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TERRY RILEY

Prog Related • United States


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Terry Riley biography
Terry Riley was born on June 6 1935 in Colfax California. He attended various California universities and finally earned a masters in composition from UC Berkeley. One of the earliest electronic composers, Riley was one of the initial participants in the renowned San Francisco Tape Music Center. He also studied classical Indian music under Pandit Pran Nath and became professor of Indian music studies at Mills College in 1971. During the 1960s, Riley performed all-night solo concerts by playing a harmonium and saxophone through tape loop echo devices. When he needed a break he would play back the tape loops by themselves. His composition 'In C', composed in 1964, is often given credit for pioneering the musical style that became known as minimalism.

Although Riley started his musical career in the company of fellow future minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and Pauline Oliveras, over the years his musical career often veered towards a more rock or jazz like setting in which he was more an improvising performer than composer. His 1969 electronic composition, 'A Rainbow in Curved Air', had a massive effect on the then still developing world of progressive psychedelic and avant-garde rock music. While most early electronic music centered around bizarre sound constructions and totally serialized twelve tone music, Riley's Raibow on the other hand was beautifully tonal in Indian influenced mixolydian keys and featured a rock like pulsing rhythm that caught on with the young avant-psychedelic crowd that was also digging Soft Machine, Pink Floyd, Amon Duul and Can. Soon the sound of pulsing electronic synthesizers and organs became a standard part of many young adventurous performers culminating in the German experimental collective known as Tangerine Dream.

While performing as an improvising soloist, Terry struck a chord with many young rock performers including the Velvet Underground's John Cale. You can hear Riley's influence on Velvet Underground cuts such as 'Sister Ray' where Cale's pulsing organ sounds mix Riley's Rainbow style with the sound of cheap 60s porno soundtracks. Cale and Riley would later record together creating a rock/Indian/fusion masterpiece called 'Church of Anthrax'. All through the late 60s and early 70s Riley's influence is present in progressive rock: from Soft Machine's obvious tributes on their IIIrd album, to The Who's 'Who's Next' album with its arpeggiated Arp figures and a song called 'Baba O' Reilly' that is a ...
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In CIn C
Columbia
Vinyl$28.00
$9.99 (used)
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Shri Camel by Terry Riley (Composer), Terry Riley (CD, Mar-1988, Columbia (USA)) US $11.55 Buy It Now 17h 41m
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TERRY RILEY A RAINBOW IN CURVED AIR LP COLUMBIA STEREO MASTERWORKS US $9.99 [0 bids]
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John Cale & Terry Riley - Church Of Anthrax ~ Rare 1st Press - 1971 Columbia US $1.80 [5 bids]
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Terry Riley: In C (CD, Mar-2009, Sony Music Distribution (USA)) US $6.83 Buy It Now 3 days
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Terry Riley: The Cusp of Magic. Kronos Quartet & Wu Man, Nonesuch CD w/ slipcase US $5.99 [0 bids]
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TERRY RILEY In C LP NEW VINYL Columbia reissue US $31.99 Buy It Now 4 days
GLORIA CHENG-COCHRAN TERRY RILEY & JOHN ADAMS SIGNED NOTE TO ESA PEKKA SALONEN US $12.95 Buy It Now 4 days
In C (Terry Riley) * by Styrenes (CD, Feb-2003, Enja (USA)) US $9.19 Buy It Now 4 days
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THE HARP OF NEW ALBION (2CD) - TERRY RILEY US $25.00 Buy It Now 6 days
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Shri Camel by Terry Riley (Composer), Terry Riley (CD, Mar-1988, Columbia (USA)) US $4.10 Buy It Now 6 days
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TERRY RILEY shows & tickets


  • In C on 11 Oct 2014
  • Terry Riley at Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam on 8 Apr 2015

TERRY RILEY discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

TERRY RILEY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 4 ratings
Reed Streams
1965
3.94 | 20 ratings
In C
1968
4.29 | 35 ratings
A Rainbow In Curved Air
1969
4.73 | 6 ratings
Happy Ending
1972
4.67 | 9 ratings
Persian Surgery Dervishes
1972
4.25 | 4 ratings
Le Secret De La Vie
1975
4.02 | 7 ratings
Shri Camel
1980
4.50 | 4 ratings
No Man's Land
1984
3.75 | 4 ratings
The Harp Of New Albion
1986
5.00 | 1 ratings
In C (with Shanghai Film Orchestra)
1989
4.09 | 3 ratings
Kronos Quartet Plays Terry Riley - Salome Dances For Peace
1989
5.00 | 2 ratings
Intuitive Leaps
1994
5.00 | 1 ratings
Chanting The Light Of Foresight - Imbas Forasna ( with Rova)
1994
5.00 | 1 ratings
In C / Djembé (with Eddy De Fanti)
1995
4.50 | 2 ratings
Olson III
1999
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Book Of Abbeyozzud
1999
4.67 | 3 ratings
Music For The Gift
2000
4.00 | 2 ratings
You're Nogood
2000
4.09 | 4 ratings
Terry Riley and the Kronos Quartet - Requiem For Adam
2001
5.00 | 3 ratings
Atlantis Nath
2002
5.00 | 1 ratings
In C
2002
5.00 | 1 ratings
Keyboard Studies
2002
5.00 | 1 ratings
I Like Your Eyes Liberty (with Michael McClure)
2004
4.75 | 4 ratings
Les Yeux Fermés & Lifespan
2007
5.00 | 1 ratings
Autodreamographical Tales
2010
4.50 | 2 ratings
Aleph
2012

TERRY RILEY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.28 | 6 ratings
Descending Moonshine Dervishes
1982
4.67 | 3 ratings
Songs For The Ten Voices Of The Two Prophets
1983
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Padova Concert
1992
4.50 | 2 ratings
In C - 25th Anniversary Concert
1995
5.00 | 3 ratings
Poppy Nogood And The Phantom Band All Night Flight Vol.1
1996
4.00 | 2 ratings
Lisbon Concert
1996
5.00 | 1 ratings
Olson III
1999
5.00 | 1 ratings
In C
2000
4.09 | 2 ratings
In C (with Bang On A Can)
2001
4.00 | 1 ratings
In C / In DO(M) / In Moscow
2001
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Last Camel in Paris
2008

TERRY RILEY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

TERRY RILEY Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.50 | 2 ratings
Descending Moonshine Dervishes / Songs For The Ten Voices Of The Two Prophets
1992

TERRY RILEY Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

TERRY RILEY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 In C by RILEY, TERRY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.94 | 20 ratings

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In C
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy

4 stars Although TERRY RILEY actually composed his famous IN C way back in 1964, it didn't find a release as a recording until four years later. RILEY is famous for his minimalist approach to Western classical music with a healthy helping of jazz and Indian classical music as influences. Apparently the 60s was a time when composers were obsessed with finding ways to break down the barriers and limitations of the status quo by throwing all the accepted norms out the window and freeing themselves of set chord changes, scales and anything else that was thought to be "normal" for composers to accept.

IN C is interesting in that when played live it has no set duration. It can last a few minutes to several hours and every performance is improvised and therefore completely different. This one album is but a particular snapshot serving as a mere example of what you might hear if you happen to witness a live rendition. The whole thing is quite technical to explain and all the terminology including the term heterophonic which refers to different rhythmic displacements can easily be found on the internet.

Basically the whole thing begins on a C major chord with different patterns that recur by adding and subtracting different instruments. I would say it's kinda like you were walking down a very long hallway with rooms on each side and in each room there is a different instrument playing a subtly different part off of the C major chord. As you continue to walk you would hear the instruments you've already passed fade away while the ones you approach getting more prominent. Of course while all this is occurring some instruments begin and stop randomly.

It is all strange and unpredictable as to which rhythms and timbres will occur yet totally predictable as to which notes will continue during the 45 minutes of length, at least on my CD. Of course RILEY would go on to redefine music in other ways but on this album he shows that you can be academic in your approach and still make something pleasurable to listen to. Of course, this is one of those occasional listens since it is so strange as to be almost alien. I can hear how artists like Philip Glass and others were influenced by some of RILEY's approach. It seems the Acid Mother's Temple has done a version of this as well as many others.

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 Happy Ending by RILEY, TERRY album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.73 | 6 ratings

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Happy Ending
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by admireArt

5 stars Masterful!

1972, what a year for Prog! But not all the "masterpieces", got the same attention. Quiet undeservingly, considering Terry Riley's music, influenced most of those guys. Riley's unpretentioness, didn't help much neither. Too much of an Artist, to run the "rat-race", he simply refused to use the marketing strategies, you needed to become "notable" (one of the many reasons, for the rise of the Rock in Opposition movement).

The best and easiest way, to explain this "Happy Ending", instrumental project, to newer Prog and Rock audiophiles, will be in terms of association.

So, ...imagine there is no religion. Just kidding!.. Imagine the synth-sequenced introduction to The Who's, "Baba O' Riley" (which holds on to the story, that it actually was a "tribute" or "cover" of Terry's musical language, although, I have read different versions, by Townshend, himself, so who knows?), anyway, imagine that "intro", as a whole musical composition, played with a hammond organ, alongside analog synths. That will turn out to be "Journey From the Death Of a Friend", the side "A", of this masterpiece album. This composition, will be a delight specially, for those who appreciate the Prog-Electronic sub genre. The side "B" composition, "Happy Ending", will please the experimental, Avant/Garde, RiO followers, who appreciate the Jazz influence, without the Jazz. Played with the hammond, a synth alongside a tenor sax, it provides a refreshing and beautiful counterpart, to the more "minimalistic" and faster, previous side.

Anyone who appreciates, or wants to learn a bit more, of the real, anonymous and powerful influence, Terry Riley's music has been , not only to Prog, but contemporary music, should just let the "Master" do the talking.

What else, *****5, rounded "BIG", PA stars!.........If you miss it, you were forewarned!

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 In C (with Bang On A Can) by RILEY, TERRY album cover Live, 2001
4.09 | 2 ratings

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In C (with Bang On A Can)
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by admireArt

4 stars Terry Riley masterpiece in the hands of the hyper-active and creative "Bang on a Can" ensemble, in the, at least, twelfth version of this multi-experimental composition. The feeling as opposed to the original release, is more "world music" oriented, I mean, of course not the common association with the style, but that of the inherent musical "canon' non-western instruments possess. The use of a koto, ties you down to its tuning for example. So as expected fom this ensemble, no matter what or who they play, it is almost impossible to mistake them for someone else. That is almost miraculous, considering they have covered an extended line of works, of most of the contemporary composers, "classical" and not. (They have their own version of Brian Eno's "Music for Airports", also highly recommendable).

A masterpiece in the hands of "Bang on a Can", rarely loses, but the opposite, normally grows out, even from the original limits, and as if magic,developes branches that were even overlooked by the composer himself.

The 2nd best way to be introduced to this "ground breaking", ahead of its time, really not a Prog (although adopted in this sub-genre), more a classical music "Masterwork". The first best version is still for me the original, but this one comes as close as you can get, with added drops of inspiration. ****4.5 PA stars.

Climb the ladder!

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 In C by RILEY, TERRY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.94 | 20 ratings

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In C
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars Terry Riley's In C is a modernistic piece of art from the mid 20th century. This is very progressive music and inspired a lot of musicians afterwards. I have to capitulate for it. Well it's rather monotonic and hard listened music but it's easy to hear how intelligent it is. Even if it sounds monotonic it changes a lot from the first minute to the fourty-second. The record features a bunch of great musicians. Terry Riley himself plays saxophone. What carries this music is the woodwind and brass instruments and a marimba that lies in the background the all the time. This is sounds from a modern time and sounds from the city. I got some flashbacks from the Medieval period in some moments. This tells us how music can be, totally wrong but also right. It's honest and almost religious in it's approach. I wouldn't consider this as my kind of music but I have to admit this is quality. It could also be a record that I will appreciate more in the future.

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 A Rainbow In Curved Air by RILEY, TERRY album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.29 | 35 ratings

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A Rainbow In Curved Air
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by Dayvenkirq

4 stars OK, so you don't get to hear any guitars or drums. However, you get to hear some truly revolutionary music here.

In his book 'The Ambient Century' an Irish writer Mark J. Prendergast claims the album to be closely related to ambient or just being ambient. Well, the first track isn't really ambient from my perspective. The second track possesses this huge emphasis on tone, but it's too dynamic and intense to be regarded as purely ambient. Also, some time ago I've read in Wikipedia that these two compositions feature just intonation. I don't trust Wikipedia, so if you are seeking music that prominently features this kind of intonation, beware. Now, let's closely examine the character of the music on the record.

The title track is more than just a dense interplay of organ and synth parts; it's a vehicle for entertainment. Most of the parts on the track are so fast that they sound funny, like some kind of a joke on Christmas music, so don't even bother memorizing any of the melodies on it. These melodies could be visually associated with liquid jets, if it helps as an appreciation tip. However, it is groovy, so you might as well bob your head to it. Yes, it's lengthy, and the track is for people who can stand numerous repetitions of the same groove.

The second track is my favorite. I was really enthralled with the music when I heard it on the BBC documentary 'Prog Rock Britannia'. Now that I found out who was the guilty one of this music and what album it came from, I can enjoy 'Poppy Nogood and his Phantom Band' in its entirety, and it's really worth it; take my word for it. In a few different and very bizarre ways the music is quite emotional and entertaining at the same time. To my certain knowledge not a lot of musicians managed to pull off something like this. It's amazing what you can do with those echo machines. Very impressive for 1967. First, there is this track; then there is Pink Floyd's "Meddle". Unbelievable.

Ratings/comments (if you have to ask):

1. 'A Rainbow in Curved Air' - *** ; 2. 'Poppy Nogood and his Phantom Band' - *****

Stamp: 'I like it.'

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 Terry Riley and the Kronos Quartet - Requiem For Adam by RILEY, TERRY album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.09 | 4 ratings

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Terry Riley and the Kronos Quartet - Requiem For Adam
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars Adam Harrington, son of the violinist David Harrington, was sixteen when he suddenly died for a blood clot. This is a requiem written by Terry Riley in his memory and performed by the Kronos Quartet, a strings ensemble of which David Harrington is a member.

There's much of classic contemporary in this composition, in the darkest passages it reminds to authors like the Estonian Arvo Part, but in the same time it keeps the minimalistic approach of Terry Riley. 40 years are passed since "In C", but the trademark of the American genius is still evident.

The Requiem is divided in three parts, then the fourth track is a piano solo and the only track performed by Terry Riley.

The first movement is based on a sequence of four notes continuously ascending. This music is full of melancholy, at 2:30 minutes there's a pizzicato that gives the impression of somebody climbing a stair. The tempo increases as well as the dissonances that are the ony thing that identifies the epoch of the composition. Without dissonances this string quartet could seem baroque. After the pizzicato the music gets its identity. Of course there's not a melody. It works as a succession of moments/motifs, which raise to compulsive or quiet down to contemplative. Close your eyes and watch Adam following his path.

The second movement, "Cortejo Funebre en el monte Diablo" translated means "Funeral Procession to the Devil's Mountain", that's the place where Adam died. This movement starts with chaotic percussions. It has to be dark, but the brasses make it grotesque. Terry Riley clarified that he was inspired by Jazz funeral marches in the New Orleans stile. If the purpose was giving the idea of a procession he has met his target. A weird procession of grotesque figures, like in some medieval representations of Death.

The third movement is the proper Requiem. The two pizzicato notes represent the sillabes of Adamd's name....imagine the violin crying A-dam, A-dam.... The glissato of the other strings works as a lament. A very dark composition on which the violin cries all its pain (don't forget that the violinist is the dead boy's father). The fiddlestick is like a saw which saws out the pain. To be honest I don't know how much this album can fit into PA, as it's mainly contemporary classic, but it's so intense and emotional that I think any progger can enjoy it if it's approached in the right moment.

"The Philosopher Hand" is a very sad piano composition written and performed by Terry Riley. The story is that at the time of Adam's death Riley was working on a tribute to the Indian philosopher Pandit Pran Nath. This man attended to the Funeral and took David Harrington's head. He later said that it was the softer hand he had ever held. This episode is what inspired this slow, sad and intense piano piece.

A masterpiece of calssic contemporary, not of prog rock, but it can be an excellent addition. 5 stars if this was a classical music site. Here just 4.

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 A Rainbow In Curved Air by RILEY, TERRY album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.29 | 35 ratings

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A Rainbow In Curved Air
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Without question this is one of the earliest Electronic albums and I would also include Holger Czukay's "Canaxis" album from the same year (1969) in this category. We get two side long suites from this innovative American. "A Rainbow In Curved Air" opens with organ as these hyper sounding synth-like expressions come in around a minute.They sound like they swallowed helium.They stop after 6 1/2 minutes as the organ continues. It sounds like percussion before 9 1/2 minutes then we get a more powerful sound before 11 minutes.It settles back a minute later as percussion and organ lead.The hyper synth-like sounds are back to end it. "Poppy Nogood And The Phantom Band" opens with atmosphere that builds until we get wave after wave overwelming us. A deep hum comes in before 5 1/2 minutes and takes over. Other sounds join in. A powerful atmosphere arrives 10 1/2 minutes then we get these horn expressions that take over and stay until 21 minutes in as atmosphere ends it. This is certainly a must for Electronic collectors out there or anyone who is a big fan of that genre.

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 A Rainbow In Curved Air by RILEY, TERRY album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.29 | 35 ratings

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A Rainbow In Curved Air
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Providing sounds 20 years ahead of its time - literally, there's points where you'd swear those were crisp 80s-era digital synths playing - A Rainbow In Curved Air is, of course, an inspirational model for the electronic scene, laying the groundwork for every synthesiser wizard with a perchant for side-long tracks afterwards. What's particularly notable about the title track is how busy it is - this is not a classic era Klaus Schulze composition with glacier-like slabs of electronics moving at a sedate and relaxing pace, there's a lot going on at any particular time. At points it reminds me of Mike Oldfield - check out the organ that kicks in at just over six and a half minutes in and you'll see what I mean. The second track, Pappy Nogood and the Phantom Band, is a free jazz composition reminiscent of some of Robert Wyatt's early solo work that, again, manages to introduce sufficient variation that it never becomes boring. Proof that not only was Terry Riley one of the first to play electronic music, he was also one of the first to play it well.

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 A Rainbow In Curved Air by RILEY, TERRY album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.29 | 35 ratings

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A Rainbow In Curved Air
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

5 stars It's hard finding the right words to speak of the genius of Terry Riley. This third album which follows the great "In C", is even better that its predecessor. Instead of minimalistic contemporary classic music we have a purely electronic performance. As In C, this "Rainbow in Curved Air", from which the omonimous Canterbury's band took its name, is based on major chords. There are no percussions of any kind, but this composition has a rhythm and a tempo. The difference with In C is that there are less repetitions. The organ interlude after 6 minutes leads to changes that are not only variations. There's a "relativistic" version of the cover sleeve that's pink with a rainbow split in two parts over a pink sky made of graph paper. It gives the idea of what a "curved air" can be.

The B side hosts "Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band". It starts with an organ crescendo. This track is more similar in the structure to the famous "In C" as it's Hortophonic. Overdubbed sax, loops, it's a synthesis of what we now call electronic music. The absence of rhythm gives a sense of "liquidity" to the organ background that after 6 minutes is left alone. Over it there are sounds that make it similar to a mantra. The "Tibet Suite" of Lucia Hwong has many contact points with this suite, but even if this part can sound tibetan, Terry Riley is closer to the jazz atmospheres than to the himalayan heights, so when brass-like sounds come over the organ it sounds jazzy. Think to a more artsy relative like Blade Runner Blues. Then for some time we have just an organ chord until the jazzy or tibetan part restarts. More chaotic and electronic this time. The essence of the composition doesn't change, but it has different "colours". It's after about 13 minutes from the start that we can clearly hear the sax. The basic chord is now minor, and even if from a perspective it adds a bit of dramaticity, from another it's quite sad music and can be a little boring, but just try to imagine Miles Davis playing his trumpet on this base. The theme doesn't change much until the end, there are true or electronic instruments coming and going until the organ is left alone, and the song is over.

Is it an essential masterpiece? I think so, specially if you like Krautrock or Progressive Electronic. This album and its predecessor are where it all started.

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 In C by RILEY, TERRY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.94 | 20 ratings

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In C
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

5 stars This is where a lot of things in modern music began. When Terry Riley composed in C I was just two years old, so I have to admit that I have discovered it recently.

It's an unusual composition in classical sense. I have seen a print of the musical score: it's just a chord of C major. Eight notes repeated for a discretional amount of time by a discretional amount of instruments of a discretional type, starting each one from discretional moments. Of course the length of the notes is discretional.

The discretion is decided by the director.

Little variations over repetitions (Heterophony). Isn't this the same kind of "structure" that we can find in German psychedelics like Tangerine Dream, Edgar Froese and so on?

The fact of it being made of a major chord, makes it light. I'm reviewing the execution recorded in 1968, but with a score like this you can imaine how many very different versions of it can be found. Wikipedia mentions 24 official releases and one of them is the one made by Acid Mothers Temple (They did also "in D" and "in E" on the same album). Sooner or later I'll review that version, too.

It has been defined as "minimalistic" music. I don't know how to define it but I think it's where a lot of today's art music is from.

Is it progressive? I don't know, but it's a masterpiece.

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