EM History: Terry Riley - A Rainbow in Curved Air

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EM History: Terry Riley - A Rainbow in Curved Air

Postby SPW » 23 Sep 2013 07:39

Terry Riley - A Rainbow in Curved Air

Riley's famous overdubbed electronic album A Rainbow in Curved Air (recorded 1968, released 1969) inspired many later developments in electronic music, including Pete Townshend's synthesizer parts on The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Baba O'Riley", the latter named in tribute to Riley as well as to Meher Baba.

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A Rainbow in Curved Air is the third album by experimental music and classical minimalism pioneer Terry Riley. Through the use of overdubbing, the composer, a keyboard virtuoso, plays all the instruments on the title track: electric organ, electric harpsichord (Rock-Si-Chord), dumbec (or goblet drum), and tambourine. The work begins with a simple minimalist drone but quickly erupts in exciting rapid-fire figurations far removed from typical slowly evolving minimalist structures (as in Riley's own In C). The rest of the piece explores various layered keyboard and percussion textures.

The largely improvisational nature of the work, based on modal scales, owes much to jazz and Hindustani classical music. Some jazz musicians had explored overdubbing techniques before, notably Bill Evans, one of Riley's piano "heroes", on his classic album Conversations with Myself from four years earlier, with its three piano tracks; but Riley uses a far wider range of instruments and colors.
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