Terry Riley's In C (Studies in Musical Genesis, Structure, and Interpretation) Hardcover – August 5, 2009
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"Offer[s] performer and listener alike an eminently readable resource to better understand the significance of this work. Professor Carl assumes the dual role of faithful scribe to its oral history and scrutinizing theorist. When his task involves historical investigation and fact-finding, he is nonpareil... a book all conscientious performers will want to turn to when looking for a manual on the work's performance practice...A fine achievement." --American Record Guide
"A useful introductory volume, valuable to students and scholars for its wealth of uncomplicated analytical information and historical documentation." --Notes
"In C is a staggeringly important composition in the history of classical music and Robert Carl's writings on the piece are incredibly thorough in depth and breadth...Carl analyzes the piece through a variety of lenses and performances and discusses every major recording of the composition to date. I could not imagine a more complete exploration of this piece." --Sequenza21
"If In C needed any justification beyond its joyously jangling momentum, Robert Carl has provided it with a detailed legal brief to prove forever its intelligent inner logic and connection to multiple world musical traditions. The defense rests."-Kyle Gann, author of The Music of Conlon Nancarrow and American Music in the Twentieth Century
"Robert Carl was the right choice to write this book. Through a blend of scholarly research, professional connections and composerly musings, Carl brings the genesis of In C to life, while simultaneously opening the door for future manifestations of this mid-century masterpiece."--Lawrence Dillon, Composer in Residence, University of North Carolina School of the Arts
"For many In C is the revolutionary classical composition of the second half of the twentieth century; Robert Carl's book, which like the work perfectly balances academic discipline and popular appeal, provides an ideal companion."-Robert Morgan, Yale University
"Ambitious, elegantly written... His treatise is a labor of love: the result of prodigious effort and wholehearted veneration...We should hope for this book's success and for others like it to follow." ---New Music Connoisseur
"Readers of this journal will know Robert Carl as a generous and expert guide to contemporary music. Indeed, it is hard not to share his delight in discovering new aspects of In C...To judge by this book, he must also be a terrific teacher. Without the slightest talking down to his reader, he is clear, specific, and passionate about the important moments of this piece and how we can approach them... If you have been challenged by In C, this book will go a long way to helping you meet that challenge." --Fanfare
"Terry Riley's In C is a book that all musicians, music scholars, and music students should read." --Music & Letters
About the Author
Robert Carl is Professor of Composition and Theory and Chair of Composition, Department of Music, The Hartt School, University of Hartford. His music has been performed throughout the United States and Europe and has been published by American composers' Edition, Boosey & Hawkes, and Apollo-Edition. Recent CD releases of works are found on New World, Innova, Neuma, Koch International, Lotus, Centaur, and Vienna Modern Masters. He also writes regularly on new music for Fanfare Magazine.
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We learn much about the life of Terry Riley and his musical influences. La Monte Young, who already in the late 1950s was listening to Japanese gagaku and Indian ragas and John Coltrane, was colleague and mentor. He introduced Riley to cannabis and peyote, which instilled an openness of time. Together and with others of the San Francisco Tape Music Center, they experimented with looping and time-lag accumulation. Riley set himself the goal of transferring these electronic patterns and sounds to acoustic instrumentation, with his String Trio being an early development of repetition and pulse. "In C" itself was one of those grand creative moments when the composer holistically hears the composition in his mind, immediately sets to score some of the initial lines, and completes the work within a day.
Carl describes in loving detail the organizing and performance of the premiere on November 4, 1964. Remarkably, Steve Reich was a neighbor of Riley and played Wurlitzer organ at the event; the piece set himself on his own path, which led to the other masterpiece of minimalism, his "Music for 18 Musicians." We discover that, two years before it became a staple of Fillmore Auditorium rock, the music was accompanied by a light show! Also, there was a pre-Moog, pre-Arp device called the Chamberlin organ, with each pitch provided by a tape loop. Another fascinating tidbit was that Riley first envisioned its premiere at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and the reason why the work was not regarded as experimental or free jazz was because it was reviewed in glowing terms in the San Francisco Chronicle by the classical music critic.
I will not give away any more amazing information about this piece and its first recording for Columbia. You must obtain the slim book, a treasure chest, for yourself. While there is a full musicological analysis, the section of technical aspects may be easily skimmed by the general reader, as summaries provide the point. The book can be compared to the recent book on the making of Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" album, a landmark of jazz. This book belongs on the shelf of every lover of music, be it classical, jazz, or world, which the piece and its sensitivity enfold. It is a history of a musical revolution. It is also a history of one part of the Bay Area scene at the dawn of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.
Dr. Carl's analytical approach to the piece had an immense influence on the ensemble's approach to the piece. The story of the genesis of the piece was also extremely informative. This is a must-read book for serious musicians, and offers valuable insights into the genesis of musical minimalism.
This conceptually brilliant as well as entertaining piece is one of the most performed pieces of new music. This is due in part to its being an "open score" meaning that it can be performed by any instruments or groups of instruments.
And now this piece is being more widely recognized as the masterpiece that it is. This book does a wonderful job of analyzing various perspectives on this music including its historical context, performance history and its musical structure. The analysis succeeds in conferring an academic legitimacy explaining why this music should now be considered a masterpiece to stand along with the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, etc.
This is a lucidly written book which requires a little knowledge of music but you don't have to be a musical grad student to read and enjoy it.
If you are a fan of Terry Riley and/or minimalism you will find this both enoyable and informative. I am a die-hard fan and I learned a great deal from Robert Carl's expert analysis. Highly recommended!!