Russ Jennings interviews La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela about the newly released The Well-Tuned Piano 81 X 25 6:17:50 – 11:18:59 PM NYC with its history and development. The two also discuss the influence of Pandit Pran Nath.
Ustad Alauddin Khan (1963)
Ustad Alauddin Khan is one of the most important figures in the 20th Century tradition of Hindustani music. He was the father and teacher of Ali Akbar Khan and the talented and reclusive Annapurna Devi, as well as the teacher and guru of Ravi Shankar, Nikhil Banerjee, Vasant Rai, Pannalal Ghosh, Bahadur Khan, and Sharan Rani, among many others. I came to Khan through my love for the music of his son, and was dismayed to find that, like many musicians of his generation, his efforts were poorly represented in recorded form – made even more tragic by the fact that he displayed almost virtuosic skill at nearly every instrument he laid his hands to. Despite the difficulty in hearing his music, we are fortunate to find him in those he taught. There was no other figure in India during his lifetime who had greater influence on the Classical teachings of that county’s music. His students were among the greatest names in Hindustani music – bringing new audiences and appreciation both within India and internationally. We owe him a great dept. Given how little of him remains, this documentary, made by Ritwik Ghatak in 1963, is a lucky treasure. It’s a blast to watch, is incredibly informative, and might serve as wonderful introduction to this music for those less familiar. Beyond it’s focus on Khan it also features wonderful performances by his most noted students. I hope you enjoy.
Terry Riley & Pandit Pran Nath
Harry Partch – A Portrait (2016)
Within the history of American avant-garde music, few figures are as important as Harry Partch – yet while Ives and Cage are household names, Partch’s music (which is an important conceptual bridge between them) largely remains hidden in the shadows. Whether I like it or not, there are tangible reasons for this. It goes without saying that avant-garde music places extreme demands on its listeners, but if we examine its prominent figures and movements with scrutiny, it becomes apparent that in most cases those demands were constrained. The leaps from Mahler to Schoenberg, from Schoenberg to Serialism, and from Serialism to Musique Concrete and John Cage are relatively short – each taking the ground of its predecessor and advancing it. Not only does Partch stand outside the legacies and inheritance of Western avant-garde traditions, but his demands on listeners were profound.