TABLE OF CONTENTS

music

Tony Conrad

THE LONG, SLOWLY MODULATING drones on Tony Conrad’s box set Early Minimalism Volume One (Table of the Elements) are totally uncompromising, even if they do relax the listener over time; the electrified violins that produce the sounds attack tiny intervals across the audible spectrum with slightly wobbly intonation, never applicable to the equal temperament of the piano. There are four discs here, each filled with thirty minutes’ to an hour’s worth of this truculent process music; the result is occasionally reminiscent of the blues, like Little Walter inhaling one chord on an amped-up harmonica for minutes at a time.

Heard today, more than three decades after the impetus for its creation, the sound—especially given its relationship to La Monte Young, a major figure in minimalist music—carries a charge of historic importance. We appreciate the work nowadays as a bridge between John Cage’s

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