From performing La Monte Young’s Composition 1960 #7! It was a unique performance experience. I would have liked to have put together a bit of an ensemble for the performance, but nothing coalesced so we performed the piece on two electric keyboards. On one electric keyboard we held a drone, and the other keyboard was available for improvisation over the drone, limited to the pitches of B and F#. My pianist friend Melissa and I took turns in sets, playing. The instructions for the piece were to "hold" the drone "for a long time". It would have been nice to have a whole different bunch of droning instruments for the performance, but instead I took a raga-like approach to the piece, beginning simply and then gradually adding more complex figures and rhythms (only using B and F#, though!) whilst expanding the register use of the keyboard. As for "a long time", the performance was to coincide with the duration of another performance piece, White for Governor Wallace, which also had variable time lengths. First performance took 1.5 hours, second only 15 minutes, third half an hour, etc..
It was eye-opening working with such minimal material- the bare essence of an open fifth.. I was interested in how different people reacted to the performance.. some people peeked their head in the door, some people stayed for 10 minutes.. one woman stayed for 40 minutes. I’m not sure what thoughts were running through their heads.. probably boredom, but I was interested in opening people’s minds to the concept of performance.. particularly with Young’s work, wear the Eastern philosophies in his music have blended the concept of performance and ritual. It was
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Tyler Versluis is a composer and pianist.