Full NameTerrence Mitchell Riley BornJune 24, 1935 (age 80) (1935-06-24) Colfax, California, US ParentsCharles Riley, Wilma Ridolfi Riley EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley (1961) AwardsGuggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, US & Canada CompositionsIn C, In C, Olson III, Olson III, Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band, Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band, G Song, G Song, Chanting the Light of Foresight, Chanting the Light of Foresight, Dorian Reeds, Dorian Reeds, The Protege, The Protege, Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector, Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector, Church of Anthrax, Church of Anthrax, Half Wolf Dances Mad in Moonlight, Half Wolf Dances Mad in Moonlight, The Heaven Ladder - Book 7: Venus in ’94, The Heaven Ladder - Book 7: Venus in ’94, The Heaven Ladder - Book 7: Simone’s Lullaby, The Heaven Ladder - Book 7: Simone’s Lullaby, Requiem for Adam: II Cortejo funebre en el Monte Diablo, Requiem for Adam: II Cortejo funebre en el Monte Diablo, Requiem for Adam: III Requiem for Adam, Requiem for Adam: III Requiem for Adam, Cadenza on the Night Plain, Cadenza on the Night Plain, The Philosopher's Hand, The Philosopher's Hand, The Heaven Ladder - Book 7: Ragtempus Fugatis, The Heaven Ladder - Book 7: Ragtempus Fugatis, Ides of March, Ides of March, The Heaven Ladder - Book 7: Misha’s Bear Dance, The Heaven Ladder - Book 7: Misha’s Bear Dance, Keyboard Study n° 1, Keyboard Study n° 1, The Heaven Ladder - Book 7: Fandango on the Heaven Ladder, The Heaven Ladder - Book 7: Fandango on the Heaven Ladder, Requiem for Adam: I Ascending the Heaven Ladder, Requiem for Adam: I Ascending the Heaven Ladder, Keyboard Study n° 2, Keyboard Study n° 2, The Walrus in Memorium, The Walrus in Memorium, Mythic Birds Waltz, Mythic Birds Waltz, The Hall of Mirrors in the Palace at Versailles, The Hall of Mirrors in the Palace at Versailles Similar PeopleSteve Reich, Philip Glass, John Adams, John Cale, Stefano Scodanibbio
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Terrence Mitchell "Terry" Riley (/ˈraɪli/; born June 24, 1935) is an American composer and performing musician associated with the minimalist school of Western classical music, of which he was a pioneer. His work is deeply influenced by both jazz and Indian classical music.
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Born in Colfax, California, in 1935, Riley studied at Shasta College, San Francisco State University, and the San Francisco Conservatory before earning an MA in composition at the University of California, Berkeley, studying with Seymour Shifrin and Robert Erickson. He was involved in the experimental San Francisco Tape Music Center, working with Morton Subotnick, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, and Ramon Sender. His most influential teacher, however, was Pandit Pran Nath (1918–1996), a master of Indian classical voice, who also taught La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela. Riley made numerous trips to India over the course of their association to study and to accompany him on tabla, tambura, and voice. Throughout the 1960s he traveled frequently around Europe as well, taking in musical influences and supporting himself by playing in piano bars, until he joined the Mills College faculty in 1971 to teach Indian classical music. Riley was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Music at Chapman University in 2007.
Riley also cites John Cage and "the really great chamber music groups of John Coltrane and Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Bill Evans, and Gil Evans" as influences on his work, demonstrating how he pulled together strands of Eastern music, the Western avant-garde, and jazz.
Riley began his long-lasting association with the Kronos Quartet when he met founder David Harrington while at Mills. Over the course of his career, Riley composed 13 string quartets for the ensemble, in addition to other works. He wrote his first orchestral piece, Jade Palace, in 1991, and has continued to pursue that avenue, with several commissioned orchestral compositions following. Riley is also currently performing and teaching both as an Indian raga vocalist and as a solo pianist. He is married to Anne Riley.
Riley continues to perform live and was part of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in May 2011.
He has three children, one daughter, Colleen, and two sons, Shahn and Gyan, who is a guitarist.
Riley's music is usually based on improvising through a series of modal figures of different lengths, such as in In C (1964) and the Keyboard Studies. The first performance of In C was given by Steve Reich, Jon Gibson, Pauline Oliveros, and Morton Subotnick. Its form was an innovation: The piece consists of 53 separate modules of roughly one measure apiece, each containing a different musical pattern but each, as the title implies, in the key of C. One performer beats a steady pulse of Cs on the piano to keep tempo. The others, in any number and on any instrument, perform these musical modules following a few loose guidelines, with the different musical modules interlocking in various ways as time goes on.
In the 1950s he was already working with tape loops, a technology then in its infancy, and he has continued manipulating tapes to musical effect, both in the studio and in live performance, throughout his career. An early tape loop piece titled The Gift (1963) featured the trumpet playing of Chet Baker. Riley has composed using just intonation as well as microtones.
Riley's collaborators have included the Rova Saxophone Quartet, Pauline Oliveros, the ARTE Quartett, and, as mentioned, the Kronos Quartet.
Riley's famous overdubbed electronic album A Rainbow in Curved Air (recorded 1968, released 1969) inspired many later developments in electronic music, including Pete Townshend's organ parts on The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Baba O'Riley", the latter named in tribute to Riley as well as to Meher Baba.
Riley's 1995 Lisbon Concert recording features him in a solo piano format, improvising on his own works. In the liner notes Riley cites Art Tatum, Bud Powell, and Bill Evans as his piano "heroes", illustrating the importance of jazz to his conceptions.
1963: Music for The Gift
1964: In C
1965: Reed Streams
1969: A Rainbow in Curved Air, CBS 64564
1971: Church of Anthrax, with John Cale
1972: Happy Ending, Warner Bros. Records
1972: Persian Surgery Dervishes, Shanti 83502
1974: Le Secret de la Vie, Philips
1975: Descending Moonshine Dervishes, Kuckucku Records
1978: Shri Camel, CBS Masterworks M3519, for solo electronic organ tuned in just intonation and modified by digital delay
1984: Terry Riley: Cadenza on the Night Plain, a collaboration with the Kronos Quartet
1985: No Man's Land
1986: The Harp of New Albion, for piano tuned in just intonation
1987: Chanting the Light of Foresight, with Rova Saxophone Quartet in just intonation
1989: Salome Dances for Peace for the Kronos Quartet
1998: Piano Music of John Adams and Terry Riley, performed by Gloria Cheng
2002: Sun Rings for the Kronos Quartet
2004: The Cusp of Magic, with the Kronos Quartet, composed for his seventieth birthday, an ode to the rite of Midsummer Eve
2007: Les Yeux Fermes & Lifespan, for solo electric organ; two soundtracks
2008: Banana Humberto, piano concerto with Paul Dresher Ensemble
2008: The Last Camel in Paris, live solo electric organ performance in Paris, 1978
2010: Two Early Works, the first-ever recordings of two of Riley's early compositions, performed by the Calder Quartet
1970 - Corridor. Film by Standish Lawder.
1976 - Crossroads. Film by Bruce Conner.
1976 - Lifespan. Film by Sandy Whitelaw. Soundtrack released as Le secret de la vie in France, on Philips LP 9120 037 (1975).
1976 - Music With Roots in the Aether: Opera for Television. Tape 6: Terry Riley. Produced and directed by Robert Ashley. New York, New York: Lovely Music.
1986 - In Between the Notes...a Portrait of Pandit Pran Nath, Master Indian Musician. Produced by Other Minds, directed by William Farley.
1995 - Musical Outsiders: An American Legacy - Harry Partch, Lou Harrison, and Terry Riley. Directed by Michael Blackwood.
2008 - "A Rainbow In Curved Air" features in the in-game soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto IV. It can be found when listening to the fictional radio station, "The Journey".