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Baker's Dozen

Music Of The Spheres: Rhys Chatham's Favourite Albums
Danny Riley , June 15th, 2016 10:37

The veteran avant-garde composer picks records by Morton Subotnick, Charlemagne Palestine and Maryanne Amacher and more to tell Danny Riley how his music, including new album Pythagorean Dream, has evolved


La Monte Young/Marian Zazeela – 31 VII 69 10:26 - 10:49 PM / 23 VIII 64 2:50:45 - 3:11 AM The Volga Delta ‎
La Monte is a bit special. He always wants a lot of money to do anything, so I wasn't too sure about booking him at The Kitchen. We offered 100 per cent of the door plus we'd do the publicity, because we had government arts funding. La Monte's wife said, "We don't have grocery money, maybe we could play there and sell records." They came over on Monday night and just played this record! They sold some records afterwards and Marian told me, "We made our grocery money for this week." Then La Monte invited me to his loft and he realised I knew his work the way only a teenager can – inside and out. I went to every concert that I could after 1970.

I studied with Pandit Pran Nath who was also his teacher, and that was where I first laid eyes on the live La Monte, since they were his tambura players. La Monte realised I knew lots about his music, so played me his Well-Tuned Piano piece, the version he played on upright piano. I wanted to get composition lessons but couldn't afford them so I said, "I think your piano is out of tune, I could tune it for you." Basically angling for free lessons. But he laughed, was very kind and agreed to do lessons in exchange for tuning. I got the better end of the bargain, since I learned his system of tuning in just intonation. We had a relationship for two or three years and sang in their group the Theatre of Eternal Music.