti mistico-musicali. Ma Riley non aveva nulla della rigorosa applicazione sacerdotale e scientifica che animava il guru del minimalismo, era piuttosto un uomo semplice e sereno che amava comunicare in modo diretto e immediato.

A Parigi nel 1962 e soprattutto al neonato Tape Music Center di San Francisco nel 1964 Riley mise a punto una tecnica di composizione basata sui processi di "ritardo" resi possibili dall'impiego dei registratori a nastro. Prese allora a comporre opere in cui sovrapponeva progressivamente strati e strati di suoni, come Keyboard Studies (1962), uno dei quali (per due pianoforti) compare su Keyboard Study 2/ Initiative (Byg, 1968), e Music For The Gift (1963), possibly the first piece based on a tape delay and feedback system (realizing a loop that repeated a piece of jazz music). In Dorian Reeds (1965), che si trova su Reed Streams (1966), diverse frasi del sassofono vengono ritardate e sovrapposte fino a costituire una forma di polifonia mono-strumentale.

Il capolavoro del periodo e' la suite In C (1964), cioe' "in do", per ensemble ad libitum, una delle opere fondamentali del Dopoguerra, registrata per la prima volta su In C (Columbia, 1970). La parte per piano, l'"impulso", consiste unicamente di "do" da ripetere per tutta la durata della performance; gli altri strumenti si inseriscono l'uno dopo l'altro stratificando e ripetendo all'infinito 53 figure fisse, ciascuna per una durata arbitraria. Il brano termina quando tutti gli strumenti arrivano alla 53esima figura. Il frenetico cicalare degli strumenti si dilata o si contrae, si frantuma o si coagula, si infiamma o si zittisce, secondo l'improvvisazione dei musicisti. La musica riacquista cosi' la sua essenza ludica di gioco, di festa liberatoria, di espressione rituale collettiva. In C e' un'opera di rottura, un netto punto di discontinuita' nell'evoluzione della musica d'avanguardia. Giunge all'improvviso, inaspettata, figlia di quelle ricerche sui "ritardi via nastro", mentre i conservatori progettano sinfonie dissonanti o sonate elettroniche. Non e' abbastanza radicale da appartenere al dadaismo "cageano", e non e' abbastanza "seria" da rientrare nell'espressionismo darmadtstiano.

Il primo album Reed Streams (Mass Art, 1966 - Organ of Corti, 1999) contiene l'improvvisazione Untitled Organ e Dorian Reeds.

La ripetizione di semplici cellule ritmico-melodiche, ma non piu' vincolata a una nota cardine, e' alla base anche della A Rainbow In Curved Air (1968) per tastiere elettroniche, il raga minimalista che rese famoso Riley nell'ambiente della musica rock dopo la pubblicazione su album, A Rainbow In Curved Air (Columbia, 1969). Riley vi suona da solo, alternandosi ai vari strumenti elettronici. La fantasia si dipana con vivacita' in un vertiginoso vortice di improvvisazioni. L'accompagnamento si evolve ogni 2,4 o 8 battute ma senza mai modificare lo schema iniziale. L'attacco e' travolgente, con il clavicembalo che trilla all'impazzata, l'organo che tiene lunghe note da chiesa e gli altri suoni elettronici che fungono da ritmo o da contrappunto. Sempre piu' colorata ed esuberante, la sarabanda sfoga senza pudore i piu' incontrollati istinti edonistici. Sembra placarsi in un registro piu' cerimoniale e contemplativo, su cadenze liturgiche e mantriche, ma nuovi timbri, ora celestiali ora lugubri, si inseguono in spirali e cascate di echi, si accavallano con acrobazie sempre piu' mozzafiato, fino a lanciarsi al galoppo su un battito incalzante di tabla. Ne risulta un inno radioso di gioia, un'esaltazione francescana dello spirito della vita, una travolgente giostra di sensazioni inebrianti. Rainbow e' una suite elettronica che, in piena psichedelia e in piena moda "indiana", influenzera' molti musicisti rock, oltre a segnare il punto di massima perfezione formale raggiunto dal minimalismo.

Piu' compita e meditata, piu' orientata ai toni stazionari, la coeva Poppy Nogoods And The Phantom Band per tastiere elettroniche e sassofono (come Dorian Reeds) stratifica suoni piu' lenti e massicci, toccando il climax quando le tempeste d'echi del sassofono rifanno il verso ai trilli epilettici di Rainbow.

Il capolavoro della maturita' nasce pero' quando il musicista si affida con maggior convinzione all'ispirazione religiosa. La pace e l'estasi che presiedono ai suoi rituali sonori emergono piu' limpidamente nelle performance chiamate Persian Surgery Dervishes (Shandar, 1972). L'album doppio (inciso dal vivo in due occasioni diverse) con Riley all'organo e con il solo ausilio di un tape-delay, e' la sua opera piu' profonda e suggestiva, la piu' vicina alla spiritualita' orientale. Riley improvvisa senza sosta riciclando e ricombinando le poche figure ritmico-melodiche: su una tastiera inventa continuamente flussi e flussi di colori tonali, mentre sull'altra, come in trance, impone una pulsazione ipnotica (il tape-delay fa si' che il suono si sovrapponga di continuo a se stesso). L'umilta' e la disciplina che presiedono a questo esercizio quasi interiore contrappongono la poverta' materiale della musica alla sua ricchezza spirituale. L'organo sussulta lungo impennate maestose, in larghe volute estatiche, per inabissarsi subito in sommesse preghiere sottovoce. E' la versione "adulta" di Rainbow, che non ha piu' nulla della sua adolescenziale giocosita', esprime emozioni piu' metafisiche.

Il fascino che emana dalla sua personalita' e la prodigiosa simbiosi che riesce ad instaurare con l'organo ne fanno presto un mito vivente. E' grazie a lui che minimalismo e rock si incontrano, grazie alla naturale modestia che lo emargina dai freddi intellettuali della musica in provetta, e grazie alla cieca fede nell'elemento umano, e cioe' nell'improvvisazione.

Rifiutando i contratti favolosi delle istituzioni musicali, che hanno invece fatto la fortuna dei suoi discepoli, registrando pochissimo, e ostinandosi a vivere nella sua fattoria californiana, in cui puo' continuare a studiare in pace, Riley e' sempre rimasto una figura underground, anche quando la musica da lui inventata comincio' ad ottenere i favori del pubblico.

L'Infonie - Mantra (1970), reissued as Reed Streams/ In C (Cortical Foundation, 1998) and Reed Streams (Elision Fields, 2007). contains a 20-minute organ improvation (keyboard studies recorded in 1966), a live direct version of Dorian Reeds (1966) and a 29-minute verion of In C titled Mantra performed by the Canadian jazz collective.

Church Of Anthrax (Columbia, 1970) was a collaboration with John Cale.

Happy Ending (Warner, 1972) contains the soundtrack to Joel Santoni's Les Yeux Fermes (1972), reissued together with Lifespan (1974) as Les Yeux Fermes & Lifespan (Elision Fields, 2007). The soundtrack itself consists of two lengthy pieces. Journey From A Death of a Friend is mostly a reprise of the smooth, liquid, viscous, cascading counterpoint of Persian Surgery Dervishes recast for an acid organ timbre, except that towards the end the a jazzy piano breaks in briefly but only to launch the final gallop of the synthesizer. Happy Endings, scored for piano and saxophone, begins in a jovial manner reminiscent of Poppy Nogood until the organ takes over with a much slower and graver pattern. The sax follows suite and for a while the piece becomes a jazz duet between two instruments that alternate (not interact). They are finally all mixed together in the final apotheosis. Riley doesn't seem quite in full control of these two pieces.

Keyboard Study 2 (Get Back) documents a Terry Riley piece recorded in 1969.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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Over the years Riley's keyboard music became more colorful and expressive, more tolerant towards variations and movement. This new style was inspired by the intricate tapestry of some Indian singing on Shri Camel (Columbia, 1978), reissued as The Last Camel in Paris, a live solo organ concert recording from november 1978. Anthem Of The Trinity sounds like a jazzy version of A Rainbow In Curved Air . The appeal of Desert Of Ice, another variation on Rainbow, lies mainly in its crystalline xylophone-like timbres.

His voice, on the other hand, trained at the school of Pandit Pran Nath, adds a human element to his supernatural journeys on Songs For The Ten Voices Of The Two Prophets (Celestial Harmonies, 1983). In the 22-minute Embroidery his lament actually approaches the metaphysical weltanschauung of Robert Wyatt and the funereal glamor of Nico, although the dancing synthesizers (the "two prophets" of the title) anchor it to an almost childish mood. The somnolent and delicate Eastern Man and the anguished Chorale Of The Blessed Day, somewhere between a soul ballad and a lithurgical hymn, suffer from uninspired synth improvisations.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Translated from my old Italian text by Troy Sherman)

His early quartets (Sunrise Of The Planetary Dream Collector from 1980 and The Medicine Wheel from 1983) went unnoticed, but in 1985 he truly began a new chapter in his work, showing that he may have found a more congenial style of composition. One of the more remarkable pieces in his repertoire is 1985’s Cadenza on the Night Plain (Gramavision, 1985). At times it is reminiscent of ragas (Cadenza: Violin I), dances (Cadenza: Cello), pizzicato Debussy (Cadenza: Viola), Arabic scales (Cadenza: Violin II, Night Cry), music halls (March of the Old Timers Reefer Division, Captain Jack) and his In C, while elsewhere it illuminates his ecstatic mysticism with alternating pauses and meditative whirls with Stravinsky-ian Sufi Marches (Mythic Birds Waltz).


In 1986, Riley recorded two albums of piano improvisations, The Harp of New Albion, performed on a piano tuned according to the mathematical system of La Monte Young. None of these works managed to match the beautiful gems of the past.


The masterpiece of his later years was the quartet Salome Dances for Peace, documented on Salome Dances For Peace (Nonesuch, 1989), was one of the most monumental in the history of music, with 23 movements. Certainly it was the least minimalistic work of his career, and it was rather close to the Penderecki and the serialism of Webern. It lost the happy abandon of the improvisation of the jazz and raga matrix, and instead adopts a rigorous compositional technique whose mission is no more to arouse ecstatic moods than to “tell" a story through sound. It is not a coincidence that the work is closer to film soundtracks than classical chamber music. The topics range from Arabic litanies (Summons, Way Of The Warrior) and the relentless bolero progression (Fanfare In The Minimal Kingdom), until it reaches the rococo minuet (Good Medicine Dance). It includes vertices of pathos in the most subdued and dissonant (Echoes of Primordial Time, perhaps the most impressive work, and Peace Dance) and in moments of dramatic tension and dynamism (Half Wolf Dances Mad in Moonlight, The Underworld Arising). With these quartets, Riley established himself as the most educated and inspired followers of Henry Cowell.


Riley was the most spontaneous minimalist. His abstruse theories were divorced from the other psycho-acoustic musicians, and he was in effect the first person to set up a natural bridge between minimalism and rock, and in general between avant-garde music and popular music.

I suoi primi quartetti (Sunrise Of The Planetary Dream Collector del 1980 e The Medicine Wheel del 1983) passarono inosservati, ma nel 1985 Riley ne raccolse in Cadenza On The Night Plain (Gramavision, 1985) una nuova serie, dimostrando di aver forse trovato la forma piu' congeniale. Piu' notevole e' la Cadenza On The Night Plain di ben quaranta minuti che da' titolo alla raccolta, con reminescenze di raga (Cadenza: Violin I) e di balli popolari (Cadenza: Cello), di pizzicato alla Debussy (Cadenza: Viola) e di scale arabe (Cadenza: Violin II, Night Cry), di musichall (March Of The Old Timers Reefer Division, Captain Jack) e della sua In C; mentre altrove (Mythic Birds Waltz) illumina il suo misticismo con un alternarsi estatico di pause meditative e volteggi sufi, marcette stravinskyane e ostinato alla Nyman.

Nel 1986 Riley ha registrato due album di improvvisazioni pianistiche, The Harp Of New Albion (Celestial Harmonies, 1986), eseguite a un pianoforte intonato secondo il sistema matematico di LaMonte Young. In nessuna di queste opere e' pero' piu' riuscito a eguagliare le splendide gemme del passato.

Il capolavoro della maturita' e' semmai il quartetto Salome Dances For Peace, registrato su Salome Dances For Peace (Nonesuch, 1989), uno dei piu' monumentali della storia della musica (ben 23 movimenti!), e certamente l'opera meno minimalista della sua carriera, piu' vicina semmai alle trenodie di Penderecki e al serialismo di Webern. Perso il felice abbandono dell'improvvisazione di matrice jazz e raga, Riley adotta una tecnica di composizione rigorosa che ha come missione non piu' quella di suscitare stati d'animo estatici, ma quella di "raccontare" una storia per pannelli. Non a caso l'opera e' piu' vicina alle colonne sonore del cinema che alla musica da camera classica. I temi oscillano fra la litania araba (Summons, Way Of The Warrior) e il bolero in progressione incalzante (Fanfare In The Minimal Kingdom), fino a lambire il minuetto rococo' (Good Medicine Dance), con vertici di pathos nei momenti piu' sommessi e dissonanti (Echoes Of Primordial Time, forse il piu' suggestivo dell'opera, Peace Dance) e nei momenti di maggior tensione drammatica e dinamismo (Half Wolf Dances Mad In Moonlight, The Underworld Arising). Con questi quartetti Riley si afferma come il piu' colto e ispirato seguace di Henry Cowell.

Riley e' il piu' spontaneo dei minimalisti. Proprio perche' avulso dalle astruse teorie psico-acustiche degli altri, Riley ha per primo costituito un ponte naturale fra minimalismo e rock, e piu' in generale fra musica d'avanguardia e musica popolare.

Le Secret De La Vie (Philips, 1974) is a trivial film soundtrack.

Descending Moonshine Dervishes (Kuckuck, 1982) documents a 1975 live solo performance of about one hour. After six minutes the pulsing, swirling "dervish" dances of the keyboards are met by a counterpoint of droning keyboards in a different timbre. Then the dancing pattern resumes, and every now and then the drones resurface. The timbre changes, particularly at the 27th minute when cascading crisp tones pierce the stately droning foundations. The music rests, the music self-ignites, the music spirals out of control, the music seems to achieve nirvana, and then the music plunges again into an earthly dance.

Live In Koln February 23, 1975 (Modern Silence, 2016) documents a collaboration between Don Cherry (trumpet) and Terry Riley (organ) with Karl Berger on vibraphone that yielded the 20-minute Descending Moonshine Dervishes, the 8-minute Sunrise Of The Planetary Dream Collector and a 12-minute free improvisation.

No Man's Land (Plainisphare, 1985) is a film soundtrack. The ethnic overtones prevail. Jewel Movement is an exuberant raga with sitar, piano and flute. Medusa's Refrain (Part Two) is a jazzy duet between piano and sitar. A Spark From The Infinite (Part Two) And so on. It is one of his most facile works.

The Ethereal Time Shadow (Music from Mills, 1985) contains a nine-minute excerpt of Riley's The Ethereal Time Shadow for two synthesizers turned to just intonation, but mostly music by other avantgarde luminaries: Lou Harrison, Luciano Berio, Robert Ashley (Flying Saucer Dialogue), David Rosenboom (In The Beginning Etude I), Steve Reich (Melodica), Maggi Payne, etc.

Terry Riley's In C has been recorded in a variety of arrangements: In C (Celestial Harmonies, 1989) for Chinese orchestra; In C - 25th Anniversary Concert (New Albion, 1995) for creative improvisors (Rova Saxophone Quartet, Henry Kaiser, Jaron Lanier), a rather unsuccessful one; In C (Maso, 1996) for percussion ensemble; In C (Atma, 2000) for sitar, tabla, percussion, droning voices and orchestra; In C (Cypres, 2000), a lively interpretation that has little in common with Riley's original, gray, monotonous, austere version; In C (Cantaloupe, 2001), an even more lively (and very ethnic) version which also includes the string quartet Requiem For Adam (1998). In C (Wergo, 2002) is a "disco" version, performed by European Music Project and the electronic duo Zignorii++.

Riley composed three "requiem quartets": Mario in Cielo, Lachrymosa and Requiem for Adam (1998). The latter appears on Requiem for Adam (Nonesuch, 2001), credited to the Kronos Quartet. It is a metaphysical three-movement quartet which begins with a simple sequence of ascending patterns, at first increasingly skittish but then increasingly resigned. The second movement opens with booming electronic noise and the noise continues to duet with the strings, which are dragged into the chaotic and pulsing frenzy of the electronics. The third and longest movement (which is in reality several movements in one) quickly reestablishes that brutal, messy, Charles Ives-ian action but after six minutes it plunges into a slow melancholy march, and halfway becomes an almost comic scherzo that mutates into a tense exhange, and it ends with three minutes of angelic whispers. The third movement alone is one of Riley's most complex and emotional compositions. The album also includes Riley's brief solo piano improvisation The Philosopher's Hand.

But, with the expection of Salome's Excellent Extension, which appears on Intuitive Leaps (Work Music, 1996), Riley's compositions were clearly moving away from minimalism. Riley was, in fact, becoming one of the most varied, dynamic and unpredictable composers of his generation.

The quality was not always up to his reputation. June Buddhas (MusicMasters, 1991) is a three-movement piece for chorus and orchestra. Cactus Rosary (Artifact Music, 1993) is a confused 1990 composition for mixed instruments. Chanting the Light of Foresight - Imbas Forasnai (New Albion, 1994) is a six-movement quartet written with the Rova Saxophone Quartet (from 1987), a demanding but not inspired work. A Lazy Afternoon Among the Crocodiles (AIAI, 1997) is a duo with bassist Stefano Scodanibbio (Diamond Fiddle Language, Tritono). The Book of Abbeyozzud (New Albion, 1999) is a cycle of pieces for guitar (in different settings) inspired by Spain. These are all relatively minor works in the career of one of the centuries' most influential innovators.

The live performances were even less interesting. Padova Concert (Amiata, 1992) contains music from The Harp of New Albion and Salome Dances for Peace. Lisbon Concert (New Albion, 1996) is a piano concerto that samples different styles.

His archives yielded a wealth of rarities. All Night Flight V.1 (Organ of Corti, 1996) documents a 1968 concert. Olson III (Organ of Corti, 1999) documents a 1967 live performance of a lengthy piece a` la In C for any instruments and voices. Music for the Gift (Organ of Corti, 2000) collects the early electronic compositions of 1963-65, including Two Pianos Five Tape Recorders (1960), Music for the Gift (1963), Bird of Paradise (1964), and the psychedelic Mescalin Mix (1962). You're Nogood (Organ of Corti, 2001) contains a live 1967 performance (for saxophone and tape delay) of Poppy Nogood, a "sampled" and processed version of the rhythm'n'blues song You're No Good

Riley has also composed the seven-movement orchestral suite Jade Palace (1991), the chamber opera The Saint Adolf Ring (1992), Ritmos and Melos (1993), an elegant (and occasionally jazzy) work for chamber trio (violin, piano, percussion) inspired by Greece, El Hombre (1993), a quintet for strings and piano, the seven-volume cycle The Heaven Ladder for Piano (1994), whose sixth volume is titled Night Music for Piano (1996), Mandala Miniatures for Saxophone Quartet (1998), Uncle Jard (1998), a quintet for saxophones and piano, The Dream (1999), an evening-length work for solo piano in micro tonal tuning, the piano concerto Banana Humberto 2000 (2000), Y Bolanzero (2001) for large guitar ensemble, Assassin Reverie (2001) for saxophone quartet, etc.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Nicola Mecca)

Le Secret De La Vie (Philips, 1974) è una banale colonna sonora per film.

Descending Moonshine Dervishes (Kuckuck, 1982) è una performance live del 1975 pulsante ed energica dei “Dervishes”.

No Man's Land (Plainisphare, 1985) è una colonna sonora per film.

In C di Terry Riley è stato registrato con diversi arrangiamenti: In C (Celestial Harmonies, 1989), per orchestra cinese; In C - 25th Anniversary Concert (New Albion, 1995) per improvvisatori creativi (Rova Saxophone Quartet, Henry Kaiser, Jaron Lanier); In C (Maso, 1996) per un ensemble di percussioni; In C (Atma, 2000) per sitar, tabla, percussioni, voci ed orchestra; In C (Cypres, 2000), una interpretazione gioconda che ha poco in comune con l’originale di Riley, grigia monotona e austera;  In C (Cantaloupe, 2001), una versione ancora più vivace (e molto etnica) che include anche il Requiem for Adam (1998), un quartetto metafisico in tre movimenti che impiega suoni elettronici e rumore; In C (Wergo, 2002) è una versione “disco”, eseguita dall’European Music Project e dal duo elettronico Zignorii++.

Il requiem appare anche su Requiem for Adam (Nonesuch, 2001).

Ma con l’eccezione di Salome's Excellent Extension, che appare su Intuitive Leaps (Work Music, 1996), le composizioni di Riley si stavano decisamente allontanando dal minimalismo. Riley stava diventando, di fatti, uno dei più imprevedibili, dinamici, eclettici compositori della sua generazione.

La qualità non era sempre all’altezza della sua reputazione. June Buddhas (MusicMasters, 1991) è una composizione di tre movimenti per coro ed orchestra. Cactus Rosary (Artifact Music, 1993) è una composizione confusa del 1990, per strumenti misti. Chanting the Light of Foresight (New Albion, 1994) è un quartetto in sei movimenti scritto con il Rova Saxophone Quartet (nel 1987), un lavoro complesso ma non molto ispirato. A Lazy Afternoon Among the Crocodiles (AIAI, 1997) è un duo con il bassista Stefano Scodanibbio (Diamond Fiddle Language, Tritono). The Book of Abbeyozzud (New Albion, 1999) è un ciclo di pezzi per chitarra (in contesti differenti) ispirato dalla Spagna. Questi sono lavori relativamente minori nella carriera di uno dei più influenti innovatori del suo secolo.

Le performance live erano ancora meno interessanti. Padova Concert (Amiata, 1992) contiene musica da The Harp of New Albion e Salome Dances for Peace. Lisbon Concert (New Albion, 1996) è un concerto per pianoforte che riassume stili diversi.

I suoi archivi produssero rarità in abbondanza. All Night Flight V.1 (Organ of Corti, 1996) documenta un live risalente al 1968. Olson III (Organ of Corti, 1999) documenta una performance live di un lungo pezzo a’ la In C per strumenti e voci. Music for the Gift (Organ of Corti, 2000) colleziona le prime composizioni elettronice del 1963-65, comprese Two Pianos Five Tape Recorders (1960), Music for the Gift (1963), Bird of Paradise (1964), e la psichedelica Mescalin Mix (1962). You're Nogood (Organ of Corti, 2001) Contiene una performance live del 1967 (per sassofono e delay a nastro) di Poppy Nogood, una versione “campionata” e processata della canzone rhythm’n’blues You’re no good.

Riley ha anche composto la suite orchestrale in sette movimenti Jade Palace (1991), l’opera da camera The Saint Adolf Ring (1992), Ritmos and Melos (1993), un elegante (a volte segnato da tinte jazzistiche) lavoro per trio da camera (violino, pianoforte, percussioni) ispirato dalla Grecia, El Hombre (1993), un quintetto per archi e pianoforte, il ciclo in sette volumi The Heaven Ladder for Piano (1994), il cui sesto volume è intitolato Night Music for Piano (1996), Mandala Miniatures for Saxophone Quartet (1998), Uncle Jard (1998), un quintetto per sassofoni e pianoforte, The Dream (1999), un lunghissimo lavoro per piano solo in accordatura microtonale, il concerto per pianoforte Banana Humberto 2000 (2000), Y Bolanzero (2001) per un largo ensemble di chitarre, Assassin Reverie (2001) per un quartetto di sassofoni, etc.

Atlantis Nath (Sri Moonshine Music, 2002), ostensibly a tribute to Pandit Pran Nath who died in 1996, collects various compositions recorded between 1994 and 1998. It includes excerpts of Riley's operas The Saint Adolf Ring (1992), an evening-long multimedia theater piece originally scored for flute, clarinets and saxophone, violin, cello, piano, two percussions and a narrator, and Remember This O Mind (1982), originally scored for 10 instruments and voice. It opens with the interlocking droning "oms" of Crucifixion Voices, but it quickly descends into skits that sometimes amount to circus music masquerading as ethnic music. The 13-minute Emerald Runner is an anemic pop-jazz ballad (for voice and piano). Asencion is an intriguing 15-minute folk-jazz piano improvisation (originally scored for solo guitar in 1993), but Riley is no Keith Jarrett: his playing is rather bland.

Riley's chamber music also includes: ArchAngels (2003) for eight cellos , The Cusp of Magic for string quartet and pipa (2004), and Transylvanian Horn Courtship for string quartet (2009) He also rearranged for string quartet an old composition for keyboards and saxophone, G-Song (1980). He composed two concertos: The Sands for string quartet and orchestra (1991) and Banana Humberto for piano and electro-acoustic band (2000).

The double-disc Aleph (Tzadik, 2012) documents a 2008 concert for just-intonation synthesizer. The two-hour program is a display of Riley's mastery at deploying "tricks" practiced throughout his career, a summa of 50 years of raga-influenced improvisation. The first part is often borderline cacophonous, with Riley unleashing a youthful energy in his fibrillating ragas. The second part seems to flow more organically, and with fewer sections of pointless repetition. It is intriguing to hear Riley, consciously or unconsciously, imitating instruments of the orchestra (for example the trumpet 12 minutes into the second part and the flute 45 minutes into the second part, an effect that recurs for 15 minutes, and the saxophone frequently in the first part). It is exciting to witness how he can simulate polyphony either by alternating different pulsating timbres (for example 26 minutes into the second part) or mixing wave-like drones with harsh hysterical bursts (for example 36 minute into the second part). It is reassuring to hear the frequent pauses in ecstatic languor (notably 30 minutes into the second part). But the two hours stand more like a testament to his live performances than as an accomplished, curated piece.

The Lion's Throne (2019) collects live performances from 1999 till 2006 with Italian singer Amelia Cuni, who was trained in "dhrupad" singing in India.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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