Performance of IN C by Terry Riley

Spirited performance, from 20 April, 2013, of Terry Riley’s IN C for a “group of about 35” unspecified performers (Riley, 1964). Riley suggested that a metrical pulse could be maintained throughout (e.g., repeating music pitch ‘C’). Listen for the C, which is performed in an alternating pattern between piano and MIDI keyboard. Our version was altered to fit a nineteen-member band (plus live sound and audio/video documentation) for the UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE ELECTROACOUSTIC ENSEMBLE.



IN C BY Terry Riley

by Cesar Aguilar.

In C is a semi-aleatoric musical piece composed by Terry Riley in 1964 for any number of people. However, he recommends a group of 35 in the score. For those that have never heard about this piece it consists of 53 musical phrases, each of which is repeated by each performer however many times he or she likes, though the patterns must be played in sequence. This is perhaps a very exceptional example of the founding of minimalistic compositions.

The score being used by the Electroacoustic Ensemble at the University of Lethbridge is the original score. A one-page score in length, which contains neither, specified instrumentation nor parts. The aforementioned 53 musical phrases are fairly compact and are presented without any real counterpoint of evident form.

The Electroacoustic ensemble under the direction of D. Andrew Stewart at the University of Lethbridge is working at approaching this piece in an original way utilizing lots of different instrumentation that ranges from electronics to the most conventional of acoustic instruments including voice. This fulfills the original purpose of the piece, which was to welcome performers from a vast range of practices, however this time bringing together students who are as well working on generating their own input and ideas into the work.

Watching this piece evolve has been a very exciting experience, there is still a lot of work ahead of us since there are several moments where the performers are unsure about the patterns and get a little confused. At times, it is very hard to figure out the patterns that are to be played. Nonetheless, the piece has a combination of short value notes together with some long held notes. This will ultimately led to the creation of an environment in which all these patterns combined will become very powerful. Some work is starting to occur on those moments in which crescendos, diminuendos and other dynamic elements which will be defined and used to make the piece more engaging.  There are as well many occurrences in which the different sounds of all the instruments are starting to create a very unique atmosphere. When everyone begins driving toward a peak and changes the dynamic level, the sound genuinely fills the room, each instrument seems to occupy a specific space in the room, and all the vibrations can be felt and appreciated.

Due to its aleatoric musical form and its almost free interpretation of the score, this piece has always lasted a different amount of time when performed by different ensembles through out history. However, this time the University of Lethbridge Electroacoustic Ensemble will shape the work and present it in 30 to 40 minutes length.  The performance will take place in the Black Box right beside the David Spinks Theatre at the University of Lethbridge on April 20th. This space does not have any conventional sitting area, therefore, this will be a great place to experiment with an audience that will be immerse into the interpretation of the work as much as the performers will and will be able to feel the vibrations of the instruments in a very similar manner as those performing.