A piece composed by minimalist composer Terry Riley. The interesting aspect of this piece is that the "composition" itself consists of about two pages of music. On those two pages, there are about 50 motifs, most about 8 notes or so in length. The piece begins with a pianist playing octave Cs (this is the pedal tone throughout which acts has a centering effect). The rest of the group (which could consist of any number of people playing any number of instruments) begin on the first motif whenever they feel like coming in. Each person can begin that first bar whenever they see fit to do so and continue to the next motif at any time. Eventually, each player will reach the final motif, and the piece ends.

Those are the rules behind In C. As you might guess, each performance/recording sounds unqiue depending on the size of the group, the instruments, the time of day, whether or not some guy playing the zither had a fight with his dog, ETC. It's an excellent example of minimalism in music; slightly absurd, but not grating as some might find its predecessors, atonal music. It can often be rather hypnotic and relaxing. Those was some of the ideas behind minimalist composing; the composer (in this case Riley, provides a framework and leaves the rest up to chance.

The foundation of this piece, and much of Steve Reich's, is what is known as phasing, what mattbadass describes as the pedal tone of octave C's.

In Reich's music, like Music for 18 Musicians, which is founded on this work of Riley, the attempt is made to play the notes together, but that is never quite realized. Listening to them, they phase in and out, coming on the beat, they slightly before and after it.

This creates an hypnotic foundation for the other instruments, and voices.

The recording of In C I heard, used multiple recording techniques to add additional layers to the performance.

Far from being absurd, in my experience with Riley's, and Reich's work, and those influenced by them, I found it quite ecstatic, in the fundamental sense of taking one out of one's body.

And that just happens to be Reich's stated goal in his Words About Music. Unlike the aesthetic distance (see Why Play Bach?) and actual distance in conventional music, but a complete elimination of all barriers in joy.

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