Riley in 2004
Background information Birth name Terrence Mitchell Riley Born June 24, 1935 Colfax, California, US Genres Minimalism, avant-garde, tape music Instruments Electric organ, tape machine, saxophone, keyboards Years active 1950s - present Associated acts Kronos Quartet, La Monte Young, John Cale, Pandit Pran Nath, Stefano Scodanibbio, Rova Saxophone Quartet, Pauline Oliveros, ARTE Quartett Terrence Mitchell Riley (born June 24, 1935) is an American composer and performing musician  best known as a pioneer of the  minimalist school of composition. Influenced by  jazz and Indian classical music, his music became notable for its innovative use of repetition, tape music techniques, and delay systems.
Riley is best known for his 1964 composition
and 1969 album In C , both considered landmarks of minimalism and important influences on A Rainbow in Curved Air experimental, rock, and electronic music. Since the 1970s, he has collaborated extensively with  chamber ensemble the Kronos Quartet.
Colfax, California in 1935, Riley began performing as a solo pianist during the 1950s. During that decade, he studied composition at  San Francisco State University, the San Francisco Conservatory, and University of California, Berkeley, studying with Seymour Shifrin and Robert Erickson. He was involved in the experimental San Francisco Tape Music Center, working with Morton Subotnick, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, and Ramon Sender. Throughout the 1960s he also traveled frequently in Europe, taking in musical influences and supporting himself by playing in piano bars.
His most influential teacher was
Pandit Pran Nath (1918–1996), a master of Indian classical voice who also taught La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, and Michael Harrison. Riley made numerous trips to India over the course of their association to study and accompany him on tabla, tambura, and voice. In 1971 he joined the Mills College faculty to teach Indian classical music. Riley also cites John Cage and "the really great chamber music groups of John Coltrane and Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Bill Evans, and Gil Evans" as influences on his work. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Music at  Chapman University in 2007.
Riley began his long-lasting association with the
Kronos Quartet when he met their founder David Harrington while at Mills. Over the course of his career, Riley composed 13 string quartets for the ensemble, in addition to other works. He wrote his first orchestral piece, Jade Palace, in 1991, and has continued to pursue that avenue, with several commissioned orchestral compositions following. He is also currently performing and teaching both as an Indian raga vocalist and as a solo pianist.
Riley continues to perform live, and was part of the
All Tomorrow's Parties festival in May 2011.
Riley's music is usually based on improvising through a series of
modal figures of different lengths. Works such as (1964) and the In C Keyboard Studies demonstrate this technique. The first performance of In C was given by Steve Reich, Jon Gibson, Pauline Oliveros and Morton Subotnick. Its form was an innovation: The piece consists of 53 separate modules of roughly one measure apiece, each containing a different musical pattern but each, as the title implies, in the key of C. One performer beats a steady pulse of  Cs on the piano to keep tempo. The others, in any number and on any instrument, perform these musical modules following a few loose guidelines, with the different musical modules interlocking in various ways as time goes on.
In the 1950s Riley was already working with
tape loops, a technology still in its infancy at the time; he would later, with the help of a sound engineer, create what he called a "time-lag accumulator". He has continued manipulating tapes to musical effect, in the studio and in live performances throughout his career. An early tape loop piece titled  Music for the Gift (1963) featured the trumpet playing of Chet Baker. It was during Riley's time in Paris, while composing this piece, that he conceived of and created the time-lag accumulator technique. He has composed using  just intonation as well as microtones. In New York City in the mid-1960s he played with his longtime friend La Monte Young, as well as with  John Cale and tabla player Angus MacLise, who were founding members of The Velvet Underground. Riley is credited as inspiring Cale's keyboard part on Lou Reed's composition " All Tomorrow's Parties", which was sung by German actress Nico and included on the album , recorded in 1966.
The Velvet Underground and Nico
Riley's famous overdubbed electronic album
(recorded 1968, released 1969) inspired many later developments in electronic music. These include A Rainbow in Curved Air Pete Townshend's organ 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. Charles Hazlewood, in his BBC documentary on Minimalism (Part 1) suggests that the album 'Tubular Bells' by Mike Oldfield was also inspired by Riley's example. 
Riley's collaborators have included the
Rova Saxophone Quartet, Pauline Oliveros, the ARTE Quartett, and, as mentioned, the Kronos Quartet. His 1995 Lisbon Concert recording features him in a solo piano format, improvising on his own works. In the liner notes Riley cites Art Tatum, Bud Powell and Bill Evans as his piano "heroes", illustrating the importance of jazz to his conceptions.
He has three children: one daughter, Colleen,
and two sons,  Gyan, who is a guitarist, and Shahn. He was married to Ann Riley until her death in 2015. 
Music for The Gift (Organ of Corti 1, 1963) 1964:
, Columbia MS7178 In C 1965:
Reed Streams, Mass Art Inc. M-131 1967:
You're No Good, recorded in 1967 but unreleased until 2000 (Cortical Foundation / Organ of Corti, 2000)   1968:
Germ, with  Gérard Frémy & Martine Joste (Spalax CD 14542, 1998). Includes a Pierre Mariétan track. 1969:
, CBS 64564 A Rainbow in Curved Air 1971:
, with Church of Anthrax John Cale (CBS) 1972:
Happy Ending ( Les Yeux Fermés film soundtrack), Warner Bros. Records France 46125; Les Yeux Fermés & Lifespan, for solo electric organ; two soundtracks (2007 reissue) 1972:
, Shanti 83502 Persian Surgery Dervishes 1975:
Le Secret de la Vie ( Lifespan film soundtrack), Philips France 9120 037 1975:
Descending Moonshine Dervishes, Kuckuck Records 1978:
, CBS Masterworks M3519, for solo electronic organ tuned in just intonation and modified by digital delay Shri Camel  1983:
Songs for the Ten Voices of the Two Prophets, for two Prophet 5 synthesisers, Kuckuck Records 1984:
, a collaboration with the Terry Riley: Cadenza on the Night Plain Kronos Quartet  1984:
, a collaboration with Terry Riley and Krishna Bhatt: Terry Riley and Krishna Bhatt Duo Krishna Bhatt  1985:
No Man's Land  1986:
The Harp of New Albion, for piano tuned in just intonation  1987:
, with Chanting the Light of Foresight Rova Saxophone Quartet in just intonation  1989:
, for the Kronos Quartet Salome Dances for Peace  1995:
, solo piano concert, recorded live July 16, 1995 Festival dos Capuchos, Teatro São Luis, Lisbon, Portugal., New Albion Records Lisbon Concert 1997:
, experimental album recorded with contrabassist Lazy Afternoon Among the Crocodiles Stefano Scodanibbio.  1998: Piano Music of John Adams and Terry Riley, performed by
Gloria Cheng  2001:
, recording of a live performance on 18 April 2000 Moscow Conservatory Solo Piano Concert  2002:
for the Sun Rings Kronos Quartet  2002:
Atlantis Nath, hand-numbered signed edition of 1000 copies  2004:
, with the The Cusp of Magic Kronos Quartet, composed for his seventieth birthday, an ode to the rite of Midsummer Eve  2008:
Banana Humberto, piano concerto with Paul Dresher Ensemble  2008:
The Last Camel in Paris, live solo electric organ performance in Paris, 1978  2010:
Two Early Works, the first-ever recordings of two of Riley's early compositions, performed by the Calder Quartet 2012:
G Song, Kronos Quartet, in honor of his eightieth birthday 2019: The Lion's Throne, with singer Amelia Cuni, recorded live (Sri Moonshine Music, SMM008)
Corridor. Film by Standish Lawder. 1975 –
. Film by Alexander Whitelaw feat. Klaus Kinski, Tina Aumont and Hiram Keller. Soundtrack released as Lifespan Le secret de la vie in France, on Philips LP 9120 037 (1975). 1976 –
. Film by Crossroads Bruce Conner. 1976 –
Music With Roots in the Aether: Opera for Television. Tape 6: Terry Riley. Produced and directed by Robert Ashley. New York, New York: Lovely Music. 1986 –
In Between the Notes...a Portrait of Pandit Pran Nath, Master Indian Musician. Produced by Other Minds, directed by William Farley. 1995 –
Musical Outsiders: An American Legacy – Harry Partch, Lou Harrison, and Terry Riley. Directed by Michael Blackwood. 2008 – "A Rainbow In Curved Air" features in the in-game soundtrack of
. It can be found when listening to the fictional radio station, "The Journey". Grand Theft Auto IV 2017 – . Film by François Girard. Hochelaga, Land of Souls
Carl, Robert. 2009. Terry Riley's in C. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-532528-7 [Anonymous] (2002). Album notes for
The Who: The Ultimate Collection by The Who, 12. MCA Records. Potter, Keith (2000).
Four Musical Minimalists: La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass. Music in the Twentieth Century series. Cambridge, UK; New York, New York: Cambridge University Press. Edward Strickland, "Terry Riley".
Grove Music Online (subscription access). Meigh-Andrews, Chris, 2006. A History of Video Art.
Hooper, Greg (June–July 2006). "Hear and now: Terry Riley in Australia". RealTime. Australia (73): 33.
"Terry Riley's benefit performance for Old First Concerts". Examiner.com. 2012-03-24 . Retrieved . 23 April 2012
^ a b c d e
Ankeny, Jason. "Biography". AllMusic . Retrieved . 16 October 2017
"Like a Rainbow in Curved Air: Terry Riley". Bluefat.com.
"The 10 Best Moments Of All Tomorrow's Parties". 16 May 2011.
Honigmann, David. "In C, Barbican, London – review". Financial Times . Retrieved . 28 August 2016
^ a b
Meigh-Andrews, Chris (2006). . New York, NY and Oxford, UK: Berg (Oxford International Publishers). pp. A History of Video Art 94–95. ISBN . 978-1-84520-219-4
^ Holmes, Thomas B.
Electronic and Experimental Music, Taylor & Francis (2008) p. 132, 362 ISBN 978-0-415-95781-6
^ This album also produced the name of psychedelic band
(Media notes). The Who. MCA Records. 2002. p. 12. The Who: The Ultimate Collection CS1 maint: others ( link)
Hazlewood, Charles. "Tones, Drones and Arpeggios: The Magic of Minimalism". BBC Website . Retrieved . 13 March 2018
Collins, Dan (November 19, 2009). "Terry Riley: Droning Dark Darkness". L.A. Record.
"Terry And Gyan Riley: Together IN C". Npr.org.
Hersh, Howard (10 January 1993). "A Composer on the Edge : Minimalist Terry Riley, on a journey of spiritual and artistic discovery, is deeply moved by the concept of artist-as-madman" – via LA Times.
O'Neal, Sean. "Terry Riley turns an R&B ditty into 20 minutes of madness". Avclub.com . Retrieved . 26 April 2017
"Terry Riley Discography". AllMusic . Retrieved . 26 April 2017
"Germ (6), Terry Riley, P. Mariétan* - Keyboard Study 2 / Initiative 1 (+ Systèmes)". Discogs.
"Shri Camel - Terry Riley | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
"Terry Riley: Cadenza on the Night Plain - Kronos Quartet, Terry Riley | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
"Terry Riley, Krishna Bhatt - Terry Riley Krishna Bhatt Duo". Discogs.
"Terry Riley - No Man's Land". Discogs.
"The Harp of New Albion - Terry Riley | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
"Terry Riley: Chanting the Light of Foresight - Rova Saxophone Quartet | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
"Salome Dances for Peace - Kronos Quartet | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
"Stefano Scodanibbio - Discography".
"Piano Music of John Adams & Terry Riley - Gloria Cheng | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
"Terry Riley – Moscow Conservatory Solo Piano Concert (CD, Album) at Discogs".
"Sun Rings, for string quartet,… | Details". AllMusic.
"Atlantis Nath - Terry Riley | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
"The Cusp of Magic - Kronos Quartet | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
"Banana Humberto - Terry Riley | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
"Terry Riley: The Last Camel in Paris - Terry Riley | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.