La Monte Young
American composer born 14 October 1935 in Bern, Idaho.
La Monte Young grew up in a poor, rural setting. His father was a sheep-herder, and the family lived in a log cabin in a Mormon hamlet in Bear Lake County, Idaho. As a child, Young learned cowboy songs and the basics of the guitar from his aunt, and, at the age of seven, basic music theory and alto saxophone from his father and great uncle, the latter of which was the leader of a brass band. In 1949, after having moved several times, his family settled in Los Angeles.
From 1950 to 1953, Young attended John Marshall High School, where he studied music theory with Clyde Sorenson. He also studied clarinet with William Green (1951-1954) at the Los Angeles Conservatory. He developed a passion for jazz, which he performed in his school’s dixieland group. In 1953, he began studies of counterpoint and composition with Leonard Stein, disciple and assistant of Schoenberg, at Los Angeles City College. At this time, he composed works inspired by serialism, including Five Small Pieces for String Quartet (1956). He also became more active in jazz, playing with, among others, Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman and Billy Higgins.
In January 1957, he began studying music theory, counterpoint, and ethnomusiclogy at UCLA, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in June 1958. He slowly distanced himself from jazz, dedicating most of his time to composing. In 1958, he composed Trio for Strings which, due to its long held notes and spare writing, may be considered the first music work of minimalism. Entering Berkeley University in 1958, Young continued his studies of composition with Seymour Shifrin, Charles Cushing, and William Denny, and analysis with Andrew Imbrie. At this time, he also became friends with Terry Riley.
In the summer of 1959, Young attended the composition seminar of Karlheinz Stockhausen at the Darmstadt Summer Course. This experience notably introduced Young to the techniques and music of John Cage. In the summer of 1960, Young taught composition with Terry Riley at the Anna Halprin Summer Choreography Academy in Marin County, CA. He composed works and performance pieces for “friction sounds” (various objects rubbed against different surfaces), e.g., Poem for Chairs, Tables, Benches, etc. (1960), in which the performers drag furniture across the floor.
In the Autumn of 1960, Young moved to New York, where he quickly acquainted himself with the “downtown” scene. He composed the repetitive work Arabic Numeral (Any Integer) to H.F. (1960), as well as the fifteen Compositions 1960 which are considered to be among the first examples of conceptual art. In 1963, he married visual artist Marian Zazeela. The couple moved into one of the first Downtown artists’ lofts, where Young founded The Theater of Eternal Music, an ensemble dedicated to his own music. He composed The Four Dreams of China, an evolutive work of long drones over which he improvised on saxophone.
In 1964, Young began work on two pieces which are still in progress: The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys and The Well-Tuned Piano, which were his main focus throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In August 1966, Young began work on a treatise of the theory of just intonation, The Two Systems of Eleven Categories, which remains unfinished and unpublished to this day. He abandoned the saxophone in favour of the voice, which he found to be better suited to just intonation, and frequently performed alone or as a duo with Zazeela.
From 1969 to 1975, the couple toured Europe and the USA annually. Together, they conceived “sound and light environments”, known as Dream Houses, which were set up in museums, art galleries, and elsewhere, including at the Maeght Fondation (1970), Documenta 5 in Kassel, the Munich Olympic Games (1972), Contemporanea 5 in Rome, the University of Illinois (1973), and at The Kitchen in New York City (1974).
In 1970, Young and Zazeela embarked upon a period of intense study of Indian music, becoming disciples of vocal virtuoso Pandith Pran Nath. They helped him emigrate to the USA and devoted much of their time and energy to him until Nath’s death in 1996. With their guru, Young and Zazeela performed a number of concerts of Indian music together, and explored the practice of raga in their group the Just Alap Raga Ensemble.
From 1979 to 1985, with support from the Dia Foudation, Young and Zazeela moved into the former New York Trade Exchange building on Harrison Street, in which they set up a Dream House which remained open for six years. These premises also served as a research centre and archive of their performances and concert programmes. In 1980, Young composed The Subsequent Dreams of China, and in 1985, Orchestral Dreams.
From 1990, La Monte Young once again participated in a number of collaborative projects. He toured Europe and the USA for two years with The Forever Bad Blues Band and Big Band, widely performing his work Young’s Dorian Blues in A. Also in 1990, he composed Chronos Kristalla, a commission from the Kronos Quartet. Meanwhile, the Dream Houses continued to evolve according to the means at hand; in 1993, with support from the Mela Foundation, Young and Zazeela created Dream House: Seven Years of Sound and Light, an installation which was to remain in place for seven years. Another Dream House, created in 2009 for the Third Mind exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, was open to the public for a more modest period of four months.
© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2014
Un rêve d’éternelle vibration
By Max Noubel
Sound waves seem to have accompanied La Monte Young all his life. In his childhood, the fierce Idaho wind would blow on his family’s log cabin, the buzz of insects would saturate the sky, and the hum of electric transformers would reach the houses. These sound waves have run through the entirety of La Monte Young’s oeuvre, expressed in the form of sustained vibrations, swathed in colored lights designed by his wife, Marian Zazeela. Sound waves have rocked the two lovers’ nights, brightened their days, carried their spiritual meditations, and projected their dreams toward infinity.
Young’s first contact with music was through jazz, which he discovered as early as 1950 at the John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, a school renowned for its strong jazz program. He played in the school’s Dixieland orchestra and in dance orchestras. When he discovered bebop and cool jazz, Young distanced himself from conventional jazz genres to dedicate his time to more creative practices. During his studies at the Los Angeles City College, he played in jazz combos with musicians Terry Jennings (who remained an important partner), Eric Dolphy, Don Cherry, and Ornette Coleman. His voice on the saxophone was influenced by Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh, among others, and his playing evolved toward a kind of free jazz.
Despite the interest that he had for jazz, in 1957 Young distanced himself from the genre, which he considered too limiting. He turned to art music. His experience with jazz improvisation nonetheless can be heard in the saxophone playing he developed in the early 1960s, influenced by John Coltrane’s experiments with modes and instrumentals on his album My Favorite Things (1961). Young was also drawn to the blues. His piece Annod (1953-1955) — a 12-bar blues with a polytonal bridge — contains the sustained tones that would later become an essential component of his music. In the summer of 1961, he accompanied Jennings’s modal saxophone improvisations on the piano. As evidenced by the piece Young’s Aeolian Blues in B-flat (1961), Young would stretch each chord of the 12-bar blues over long periods of time, thus combining his studies of time dilation with the melodic freedom of jazz. He always remained fond of the blues. In 1990, he founded the Forever Bad Blues Band, which was composed of microtonal keyboard, guitar, bass guitar, and percussion. The group toured for two years in Europe and the United States to play a just-intonation version of Young’s Dorian Blues in A in a light and shade environment created by Marian Zazeela.
Non-occidental music played an important role in Young’s reflections on time, timbre, tuning, and the relationship between composition and improvisation. He discovered Indian music in 1957 through recordings of ragas by the sarod player Ali Akbar Khan and tabla player Chatur Lal. His interest in sustained sounds and harmonics found an echo in the drone harmonic display of the tambura, an instrument that would later accompany his voice lessons with Pandit Pran Nath. The serene discipline of gagaku music, played by the Berkeley Student Orchestra, as well as plainchant and medieval organum, which he heard in a Dominican monastery, also had a major influence on his conception of music and contemplation.
Serialism and Budding Minimalism
Young’s first art music compositions testify to the influence of Claude Debussy, Béla Bartók, and to a greater extent Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern. Young was particularly interested in the static textures of “Farben” from Schoenberg’s Opus 16, as well as in those found in Webern’s works. He admired the latter for their economy of means, and for the way Webern could artfully repeat notes in the same register. The influence of Webern can be heard in Young’s Variations for Viola, Harp, and String Trio (1955) — which features palindromic textures inspired by the second movement of the Symphony Op. 21 — as well as in Young’s first serial work, Five Small Pieces for String Quartet (1956), in which he used sustained tones. In his wind octet for Brass (1957), in which sustained tones are considerably developed, Young showed what would become an inclination for fourths, perfect fifths, and major sevenths. He used two combinations of notes — G-sharp and A, and G and D — which point to the “dream chord” that he used as a core element in all his subsequent compositions. But the masterpiece of this period is the Trio for Strings (1958), which he composed based on his experiments on the organ in Royce Hall at the University of California, Los Angeles. The Trio pushes to the extreme a Weberian economy of means and is recognized as the first piece of minimalist music. In this 58-minute serial-inspired work, the dynamic range is based on 11 dynamics from pppppp to fff. Very long sustained notes — for example, the opening C-sharp lasts 4 minutes, 23 seconds — are interleaved with sections of silence that can last up to 40 seconds.
In 1959, Young attended the Darmstadt Summer Course. He was interested in Karlheinz Stockhausen’s ideas about the integration of pitches and time, which he preferred to Milton Babbitt’s more limited conception of serialism. He admired Stockhausen’s Zeitmasze, which he showed to Terry Riley upon his return. Yet, Young’s Studies I, II, and III for piano (1959) were his last serial compositions; the young composer was already finding that serialism did not suit him anymore. In Darmstadt, he met Sylvano Bussotti and Cornelius Cardew, and he attended a recital by David Tudor, who later became one of the first performers of his music. The most important event for Young during Stockhausen’s seminar was his discovery of the music and thought of John Cage, which led to important aesthetic and musical developments in Young’s work.
Cage’s Model and the Conceptual Adventure
Upon his return to the United States, Young integrated Cage’s idea that all sound is musical. While in residency with Riley at the choreographer Anna Halprin’s Summer Academy in Marin County, California, he explored sounds by rubbing together various objects and surfaces for significant lengths of time. Notably, he did this with a gong, some four years before Stockhausen’s Mikrophonie I (1964). He composed his Poem for Chairs, Tables, Benches, etc. (1960) by pushing and dragging furniture on the ground, and Two Sounds (1960) for recorded rubbing sounds. In other pieces composed in this period, Cage’s influence can be seen in the importance Young gave to silence — namely in Visions (1959) for twelve instruments playing unconventional sounds — as well as his use of random numbers to determine the beginnings and endings of each sound.
In the fall of 1960, Young went to New York to study electronic music with Richard Maxfield at the New School of Social Research on an Alfred Hertz Memorial Traveling Scholarship. There, he met members of the avant-garde: the artists George Brecht and Larry Poons, the composer and pianist Toshi Ichiyanagi, the poet Jackson Mac Low, and the graphic designer and impresario George Maciunas, leader of the burgeoning Fluxus movement. Yoko Ono entrusted Young with the organization of the performance-concert series at her loft on Chamber Street, where Young presented Arabic Numeral (Any Integer) to H.F. (1960), a piece dedicated to the musician, philosopher, and anti-art activist Henry Flynt, in which a pianist repeats a cluster many times with his forearm. Arabic Numeral is the only repetitive piece by Young in this period aside from Death Chant (1961) for male voice with carillon or large bells—a piece made of short melodic motives in the minor mode, repeated ad libitum and to which notes are progressively added and subtracted. Arabic Numeral precedes Riley’s In C (1964) which, with its 53 melodic fragments also repeated ad libitum, has become the emblematic work of repetitive minimalism.
Young also presented his Compositions 1960 (1960) which testify to his interest in conceptual art. These pieces are featured in An Anthology of Chance Operations, a collective neo-Dadaist work edited in 1963 by Young and Mac Low, which brings together experimental music pieces, as well as poetry, essays, anti-art, and performance pieces from twenty-five American, European, and Japanese artists. Some of these Compositions put in question traditional concert conventions through the humor and iconoclastic spirit of the Fluxus movement. In Piano Piece for David Tudor no. 3, the performer is meant to bring onstage a bale of hay and a bucket of water to feed the piano. In Composition 1960 no. 6, the relationship between the performers and the audience is reversed, and the performers on stage merely look at what is going on in the hall. In Composition 1960 no. 5 the performer is asked to let one or more butterflies fly out into the concert space to encourage the audience to listen to the silence, thus bringing the performance close to the Zen philosophy followed by Cage. Other pieces extend Young’s reflections on the duration of sound and, from a broader perspective, on time itself. The score for Composition 1960 no. 10 is limited to a simple directive: “Draw a straight line and follow it.” Performers can play a sustained note or chord, but Young’s indications could also be interpreted as a projection of one’s own existence in relation to the future, or even as a metaphor for eternity. Composition 1960 no. 7 and Death Chant are his only fully written scores at that time: its material is limited to the perfect fifth of B and F-sharp, written on a staff and accompanied by the indication “to be held for a long time.” It is only in 1990, with Chronos Kristalla, that Young returned to musical notation. He was also an advocate for interdisciplinarity and demonstrated an interest in poetry — partly under the influence of the poet Diane Wakoski, his partner of the time, with whom he presented simultaneous readings of poems.
The Theatre of Eternal Music
In the spring of 1962, Young started playing the sopranino saxophone — an instrument popularized by John Coltrane and whose sound is close to the shehnai from Indian music. He used it to develop a virtuosic technique based on the very quick repetition of modal sequences. To accompany the sopranino, a group of performers accustomed to Young’s music would play drones. This group included, among others, the poet and underground film composer Angus MacLise on percussion, Tony Conrad on violin, the painter, calligrapher, and light designer Zazeela (whom he married the following year) on voice, John Cale on viola, and Riley for eight months in 1965. In August 1963, Young moved in with Zazeela in a loft on Bank Street, which became his ensemble’s rehearsal and concert space. In 1965, the ensemble took on the name the Theatre of Eternal Music. Young’s initial idea was to create a community that would play music 24 hours a day. However, this utopia of eternal music did not survive material and financial constraints. The ensemble quickly dismantled and was revived under different formats in the following years. Young composed in this period The Four Dreams of China whose harmonic material would inform his subsequent compositions and improvisations. This harmonic material consisted of a set of four notes (C, F, F-sharp, G) that would generate four transposable chords called “dream chords,” featuring the notes F and C-sharp in various inversions and register positions on either side of the axis G3 and A3. Between 1962 and the beginning of 1964, Young created with his ensemble an improvisation-composition on one part of The Four Dreams named The Second Dream of the High-Tension Line Stepdown Transformer from The Four Dreams of China, in reference to sounds produced by the high-voltage line transformers of his childhood. The piece is written for any instrument that can hold groups of four notes in just intonation, and the duration of the performance is not fixed, as common in previous conceptual pieces. As would be the case in his subsequent pieces, the use of improvisation allows for a unique piece at every performance. The harmonic version of The Second Dream was followed in 1990 by a melodic version for eight trumpets, which resulted in the only recording of the work to be commercially available. Young’s “dream chords” also generated The Subsequent Dreams of China in 1980, as well as Orchestral Dreams in 1985.
In the Entrails of Sound
Young honed his auditory sensitivity in listening to drones produced by strings and vocals, and later he explored drones at extremely loud amplifications, sometimes at the limit of what was physiologically bearable. He could thus, in a way, enter into the “entrails of sound,” helped as he was by the consumption of drugs. This immersion in the world of vibrations convinced him to use just intonation, a system of division of the non-tempered octave in which consonant intervals (octaves, fifths, thirds…) rely on simple fractions. In this sense they are considered “pure.” Already in his Trio for Strings, which he later rewrote in just intonation in 1984, he had intuitively rejected the major third, which, in the tempered system, is too far from natural acoustics. This Pythagorean auditory sensitivity led Young to undertake, in 1966, the writing of a theoretical work on just intonation entitled The Two Systems of Eleven Categories, which to this day remains unedited and unfinished. In it he proposed understanding sounds as frequency rather than pitch ratios. Thus, the dream chord (C, F, F-sharp, G) became 24:32:35:36, then simplified as 12:16:17:18. In the summer of 1964, to facilitate his just-intonation performances, Young abandoned the saxophone to focus on singing. With his voice and using a nasal style inspired by vocal techniques from Indian music, he could regulate the tones and control the harmonics far more precisely than he had been able to with the saxophone.
In 1964, Young started composing two major pieces that he considers are still in progress to this day and have served as a basis for a great number of versions: The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys and The Well-Tuned Piano. As in The Four Dreams, these evolving and monumental compositions (their duration can last many hours) exist almost exclusively in live performance: very few commercial recordings have been made.
To create the drone in The Tortoise, Young used a low-pitched frequency created by amplifying the drone made by the motor of his turtle aquarium, thus paving the way for future applications of electronically produced drones during concerts and performances. These improvised instances of the work, which take the name Pre-Tortoise Dream Music, were succeeded by a series of more polished versions presented in the fall of 1964 at the Pocket Theatre in New York. Other versions that used the initial harmonic material were also presented at various occasions. The lengths of their titles (which contain autobiographical references but remain for the most part enigmatic) increase both as existing sections are further developed and as new sections are added. On 12 and 13 December 1964, Young and the Theatre of Eternal Music gave a version entitled The Tortoise Recalling the Drone of the Holy Numbers as They Were Revealed in the Dreams of the Whirlwind and the Obsidian Gong and Illuminated by the Sawmill, the Green Sawtooth Ocelot and the High-Tension Line Stepdown Transformer.
The Well-Tuned Piano, with its considerable length (the version presented at the Mela Foundation in New York in 1987 lasted 6 hours and 24 minutes), which may, in theory, extend until the end of time, and its use of just intonation, marks an important development in the history of the instrument. This type of open-form piece develops a restricted base of materials, which consist of simple chords and melodic motives. Over the years, Young has added references to past works, thus giving The Well-Tuned Piano a postmodern twist. It was only ten years after the premiere in a private concert that he gave a more public performance of the work in Rome, on 4 June 1974. There and in the sixty or so performances that followed, the sounds of the piano were immersed in a lighting environment created by Zazeela, as indicated in the full title of the work: The Well-Tuned Piano in the Magenta Lights. For Young, playing the Well-Tuned Piano was a total commitment inscribed within a life discipline, which enabled him to reach a higher level of meditation where the body was transcended in favor of the divine spirit. His intense practice of ragas, starting in the 1970s, played an essential role in the evolution of this piece, which, like his other compositions and improvisations, is a luminous vibration of his spirituality.
Young’s long-term interest in Indian music and spirituality was strengthened in 1967, when Shyam Bhatnagar introduced him to recordings of his master, the singer Pran Nath. In January 1970, Young and Zazeela helped Pran Nath enter the United States. The encounter deeply changed their way of life. They intensely studied Indian music with their guru, whom they served with complete devotion until his death in 1996. They taught the Kirana Indian style and played in hundreds of concerts with Pran Nath in India, Iran, Europe, and the United States. To this day they continue to produce with their ensemble, the Just Alap Raga Ensemble.
In July 1969, at the Heiner Friedrich gallery in Munich, the couple created their first public Dream House, where Young and his musicians played Map of 49’s Dream the Two Systems of Eleven Sets of Galactic Intervals Ornamental Lightyears Tracery from The Tortoise. The concept of the Dream House — which is an architectural space that can be filled by a sound and light environment for a long period of time — was taken up again in the following years in Europe and the United States. In 1979, with the financial support of the Dia Art Foundation, a permanent Dream House was erected in the former Stock Exchange on Harrison Street in New York. The Dream House was interrupted in 1985 for economic reasons. A one-year Dream House, in which Young and the Eternal Music Big Band played The Lower Map of The Eleven’s Division in The Romantic Symmetry (over a 60 cycle base) in Prime Time from 144 to 112 with 119, was also installed in New York on 22nd Street. Other Dream Houses have been installed outside Nice at the Maeght Foundation (1970), in Rome at the Dokumenta 5, in Munich during the Olympic Games (1972), in Paris in l’Espace Donguy (1990) and at the Centre Georges Pompidou (1994-1995 and 2004-2005), in Lyon at the Museum of Contemporary Art (1999), and in New York at the Guggenheim Museum (2009). The most ambitious Dream House opened its doors in 1993 in New York at the Mela Foundation.
Young and Zazeela have imposed draconian conditions on themselves for the realization of their joint artistic projects, conditions that have contributed to their partial withdrawal from the contemporary music scene. The couple’s lifestyle and its fusion of their private and artistic lives has also been among the causes of their artistic marginalization. Young and Zazeela have divided their existence in 27-hour cycles which, depending on the days, place sleep periods during the day as well as the night. Moreover, their oeuvre remains difficult to access because of the few commercial recordings available, and researchers have great difficulty when it comes to accessing their archive, which contains an enormous quantity of video, sound, and written documents.
Young has played an important role in the history of music in the second half of the twentieth century by opening the doors to minimalism, helping to bridge the gap between composition and improvisation, and achieving a fusion between the East and the West. He has influenced a number of artists including, first and foremost, his friend Terry Riley, but also the people he played with in various formations of the Theatre of Eternal Music such as Cale, and composers as varied as Stockhausen, Brian Eno, Lou Reed, Glenn Branca, and Kyle Gann. While today’s art music performers seem less inclined toward this atypical composer, it is not the case for many artists identifying with the larger movement encompassing improvised and electronic music.1 Young undeniably represents, for these avant-garde artists, a model of integrity and artistic independence, as well as a plentiful source of musical inspiration.
1. The improvised electronic music movement has been championed for the past three decades by the British magazine The Wire.↩
© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2014
- Solo (excluding voice)
- The Well-Tuned Piano for piano (1964)
- Rondo en ré mineur for piano (1953)
- Scherzo en la mineur for piano (1953)
- Fugue en fa mineur for piano (1957)
- Fugue en do mineur for organ or harpsichord (1957)
- for Guitar for guitar (1958)
- Studies II for piano (1959)
- Studies I for piano (1959)
- Studies III for piano (1959)
- Piano Pieces for David Tudor performance (1960)
- Target for Jasper Johns for piano (1960)
- Piano Piece for Terry Riley n°1 performance (1960)
- Piano Piece for Terry Riley n°2 performance (1960)
- Studies in The Bowed Disc for gong (1963)
- for Guitar for guitar (1978)
- elec Just Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord for cello, pre-recorded cello drones and light projection as part of Abstract n° 1 from Quadrilateral Phase Angle Traversals (collaboration with Marian Zazeela) (2002-2003)
- Chamber music
- Wind Quintet for wind quintet (1954)
- Annod 92 X 19 Version for Zeitgeist for alto saxophone, vibraphone, piano, bass, percussions (1953-1955)
- Variations for string quartet (1955)
- Five Small Pieces for String Quartet, On Remembering A Naiad for string quartet (1956), Music Eternal
- Fugue en ré mineur for violin, viola and cello (1956)
- Canon for 2 instruments (1957)
- for Brass for brass octet (1957)
- Fugue en fa mineur for 2 pianos (1957)
- Fugue en la mineur for 4 instruments (1957)
- Variations for viola, flute, bassoon, harp and string trio (1957)
- Trio for Strings for violin, viola and cello (1958)
- Study [inachevé] for violin and viola (1958-1959)
- Trio for Strings for strings (1982-1984)
- Trio for Strings Postlude from The Subsequent Dreams of China for bowed strings (1984)
- Trio for Strings trio basso version, for viola, cello, double bass (1984)
- Chronos Kristalla for string quartet (1990)
- Instrumental ensemble music
- Op. 4 for brass and percussion (1956)
- Sarabande for keyboard, brass octet, string quartet, orchestra and other instruments (1959)
- elec Visions for piano, 2 brass instruments, tape recorder, 4 bassoons, violin, viola, cello and double bass (1959)
- Arabic Numeral (Any Integer) to H.F. for piano(s) or gong(s) or groups of at least 45 instruments of the same timbre, or combinations of the aforementioned instruments or formations, or orchestra (1960)
- Orchestral Dreams for string orchestra (1985)
- Vocal music and instrument(s)
- Allah ka sat hain (musique et texte), Antara to Khalifa-jii (texte de La Monte Young, musique : composition traditionnelle Kirana Da Ni Dhim, arrangée par Pandith Pran Nath) Raga Bhairavi (16-beat tintal) for voice, tamburas, bowed instruments, tabla (2002)
- elec Map of 49's Dream The Two Systems of Eleven Sets of Galactic Intervals Ornamental Lightyears Tracery for voice, various instruments, sine waves (1966)
- Raga Chandra Bhairavi (alap) for voice, tamburas and bowed instruments (2003)
- Raga Sundara, Raga Yaman Kalyan, Vilampit Ektal for voice, tamburas, bowed instruments (2003)
- Song to Guruji / Was It The Shadow of His Feet ? Raga Sindh Bhairavi, Tal Dipchandi, for voice, tamburas, bowed instruments, tabla (1996)
- elec The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys for voices, various instruments, sine waves (1964)
- Death Chant for male voices, chime or large bells (1961)
- elec Pre-Tortoise Dream Music for sopranino saxophone, soprano saxophone, vocal drone, violin, viola, sine waves (1964)
- [Improvisations] for sopranino saxophone, vocal drones and various instruments (1962-1964)
- Electronic music / fixed media / mechanical musical instruments
- Unspecified instrumentation
- 288 to 224 with 279, 261 and 2 X 119 with One of The Inclusory Optional Bases: 7; 8; 14:8; 18:14:8; 18:16:14; 18:16:14:8; 9:7:4; or The Empty Base for sound environments (1991)
- Chords from The Well-Tuned Piano for sound environment (1981)
- elec Drift Studies for sine waves (1967)
- Annod for dance band or jazz ensemble (1953-1955)
- Fugue en mi bémol mineur for brass instruments or other instruments (1957)
- O Come O Come Emmanuel [manuscrit perdu] (1957-1958)
- Young's Blues (1955-1959)
- Compositions 1960 performance (1960)
- Invisible Poem Sent to Terry Jennings performance (1960)
- Young's Dorian Blues en si bémol (1960)
- Young's Dorian Blues en sol (1960)
- [sans titre] for live friction sounds (1959-1960)
- Poem for Chairs, Tables, Benches, etc. for chairs, tables, benches and unspecified sound sources (1960)
- elec 2 Sounds for recorded rubbing sounds (1960)
- Young's Aeolian Blues en si bémol (1961)
- Compositions 1961 performances (predated) (1961)
- Poem on Dennis' Birthday for unspecified instruments (1962)
- Response to Henry Flynt Work Such That No One Knows What's Going On (1962)
- [sans titre] jazz-drone improvisations (1959-1962)
- The Four Dreams of China (The Harmonic Versions) for tunable sustaining instruments of like timbre, in multiples of 4 (1962)
- Composition 1965 $50 performance (1965)
- Sunday Morning Dreams tunable sustaining instruments sound and/or sine waves (1965)
- elec Claes and Patty Oldenburg Commission for sine waves (1967)
- elec Robert C. Scull Commission for sine waves (1967)
- for Guitar Prelude and Postlude for one or more guitars (1980)
- The Twelve Subsequent Dreams of China for tunable sustaining instruments of like timbre, in multiples of 10 (1980)
- The Gilbert B. Silverman Commission to Write, in Ten Words or Less, a Complete History of Fluxus Including Philosophy, Attitudes, Influences, Purposes (1981)
- The Big Dream for sound environment (1984)
- The Melodic Versions of The Four Dreams of China for tunable sustaining instruments, in multiples of 4 (1984)
- The Melodic Versions of The Twelve Subsequent Dreams of China for tunable sustaining instruments of like timbre, in multiples of 10 (1984)
- The Big Dream Symmetries n° 1-6 for sound environment (1988)
- The Symmetries in Prime Time from 144 to 112 with 119 for sound environment (1989)
- The Lower Map of The Eleven's Division in The Romantic Symmetry (over a 60 cycle base) in Prime Time from 144 to 112 with 119 for tunable sustaining instruments in sections of like timbre, and sound environment (1989-1990)
- The Prime Time Twins for sound environment (1989-1990)
- The Prime Time Twins in The Ranges 576 to 448; 288 to 224; 144 to 112; 72 to 56; 36 to 28 ; avec The Range Limits 576, 448, 288, 224, 144, 56 and 28 (1990)
- The Young Prime Time Twins for sound environment (1991)
- The Subsequent Dreams of The Four Dreams of China in Perfect Simultaneity for tunable sustaining instruments of like timbre, in multiples of 5 (1993)
- The Subsequent Dreams of The Four Dreams of China in Simultaneity for tunable sustaining instruments of like timbre, in multiples of 5 (1993)
Catalog sources and details
- Jeremy GRIMSHAW, Draw a Straight Line and Follow It: The Music and Mysticism of La Monte Young, Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2011.
- elec Just Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord for cello, pre-recorded cello drones and light projection as part of Abstract n° 1 from Quadrilateral Phase Angle Traversals (collaboration with Marian Zazeela)
- The Subsequent Dreams of The Four Dreams of China in Perfect Simultaneity for tunable sustaining instruments of like timbre, in multiples of 5
- The Subsequent Dreams of The Four Dreams of China in Simultaneity for tunable sustaining instruments of like timbre, in multiples of 5
- The Young Prime Time Twins for sound environment
- Chronos Kristalla for string quartet
- The Lower Map of The Eleven's Division in The Romantic Symmetry (over a 60 cycle base) in Prime Time from 144 to 112 with 119 for tunable sustaining instruments in sections of like timbre, and sound environment
- The Prime Time Twins for sound environment
- The Prime Time Twins in The Ranges 576 to 448; 288 to 224; 144 to 112; 72 to 56; 36 to 28 ; avec The Range Limits 576, 448, 288, 224, 144, 56 and 28
- The Symmetries in Prime Time from 144 to 112 with 119 for sound environment
- The Big Dream Symmetries n° 1-6 for sound environment
- Orchestral Dreams for string orchestra
- The Big Dream for sound environment
- The Melodic Versions of The Four Dreams of China for tunable sustaining instruments, in multiples of 4
- The Melodic Versions of The Twelve Subsequent Dreams of China for tunable sustaining instruments of like timbre, in multiples of 10
- Trio for Strings for strings
- Trio for Strings trio basso version, for viola, cello, double bass
- Trio for Strings Postlude from The Subsequent Dreams of China for bowed strings
- for Guitar for guitar
- Studies in The Bowed Disc for gong
- Poem on Dennis' Birthday for unspecified instruments
- Response to Henry Flynt Work Such That No One Knows What's Going On
- The Four Dreams of China (The Harmonic Versions) for tunable sustaining instruments of like timbre, in multiples of 4
- [sans titre] jazz-drone improvisations
- elec 2 Sounds for recorded rubbing sounds
- Arabic Numeral (Any Integer) to H.F. for piano(s) or gong(s) or groups of at least 45 instruments of the same timbre, or combinations of the aforementioned instruments or formations, or orchestra
- Compositions 1960 performance
- Invisible Poem Sent to Terry Jennings performance
- Piano Piece for Terry Riley n°1 performance
- Piano Piece for Terry Riley n°2 performance
- Piano Pieces for David Tudor performance
- Poem for Chairs, Tables, Benches, etc. for chairs, tables, benches and unspecified sound sources
- Target for Jasper Johns for piano
- Young's Dorian Blues en si bémol
- Young's Dorian Blues en sol
- [sans titre] for live friction sounds
- Sarabande for keyboard, brass octet, string quartet, orchestra and other instruments
- Studies I for piano
- Studies II for piano
- Studies III for piano
- Study [inachevé] for violin and viola
- elec Visions for piano, 2 brass instruments, tape recorder, 4 bassoons, violin, viola, cello and double bass
- Young's Blues
- Canon for 2 instruments
- Fugue en do mineur for organ or harpsichord
- Fugue en fa mineur for 2 pianos
- Fugue en fa mineur for piano
- Fugue en la mineur for 4 instruments
- Fugue en mi bémol mineur for brass instruments or other instruments
- Variations for viola, flute, bassoon, harp and string trio
- for Brass for brass octet
- Five Small Pieces for String Quartet, On Remembering A Naiad for string quartet, Music Eternal
- Fugue en ré mineur for violin, viola and cello
- Op. 4 for brass and percussion
- Wind Quintet for wind quintet
- Date de composition inconnue
- 288 to 224 with 279, 261 and 2 X 119 with One of The Inclusory Optional Bases: 7; 8; 14:8; 18:14:8; 18:16:14; 18:16:14:8; 9:7:4; or The Empty Base for sound environments
- Allah ka sat hain (musique et texte), Antara to Khalifa-jii (texte de La Monte Young, musique : composition traditionnelle Kirana Da Ni Dhim, arrangée par Pandith Pran Nath) Raga Bhairavi (16-beat tintal) for voice, tamburas, bowed instruments, tabla
- elec Chords from The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys for sine waves
- Chords from The Well-Tuned Piano for sound environment
- elec Drift Studies for sine waves
- elec Map of 49's Dream The Two Systems of Eleven Sets of Galactic Intervals Ornamental Lightyears Tracery for voice, various instruments, sine waves
- Raga Chandra Bhairavi (alap) for voice, tamburas and bowed instruments
- Raga Sundara, Raga Yaman Kalyan, Vilampit Ektal for voice, tamburas, bowed instruments
- Song to Guruji / Was It The Shadow of His Feet ? Raga Sindh Bhairavi, Tal Dipchandi, for voice, tamburas, bowed instruments, tabla
- elec The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys for voices, various instruments, sine waves
- The Well-Tuned Piano for piano
- Jeremy GRIMSHAW, Draw a Straight Line and Follow It: The Music and Mysticism of La Monte Young, Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2011.
- William DUCKWORTH, « La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela », dans Talking Music, Conversations with John Cage, Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, and five Generations of American Experimetal Composers, New York, Schirmer Books, 1995, pp. 209-265.
- Robert FINK, Repeating ourselves, American Minimal Music as Cultural Practice, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Londres, University of California, 2005.
- Joseph GHOSN, La Monte Young, Marseille, Le Mot et le Reste, 2010.
- Jeremy GRIMSHAW, Draw a Straight Line and Follow It: The Music and Mysticism of La Monte Young, Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2011.
- Otto KAROLYI, Modern American Music, from Charles Ives to the Minimalists, Londres, Cygnus Arts – Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996.
- Wim MERTENS, American Minimal Music : La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Londres, Khan & Averill, 1983.
- Michael NYMAN, Experimental Music : Cage et au-delà, avant-propos de Brian Eno, traduit de l’anglais par Nathalie Gentili, Paris, Allia, 2005.
- Keith POTTER, Four musical minimalists: La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Cambridge University Press, 2000.
- Robert K. SCHWARZ, Minimalists, Londres, Phaidon Press Limited, 1996.
- Edward STRICKLAND, American Composers : Dialogues on Contemporary Music, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1991.
- Edward STRICKLAND, Minimalism: Origins, Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1993.
- La Monte YOUNG, The Two Systems of Eleven Categories (1966–présent), œuvre théorique (inédite).
- La Monte YOUNG, Conférence 1960, Marc Dachy (trad.), Bastia, éoliennes, 1998.
- La Monte YOUNG, Marian ZAZEELA, Selected Writings, Munich, Heiner Friedrich, 1969.
- La Monte YOUNG and Marian ZAZEELA, Map of 49’s Dream The Two Systems of Eleven Sets of Galactic Intervals Ornamental Lightyears Tracey 31 VII 69 10:2610:49 PM Munich, The Volga Delta from Studies in The Bowed Disc 23 VIII 64 2:50:453:11 AM. Gallery Heiner Friedrich/ Edition X LP (sans numéro), 1969. Ce disque est connu sous le nom de « Black LP ».
- La Monte YOUNG, Drift Study 13 I 735:356:14:03 PM NYC, Map of 49’s Dream The Two Systems of Eleven Sets of Galactic Intervals Ornamental Lightyears Tracery 14 VII 73 9:27:2710:15:33 PM NYC. Dream House/Disques Shandar LP 83.510, 1974.
- La Monte YOUNG, The Well-Tuned Piano 81 X 25 6:17:5011:18:59 PM NYC. CD Gramavision 18-8701-2, 1987.
- La Monte YOUNG, The Melodic Version of The Second Dream of The High-Tension Line Stepdown Transformer from The Four Dreams of China 90 XII 9 c. 9:3510:52 PM NYC. CD Gramavision R2 79467, 1991.
- Five Small Pieces for String Quartet,On Remembering A Naiad. Dans :USA, Arditti String Quartet, CD Disques Montaigne 782010, 1993.
- La Monte YOUNG and The Forever Bad Blues Band, Just Stompin’/Live at The Kitchen. CD Gramavision R279487, 1993.
- The Well-Tuned Piano in The Magenta Lights**87 V 10 6:43:00 PM87 V 11 01 :07 :45 AM NYC. DVD Just Dreams JD002, 2000.
- Edward STRICKLAND, « Young, La Monte » (en anglais), Grove Music Online, http://www.grovemusic.com (lien vérifié en juin 2014).
- « La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela on WNYC », New sounds #449 (émission radiophonique de 1990 avec un entretien et des enregistrements sonores), http://www.wnyc.org/story/64957-from-the-vaults-la-monte-young/, (lien vérifié en juin 2014).
- Barbara GOLDEN, « Conversation with La Monte Young » (en anglais), 7 November 1996, eContact 12.2 Interviews (2), http://cec.sonus.ca/econtact/12_2/audio/LaMonteYoung.mp3, (lien vérifié en juin 2014).
- Frank J. OTERI, « La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela at the Dream House », Interview avec La Monte Young et Marian Zazeela les 13 et 14 août 2003 (avec vidéo), NewMusicBox, The Web Magazine from the American Music Center, http://www.newmusicbox.org/articles/la-monte-young-and-marian-zazeela-at-the-dream-house/, (lien vérifié en juin 2014).