In C

Terry Riley / Donald Steven, Michel-Georges Brégent

I discovered In C in 1969 while away in Québec City hoping to convince a civil servant from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs to help the Infonie financially. Since we were “weird”, our mentor chose to give us — instead of the expected grant — a record that was rotting in his collection. It was obvious our man was relieved to be rid of this music as well as of me! I was immediately fascinated by this composition with no precise instrumentation, exclusively based on a quick, regular pulse in eighth notes on which are affixed motifs of variable length, thrown about and repeated by the players, the only instructions being to advance from left to right in the text.

Therefore, it is not surprising to hear that no one is exactly at the same spot at the same time, although this situation could arise. This process of osmosis might be described as a kind of concentrated atom (some motif or other picked up by a majority of instrumentalists) surrounded by smaller scattered particles that are either dissipating motifs, or foreshadowed ones on their way to becoming the main atom for a while before progressively dissipating, and so forth.

In C was recorded live during an SMCQ concert given in June 1997 at the Salle Pierre-Mercure in Montréal. Note the presence of a mixed choir in the balcony. The sung text, published herein, was written by Raôul Duguay as a sort of contemporary karaoke in the form of a cosmogenesis, and can be sung by the audience. The voice of Raôul Duguay as “soloist” rounds off an orchestra composed of woodwinds, brass, percussion and strings, to which are added a harp, a sitar and tablas. An introduction in the form of a free prelude, a bit in the manner of an Indian Raga, precedes the work, just to warm up the audience and the performers.

Nearly forty years after its creation,In C never ceases to fascinate, and it has a definite lasting quality to it (Steve Reich’s Drumming is its direct descendant), as is evinced by the audience’s spontaneous reaction at that magical and really “hot” evening of June 12, 1997. —Walter Boudreau

  • Société Radio-Canada
  • Musicaction

CD (ACD 22251)

  • Label: Atma Classique
  • ACD 22251
  • 2000
  • UCC 722056225120
  • 127 mm × 144 mm × 12 mm
  • 125 g

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