from: ...In With The New (12/30/04)

Notes for the work, In C by Terry Riley
(comments by Joe Holmquist)

In C by Terry Riley was written in 1964.  In the late 1950's and early 1960's, a handful of talented young composers were looking for a way out of the Second Viennese School's cul de sac established by Schönberg, Webern, Berg and numerous skilled composers outside of Vienna.

A handful of rebelious U.S. composers was poised to 'discover' a new style of music called Minimalism.  This group included Terry Riley, La Mont Young, Frederic Rzewski, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass.  In C is the first blockbuster hit from that group, written in 1964.  It was recorded on the Columbia Masterworks label and was a pivotal event in the career of Riley.

Prior to the advent of Minimalism, Western Music employed a dualism between created tension using dissonance, texture, and rhythm versus the release of those tensions.  In C was a pathfinder composition away from this means of expression, because it ignores traditional Western composition tools.

To enjoy this piece we recommend that the audience accept the choices of the live musicians in concert with the pre-recorded sounds. The 'unpredictable' is a classic part of the Riley charm.