Just Intonation and Indian Aesthetic in Terry Riley’s The Harp of New Albion

Kevin Holm-Hudson

Among major American minimalist composers, Terry Riley stands as a unique figure. Unlike his contemporaries with whom he is often associated - Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and perhaps John Adams - Riley’s work is notable for its improvisational element and also - since the late 1970s - for its employment of just intonation rather than equal temperament. Ironically, it is these unique aspects of Riley's music that have caused it to have been less studied; the music of his minimalist contemporaries Glass, Reich, and Adams has received more analytical attention. In addition, while Riley's extensive study of North Indian raga with the late Kirana singer Pandit Pran Nath has been frequently mentioned in the literature, [1] the specific influence of Indian classical music on Riley’s compositional process and improvisational technique has not been addressed.

At the core of Riley’s music is the keyboard. The high -C pulse that holds together the composition for which he is best known, In C (1964), is played on a piano. In the late 1960s such extended cumulative tape-loop/delay works as A Rainbow in Curved Air and Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band made extensive use of electronic organs (supplemented, in the case of Poppy Nogood, with soprano saxophone). Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Riley extensively performed works for multiple layers of electronic organs, such as Persian Surgery Dervishes (1971-72), performed solo through cumulative tape loops and delays. By the release of 1980’s Shri Camel album, Riley was using keyboards modified to play in just intonation, a result of his longtime friendship with La Monte Young and his studies with Pandit Pran Nath.

Then Riley returned to the piano. As he related in an interview, “Around 1980 I bought an old upright and started to play and develop music on piano again. Of course, I’d been aware of La Monte [Young]’s Well-Tuned Piano since ’64, but I’d also been playing both Indian music and electronic keyboards in just intonation. So I decided to tune the piano that way rather than in equal temperament.” [2] Because of the way that the overtones of piano strings resonate sympathetically with other strings, working in

just intonation turned out to be a powerful expressive tool for Riley: “I was able to give the music a different shape. The piano has a much greater scope of expressive possibilities than electronic instruments.”[3]

Riley’s piano cycle The Harp of New Albion (1984) is therefore significant in the Riley canon; it not only remains his largest solo-piano work, but it “gives us an unusual insight into his improvisational process.”[4] In this paper I will first describe the tuning used in The Harp of New Albion as a whole. I will then discuss specific techniques used in The Harp of New Albion that draw upon practices of Indian classical music such as tala, gamak, and jhala. This will be accomplished by a close study of two different performances (recorded within a few weeks of each other) of "The Magic Knot Waltz," one of the movements of The Harp of New Albion. Finally, I will analyze the recorded evidence to show which motives appear as constants in performance (which ideas make up the “seed” of the composition) a nd how those motives are developed through improvisation.


The Harp of New Albion is tuned to a five-limit chromatic scale (Figure 1) with C# as its tuning center.[5] This pitch class was a tuning constant for Riley through much of his work from the mid-80s to mid-90s. In a 1986 interview for Keyboard magazine Riley explained:

For many years I played electronic organ and synthesizers. While I was playing the synthesizers, [6] I got together with Krishna Bhatt, who’s a sitar master living in Berkeley. Krishna played in C#, so I started redoing all my pieces in C#. During that period I also started playing more and more piano. At that time I wrote the one piece that was the beginning of all the pieces I’ve done lately, called The Medicine Wheel. It was the first time I did this just tuning in C#, and I’ve kept the piano in that tuning to do both The Harp of New Albion and Salome Dances for Peace. They’re all done [7] in the same tuning.

However, none of the eleven movements of The Harp of New Albion are in the key of C#, making it necessary to distinguish here between tuning center and tonal center. For each movement Riley chooses a tonal center in varying degrees of relationship to the C# tuning center, exploiting the intervallic differences that result from choosing different

on the other hand. The fact that just intonation does not transpose equally to any key was. is provided in Figure 4. Pitch Interval (ratio) Deviation (in cents from equal temperment) 0 +11.8 +2. of course.0 +13.0 +9.7 C# D D# E E# F# G G# A A# B B# 1:1 16:15 9:8 6:5 5:4 4:3 64:45 3:2 8:5 5:3 16:9 15:8 Figure 1: Tuning in The Harp of New Albion.6 +13. compared with equal temperament.7 -15. [8] A: A#: B: B#: D: Cadence of the Wind The New Albion Chorale The Orchestra of Tao Land's End Ascending Whale Dreams Circle of Wolves Riding the Westerleys Premonition Rag (8:5 from C#) (5:3 from C#) (16:9 from C#) (15:8 from C#) (16:15 from C#) DE F# G# AB C DE F AB (C) . with their commonly accepted names in just-intonation terminology. celebrates the differences in quality that result from transposition. Riley's music.9 +15.tonal centers and employing different modes based on those tonal centers (Figure 2).6 -3. historically one of the reasons for the adoption of equal temperament.9 -11.7 +3. Figure 3 diagrams Riley’s tuning system by pitch-class dyads reflecting their layout on the piano keyboard.7 -2.[9] A full list of these intervals arranged by size.

the reverse axiom is also true. the idea of yoga is union. A particularly striking example in The Harp of New Albion is the piece “Circle of Wolves. The B-sharp/G dyad (or C-G) . The aesthetic behind Riley’s use of just intonation.Return of the Ancestors The Magic Knot Waltz DE F# G# AB C(#) DEb F# G# A C Figure 2: Tonal Centers in The Harp of New Albion.the tonal center of “Circle of Wolves” .40/27 (D#-A# and E-B) and 1024/675 (B#-G). three “fifths” are identifiable as so-called “wolf fifths” . the analogy would be like looking at an image that is out of focus. music in just intonation is a kind of yogic practice: “You know. For Riley. just intonation has a lot to do with achieving the correct proportional balances of notes in order to create one. For example. heard in this tuning only between the pitch classes B# (C) and G.[13] It was the “out of tune” quality of these intervals that led to certain keys historically being considered unsuitable for modulation. union with God.) Of these “wolf fifths. or trying to make two things one. "from which the particular consonances and dissonances determine the emerging energies that flow through both instrument and performer. That can be interesting too. but each of the four pieces that share D as their tonal center employ a different scale (Figure 2). B-sharp . right? So. And tuning means atonement. the effect of music is heightened in a different way by being “out of tune” (by equal tempered standards). What happens when a note is correctly tuned is that it has a detail [12] and a landscape that is very vibrant. As a result.is the key “most distant” from the C-sharp tuning center. (Figures 3 and 4 show how strikingly different such intervals are from the “pure” just-intonation ratio of 3/2.”[11] He goes on to say in the same interview: the effect of music is heightened by being in tune.” As a result of Riley’s just intonation tuning. but when you bring it into focus you suddenly see details that you hadn’t seen before. Resonant vibration that is perfectly in tune has a very powerful effect."[10] is similar to the Indian concept of raga.” the most complex (therefore “out of tune”) ratio is 1024/675. not only does Riley choose different tonal centers from movement to movement. much in the fashion of a romantic-era multi-movement work. Of course. If it’s out of tune.

Riley appeared frequently in concert with the legendary singer as tamboura. and vocal accompanist until Pran Nath’s death in 1996. [14] It was not until 1970 that he began studying as a disciple of the North Indian kirana vocalist.makes up the tonic and “fifth” scale degree of the pitch collection that characterizes “Circle of Wolves”." reduction of pitch collection. . tabla. the other pitches in the collection are the two 40/27 fifths. The resulting sonority is as “out of tune” as possible within the tuning system. and making numerous trips to India to study with the Master. and Riley explores its unusual quality deliberately by making it the main sonority of his improvisation (Example 1). Riley and Indian Classical Music Riley recalls first hearing the music of Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan “sometime in the early sixties” but was not interested in studying it at that time. Click to view Figure 3: Chart of interval sizes in The Harp of New Albion Click to view Figure 4: Complete list of interval ratios in The Harp of New Albion (arranged smallest to largest). The title is a punning reference not only to the “wolf” quality of these fifths but to the classical “circle of fifths” that results from equal temperament. Example 1: "Circle of Wolves. with names of intervals where applicable. Pandit Pran Nath.

recorded in 1986 but not released until 1992 as part of The Padova Concert. 9/8. therefore. is not one of the traditional North Indian ragas. The combination of komal ni (D) with tivra ma (G#) does not occur in North Indian ragas (unless borrowed from the south). the work that is outside of raga.”[16] Nevertheless. because the combination is not acknowledged among the thats.In spite of this lengthy tutelage. certain techniques of raga have their counterparts in Riley’s improvisational practice. 9/8. The “live” performance. The Belgian minimalist composer Wim Mertens similarly observes. “one cannot find any real influence [of study with Pandit Pran Nath]. Swarup lists the intervals between the suddha (“pure”) swaras in Indian tuning as. [19] Also. Ga. His performances of “Magic Knot Waltz” are. 10/9.[18] Riley’s scale. in Indian terminology this would correspond to Sa. 10/9. I don’t feel like that’s doing a disservice to raga. however. Dha. For example. in ascending order: 9/8. G#. so Riley’s use of G# is consistent with tradition in that regard. in Western terms). and C. 10/9. fits quite well into a thirteen-beat tala. Ma is the only interval that is raised in North Indian theory. Each that has a definite set of seven scale degrees or swaras. since he [Riley] came to Indian music more by thinking through his own musical ideas. A. Eb. 16/15. 9/8. The European equivalents. for instance. 16/15. each raga in North Indian music belongs to one of ten parental scales called thats. is silent). But the other work. for example. 16/15.within a saptaka (octave). he claims. While Indian theorists usually acknowledge the existence of 22 srutis . the left-hand 3:2 ostinato also analogous . are 9/8. Riley is careful to distinguish his work from raga in the traditional sense of the word: The purest form of music that I’ve ever heard is raga. F#. 16/15. Individual ragas may omit a particular swara. consistent wi th raga practice in their virtual exclusion of all pitches foreign to the scale. but the same swara would not be found in two different forms (F and F#. I would try to sing it exactly as I’ve been taught to sing it.musical tones . 9/8. tivra (raised) Ma.[20] Another parallel with North Indian classical practice can be found in Riley’s application of tala. Pa. and komal Ni (the sixth swara.and hence for each raga. 10/9. The scale of “Magic Knot Waltz” is made up of six pitches: D. komal (“soft” or “flat”) Ri. the rhythmic cycles that are characteristic of a raga performance.[17] This corresponds to Riley’s C# major scale. that’s definitely a different category in [15] my mind. because it’s not raga. the srutis are nevertheless grouped into seven swaras for each that . I wouldn’t try to create anything different if I were singing a concert of raga.

he shifts to a repetitive right-hand pattern (a moment of improvisational “autopilot”) immediately after the left-hand correction." the labara as used in the Padova performance. this correction in the midst of an improvisational flourish is likely evidence of “ tala thinking” in Riley’s structural plan.to the repeating lahara in Indian performance (Example 2). as it were (the “wrong” note entry is the first note of the left -hand pattern in Example 3). In summary. A lahara is a short melodic ostinato that is usually used in accompanying a tabla. particularly in tabla solos. Despite Riley’s assurances that “all the takes here were recorded as I performed them with only a few minor cuts . perhaps in order to concentrate on the lahara and ensure that the change would bring about the desired realignment. in fact. on the “wrong” starting note of his lahara (C4 rather than D4) . ensuring that the cycle will again begin on D4. He corrects this “error” in mid-cycle by removing the Eb3 from his final ascent (toward the end of system 2 of Example 3) and instead moving directly to F#3. after a cadential flourish. The “studio” Celestial Harmonies perf ormance. is actually edited together from two live performances on January 3 and 4. It is often used as the equivalent of a metronome when a student is working on any fixed composition. This correction “in midstream” suggests that Riley was aware of the need to make a correction earlier in the cycle.an eighth note early. recorded at the Academy of Music in Munich. 20 January 1986. At one point in the Padova performance Riley comes back in.[21] Example 2: "Magic Knot Waltz. 1986 (made a week before the Padova recording).

. The construction of the piano. "error" in tala with Riley's compensation [2:50]. the cyclic aspect of the Munich “Magic Knot Waltz” is irregular ostinato lengths tend to fit into 12. These strings are never fretted but are struck whenever the tonic needs to be emphasized (i. The jhala is a fast paced alternation of main melody string and chikari.” [22] the impact that such edits make on the final product is nevertheless difficult to ascertain. possibly allowing for an “alternating” interpretation. Riley does pit the drones against an oscillating pair of dyads (see Example 4). of course. The Munich performance. Possibly because of their assembled nature. however.and all the breakthroughs and unplanned moments intact. Click to view Example 3: "Magic Knot Waltz. however. always emphasize A3 and C4 (Pa and komal Ni). contains a striking moment that is entirely absent from the more cyclical Padova recording: an alternation of a hoedownlike theme with a section that is strikingly similar to Indian jhala.e. This lends itself to [23] interesting permutations of both rag and tal simultaneously. Although there is not a literal “rapid alternation” of the drone notes with a melo dy. Sa and Pa). Indian stringed instruments are noted by [sic] a few special purpose drone strings called chikari. with cadenza-like interjections of varying lengths. does not allow for special drone strings. In the first two of the three jhala sections. As David Courtney defines jhala: Jhala is undoubtedly the most characteristic of the instrumental styles. Riley’s jhala passages.. these dyads have attack points between the attack points of the drone stream.or 13-beat cycles." Padova recording.

Example 4:“Magic Knot Waltz. is a technique of ornamentation called gamak. One example of this technique in Riley’s improvisational style is found in Example 5. Another aspect of Indian classical music. all the more striking in Riley’s case because it is found in Indian vocal (rather than instrumental) style. Riley’s improvised passages in “Magic Knot Waltz.” [24] and notes that the practice has “crossed over” from Indian classical music to popular genres such as film music.” a jhala section from the München recording [4:36 ff]. . Peter Manuel describes gamak as “a technique in which every note in a passage is approached from its lower neighbor. employ the same “lower neighbor” ascending-step contour cited by Manuel as essential to gamak.” especially the long rhapsodic lines that come at cadential points.

Example 5:“Magic Knot Waltz.) Riley’s involvement in improvisation goes back to childhood: . This emphasis on melodic development perhaps derives from his vocal study with Pandit Pran Nath. Riley clearly attributes this interest in melody to non-Western sources: Melodic complexity is inversely proportional to the amount of harmonic or polyphonic movement or density of parts. Like his minimalist counterpart Philip Glass. Riley downplays Western harmony in favor of developing other parameters. that Riley returned to fully notated composition. 3:43-3:53]. This isn’t theoretical. Both In C and the later works have a really strong developmental quality. Most of Riley’s keyboard music through the 1970s was improvised to particular raga-like scale patterns. the harmonic and polyphonic complexity. but we’re a little bit stuck at this point. So in the West we opted for the drama. which predate his formal study of Indian classical music. it cancels out the effects of the melody. chose to develop the rhythmic element. (It was not until his “G Song. But whereas Glass.[25] Riley’s music is more melodically focused.” example of gamak developing initial turn of the theme [from München recording. a lot of variation and [28] permutation of motives. That’s great. What you have in Eastern or Renaissance music or Gregorian Chant is very ornate melody. in his early work. however. it’s the way I hear.” composed in 1980 for the Kronos Quartet. but if anything starts to compete with that. This vocal orientation in Riley’s music (incorporating a technique such as gamak in an instrumental context.[26] Today. although it may also result from his saxophone improvisation technique on pieces such as Poppy NoGood and the Phantom Band (1969).[27] Motives in The Harp of New Albion More important to me than the Minimalist theme in my work is the interrelationship of motives. for example) explains the fundamentally melodic character of Riley’s music.

In fact. These versions of the theme share an E-flat/C turn around D6 at the outset and culminate with some variation on an ornamented D-C figure (these thematic statements are labeled on Example 6). as heard in the opening two minutes of the released Munich performance. I thought. I thought that was really neat. The gentle arc that closes the theme also undergoes development. He would make up copies of pieces like Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto. The Padova performance. Example 7 shows how this truncated fragment is varied in three different ways (labeled A. in which the theme or “head” is followed by solos over the chord structure before concluding with a return to the “head. but improvised passages are found side-by-side with composed ideas. recorded barely a week later.” one finds certain consistencies between the two performances that are perhaps “composed” in a loose fashion. is much more fluid in Riley’s music. so I tried to do [29] that kind of stuff. John Schaefer describes the piece as having a “spiral form. The E-flat/C turn that begins the theme also becomes the catalyst for the gamak-like cadential flourishes that occur numerous times in both recorded performances (see Example 5).One of my cousins played really well by ear. the cadential flourishes much more extensive in range. it takes a circuitous route.”[30] The goal of tightly structured improvisation is evident throughout The Harp of New Albion.” In co mparing the two recorded performances of the movement “Magic Knot Waltz. Much of the work is improvised. Example 6 depicts various transformations of the “Magic Knot Waltz” theme . Beyond these generalizations. he’d start out with the theme and then improvise on it.” however. was quite a stunning one: to be able to develop improvisation to the degree that it sounded like it was all composed. The jhala sections described earlier are absent. more embroidered. but it’s very irregular. Riley was first attracted to Indian classical music through its improvisational aspects: “I’d always been interested in improvised music.”[32] Examples 6 and 7 illustrate what is meant by “spiral form. so I would listen to him and try to play what he played. too. with very little direct repetition from one thematic statement to another. B. A performance of a movement from The Harp of New Albion can perhaps be compared to a jazz improvisation.”[31] As Riley explains it. That idea. too. particularly in the low .” The interchange between “composed” and “improvised. It cycles back to a certain note. and here was an improvised music that had such precision that it was a classical music. however. is noticeably different in its treatment of thematic materials. there is considerable variation. You know. “Something spins off a little motif¼and gets larger and more arpeggiated. and C).

the last three notes of the first system. for example. München recording [0:42 1:33]. the three notes immediately preceding statement B. When fragments of the theme do appear. nearly halfway through the performance. after nearly a minute. and the last three notes of the example). they appear with interjections of the earlier shifting dyads. In fact. Click to view Example 6: “Magic Knot Waltz. and the revelation of the theme much more tentative. the first hints of the theme in the Padova performance are oblique references to the D-C-C or D-C-A motive with an upper pedal tone that closes the concluding arc of the theme. The theme is not completely stated until [2:12]. Example 7 provides instances of this three-note or three-chord figure in the München performance (see.register (as low as A1). .” first four thematic appearances. the last three notes immediately preceding statement C. Riley’s Padova performance introduces this figure as slowly shifting dyads over the ostinato (see Example 8).

gradual revelation of thematic material [0:24-1:08]. crystallizing the keyboard-oriented improvisations of the previous fifteen years while pointing toward his more formally notated works for acoustic ensembles. that makes it faithful to his philosophical and aesthetic aims. combined with its unmediated performance. is an insight into music [that] we need¼.” Riley’s response was “Yes. this piece differs from some of Riley’s later recordings . That recognition.. The importance Riley places on “being in tune. more liquid context. and C.such as Chanting the Light of Foresight. When asked by an interviewer whether “being in tune really does have a profound meaning. Being in tune. putting total being and concentration in each note.” for instance. allows the listener to focus more on the musical line. that’s Pandit Pran Nath’s main philosophy.Example 7: “Magic Knot Waltz..in that we hear Riley as his own interpreter. Riley’s compositions prior to the release of The Harp of New Albion tended to involve electronic keyboards. in which “tape loops and studio processing often melted Riley’s organ and synthesizer lines into a larger. and on ideas as they emerge. Click to view Example 8: “Magic Knot Waltz. It’s called surma.]. therefore.”[34] One can find throughout The Harp of New Albion eloquent evidence of these aesthetic concerns. rather than to be seduced by textures and ambience. manifests itself in the careful intricacies of Riley’s tuning system. B. It is this piece’s clarity of texture. that appreciation of the subtle frequencies.” Padova recording. In addition. Conclusion The Harp of New Albion as a whole is an important transitional piece among Riley’s compositions.” [33] The acoustic medium. being in tune. in which the arrangement of semitone sizes is virtually symmetrical with the exception of F-sharp/G and G/G-sharp (see Figure 3). living through each moment in music as a divine link in the ecstatic experience: These things are important to me now. written for the ROVA Saxophone Quartet . The ramifications of just intonation. in which tuning is not .” three different thematic truncations [labeled A. München recording [2:07-2:23].

While listening to the “Riding the Westerleys” movement. This allows for a listening experience that shifts from foreground to background and back again. and Riley’s extensive development of such limited materials (also discussed earlier in reference to “Circle of Wolves”). one can certainly hear evidence of Riley’s exhaustive concentration on the smallest of materials in some movements of The Harp of New Albion. therefore. One is struck not only by Riley’s considerable dexterity but by the fecundity of his ideas. lead to a listening mode that is conducive to appreciating such nuances. one must go to the recorded artifact. The effect of this change is dramatic. but careful study of the recorded performances of his . offers an excellent realization of these aims. allowing for pitch-class permutation. “Riley examines only a small amount of material intensively. more than two whole-tone scales are possible. Nevertheless. but in “Ascending Whale Dreams” Riley limits himself to two. In just intonation. remains largely unexplored by music analysts.” among other movements. in a way that could not be possible using equal tempezrament.homogenized by temperament but instead results in differing shades of consonance or dissonance. This self-imposed limitation. actually features three different types of “whole step” . Riley’s emphasis on the “moment” in performance means that to fully grasp his art in an analytical fashion. such as Persian Surgery Dervishes (1972) or the Keyboard Studies (1964). when he abruptly shifts to the other whole-tone collection at [3:54]. This means that Riley’s music may indeed have more in common with John Coltrane or Ravi Shankar than it does with that of composers such as Philip Glass or Steve Reich. for example. and only when the material is exhausted does he add something new to it. “Magic Knot Waltz” is a particularly fine example for study since one can compare the two recorded versions.”[35] Although Mertens was chiefly referring to earlier keyboard works. For example.” According to Wim Mertens. the listener becomes aware of how Riley’s subtle pedal technique and choice of notes that reinforce the overtones of the D tonal center create a subtly shifting wash of sympathetic resonance. Riley employs a whole -tone scale over a B-sharp tonal center (which.see Figure 3). “Living through each moment in music as a divine link in the ecstatic experience” not only refers to Riley’s improvisational style but also his raga-inspired aesthetics. in the “Ascending Whale Dreams” movement. Much of Riley’s music. This scale dictates the pitch material until nearly halfway into Riley’s eight-and-a-half minute recorded performance. in just intonation. “The Magic Knot Waltz. It is also for this reason that Riley’s music has not enjoyed the same scholarly attention that the music of Reich or Glass has. is what Riley means by “putting total being and concentration in each note.

htm Capwell.d. 2000.” Downloaded from the World Wide Web on November 29. 1995. David.” Downloaded from the World Wide Web on January 19. “New Approaches to Tabla Instruction. Personal e-mail communication. and Five Generations of American Experimental Composers. “Jhala. ______________.mbay. William. Talking Music: Conversations with John Cage. Courtney. 2000 at http://www. 12 December 2000. 1992. References Canright. “On Piano Retuning. 1985. New York: Schirmer Books.music may well lead to a new aural-based theory. Philip Glass. in which Western analytical technique is linked with centuries-old traditions. 2001 at http://chandrakantha. Duckworth. David. Charles. n.com/articles/indian_music/jhala.html. .” Percussive Notes 30. Laurie Anderson. 4: 27-29.net/~anne/david/piano/index.

Partch. Nikhil. 1987. Patricia and Joseph. Manuel. 1998. 1986. Music by Philip Glass. Harry. 7: 52-65. Trans. New York: Oxford University Press. 1968. Ghosh.html. Fundamentals of Raga and Tala with a New System of Notation. “On Just Intonation and the Spiritual Source of Music: Terry Riley. 1988. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. New York: Da Capo Press. Kyle. 1983. 1974. Wim. The Harp of New Albion. 2001 at http://home. Glass. New York: Harper and Row. liner notes. Mertens. Riley. Genesis of a Music. “Anatomy of an Octave. Terry.Gann. Peter.net/~kgann/Octave. Mancini.” Keyboard 12. Hautekiet. 2nd ed. 1986. Celestial Harmonies CD CEL 018/19.” Downloaded from the World Wide Web on June 8. American Minimal Music.earthlink. Popular Musics of the Non-Western World. Jones. Edited by Robert T. J. . Philip. London: Kahn & Averill.

Mancini. [5] . “On Piano Retuning. Edward. New York: Harper and Row. 121. 109-119.Schaefer. American Composers: Dialogues on Contemporary Music (Bloomington. John. Rai Bahadur Bishan. A thorough discussion of the fivelimit can be found in Harry Partch.” downloaded from the World Wide Web on November 29. 1991.1991). “On Just Intonation and the Spiritual Source of Music: Terry Riley. 1933. [2] [1] Strickland. Genesis of a Music (New York: Da Capo Press. 7 (July 1986): 52-65. 1974).mbay. IN: Indiana University Press. American Composers: Dialogues on Contemporary Music. Theory of Indian Music. New Sounds: A Listener’s Guide to New Music. Hautekiet (London: Kahn & Averill 1983). Bloomington. 65. J.see David Canright. Patricia and Joseph Mancini. American Minimal Music. 122.net/~anne/david/piano/index. trans. Strickland. India: Swarup Brothers.” Keyboard 12. 35-45. See Edward Strickland. A five-limit tuning allows for pure pure major and minor thirds (5:4 and 6:5) . Swarup. Ibid. 2000 at http://www. 1987. and Wim Mertens.. IN: Indiana University Press. [3] [4] The term “five-limit” as applied to tuning means that all ratios of the chromatic scale are derived from the first five harmonics of the harmonic series. Agra.htm. Maithan.

I have chosen to use enharmonic equivalents that more accurately reflect the scale based on the tonal center for “Magic Knot Waltz.g. 1985. the sizes of particular interval classes (e. The Harp of New Albion. however. liner notes (Celestial Harmonies CD CEL 018/19 1986). "On Piano Retuning. (This makes his approach different from that of composers such as Harry Partch.a string quartet. Deviation from equal temperament: David Canright. Celestial Harmonies compact disc CEL 018/19. For example. Because Riley assumes octave equivalence in his tuning structure. it does not follow that pitch classes considered to be enharmonically equivalent in equal temperament must differ in just intonation. Sources: Pitch and Interval: Terry Riley. Talking Music: Conversations with John Cage. However.g. Had Riley composed this piece for a medium that allows more flexibility of pitch . whose chromelodeon was tuned to the exigencies of his forty-three-tone system .with the result that playing two different “G” keys in different octaves would yield two different pitches. and Five Generations of American Experimental Composers (New York: Schirmer Books. 283.” The fact that The Harp of New Albion was conceived for piano—the historical embodiment of equal temperament—requires some rethinking of assumptions about music in just intonation in general.. Philip Glass. for example . liner notes." http://www. Laurie Anderson. [12] [11] [10] [9] [8] Ibid.his tuning system might have indeed allowed for intervals that were enharmonic in equal temperament but not equivalent in just intonation. the dyad A-B# in The Harp of New Albion will of necessity be the same as A-C. out of print).net/-anne/david/piano/index. The Harp of New Albion. 59..mbay. there will still be only twelve pitch classes to the octave available. 1995). The names of pitch classes provided in Figure 3 (e. In the musical transcriptions from “Magic Knot Waltz” accompanying this article.Recorded evidence of Riley’s collaboration with Krishna Bhatt can be heard on the soundtrack to Alain Tanner’s film No Man’s Land (Planisphere compact disc PL 1267. at least when notation for the piano is considered. because B# and C correspond to the same piano key. reflecting a chromatic (all-sharp) scale above the instrument’s tuning center of C#. B# rather than C natural) are Riley’s. . the “major second”) do indeed vary in Riley’s just intonation system. Terry Riley. to show that Riley’s intervals are not equivalent to their traditional equal temperament counterparts. 1986.htm. William Duckworth.) I nevertheless adopt Partch’s convention of placing interval names in quotation marks. whereas all identical interval classes in equal temperament are of identical size. For example. [7] [6] Mancini.

This results in the aural impression that once is actually hearing a “fifth” between C (enharmonically equivalent with B# on the piano keyboard . 4 (1992): 28. 43-48 for a full but succinct discussion of North Indian tuning hierarchy. David Courtney. 1933). A specialist in the music of India.html. 19. 184. In John Schaefer’s book New Sounds. 279.Although the written interval B#-G is technically a “diminished sixth. [14] [13] Ibid. [22] [21] [20] [19] [18] [17] Riley. including srutis. Peter Manuel. Agra. Capwell is Associate Professor of musicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Popular Musics of the Non-Western World (New York: Oxford University Press. David Courtney. swaras and thats. [15] [16] Rai Bahadur Bishan Swarup. Glass found his inspiration in Indian classical music. 12 December 2000. as they both occur immediately before cadenza-like flourishes that interrupt the ostinato sections. Riley’s Munich performance of “Magic Knot Waltz” (released on Celestial Harmonies CD CEL 018/019.. Mertens. personal e-mail communication. Ibid. See Ghosh 1968.” Downloaded from the World Wide Web on January 19. See for example his discussion in Glass 1987: 16-18..see note 8) and G.” Riley is clearly using the “B#” in this movement not as a leading tone to C# but as its own tonal center. Like Riley. The Harp of New Albion. specifically that of Ravi Shankar. The “European scale” cited by Swarup is nevertheless in just intonation rather than equal temperament. 284 [italics added]. 1986) does contain one left-hand E-natural3 (replacing the E-flat) at [3:04] and one left-hand E-natural5 at [3:41]. I am grateful to him for pointing out this observation. These seem to be more deliberately placed. I am of course excluding “wrong notes” resulting from finger slips in performance—of which there are remarkably few. liner notes. 1988).” Percussive Notes 30. India: Swarup Brothers. Theory of Indian Music (Maithan.com/articles/indian_music/jhala. Riley is quoted as saying that the roots of his experiments with melodic improvisation lie in North African and Middle Eastern [26] [25] [24] [23] . “Jhala. Charles Capwell. 2001 at http://chandrakantha. Dr. “New Approaches to Tabla Instruction. 44.

44. 53. [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] . Mancini. Ibid. There’s always been a kind of dream world for me there.. have always attracted me. New Sounds: A Listener’s Guide to New Music [New York: Harper and Row. “When I was living in Spain¼I used to listen to the radio a lot.) [27] Mancini. 75. the Middle Eastern scales. 123. when I write my own music it tends to have a Middle Eastern flavor. 279. Even though I’m a student of Indian classical music and that’s my main love as far as ethnic music goes.. 272. Ibid. Schaefer. and I’d get the stations from Tangiers and the cities right across the Mediterranean.music. Mertens.” (John Schaefer. Those maqams. That’s the first music that really sank in. Ibid. Strickland. 76. 57. 1987]. Duckworth. 65.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful