Well, I had an epiphany with this concert. I think it was in the late 60s, ’69 — a woman named Tice Latham had organized a series of concerts on Monday night, a place called The Electric Circus on St. Marks, between 2nd and Bowery. The first concert I saw in this series, in fact it was John Cage playing chess against Marcel Duchamp.1 And every time they would move the chess piece, it opened up gates that allowed various types of electronic music to be exposed — the people who were generating the electronic music were David Behrman, David Tudor, Nam June Paik, and Gordon Mumma. So, Gordon Mumma would be doing things with electronics, and he’d say “Oops, I just got cut off, they made a move.”

 

And it was the late 60s, and it what was referred to then as the happening, and it was an absolutely amazing experience. But the concert that really changed my life was a — I had heard through reading a book called An Anthology, which was a book put out by Jackson Mac Low and La Monte Young, which is an anthology of prose, pieces and scores and writings by people on the downtown scene in New York, in the early to late 60s. I’d seen a score of a composer named Terry Riley, that looked not unlike Variations V by John Cage, which is kind of noisy. And back then if you were a young composer, if you wanted to be hip, you wouldn’t be working within the framework of the major triad or tonality or traditional harmony, but you’d be doing something either extremely atonal or extremely complex or noisy. And this score looked particularly noisy, so I thought “Great. I’m going to go to his concert, I’m going to hear some great noise.”

 

And so I paid my $5 and I went to the concert, and what did I hear? I saw this long haired red haired guy, who looked like a hippie, playing circus organ, completely tonal. And I was just disgusted. And I stormed downstairs and asked my money back. And they wouldn’t give it to me. So, I said eh — it was $5, which was a lot of money for a kid back then. So, I went up and listened to it and gave it a chance. And I listened and I listened, and I said, this isn’t so bad. And then I — then of course that piece was Terry Riley’s seminal piece, A Rainbow in Curved Air.2

 

And then afterwards, he and a composer named David Rosenboom played on viola Poppy Nogood & The Phantom Band, which made use of this marvelous tape delay technique, where he took two Revox tape recorders and put them apart, and one fed back onto the other, which was the precursor of what today is known as Frippertronics. When I heard that — and all I can say is I walked in there a post serialist, and when I walked out, I was a minimalist composer.3

  1. Entitled To Interpret, Like Everywhere []
  2. Private Study []
  3. Everything Is Possible []
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