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The Influence of Terry Riley on Philip Glass

doghouseIt has come to my attention that Wikipedia is looking for a citation to buttress an author’s assertion that Terry Riley’s music has influenced a generation of composers, including Philip Glass and Brian Eno. As a lifelong musician, student of music, and composer, I offer my expert opinion that this is, in fact the case. Stylistic elements such as repeated short diatonic or pentatonic motifs consisting of eighth notes and sixteenth notes,  superimposed in collage fashion appear in Riley’s “A Rainbow in Curved Air” (1967) and “In C” (1968) years before Glass, following Steve Reich, came to public attention offering similar ideas.

This from Wikipedia itself, in Philip Glass’s entry:

Shortly after arriving in New York City in March 1967, Glass attended a performance of works by Steve Reich (including the ground-breaking minimalist piecePiano Phase), which left a deep impression on him; he simplified his style and turned to a radical “consonant vocabulary”.[16] Finding little sympathy from traditional performers and performance spaces, Glass eventually formed an ensemble with fellow ex-students Steve ReichJon Gibson, and others, and began performing mainly in art galleries and studio lofts of SoHo.

This also from Wikipedia, Steve Reich’s entry:

Reich was influenced by fellow minimalist Terry Riley, whose work In C combines simple musical patterns, offset in time, to create a slowly shifting, cohesive whole. Reich adopted this approach to compose his first major work, It’s Gonna Rain.

Perhaps I’m less qualified to assess the claim that Brian Eno has been influenced by Terry Riley, but a simple look at their relative ages seems to suggest as much. Eno, born in 1948, was but 18 when Riley’s work gained popularity. But in the interest of rigor, I will leave it to someone more capable than myself to explore their musical affinities and relative influence.