la monte young: hinge

la monte young, a composer/artist/poet groundbreaker across media and genres… was a student of schoenberg and stockhausen, as well of cage.. is considered the inventor of the genre of minimalism. terry riley was his student. some consider him the most influential musician/artist of the second half of the 20th century because he inspired so many different artistic fields that took hold in his wake.

be that as it may, here’s the first ever work of minimalism. young was into drone from an early age based in part on the sound of electrical transformers he heard as child in Idaho.

beginning in 1960, he befriended George Maciunas and became a central member of Fluxus. young edited the influential An Anthology of Chance Operations, designed by maciunas. yoko ono hosted a number of his performances in her studio. young was the inventor of ‘event compositions’ that would then influence ono’s series, grapefruit, and the entire field of performance art. young composed the score for cunninghams dance, winterbranch, “2 sounds” performed by young and terry riley, which is now considered one of cunningham’s masterpieces, and raised havoc through europe and the world, in part because of his composition.

Young’s, Compositions 1960, are a set of pieces written in 1960 . These pieces are unique in the sense that he heavily emphasizes performance art, through extra-musical actions.

#2 (“Build a fire”)


Build a fire in front of the audience. Preferably, use wood although other combustibles may be used as necessary for starting the fire or controlling the kind of smoke. The fire may be of any size, but it should not be the kind which is associated with another object, such as a candle or a cigarette lighter. The lights may be turned out.

After the fire is burning, the builder(s) may sit by and watch it for the duration of the composition; however, he (they) should not sit between the fire and the audience in order that its members will be able to see and enjoy the fire.

The performance may be of any duration.

In the event that the performance is broadcast, the microphone may be brought up close to the fire.

#10 (to Bob Morris)

Draw a straight line and follow it.

#15 (to Richard Huelsenbeck)


This piece is little whirlpools out in the middle of the ocean.

with his wife, Marian Zazeela, he founded the Theatre of Eternal Music collective that included a number of people, including john cale and terry riley . they would hold 6 hour and longer performances…

and therefore to terry riley via young/zazeela and pandit pran nath. the following is some rare, documentary footage of young, zazela, riley and nath getting ready to perform:

note in riley’s avowed comments below, his origin in the jazz of chet baker and continuing through pandit pran nath, though he should also have acknowledge young and zazeela who brought him to nath.

it’s cut off in the youtube image below, but below the subtitle, ‘the tamburas of pandit pran nath’, the album states: ‘an homage’.

la monte young: hinge

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